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“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, “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.


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“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, “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.

30 review for The Obama Syndrome: Surrender at Home, War Abroad

  1. 5 out of 5

    Clif

    I've become a Tariq Ali fan. He writes clearly, driving to the point effortlessly and brings such a rich knowledge of recent history to whatever he is describing that it's difficult to think of an effective counter argument. It's a credit to Ali that he wrote this book in 2010, quite early in the Obama presidency, but wrote with such insight about the man that nothing that happened in the following 6 years lessens the force of this work. He goes after a president that came to office full of promi I've become a Tariq Ali fan. He writes clearly, driving to the point effortlessly and brings such a rich knowledge of recent history to whatever he is describing that it's difficult to think of an effective counter argument. It's a credit to Ali that he wrote this book in 2010, quite early in the Obama presidency, but wrote with such insight about the man that nothing that happened in the following 6 years lessens the force of this work. He goes after a president that came to office full of promise. I well recall Obama saying, "we are the change we have been waiting for", but we are still waiting, he has left office after accomplishing very little, is a certified member of the 1% and, with his wife, makes up just another power couple able to draw big money giving touching speeches while otherwise relaxing with the beautiful people far from the problems of the millions of Americans that thought he would deliver for them. There's a huge building going up in Chicago to honor him, for being a symbol of progress to those who value optics, I suppose. While being a relaxed, smooth, easy-going person he cracked down on whistleblowers like no president before him. He carried on the assassination by drone program without a pause. He ruled out the much needed public option while allowing the insurance and pharma industries to write the Affordable Care Act, guaranteeing corporate profit first and only then seeing what might be left to address the healthcare needs of the people who have no political power to offer and who are lost in the intricate maze of rules and paperwork that bring in the bucks for all the middlemen. He told the big banksters that he was all that stood between them and the pitchforks, then directed his attorney general to bring no charges against them, just as he flouted justice by dismissing all the war crimes of the G.W. Bush years telling us we should not look backward. Dealing with a Republican Congress that would not give an inch, Obama presented himself as a conciliator. Little being accomplished was the predictable result for a president that drifted through 8 years of seat warming. It is all documented by Ali, often by quoting Obama and then showing what actually happened, or more often did not happen after the words had faded from hearing. Ali provides lots of background information on the Arab Spring and foreign affairs to show how when it came to democracy vs tyranny, Obama was ready to maintain the status quo as was true of his predecessors. Obama was being himself. We the people were deceived into believing he would be something for us that is not in his nature. The deception was wildly promoted by the Democratic Party, by those who knew that he could be depended upon to not change course. It is the same bunch that are now pushing for another sure-to-disappoint Joe Biden. We were fooled. Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden don't get monuments and the president showed them no mercy. It's all they can do to stay out of prison, but people like those two have our interests at heart and have paid for it. Obama came out of nowhere, leveraged skin color into office after office and left enriched, even possessing an absurdly awarded Nobel Peach Prize, while we scratch our heads realizing that nothing significant happened on his watch. The lesson is that we are given the appearance of democracy while the underlying corrupt system continues to operate at least undisturbed if not enhanced. In that effort, President Obama served flawlessly.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Simon Wood

