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Bush in Babylon: The Recolonisation of Iraq [Paperback]

Tariq Ali
3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
RRP: 7.99
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Book Description

28 July 2004
This invasion and occupation of Iraq by the United States and Britain - with retrospective sanction of this recolonisation by the United Nations - marks a turning point in world history and a renewal of the two-hundred-year-old war waged by the North against the South. Whatever the final outcome, the assault and capture of Iraq by the American Empire and its bloodshot British adjutant - and the resistance it provoked - will shape the politics of the twenty-first century. In this passionate and provocative book, Tariq Ali argues against the view that sees imperialist occupation as the only viable solution to bring about the regime-change in corrupt and dictatorial states. The American Empire, like all its predecessors, acts primarily out of self-interest. Now, as before, it is the political, economic and strategic needs of the United States that determine its foreign policy. Bush in Babylon is above all a history of the Iraqi resistance against empires old and new. Imperial interventions in the past created a layer of collaborators who could only be removed via a revolution; but the tragedy of Iraq is also self-inflicted. The radical colonels, courageous communists and burnt-out Ba'athists failed to establish a stable and just democratic republic, thus enabling a return visit by imperialism. Like the author's previous work, The Clash of Fundamentalisms, this book presents a magnificent cultural history; a heartfelt homage to the great poets of Iraq and the Arab world whose influence remained strong throughout their periods of exile, and who are united in poetic resistance to the latest catastrophe. "Why are otherwise intelligent people in Britain and the United States surprised on learning that the occupation is detested by a majority of Iraqi citizens? Empires sometimes forget who they are crusading against and why, but the occupied rarely suffer from such confusions. How could they when the regime being imposed on them is a mixture of Gaza and Guantanamo? The aim of the resistance is to target the occupation forces on a daily scale and in this they have been relatively successful. The replacement of US soldiers by blue-helmeted UN mercenaries is unlike to improve the situation. Ultimately the local jackals and their masters will fail."

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Product details

  • Paperback: 214 pages
  • Publisher: Verso Books; 2nd edition (28 July 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844675122
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844675128
  • Product Dimensions: 1.6 x 15.1 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 829,293 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"The charm of stylish dissent: less Chomsky, more poetry. Empires may come and go but Tariq Ali, the rebel who has lost the streets but gained the ghettos, is here to stay, to fight on ... Buy his spirit."--"India Today""Caustic warnings run through "Bush in Babylon: The Recolonisation of Iraq" by Tariq Ali ... who criticises pro-American academic and media apologists for stressing that Bush's policies are 'the only way to stabilise the world' ... undeniably passionate."--"Financial Times""A precious jewel of a book."--"Il Manifesto, Rome""Hard facts, sharp political analysis and literary insertions that evoke the richness of Arab culture ... unlikely to soothe the middle-class nerves of our harmony-seeking 'Gutmenschen.'"--"Suddeutsche Zeitung""Tari Ali ... has poured all his caustic verve and literary talent into this essay on the modern history of Iraq. Drawing on the work of great Arab historians, but also on personal testimony and the works of different Iraqi poets, he reconstitutes the principal moments of a tragic history--a pitiless dissection of the lies used by the Anglo-American leaders to legitimate their recent imperial expedition in Iraq."--"Le Monde Diplomatique""A strikingly erudite tour of Iraqi and Middle Eastern history and, at points, a survey of the work of secular-nationalist Arabic poets such as the Syrian Nizar Qabbani and the Iraqi exile Mudhaffar al-Nawab."--"Philadelphia City Paper""An often compelling insider's perspective--with some valuable insights into the sensitivities that explain why the occupying coalition in Iraq is not being treated as a savior."--"New York Times Book Review"

From the Back Cover

The invasion and occupation of Iraq by the United States and Britain - with retrospective sanction of this recolonisation by the United Nations - marks a turning point in world history and a renewal of the two-hundred-year-old war waged by the North against the South. Whatever the final outcome, the assault and capture of Iraq by the American Empire and its bloodshot British adjutant - and the resistance it has provoked - will shape the politics of the twenty-first century.

In this passionate and provocative book, Tariq Ali argues against the view that sees imperialist occupation as the only viable solution to bring about regime-change in corrupt and dictatorial states. The American Empire, like all its predecessors, acts primarily out of self-interest. Now, as before, it is the political, economic and strategic needs of the United States that determine its foreign policy.

Bush in Babylon is above all a history of Iraqi resistance against empires old and new. Imperial interventions in the past created a layer of collaborators who could only be removed via a revolution; but the tragedy of Iraq is also self-inflicted. The radical colonels, courageous communists and burnt-out Ba'athists failed to establish a stable and just democratic republic, thus enabling a return visit by imperialism.

