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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.

Reviews

  • 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.'”

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