    THE AUDACITY OF HYPE In his short book covering Obama's political career before and after his elevation to the presidency (tellingly subtitled "Surrender at Home, War Abroad") Tariq Ali plainly regards the writing to have been on the wall for a progressive presidency since well before the election. The case presented is persuasive: from his origins as a flunky for the Democratic party machine in Illinois and Chicago (the home of the Daley dynasty with it's stranglehold on the state Democratic par THE AUDACITY OF HYPE In his short book covering Obama's political career before and after his elevation to the presidency (tellingly subtitled "Surrender at Home, War Abroad") Tariq Ali plainly regards the writing to have been on the wall for a progressive presidency since well before the election. The case presented is persuasive: from his origins as a flunky for the Democratic party machine in Illinois and Chicago (the home of the Daley dynasty with it's stranglehold on the state Democratic party) to his time as a member of the U.S. senate it has been clear that the main evidence for his progressive politics was in the rhetoric of his speeches and writing rather than his actual political record. For Ali his record as president is lamentable. Health Care reform was retarded by the vested interests of the private insurance sector; the program that was eventually enacted is skewed towards their financial interests rather than towards those who struggle to access health care. Experts predict that this will render the limited benefits gained grotesquely expensive before this decade is out. The policy of charter schools, a variant of which the Conservative party and their Liberal lackeys are touting under the name of "Free Schools", is likewise manna from heaven for the private education sector. On the economy, Obama has preferred to re-engage those who were up to their necks in the formation of the problem in the first place such as Lawrence Summers in preference to even considering those such as Joseph Stiglitz ("Freefall") who have a record of being prescient on the failings of the last decades, and have constructive ideas with regard to getting the economy moving again, for the majority and not the few. Abroad it is business as usual, nothing has changed. Iraq runs on as before, and as the war in Afghanistan extends into its tenth year (and into Pakistan) there is little sign of an improving situation, indeed the opposite as it becomes increasingly bloody for all those involved. The fact that the Israel Lobby demonises Obama tells us more about what they have been used to with the Bush II and Clinton administration, it is not an indication of a new even handed approach. With the recent mid-term elections it must now be clear even to the most delusional of Obama supporters that the window of opportunity for progressive reform is firmly shut. The Republican Party, mouthing its usual platitudes about "small government", augmented with a heavy smattering of the deranged, delusional and dangerous tea-partyists, has its hands on the purse strings. The United States is in for a rough ride, and the collateral damage will likely extend well beyond its borders. Stylistically "The Obama Syndrome", with the exception of the opening chapter on the Black experience of U.S. politics, is not up with Ali's best though this is to measure it against a very high standard. There are odd occasions when the prose stutters in a very un-Ali way, and the size of the subject, namely the current state of politics in the U.S., demands a far greater and more in-depth book. One suspects that it was slated to be published in time for the mid-term elections for maximum relevance, and the effort to meet this deadline explains the books shortcomings, though it should be said that Ali can still be brilliantly and brutally funny. As a bonus the appendices include an article by an American doctor on working in a County level Emergency Department which will horrify the British reader, and an article of Ali's on Yemen (originally published in The London Review of Books) that was written in response to talk within the Obama administration and the media about escalating the American intervention there. This is an interesting rather than an exceptional book that is still more than worth a look.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Mark Hebden

    Tariq Ali isn’t keen on Barack Obama, and it is increasingly becoming apparent to the rest of us why. The main appears to be vain and conceited but those are characteristics present in all politicians, as are avarice, greed and selfishness but Obama does all this with a cloak of respectability about him that Ali expertly pulls away to reveal the President in all his naked, shambolic glory. Ali tells us that Obama is a textbook rightwing American conservative with all then trademarks and history Tariq Ali isn’t keen on Barack Obama, and it is increasingly becoming apparent to the rest of us why. The main appears to be vain and conceited but those are characteristics present in all politicians, as are avarice, greed and selfishness but Obama does all this with a cloak of respectability about him that Ali expertly pulls away to reveal the President in all his naked, shambolic glory. Ali tells us that Obama is a textbook rightwing American conservative with all then trademarks and history that brings. There are some interesting tales from his early days on the Chicago political circuit where it seemed the attitude was kill or be killed, and he certainly proved himself the carnivore and alpha male. Ali gives us evidence that Obama’s actions are the entire opposite of his soaring rhetoric about open hands and clenched fists. The insinuation is that George W. Bush may have bombed the crap out of the middle east, but at least had the decency to declare war first rather than authorising covert operations that kill indiscriminately away from the prying eyes of the independent media who were so skilled in finding out about atrocities in Iraq and Afghanistan. On the other hand this book is a polemic that completely ignores the good that Obama has done, at the very least in his own country and for his own people. His original policy ideas have been watered down to some sickening levels but there was some will there for change, unfortunately that will has not been strong enough and this book is a powerful if rather intoxicated attack on the first black president of the United States. It’s an attack purely from the left, whose darling Barack Obama can never be.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jibran