Like the author's previous work, Clash of Fundamentalisms, this book presents a magnificent cultural history, a heart-felt homage to the great poets of Iraq and the Arab world whose influence remained strong throughout their long periods of exile, and who are united in poetic resistance to the latest catastrophe. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
18 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A RICH AND SAVOURY CASSEROLE 2 Jan 2004
Format:Hardcover
The strengths of the book are obvious: (a) unlike so many academic books it is written in lucid and elegant prose which makes it immensely readable and passionate (b) it provides one with a startling history of Iraq which puts the Baathist dictatorship in a proper perspective. to read it is to climb a mountain from which one can view a wide terrain of history, ideas and shared experiences. Like 'Clash of Fundamentalisms' it is the author's personal response to history, politics and literature which makes the book a rich combination of history, anecdote and autobiography. (c) it introduces the reader to the great poets of Iraq (of which I, for one, was totally ignorant) and the richness of intellectual life before and during the dictatorship (d) it confirms my strong opposition to the war even though I'm less optimistic than the author regarding the Resistance. I think the Americans are digging in for a long stay, but I hope I'm wrong. I feel a sense of gratitude that I could share the author's journey through time, culture and history. Now I'll turn to his novels.
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8 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE CASE AGAINST WAR AND SADDAM 29 Dec 2003
Format:Hardcover
I am an Iranian, who lost a brother in the Iraq-Iran war unleashed by Saddam Hussein, armed and backed by the US and Britain. I found this book haunting. The exiled poets of Iraq introduced to us in Bush in Babylon remind me of the great Iranian poet, Shamlu. But the book teaches more than poetry. It is a sharp critique of western imperialism and corrupt and dictatorial Arab regimes. The author believes that the best way for dictators to be removed is by their own people. Imperialist interventions never solve any real problems of local people and are carried out to serve US interests or British interests. And to wage war the politicians tell lies. This is all true.
My only criticism is that the book needed another section on the Shia population of Southern Iraq and their organisations. This sector will be decisive in winning back real freedom for Iraq and with Saddam's capture the activity against the occupation army has already increased in Najaf and Kerbela. I have recommended this book to many of my friends.
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8 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A MOVING HISTORY AND A CONVINCING POLEMIC 28 Dec 2003
Format:Hardcover
I picked up this book at Heathrow Airport and read it on a plane journey from London to Amman, from where I went to Baghdad. To my astonishment the book was being sold in the black market. I was there as a consultant to a US firm wishing to invest. The book opened my eyes. I had no idea of the scale of the resistance against the British and after some weeks in Baghdad and Najaf it became clear to me that the Iraqi people , minus the Kurdish tribal groups, are very hostile to the Occupation. Saddam's arrest and his co-operation with the US has enraged many in the South. This book helped me to understand why. What makes it different from the others books on the subject is that it is a serious history, not lightweight journalism hurriedly collected into a book. His account of the Baath terror, the tragedy of the Iraqi Communist Party, the role of the Army and, above all the wonderful poets of Iraq makes this is a very vital book, even for those who support the war. I have not read anything by this author before and had not even heard of him, but I will now read Clash of Fundamentalisms as well, despite the fact that in it he defends atheism (I am a believer). But where he is correct is in pointing out that the Western-style modernity imposed by war and economic policies will not work in the Arab world. I experienced this in Iraq. I had to warn the company that hired me that it would not be safe for them to function in an occupied country with a resistance that grows every month.
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5 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shouldn't a review focus on the book? 21 Aug 2005
Format:Paperback
I haven't read this book yet, it's on my wish list, but if it is anything like Ali's Clash of Fundamentalisms or the other numerous articles and interviews I have read with him, I am sure it will certainly be an enjoyable and enlightening read.
I find it interesting that of the four reviews above only one bothers to focus on Ali's book (and this is from a person who seems to agree with him, so doesn't need to present her political views - an interesting review though), the other three reviewers lambast it by presenting us with their own views. This cannot be helpful for people who are thinking of buying the book. Amazon tells us that when reviewing to: "Please focus your comments on the item's content and features." So please do so.
Was this review helpful? Probably not, but hopefully the rest will be.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Analysis 25 April 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The work is sharp and witty. 'Baby' Bush's adventures in Babylone are well recounted and assessed for their utter folly. His 'Mission accomplished' slogan will haunt the Western economies for decades and traumatise Western political systems too.

America and her blind allies must wake up to the fact that democracy is not for export but for practice at home.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good reading 12 Jun 2011
By Ahmar
Format:Hardcover
I was not sure what to expect as my only other Tariq Ali books were regarding Pakistani politics. He has adhered to his style and made the facts a pleasurable reading. Very thought provoking.
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1 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A justification of resistance based on naivety 1 Dec 2003
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
There were some interesting parts in this book, especially those dealing with the Iraqi Communist party, but they were heavily derivative from Hanna Batatu, the great Iraqi historian.
I was unsure why Mr Ali chose to concentrate so much on the Communists, who played an important but far from decisive role in Iraq's history. His aim is to justify the "resistance" to the Americans and in order to do this he condemns those, like the Kurds or many Shia, who were prepared to support the US intervention in order to get rid of Saddam. So perhaps he thinks the Communists will emerge from somewhere and then everything will be all right. This kind of naivety - which runs throughout 'Bush in Babylon' - is the very kind that has made leftists like Mr Ali so easy to push aside in the Middle East. It may fool some well-meaning anti-war liberals in the west, but it won't wash here.
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