Tag Archives: Iraq

“Barbed and Brilliant”—Tariq Ali’s The Obama Syndrome

Two book reviews in Lana Turner: A Journal of Poetry and Opinion contrast the style and substance of Tariq Ali’s The Obama Syndrome: Surrender at Home, War Abroad to veteran US journalist Bob Woodward’s Obama’s Wars. While Woodward “mumbles, in cotton mouthed grammar” about imperial ventures in Iraq and Afghanistan, Ali

pronounces the US-and-European-installed puppet government in Afghanistan a “bogus construct [that] never had the slightest legitimacy in the country, lacking even a modicum of the narrow but dedicated base the Taliban had enjoyed.”

Woodward focuses on the struggles between those walking the corridors of power, while Ali places Obama within the historical trajectory of the imperial presidency, suggesting that “Obama has acted as just another steward of the American empire.”

Visit Lana Turner: A Journal of Poetry and Opinion to read more.

“Only the mood music has changed”: Tariq Ali on Obama’s presidency

Tariq Ali interviewed by Christian Avard for Huffington Post, October 7, 2010

Is president Barack Obama the change America has been waiting for or is he another corporate Democrat representing elite interests? According to Tariq Ali, very little has chanced between Obama and former president George W. Bush. In his latest book The Obama Syndrome: Surrender at Home, War Abroad, Ali argues that Obama is carrying on the reckless policies of the Bush regime. If Obama continues down this path, the Democratic Party not only face the prospect of the House & Senate in 2010 but also the presidency in 2012. This should be a cause for concern.

I caught up with Ali during his American book tour and here’s what he had to say about the Obama presidency.

What do you think are the biggest myths that are being perpetrated about Barack Obama as a president and his policy making?

The myths being perpetrated about him by his enemies are that everything he has done has been incredibly radical. The myths being perpetrated about him by his friends are that this marks a definitive break with Bush-Cheney. Both are wrong. My book stresses the continuities in foreign policy between the Bush and Obama administrations. I argue that all that has changed is the mood music.

This change of mood music is not unimportant because it gets the whole of Europe back on (the U.S.’s) side and some of them were alienated by Bush’s disconcerting way of putting it on the line. If he was doing something, he would say “This is how we are going to do it. We are going to take these guys out.” Europe found that a bit insensitive whereas Obama coats with it with sugar and honey and does the same thing.

He speaks fine and lofty words but when it comes down to it, the policies are no different. In the cases of Afghanistan and Pakistan, the policies are much more reactionary and worse in the sense that the wars are being escalated. read more

For an extended version of Christian Avard’s interview, please visit pulsemedia.org

The Obama Syndrome: A Live Interview with Tariq Ali and Joel Whitney

As part of his tour to launch The Obama Syndrome, Tariq Ali appeared at New York’s Asia Society September 17th, 2010 where he was interviewed on stage by Joel Whitney, Founding Editor in Chief of Guernica magazine.

Interview: ‘Pakistan and the Global War on Terror’

‘Pakistan and the Global War on Terror’, an interview with Tariq Ali by Mara Ahmed and Judith Bello for Counterpunch, November 30, 2009

Mara Ahmed and I were given the opportunity to interview Tariq Ali when he spoke at Hamilton College in Upstate New York on November 11, 2009, during his recent speaking tour of the United States. Tariq, a native of Pakistan who lives in England, is a well known writer, intellectual and activist. He has traveled all over Southwest Asia and the Middle East while researching his books. Mara, who is working on a film highlighting the opinions of the Pakistani people regarding the current situation in Pakistan and the Western initiated ‘Global War on Terror’, had a lot of questions for Tariq about the internal state of Pakistan. I wanted to ask Tariq for his opinion about the effects of American foreign policy in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and what alternatives he thought might be available. —JB

Mara: What is the role of Islamophobia in the Global War on Terror. Many American war veterans have described the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as imperialistic, racist and genocidal. Your comments?

Tariq: Well, I think Islamophobia plays an important part in things, because it creates an atmosphere in which people feel, “Oh, we’re just killing Muslims, so that’s alright.” And this situation is becoming quite serious in the United States and in large parts of Europe, where people feel that the fact that a million Iraqis have died is fine because they’re not like us, they’re Muslims. So, Islamophobia is becoming a very poisonous and dangerous ideological construct which has to be fought against. read more

‘The war is already lost’

‘The war is already lost’ by Tariq Ali for The Guardian, December 20, 2006

Ideological zealotry has helped destroy Iraq, revive the Taliban and increase the terror threat

Once a war goes badly wrong and its justifications are shown to be lies, to insist that a “democratic” Iraq is visible on the horizon and that “we must stay the course” becomes a total fantasy. What is to be done?

In the US a group of Foggy Bottom elders was wheeled in to prepare a report. This admitted what the whole world (Downing Street excepted) already knew: the occupation is a disaster and the situation gets more hellish every day. After US citizens voted accordingly in the mid-term elections, the White House sacrificed the Pentagon warlord, Donald Rumsfeld.

The warlord of Downing Street, however, is still at large, zombie-like in his denials that anything serious is wrong in Baghdad or Kabul. Everything, for him, can still be remedied by a dose of humanitarian medicine (a poison so powerful and audacious that no resistance is possible). His desperate attempts to play the statesman have made him a laughing stock in friendly Arab capitals and Baghdad’s Green Zone. Iraq is the umbilical cord that ties him to his fate. read more

From the archive

  • In Turkish Kurdistan

    November 16, 2006

    ‘In Turkish Kurdistan’ by Tariq Ali for The London Review of Books (Diary), November 16, 2006

    It was barely light in Istanbul as I stumbled into a taxi and headed for the airport to board a flight for Diyarbakir, the largest Kurdish city in eastern Turkey, not far from the Iraqi border. The plane was full, thanks to a large party of what looked like chattering students with closely shaved heads, whose nervous excitement seemed to indicate they’d never left home before. One of them took the window seat next to my interpreter. It turned out he wasn’t a student but a newly conscripted soldier, heading east for more training and his first prolonged experience of barrack-room life, perhaps even of conflict. He couldn’t have been more than 18; this was his first time on a plane. As  …

  • Tariq Ali: What Is A Revolution?

    September 5, 2013

    Ever since the beginning of the Arab Spring there has been much talk of revolutions. Not from me. I’ve argued against the position that mass uprisings on their own constitute a revolution, i.e., a transfer of power from one social class (or even a layer) to another that leads to fundamental change. The actual size of the crowd is not a determinant—members of a crowd become a revolution only when they have, in their majority, a clear set of social and political aims. If they do not, they will always be outflanked by those who do, or by the state that will recapture lost ground very rapidly.

    Egypt is the clearest example in recent years. No organs of autonomous power ever emerged. The Muslim Brotherhood, a conservative social force, one that belatedly joined the struggle to overthrow Mubarak, emerged as the  …

  • ‘A prolific author’

    April 18, 2011

    By Jean McKeowin for Rhodes University, April 11  2011

    Tariq Ali brought his charismatic presence and gift for oratory to the Rhodes University Faculty of Science’s Graduation ceremony last week. In his speech, before he was presented with an Honorary Doctorate by the University, Ali showed that none of his fire has died out, although it is over forty years since he gained his reputation as one of the twentieth century’s most outspoken activists.

    Born in 1943 in Lahore, now in Pakistan, into a family of some privilege, he grew up as both an atheist and a communist. As a student at Punjab University, Ali was elected President of the Young Students Union, and led several public demonstrations against Pakistan’s military dictatorship. This resulted in his being banned from further participation in student politics and his parents sent him to  …