    This is a detailed analysis of, as the author calls it, the first 1000 days of Obama’s presidency. The book critiques Obama’s domestic and foreign policies and concludes that, contrary to the expectations of the world, the president has done nothing of note to bring the “change” he so fervently promised to his people and to the world. In his characteristic way of naming chapters, Tariq Ali calls him the “President of Cant”. The argument goes that save for Obama’s stance on the Iraq War, he hadn’t This is a detailed analysis of, as the author calls it, the first 1000 days of Obama’s presidency. The book critiques Obama’s domestic and foreign policies and concludes that, contrary to the expectations of the world, the president has done nothing of note to bring the “change” he so fervently promised to his people and to the world. In his characteristic way of naming chapters, Tariq Ali calls him the “President of Cant”. The argument goes that save for Obama’s stance on the Iraq War, he hadn’t promised anything fundamentally different in the first place. So it shouldn’t have been expected of him to roll back the American imperial project. His policies in Af-Pak, his stance on Iran and his staggering silence on the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories was there to be seen since before he was elected. At domestic front Obama turned out to be a one-dimensional politician who looked for “consensus” and “compromise” to the point of killing any major reforms which the country direly needed. Handling of the financial melt down and Health Care reforms both get a detailed treatment in the book. The author predicts that Obama will probably be a one-term president.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Luke

    Insightful critique of Obama's first year and a half in office. While delving into some of Obama's less savory actions, Tariq Ali's primary goal is to draw a connecting line between the policies of the Obama administration and those of its predecessor. He traces the continuity of these neo-liberal policies through the Bush years to the Clinton administration, which consolidated the gains of the "Reagan Revolution" while simultaneously speaking a language of liberal compassion. The parallel with Insightful critique of Obama's first year and a half in office. While delving into some of Obama's less savory actions, Tariq Ali's primary goal is to draw a connecting line between the policies of the Obama administration and those of its predecessor. He traces the continuity of these neo-liberal policies through the Bush years to the Clinton administration, which consolidated the gains of the "Reagan Revolution" while simultaneously speaking a language of liberal compassion. The parallel with Obama is striking. Ali writes about the wars, the healthcare reform, racial politics, disaster capitalism, the place of science in the Obama administration. He includes a very illuminating chapter on the charter school movement and its disastrous effects on public education. This book is highly recommended.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Dale

    Ali charts the course of Obama's presidency from his early days in the Illinois legislature, through the vacuous 'yes we can' campaign slogan, to the massive escalation of war in Afghannistan, the vast increase in the use of drones, the increasing use of state secrets privilege to prevent judicial review of administration actions, the continuing bank bailouts, financial deregulation, health insurance corporate giveaway, and the rest of the sorry legacy of Obama's first 1000 days in office. Ali charts the course of Obama's presidency from his early days in the Illinois legislature, through the vacuous 'yes we can' campaign slogan, to the massive escalation of war in Afghannistan, the vast increase in the use of drones, the increasing use of state secrets privilege to prevent judicial review of administration actions, the continuing bank bailouts, financial deregulation, health insurance corporate giveaway, and the rest of the sorry legacy of Obama's first 1000 days in office.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Mian Osumi

