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Bush in Babylon: The Recolonisation of Iraq Hardcover – November 17, 2003

3.8 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Tariq Ali is a novelist, essayist, and BBC commentator who was among the best-known radical student leaders in late 1960s Britain. One of the ways he distinguishes himself from his anti-war contemporaries is via prodigious and multidisciplinary cultural knowledge; he once collaborated with avant-garde filmmaker Derek Jarman on a film about the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, for instance. Bush in Babylon benefits greatly from such knowledge. The book is essentially a harsh critique of the way the Bush administration has dealt with Iraq in the wake of 9-11, referred to as "corporate looting." The most captivating chapter centers on the history of Iraqi resistance as exemplified in poetry made by Iraqis in exile. Ali translates important contemporary works by poets who left during Hussein's regime but are still denied entry back into Iraq by Coalition forces. These are works that have traveled from the Internet to the oral tradition, to become instant spoken-word hits, and they provide a fascinating glimpse into the Iraqi situation that one cannot simply find in a daily newspaper in the West or on CNN. Ali's biggest fault is an undisguised disgust for the "imperialist" United States government. When he lists the casualties in Hiroshima and Nagasaki alongside those in Vietnam with no discussion of the difference between the two events, he alienates many potential fans of his important work. Bush in Babylon has a lot going for it, despite a polemical tone which invariably grates as one marches through this smart, well-researched book. --Mike McGonigal

From Publishers Weekly

London-based writer and filmmaker Ali has followed his careful and elaborate study of Islam and imperialism, The Clash of Fundamentalisms, with this short and quick response to the 2003 Iraq war. This time around, he delivers a plaintive, choppy rant instead of an organized, thorough analysis. Appalled by Western (he calls it Northern) arrogance, he begins by condemning local collaborators and praising the "purity and moral integrity" of poets and children (who taunt the occupiers). After two chapters of this high-handedness, he rapidly shifts his focus away from the social and cultural and launches into a political history of modern Iraq. Starting with the post-WWI British occupation and ending with the current U.S.-British occupation, he contends that the era between these official occupations was an interruption of the natural expansion of the capitalist order by the very real threat of a global Communist revolution. The countries of the South might not have been physically occupied by the rival Northern powers, but they were patronized, infiltrated and manipulated. The current conquest of Iraq, Ali concludes, is "part of a long historical process that was disrupted by the twentieth century and is now back on course." What disrupted the process was the Cold War, and now that the Soviet Union is gone, there is no serious obstacle-other than indigenous resistance-in the path of colonial capitalism. Ali's summary of history from inside the radical Arab left-he gives extended attention to 1958, the peak of popularity for the Iraqi Communist Party-is intended as "a warning to both occupier and resister" that the current course of history is toward more violence and inequality.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 216 pages
  • Publisher: Verso (November 17, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1859845835
  • ISBN-13: 978-1859845837
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 0.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,444,471 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Bill Higgins on November 3, 2003
Format: Hardcover
A must reading for all who wish to know more about Iraq's "real" history and how it reflects on the current "slog". However, those who already "know the facts" spoken by King George and his merry men and women will find Tariq's facts as another leftist's view.
I would hope many people read this book and carefully see where we went wrong but more importantly than confirming our worst fears that we have been lied to by a lot of so-called leaders. It is all about oil and money as it has been with the British before and now the US. The answers are needed but my concern is who besides a few authors are laying out facts. Is there anyone who really cares about what is going on to demand some accountability?? The opposition candidates are into saying the "right thing" but they are only interested in how it will affect their polls.
I would suggest if more people knew more of the real truths about what has gone on with Iraq in the last 30 years and not just what they "heard on TV", we would be demanding action. There is still time and it takes one person to urge another and before you know it we might get the 8 million world-wide who marched against the war to go to the streets again!
Reading Bush in Babylon would be a great first step in understanding some plain truths without Bush's spin!
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By A Customer on November 19, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I heard Mr. Ali on a radio program recently defending his book against criticism _from the left_. Cogent, well-reasoned, and engaging arguments deflated the weak-willed neoliberal, interventionist callers. Ali shows in this book how America's newest colonial venture, while not exactly identical with nineteenth-century empire building, operates on a similar plane. The new name of the game is _economic_ imperalism, foisted upon Iraq, Afghanistan, and anyone else who dares to disagree with the free market. Ali skewers critics who suggest that soldiers must remain in Iraq for the indefinite future; he does so not with rhetoric or opinion, but with history and clearly-comprehended fact.
Now, do _you_ disagree with what Mr. Ali says? _Read_ his book and come up with logical arguments to refute the facts presented therein. _Far_ from a member of the "loony left" (as one of the ignorant "reviewers" here at amazon.com called Ali), the author is well-reasoned, measured, and unstinting in his exposing of the falsehood of the "New World Order", the free market, and its adherents on the political left _and_ right.
Finally, don't be scared away by the amazon.com editorial review, which faults the book for actually daring to stick to its arguments and not flinch in the face of political correctness. Only in a "democracy" as deeply decayed and corrupted as the US can speaking one's mind truthfully, forcefully, and in a language designed to excite public attention actually be considered a negative.
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Format: Hardcover
Tariq Ali's book is full of historical and needed reconstruction of Iraq and it's history in a multifacetted manner that can be illuminating and overwhelming. The book is much needed and takes the reader into an analysis of a history that ocurred much before Saddam Hussein and the present---this is a superb manner of perceiving Iraqi history and emphasizes Iraqi Intellengentzia. I applaud Tariq Ale for his effort and unbiased analysis of Iraq, the title is misleading in terms of a political twist but is gripping!
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Format: Hardcover
This enlightening book is almost impossible to put down. It is a well written account of the regional history, political intrigue and of culture, with some mild focus on the current US involvement in the region. On the negative side, Tariq Ali tries to be overly diplomatic rather he seems to be afraid of hurting "American" sensibilities.
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Format: Paperback
The British imposed "protectorate" on Iraq after World War one, writes Tariq Ali, greatly transformed the country. The British deregulated land ownership and it inevitably fell into the hands of the richest Iraqis.The British brutally suppressed native uprisings, including using poison gas. In order to keep Iraq weak,restricting its access to the Persian Gulf, the British the British created Kuwait, installing its brutal and corrupt clients, the Al Sabah family. The British took all the oil.

British intelligence called its client regime running Iraq "an oligarchy of racketeers." In 1948, the regime made an agreement to continue British economic and military domination of the country. This set off a nationwide uprising, culminating in a Tiananmen Square style massacre on a bridge in Baghdad.

Civil liberties were restricted most of the time. In 1954, the much despised Prime Minister Nuri Al Said held legislative elections most of whose seats were only contested by single pro-government candidates. This new parliament then rubber stamped Nuri's new laws which severely restricted free speech. After a July 1958 coup, the revolutionary regime of Abdul Karen Qassem launched a campaign of social welfare and empowered labor.. He placed the communists in a coalition government in a subordinate position to himself. The Iraqi commies were instructed by the Russians not to seize on their mass base to seize power so as not to upset Nasser. In 1948, writes Ali, Iraq's commies were the only in the Arab world not to follow the Soviets in supporting the creation of Israel.
T
he Ba'ath in February 1963 launched a coup.
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