Tag Archives: Israel-Palestine

“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.

Tariq Ali on Palestine and President Obama

Tariq Ali interviewed by Phillip Adam’s for ABC Late Night Live, October 5, 2010

Currently touring Australia to launch The Obama Syndrome, Tariq Ali talks to ABC Late Night Live‘s Phillip Adams about Palestine and the (dismal) performance of US President Barack Obama. Please visit the ABC to listen to the interview.

Tariq Ali reviews Gilbert Achcar’s excellent new book ‘The Arabs and the Holocaust’

Tariq Ali reviews The Arabs and the Holocaust by Gilbert Achcar for the Guardian, June 26, 2010

Tariq Ali applauds an attempt to analyse the Arab-Israeli conflict

“Since the fourth century after Christ,” wrote the late Raul Hillberg in his masterwork, The Destruction of the European Jews, “there have been three anti-Jewish policies: conversion, expulsion, and annihilation. The second appeared as an alternative to the first, and the third emerged as an alternative to the second.” What this suggests is that “Judeo-Christian civilisation” is a relatively new and an essentially ideological construct.

If anything, from the eighth to the 19th centuries, there can be said to have existed an Islamo-Judaic civilisation that spanned the Iberian peninsula, the Arab world proper, Persia and the Ottoman lands. The Christian reconquest of Portugal and Spain led to forced conversions and expulsion of Jews and Muslims. Tens of thousands of Jews were given refuge in Muslim North Africa and the Ottoman empire.

It was not until after the first world war that relations between the communities began to deteriorate seriously. The reason for this was the Balfour declaration (opposed by Edwin Montagu, the only Jewish member of the British cabinet) that offered a homeland in Palestine to the Zionist Federation, without any consultations whatsoever with the people who lived on the land. Hitler and the judeocide of the second world war further cemented the foundations of the settler-state and led to the nakba for the Palestinian Arabs of the region. Hardly surprising that this led to the “war of narratives”.

In a systematic and scholarly refutation of the simplistic myths that have arisen following the formation of Israel, Gilbert Achcar, the Lebanese-French historian, who is currently professor of international relations at the School of Oriental and African Studies, has provided us with the best book on the subject so far. Achcar has little time for Arab pieties. He makes no bones about the fact that Holocaust denial is not uncommon in the Middle East and that charlatan historians (Roger Garaudy is one of many examples cited in the book) have received a warm welcome from many in power in the Gulf states. He could have added that the late King Ibn Saud of the kingdom that bears his name was in the habit of presenting visiting western leaders with copies of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. There is no recorded instance of any US President or western European leader refusing the gift. read more

Breaking the Siege of Gaza – Tariq Ali speaks at Socialism 2010

‘Breaking the Siege of Gaza’, Tariq Ali speaks at Socialism 2010 alongside Kevin Ovenden, Gilbert Achcar and Ahmed Shawki, June 18, 2010

With thanks to We Are Many for the video footage.

From the archive

  • ‘Daughter of the West’

    December 13, 2007

    ‘Daughter of the West’ by Tariq Ali for The London Review of Books, December 13, 2007

    Arranged marriages can be a messy business. Designed principally as a means of accumulating wealth, circumventing undesirable flirtations or transcending clandestine love affairs, they often don’t work. Where both parties are known to loathe each other, only a rash parent, desensitised by the thought of short-term gain, will continue with the process knowing full well that it will end in misery and possibly violence. That this is equally true in political life became clear in the recent attempt by Washington to tie Benazir Bhutto to Pervez Musharraf.

    The single, strong parent in this case was a desperate State Department—with John Negroponte as the ghoulish go-between and Gordon Brown as the blushing bridesmaid—fearful that if it did not push this through both parties  …

  • 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  …

  • ‘Dr Tariq Ali on history and politics’

    April 18, 2011

    By Sarah-Jane Bradfield for Rhodes University, April 14  2011

    Writer, journalist, filmmaker and public intellectual Dr Tariq Ali addressed a capacity crowd at Eden Grove this week on the current uprisings in the Arab world and their links to contemporary history and the international community.

    In his talk entitled “The West, the Arab World and its Discontents”, Dr Ali, who was born in Lahore in 1943 and educated at Oxford, attributed the current uprisings in the Arab world to widespread dissatisfaction with the neo-liberal capitalism system.

    “This particular system punishes the poor and rewards the rich, who are blinded by greed. Things reached a breaking point and uprisings were triggered because of the inability of the elite to deal with the discontent and the refusal of the poor to continue living in dire conditions,” he said.

    To fully understand the current  …