    A really enlightening read. I’m so tired of Obama worship, which I’m faced w at every turn—liberal friends defending him, all the Twitter hashtags praising him as the best president, I even saw the Obama family on some celebrity magazine the other day 🤦🏻‍♀️when will this country wake up? Obama was just like every other US president—a war criminal. People will be like ohh but he tried and he couldn’t—he had the Senate, house, and presidency his first two years! People will be like he just couldn’ A really enlightening read. I’m so tired of Obama worship, which I’m faced w at every turn—liberal friends defending him, all the Twitter hashtags praising him as the best president, I even saw the Obama family on some celebrity magazine the other day 🤦🏻‍♀️when will this country wake up? Obama was just like every other US president—a war criminal. People will be like ohh but he tried and he couldn’t—he had the Senate, house, and presidency his first two years! People will be like he just couldn’t bc his hands were tied—he appointed the WORST people! His education secretary was mr. pro charter school. Energy secretary was mr. offshore drilling (who EXPANDED offshore drilling from bush’s time, and look where that landed us w the bp oil spill). And look at his slew of big bank friends he hired, one of which was Larry Summers!! Who literally was one of the people responsible for the financial collapse?? Who was also btw close friends w Jeffrey Epstein. I am just so sick of people just casually assuming Obama was so great. So many jokes are always circulating that have something to do w how we have it so bad w Trump and Obama was amazing. Hating Trump doesn’t mean you have to miss Obama! I don’t care if he’s better than Trump!! You don’t get the “at least he’s not as bad as x” card when you commit extrajudicial killings of American citizens. When you package neoliberalism in the hopes and dreams of 2008 progressives and then crush their souls!! People are like “well he wasn’t perfect”....honeyyyyyyy....he EXPANDED the drone strike program killing Pakistani civilians!! That’s not just a cute lil imperfection. Aghhhhhh. Also on a related side note it especially upsets me as a Japanese person—the military base in Okinawa is paid for by American tax dollars! And again Obama not only didn’t close it, but he mocked the prime minister (I believe he was the PM?) at the time who ran on a campaign of closing the base, saying “but can you follow through?” Like!!! Come for me!! Anyone who wants to still defend Obama can come for me! Fight me! (Verbally and civilly of course, not physically) Because I am so. done. We just get the same neoliberal bs every cycle. It’s just so predictable. And this time it’s Biden and Trump. Oc we have to vote for Biden but seriously we need to organize and get an actual progressive in there. People are DYING from lack of access to healthy foods, and healthcare! There was an added appendix to this book on what it’s like in a hospital that serves underserved communities and ahhh it just makes me so upset!! Healthcare is a fucking 👏🏼right👏🏼I want to know, those pharma execs and fast food execs and meat industry execs, is it worth pocketing all those billions as people DIE in the meantime? Not to mention, in the case of the meat industry, all the animals that are being needlessly killed! How are you able to sleep at night! Ugh anyways. It’s 1am but I needed to let this rant out.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Steffi

    I think Tariq Ali, like Zizek, is publishing a few too many books for his own good. Alas, this collection of essays 'takes stock of the first 1,000 days of the Obama Governement' (so written sometime in 2010). So it's a little outdated as there are and will be a trillion books on the legacy of Obamas's eight years in power. But since I already bought the book, I might as well read it (currently 'mopping up' all my unread books before I am going to buy news ones in 2018). Anyhow, a few important t I think Tariq Ali, like Zizek, is publishing a few too many books for his own good. Alas, this collection of essays 'takes stock of the first 1,000 days of the Obama Governement' (so written sometime in 2010). So it's a little outdated as there are and will be a trillion books on the legacy of Obamas's eight years in power. But since I already bought the book, I might as well read it (currently 'mopping up' all my unread books before I am going to buy news ones in 2018). Anyhow, a few important things to note: 1. Guys, I am tired of the absurd idea that Obama was a progressive who could not implement his progressive ideas because of congress/system/media/other external factors. Democrats controlled both houses when Obama took power. Very useful to actually look at his hardcore neoliberal beliefs and agenda which he held from the outset. Obama further institutionalized business control over social interest, a process that really took off with Regean. Obama did not betray his ideas but your naive illusions that the smart, socially liberal black guy was a progressive. To his defense, he never actually ran a socialist platform. Obama Care, while an improvement, is THE classic neoliberal market based programme. 2. If you disagree with #1, go back and look at how miserably O-boy failed at using the Global Financial Crisis as an opportunity to embark on a new course. Not failed as in he tried and didn't succeed but alle efforts were on saving Wall Street and allowing global financial capitalism to survive as is. Even the Stiglitzes semi Keynesian interpretations and proposals that Wallstreet should clean up its own mess were too radical for Obama and co. In fact, the advisors he appointed were all part of the same 'free wall street firms from their depression era constraints' school (eg repealing the 1933 Glass-Steagall Act by the Clinton Administration) 3. Yes. There are 'good' neoliberals, non-racist, pro LGBTQ (these letters keep adding, is this the latest?) you name it. BUT they refuse to accept that inequality and oppression are not policy failures but structural features of capitalism. So as long as they operate within the neoliberal capitalism framework they advance politics for the elite. Duh. 4. Yes, he was better than Trump. Everybody is. But his politics also enabled Trump: If you go for the 'lesser evil' you'll end up with the very big evil in no time. Besides, the lesser evil is usually 'no evil' to the bourgeois who can afford to call it the lesser evil but it may still be a pretty big evil for others who will vote anti-establishment next time around. So good question to ask 'lesser evil' for whom? 5. LOL at michelle obama's obesity obsession, in true neoliberal fashion making this an issue of parenting and individual moral strength rather than a systemic issue where people with shitty jobs eat shitty food and get fat and sick (while being denied healthcare). 6. drone warfare, Yemen, etc, but you already know all that. 7. Bernie 2020 <3

