A Review of The Clash of Fundamentalisms

The Clash of Fundamentalisms reviewed by Sara Powell for The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, November 2002.

There’s an old saying that you can’t judge a book by its cover. With Tariq Ali’s latest offering, however, many people do. You can’t miss it: a picture of George Bush in Osama bin Laden’s beard and turban, against a blood red background. As we have taken it to conferences throughout the summer, the cover has sold a lot of books, and generated even more double takes. (The back cover shows Bin Laden in a Bush suit and tie behind a presidential podium.)

But it’s the interior of a book that counts, and what is enclosed between Bush and Bin Laden is a treasure that both men—and you—should read. Written in response to the terror attack on the U.S. in September of last year, Ali’s Clash of Fundamentalisms is a refutation of Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations, arguing instead that rival fundamentalisms—Islamism on one side, imperialism on the other—are the forces directing much of the world today. Both, Ali argues, must be opposed. To facilitate such opposition, he provides the historical context in which modern Islamism and U.S. imperialism arose. read more