18 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A RICH AND SAVOURY CASSEROLE
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...
Published on 2 Jan. 2004 by Naomi Ross
6 of 20 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Blowing up Iraqi civilians is not "resistance"
Tariq Ali has set out to present a case that there has been a consistent pattern of "resistance to imperialism" in Iraq over the past 80 years or so. In doing so, he selectively presents a series of poetry and selectively presents political history in order to exaggerate the strength and importance of the Iraqi Communist Party.
Reality is far, far more complex. Far...
Published on 2 Jan. 2004 by faroukfaroudi
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4 of 16 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Quotes poetry, extols resistance .... and knows best.,
Tariq Ali’s 'The Coming British Revolution', written around 1969, seems to have slipped out of print. But reading 'Bush in Babylon', it’s interesting to see how little of Mr Ali’s worldview has changed, even if his hopes have switched from Britain to Iraq.
Although Leon Trotsky is not in ‘Bush and Babylon’, the old Trotskyist argument is - even if it's just as wrong. If only the Iraqi Communist Party had been prepared to seize power in 1958/9, then the revolution would have succeeded and everything would have been different.
The real point of the book is to slam the imperialists – Bush, Blair etc – and Mr Ali makes some very telling points (although many of them will be meaningful only to people who follow the political debates in the US and Europe). He also quotes some attractive Arab poetry.
But his desire to support those currently “resisting” (by, let us remember, blowing up the Red Cross in Baghdad, or killing 80 people leaving Friday prayers outside the mosque of Imam Ali in Najaf) leads to the unpleasant, and trademark, Trotskyist condemnation of anyone who doesn’t fit the rather simplistic world-view.
Those Iraqis who supported – however guardedly – the US war are, says Mr Ali, “carefully chosen quislings”. Mr Ali, from the comfort of London, is hereby condemning men like Adbul-Aziz Hakim who has seen 18 members of his family killed by Saddam. Or Hoshyar Zebari, the interim foreign minister, whose two brothers were murdered. Or many, many more who are trying to build a new Iraq in the real world rather than in a Trotskyist fantasy factory.
There is a nastiness and arrogance in Tariq Ali’s writing that are deeply sinister. One can argue that the Iraqi writer Kanan Makiya was wrong to argue for US involvement, but is he really a “member of an imperial freemasonry”? What does such a cheap snide show about Mr Ali's attitude to Makiya's painstaking acount of the Anfal, when the Baathist regime killed 180,000 Kurds in 1988-90?
Those interested in human rights in Iraq would do well to read Makiya’s “Cruelty and Silence” and judge for themselves. It's far better, and more humane book than this one. For the real poetry is in the pity.
5 of 20 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Nothing about the cruelties of the Baathists,
If you take Tariq Ali's book as an introduction to Iraqi poetry, you are surely misunderstanding what it is about. His point is that the poets have long extolled "resistance" to something called "imperialism", a term he is using in a Leninist sense (he would not for example talk about Arab imperialism against the Kurds, which has killed far more people than Mr Bush).
As earlier reviewers pointed out, he is following the old leftist sleight of hand in portraying anyone who resists what is defined as "imperialism" as progressive. As Cambodians and others could point out, this is nonsense. Those killing Iraqi civilians - including worshippers leaving the Imam Ali mosque - are in no way progressive.
Anyone interested in the modern history of Iraq should try Peter Sluggett's book, Kanan Makiya's Cruelty and Silence, or Jon Randall's book on the Kurds. Tariq Ali writes nothing about the terrible things inflicted on the Shia and the Kurds by the Baathist regime, and so he can have no understanding of why the Kurdish and Shia leaders were prepared to give guarded support to the Americans.
5 of 22 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars From Arabic poetry to blowing up Iraqis,
I was amused by the notion of this book being translated into Arabic. There is something very strange in an outsider having Arab poetry put into English and then translated back into Arabic for the benefit of the Iraqis ....
The American invasion of Iraq - as Tariq Ali shows - had no justification in international law and followed a history of interventions in Iraq that were deeply harmful to the Iraqi people.
Nonetheless, with the governing council, Iraq has what is probablty the most representative "government" - or proto-government - in the Arab world. The real challenge is now to make the most of it.
Bush in Babylon is designed to justify the "resistance" of those who want to overthrow the governing council (whom Traiq Ali called "lackeys") and who are prepared to murder Iraqis and anyone else who gets in their way. This is either silly or devious.
1 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A very sad book,
This review is from: Bush in Babylon: The Recolonisation of Iraq (Paperback)
If you follow the writing of Tarik Ali you will see the gradual switch from 'The Coming British Revolution' and 'Street Fighting Years' away from the belief that the working class would be the main agent to create a socialist utopia.
This book completes the process. Mr Ali has come via supporting the Red Army as the substitute for the working-class to backing a bunch of bigots and zealots in Iraq who are blowing up Iraqi men, women and children with explosives given them by the Baathists.
This can be submerged in poetry translated from Arabic, but the effect is the same. A sad book.
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Bush in Babylon: The Recolonisation of Iraq by Tariq Ali (Paperback - 28 July 2004)