  9. 4 out of 5

    Alexander

    While I agree with many of his criticisms of Obama and find the vitriol cathartic, there are too many factual inaccuracies to merit a higher rating. For example, the author claims that Cuba has created an "effective vaccine" for HIV/AIDS (page 100, footnote 22). Outside of regime propaganda, I have been unable to find evidence of this. This claim (and others like it) may result from the New Left's unfortunate tendency to romance/whitewash various "revolutionary" regimes (provided they oppose the While I agree with many of his criticisms of Obama and find the vitriol cathartic, there are too many factual inaccuracies to merit a higher rating. For example, the author claims that Cuba has created an "effective vaccine" for HIV/AIDS (page 100, footnote 22). Outside of regime propaganda, I have been unable to find evidence of this. This claim (and others like it) may result from the New Left's unfortunate tendency to romance/whitewash various "revolutionary" regimes (provided they oppose the US). Whatever the reason for such an outlandish claim, a footnote citing a government press release is not enough evidence to convince any reasonably skeptical individual.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Ben

    Tariq Ali is on the top shelf with the best left wing essayists writing about contemporary global politics. In a sane world Obama would be represent the right pole, but of course this isn't a sane world and the vast majority of his critics are stark raving mad right wing nutjobs and racists. Ah, read this book anyway, as nobody has put together the true record of Obama's calculated fealty to corporate power better. I hope Ali updates this for the 2012 campaign cycle. I don't recommend going off an Tariq Ali is on the top shelf with the best left wing essayists writing about contemporary global politics. In a sane world Obama would be represent the right pole, but of course this isn't a sane world and the vast majority of his critics are stark raving mad right wing nutjobs and racists. Ah, read this book anyway, as nobody has put together the true record of Obama's calculated fealty to corporate power better. I hope Ali updates this for the 2012 campaign cycle. I don't recommend going off anti-depressants while consuming this book.

  11. 5 out of 5

    sara frances

    oh, god. i can't read books like this anymore. #depressed oh, god. i can't read books like this anymore. #depressed

  12. 4 out of 5

    Zachary Welch

    Tariq Ali at his best, critiquing power. most memorable quote: "...to talk of betrayal is foolish, for nothing has been betrayed but one's own illusions." Tariq Ali at his best, critiquing power. most memorable quote: "...to talk of betrayal is foolish, for nothing has been betrayed but one's own illusions."

