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The Obama Syndrome: Surrender at Home, War Abroad Hardcover – October 17, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this slim but provocative volume, leftist writer and filmmaker Ali takes President Barack Obama to task for his first 18 months in office, arguing that despite the president's rhetoric of change, little distinguishes his administration from the Bush-Cheney White House. Ali's condemnation of Obama is sweeping, extending from foreign policy and the war on terror to financial, health care, and education reform on the domestic front. In prose that is crisp and inflammatory, and at times laden with sarcasm, Ali effectively makes the case that Obama has thus far fallen short of many of his campaign promises. Where the author treads on thinner ice is his assertion that Obama's intent has never been to implement reform. Far from being a progressive, Ali alleges, Obama is a "skillful and gifted machine politician" who uses "sonorous banality" and "armor-plated hypocrisy" to achieve his "imperial" aims. Ali's incendiary language may be off-putting to some readers, and Obama supporters may find the book vexing, if not outright deflating, but there is no doubting Ali's gifts as a polemicist, or the book's potential to rouse controversy in the run-up to the midterm elections.
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From Booklist

Viscerally disappointed that President Obama has not moved the national agenda in a more liberal direction, Ali, editor of the New Left Review, criticizes the administration’s foreign domestic policies in its first 1,000 days in office. Ali portrays Obama as “simultaneously wily and timorous” as he has tried to appease both Republicans and Democrats in the name of consensus building, sparking severe criticism on the Right and alienation on the Left. Ali sees Obama most consistent in his support of corporate interests. On the domestic front, Ali criticizes Obama’s financial-sector reform for its inadequate regulation and continued reliance on Wall Street operations, some dating back to the Clinton administration; his lukewarm health-care reform; and a general failure to advance an agenda to support the middle class. On the foreign policy front, Ali argues that the Obama administration is pursuing the same policies as the Bush administration, including a blind loyalty to Israel and escalation of the “war on terror” into Afghanistan. --Vanessa Bush

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 168 pages
  • Publisher: Verso; First Edition edition (October 17, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844674495
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844674497
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,067,173 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 28 people found the following review helpful By J. L LaRegina on October 14, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Whatever awards exist for book covers, I hope Alex Ostroy's artwork for THE OBAMA SYNDROME: SURRENDER AT HOME, WAR ABROAD, the new boss's facade crumbling to show he's the same as the old boss, wins. But please read THE OBAMA SYNDROME - the thousand words its cover picture are worth is just the start of what needs to be said about President Barack Obama, and author Tariq Ali's text does the job.

November 4, 2008, Americans wishing to reverse eight devastating years of George W. Bush chose Illinois Senator Barack Obama despite his Senate votes to fund the failed Iraq occupation, give $700 billion to the wealthy who caused the financial crisis, grant immunity to telecommunication companies that illegally spied on Americans, and so on. Didn't they see "Change" would be little more than chump change?

THE OBAMA SYNDROME reminds us President Obama is continuing where Senator Obama left off. The Senator kowtowed to the wealthy with his bailout vote. The President socks it to the working class with his insurance/pharmaceutical industry-driven health care "reform." The Senator sold out innocent Iraqis. The President sends drones to kill Pakistani women and children. And so on.

But while the people saw Senator Obama for what they wanted him to be, THE OBAMA SYNDROME notes they see President Obama for what he is: not much different than George W. Bush. THE OBAMA SYNDROME ends cliffhanger-style, leaving the reader to wonder what the fallout from all the faithful the Obama administration has alienated will be in both the mid-term 2010 elections and Obama's own 2012 re-election attempt.
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38 of 46 people found the following review helpful By John L Murphy TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 19, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Editor of New Left Review, London-based Ali criticizes Barack Obama's obedience to the same corporate and military powers that controlled previous American administrations. What Ali sums up about a previous analysis of Obama speaks for Ali's own agenda: "A useful antidote to the gushing biographies." Ali's progressive stance confronts the illusions sold to voters in 2008 by a compliant media and capitalist firms who provided the vast majority of Obama's $900 million campaign funds. Goldman Sachs contributed nearly a million; who could claim surprise by their bailout?

His leftist presuppositions infuse this short series of what read more like related essays than a seamlessly constructed narrative. Ali admits a rush to print, preferring to provide a "preliminary report on the first 1000 days of the Obama presidency." However, with mention of the Gaza flotilla attack by Israel, the resignation of General McChrystal, and the BP oil spill, this is as current an overview as can be expected.

It begins energetically. The first "mixed-race" president reinvented himself as both white enough and black enough to win. "Little of what Obama actually said in a combination of blandishments, special pleading and specious arguments justified much optimism, but the manner of his speaking, the color of his skin and the constant invocation of the word `change' helped create a new spirit in the country--Obamania--that propelled him to the White House."

Ali cites African American scholars and activists among Obama's critics: "The emblematic significance of Obama's victory should not be underestimated, but did it ever move beyond symbols?" Ali doubts it did.
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45 of 57 people found the following review helpful By Donald A. Collins on October 3, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Anyone who can read and think and who has read the recent trio of books about America's dangerous empire building over the past decades will realize that more and more Americans see our so called "defense" spending has been quite the reverse.

Please forgive the facetious title I have given this review, but the author in this title obviously echos the feelings of a growing number of Americans who know they have been conned, now for decades by the greed of our military and those who make their armaments. Obama, in his failure to act decisively to stop this plunge to ultimate bankruptcy, deserves this label, as he is writing a will for a foul future.

For example, Chalmers Johnson, the author of The Blowback Trilogy, has just added "Dismantling The Empire: America's Last Hope" to this earlier wake up calls for us to cease our mad rush to dominate the planet. He notes that while we are not taking territory, our military has over 700 bases overseas.

A number of other writers have eloquently echoed Johnson's perspicacious prognostications about building our empire. For example, Andrew Bacevich in his book, Washington Rules: America's Path To Permanent War, describes the role of two key architects of that empire: Allen Dulles, who planned the Bay of Pigs disaster (which cost him his job), and General Curtis LeMay who drove the Strategic Air Command to obtain nuclear weapons could have blown the planet to smithereens many times over.

Another new offering, The American Way of War: How Bush's Wars Became Obama's (Paperback), by Tom Engelhardt, Haymarket Books, Chicago, 2010 represents a little heralded paperback masterpiece of only 216 pages should enlighten anyone who has not already come to the sad conclusion that the USA has turned into a dangerous empire.
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