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The Obama Syndrome: Surrender at Home, War Abroad

A prescient dissection of Obama’s overseas escalation and domestic retreat, fully updated.
Written early in 2010 and initially published in September 2010, The Obama Syndrome predicted the Obama administration’s historic midterm defeat. But unlike myriad commentators who have since pinned responsibility for that Democratic Party collapse on the “reform” president’s lack of firm resolve, Ali’s critique located the problem in Obama’s notion of reform itself. Barack Obama campaigned for the presidency by promising to escalate the war in Afghanistan, and his economic team brought the architects of the financial crisis into the White House. Small wonder then that the “War on Terror”—torture in Bagram, occupation in Iraq, appeasement in Israel, and escalation in Pakistan—continues. And that Wall Street and the country’s biggest corporations have all profited at the expense of America’s working class and poor.

Now a thoroughly updated paperback continues the story through the midterms, including a trenchant analysis of the Tea Party, and Obama’s decision to continue with his predecessor’s tax cuts for the rich. Ali asks whether—in the absence of a progressive upheaval from below—US politics is permanently mired in moderate Republicanism. Already called “a comprehensive account” of the problems with Obama (The Huffington Post), this new edition is sure to provide a more “powerful boost to Obama dissenters on the left” (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette).

Reviews

  • “Ali is smart as fire.”
  • “Ali remains an outlier and intellectual bomb-thrower; an urbane, Oxford-educated polemicist.”
  • The Obama Syndrome will be a powerful boost to Obama dissenters on the left.”
  • The Obama Syndrome documents the collapse of the Myth into a thousand pieces.”

Blog

  • Writing on Iraq in the Aftermath of War: A Reading List on the "War on Terror"

    What can be learned from Iraq's recent past — a past haunted by imperial power — to help us critically engage with the present cycle of violence in Iraq?

    Verso has been actively publishing books over the last decade that addresses the conflict in Iraq. Below is a list of critical texts that seeks to contextualize the disaster which has resulted from the US and UK "War on Terror".


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  • Explaining the Israel-Palestine Conflict

    Key facets of the Israel-Palestine conflict have been thrust back into a wider public limelight, due to the news that actress Scarlett Johansson has left her role as an Oxfam ambassador. The split comes after criticism over her decision to promote Sodastream, the drinks company which operates out of a factory in an Israeli settlement in the West Bank. Oxfam opposes all trade with groups based in Israeli settlements in Palestinian territories, creating a confict which has caused a serious rift between the humanitarian group and its celebrity supporter.

    "Scarlett Johansson has respectfully decided to end her ambassador role with Oxfam after eight years," said a statement this week. "She and Oxfam have a fundamental difference of opinion in regards to the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement. She is very proud of her accomplishments and fundraising efforts during her tenure with Oxfam."

    Vijay Prashad
    has written in the Guardian that Johansson's involvement with Sodastream brings much-needed scrutiny to illegal settlement activity and wider Western support for Israel. Once again we see that his is an issue that is not going to go away any time soon.

    These are Verso's key books on the Israel-Palestine conflict, from explanations to considered outcomes – what others should we include?

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  • VIDEO: Tariq Ali Speaks Out Against Possible Syrian Invasion

    Yesterday, Tariq Ali published an op-ed denouncing possible United States military intervention in Syria. Ali accuses the United States of stretching their intelligence reports as an excuse to further stir the civil war and assist the opposition they had armed. He writes:

    The Syrian regime was slowly re-establishing its control over the country against the opposition armed by the West and its tributary states in the region (Saudi Arabia and Qatar). This situation required correction. The opposition in this depressing civil war needed to be strengthened militarily and psychologically.


    With the White House having announced that the recent chemical attacks in Syria were unequivocally the work of the Assad regime, many are anxious to see whether the Obama administration will now pursue the promised military intervention. To elaborate on his editorial piece, Tariq Ali joined Steven Clemons, Washington editor-at-large for The Atlantic, on Democracy Now to discuss who is to blame for the use of chemical weapons in Syria and the politics of a Syrian invasion.


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Other books by Tariq Ali