  13. 4 out of 5

    Rodney Ulyate

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. NOTES: Inside cover: Never again shall I ask Ali for his signature. This is the purest cacography. p. ix: "This essay is offered as a preliminary report on the first 1,000 days of the Obama presidency." One knows what he means, of course -- it becomes apparent later, when he promises an expanded successor volume -- but Obama had been occupying the White House barely 700 days when this book was written ("some months," Ali confirms, "before the midterm elections" of 2010). ip. 9: The author describes NOTES: Inside cover: Never again shall I ask Ali for his signature. This is the purest cacography. p. ix: "This essay is offered as a preliminary report on the first 1,000 days of the Obama presidency." One knows what he means, of course -- it becomes apparent later, when he promises an expanded successor volume -- but Obama had been occupying the White House barely 700 days when this book was written ("some months," Ali confirms, "before the midterm elections" of 2010). ip. 9: The author describes how Obama benefited in 2008 from "a growing disgust with the corruptions of Empire, the officially sanctioned torture, the imprisonment without trial in foreign lands, and the waterboarding so admired by Bush apologists in the media, the most publicity-seeking of whom tried out a designer version and found it not too bad." Now, if you're going to misrepresent someone, you ought at the very least to misrepresent him by name. There is no record of Christopher Hitchens's ever having "admired" waterboarding; as for finding the experience "not too bad," his essay on it is titled "Believe Me, It's Torture." p. 22: This is dreadful writing; this whole chapter, in fact, is unfocused and self-aggrandising. Does a book so slim really benefit from so lengthy an excursion into the lore of the Black Panthers? Their relevance to Obama and his "syndrome" is unclear. p. 54: "Even by the standards of today's 'international community,' the Western campaign to oblige Iran to abandon nuclear research, an option to which Iran is entitled under the Non-Proliferation Treaty, is breathtaking.' Where does this man get this stuff? And how does he, like Seymour Hersh, so nimbly avoid the other stuff? If Iran's research were peaceful, as Ali implies, why the hunt for UD3, which has no civilian purpose but is an essential element of the neutron initiator? Why would peaceful research necessitate such secrecy as was provided, before their exposure, by the covert facilities in Qom and Natanz? Why, finally, have the Iranians so frequently rejected Western offers of assistance? As the much-maligned Hitchens puts it, "The chance that this is not a militaristic and messianic design intended to harden the carapace of the dictatorship and help extend its powers of regional blackmail seem ridiculously close to zero." What makes Ali's denialism even more risible is his very next sentence, in which he reminds us that Iran "ringed by atomic states -- India, Pakistan, China, Russia, Israel -- and American nuclear submarines patrol its southern coast." These facts would be unnecessary except by way of mitigation, and on the assumption that Iran is violating the NPT. And then there's this, in the succeeding paragraph: "The country would do better to choose the right moment and simply withdraw from the Non-Proliferation Treaty." And this: "There will never be nuclear disarmament until it [the legal agreement forestalling nuclear armament] is broken." Then there is a reference to the "partially rigged Iranian elections of 2010" -- elections in which, according to the regime itself, some fifty cities saw more votes than eligible voters; in which the declared winner may have won as little as twelve per cent of the vote; and whose theft the Interior Ministry scarcely even bothered to conceal. Ali's understatement may be less sinister than ill-informed, however, since apparently he doesn't even know the year of these elections: They were held in 2009. p. 59: "The mass of the Afghan poor have received little or nothing from the new foreign-imposed order except increased risk to life and limb, as the re-organized Taliban hit back at the occupation and NATO bombs rain so indiscriminately on villages that even Karzai has repeatedly been forced to protest." Leave aside the fact that these words, and those surrounding them, were lazily lifted from an Ali essay for New Left Review 61; overlook, too, the sympathetic portrayal of Mullah Omar's latrociny and its motives. (This is unexceptional from a man who used the word "resistance" to describe the Fedayeen Saddam and al-Qaeda in Iraq.) No, the two words in this passage which struck me hardest were "even" and "Karzai." To this is added, in a footnote, the fact that "on December 27, 2009 [...] a US black-ops unit killed ten civilians on the same day that Ahmadinejad's militias killed five demonstrators in Tehran." Ali is not brave enough to tell us what he wishes to illustrate by it. The foremost possibilities -- moral equivalence and American moral inferiority -- are both untenable, to put it gently. p. 66: "General Stanley McChrystal's kamikaze interview had the desired effect." It was desired that he disgrace himself? By whom? The author cannot mean what he says. How this rot escaped the notice not only of the London Review of Books, where it put its original appearance, but also the able folks at Verso, is a mystery. p. 67: "All the media-hyped advances are illusory." But of course. And I find I'm delighted by the idea that the media are generating "hype" about this forgotten war, as opposed to ignoring it well nigh completely. p. 156: I come to the end of this book, with its weirdly tangential appendices, none the wiser about what the Obama Syndrome actually is. I was expecting something a touch more substantive and insightful than the subtitular "Surrender at Home, War Abroad." No prognoses are offered either. Ali takes up infinitely more space in agonising over the typeface (p. x), recounting Black-Panther lore (pp. 21-26), promoting Verso's sister journal (pp. 119-130) and reprinting an essay on Yemen in which his book's putative subject appears not once (pp. 131-145). I'll take a pass on the sequel.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Wynker

