The Obama Syndrome: Surrender at Home, War Abroad

A merciless dissection of Obama’s overseas escalation and domestic retreat.
“Our country has borne a special burden in global affairs. We have spilled American blood in many countries on multiple continents ... Our cause is just, our resolve unwavering. We will go forward with the confidence that right makes might.”
      —Barack Obama, West Point, December 1, 2009

What has really changed since Bush left the White House? Very little, argues Tariq Ali, apart from the mood music. The hopes aroused during Obama’s election campaign have rapidly receded—the honeymoon has been short. Following the financial crisis, the “reform” president bailed out Wall Street without getting anything in return. With Democratic Party leaders and representatives mired in the corrupt lobbying system, the plans for reforming the healthcare system lie wrecked on the Senate floor. Abroad, the “war on terror” continues: torture on a daily basis in the horror chamber that is Bagram, Iraq occupied indefinitely, Israel permanently appeased, and more troops to Afghanistan and more drone attacks in Pakistan than under Bush. The fact that Obama has proved incapable of shifting the political terrain even a few inches in a reformist direction will pave the way for a Republican surge and triumph in the not too distant future.


  • 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”
  • “A comprehensive account.”
  • “Ali ... remains an outlier and intellectual bomb-thrower in his adopted London; an urbane, Oxford-educated polemicist.”
  • “Ali is smart as fire.”
  • “Ali doesn't put all blame on Obama and offers a prescription for the terrible problems confronting us: 'The lack of popular social movements in the United States enabled the elite to impose its own solutions, and these were, unsurprisingly, designed to boost the existing arrangements ... The lesson is an old one: without action from below, there will be no change above.'”


  • 'Isis in Paris'—By Tariq Ali

    So ISIS has claimed the attacks as a response to France bombing the 'caliphate' in the Middle East. That Hollande/Valls are warmongers is beyond dispute . Ironically they were preparing to topple the Assad regime (till Washington insisted on a delay) which would have made them ISIS allies in the region. In fact the bulk of the opposition in Syria regard Assad as the primary contradiction and were also hoping the West would deliver another regime change. Had they done so a new civil war would have erupted between rival jihadi groups and who knows which of them the US/EU would have supported. 

    ISIS has hit the French capital and killed over a hundred citizens with double that number injured. I know the West does the same and, in fact, kills tens of thousands, but this clash of fundamentalisms leads nowhere. The West is NOT morally superior to the jihadis. Why is a public execution with a sword worse than an indiscriminate drone attack? Neither can nor should be supported. 

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  • Video: Tariq Ali, The Twilight of Democracy, Festival of Dangerous Ideas 2015

    Tariq Ali discusses ideas outlined in his book The Extreme Centre: A Warning, during this years Festival of Dangerous Ideas. 

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  • Complete your Tariq Ali bookshelf with 50% off all his books!

    To celebrate the re-issue of Ali's magisterial Islam Quintetwhich addresses the centuries-long clash between the Christian West and Muslim East with searing and subtle prose which stretches from fifteenth century Moorish Spain to late twentieth century Paris and London, we're offering 50% off all of Tariq's books for this week only!

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Other books by Tariq Ali