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

  • ‘You say you want a revolution’

    April 1, 2011

    Tariq Ali interviewed by Toby Manhire for the New Zealand Listener, March 19 2011

    My last encounter with Tariq Ali did not go so well. I was comment editor at the Guardian newspaper, and had invited him to write on events in Pakistan. An email flew back. No. He certainly would not. The recent appearance in the paper of a piece by Pakistan’s president, Asif Ali Zardari, had been a “disgrace”, and he “would feel out of place on your pages these days”. My effort at an explanatory, conciliatory response went unans–wered.

    Nearly a year later, waiting on the line in New Zealand as his phone rings in north London, I’m a bit nervous. One of the most respected figures on the British left, he has since written a number of times for the paper, so that’s repaired, but  …

  • ‘Operation Iranian Freedom’

    July 31, 2003

    ‘Operation Iranian Freedom’ by Tariq Ali for The Nation, July 31, 2003

    In Washington, the hawks and vultures are beginning to gaze at Iran with greed-filled eyes. The British attack dog is barking and straining at the leash. And the Israeli ambassador to the United States has helpfully suggested that the onward march of the American Empire should not be brought to a premature halt in Baghdad. Teheran beckons, and then there is always Damascus. The only argument summoned by the blood-mottled “doves” is that the occupation of Iraq should be sufficient to bring the Iranian mullahs to heel. Naturally, this latter view does not satisfy the would-be Shah or his followers in Los Angeles. The Young Pretender is appearing regularly on the BBC and CNN these days, desperate to please and a bit too eager to mimic  …

  • ‘Operation Enduring Disaster’

    November 16, 2008

    ‘Operation Enduring Disaster’ by Tariq Ali for TomDispatch, November 16, 2008

    Afghanistan has been almost continuously at war for 30 years, longer than both World Wars and the American war in Vietnam combined. Each occupation of the country has mimicked its predecessor. A tiny interval between wars saw the imposition of a malignant social order, the Taliban, with the help of the Pakistani military and the late Benazir Bhutto, the prime minister who approved the Taliban takeover in Kabul.

    Over the last two years, the U.S./NATO occupation of that country has run into serious military problems. Given a severe global economic crisis and the election of a new American president—a man separated in style, intellect, and temperament from his predecessor–the possibility of a serious discussion about an exit strategy from the Afghan disaster hovers on the horizon. The  …