    I don't think many people will finish this without wondering who Obama truly is and being more than a little disgusted by what they have learned. My only niggle is that I'm not sure I completely agree with Ali's assessment of the Arab countries. Obviously, I have the advantage of hindsight. There lies the biggest flaw of this book, my version was edited in 2010 or 2011. Many things have changed since then. I wish Ali would write a newer edition of the same work. Highly recommended for anyone who I don't think many people will finish this without wondering who Obama truly is and being more than a little disgusted by what they have learned. My only niggle is that I'm not sure I completely agree with Ali's assessment of the Arab countries. Obviously, I have the advantage of hindsight. There lies the biggest flaw of this book, my version was edited in 2010 or 2011. Many things have changed since then. I wish Ali would write a newer edition of the same work. Highly recommended for anyone who truly want to understand what's going on in the world. By the way, upon reading this book, some may argue that Obama didn't have a choice or that he's receiving a lot of bad press because of the colour of his skin. I will say that the few glimpse of the real Obama shown in the book combined with what I already knew about him makes me wonder if Obama even truly consider himself black or if he even cared about the black community. What is clear to me, however, is that he lacks and have always lacked moral strenght. It's not that he is too white or bipartisan, he just doesn't have any backbone. But calling him spineless isn't quite adequate. I simply think that he, like pretty much every politicians in the USA and elsewhere, are only there to serve their own interest. They lust power and as a result are able to put on the charm when needed with the help of a good PR team. Heartless? Power-hungry? Souless? Amoral? You choose.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Unsagacious Lu

    I reread this book, before the covid chaos kicked off, and thought it had actually aged well and was more compelling than when Ali originally penned it.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Ian Morgan

    A very concise and rather depressing analysis of the first 1000 days of the Obama presidency and all the Change we didn't get. A well argued, though a bit snarky in place, and well researched example of a liberal's critique of Obama's time in office. The short article titled "Dispatches from the Emergency Room" is worth the price of admission. A very concise and rather depressing analysis of the first 1000 days of the Obama presidency and all the Change we didn't get. A well argued, though a bit snarky in place, and well researched example of a liberal's critique of Obama's time in office. The short article titled "Dispatches from the Emergency Room" is worth the price of admission.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Yasir Malik

    I like Tariq Ali's writings but this one is wavering too much and is not an easy read. Informative though but didn't get as much pleasure as I usually did from his other books. I like Tariq Ali's writings but this one is wavering too much and is not an easy read. Informative though but didn't get as much pleasure as I usually did from his other books.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl

    If you are at all worried about President Obama being a socialist, read this book. If you think the country is truly "changing," read this book. I hear the "nightly news" a little differently now. If you are at all worried about President Obama being a socialist, read this book. If you think the country is truly "changing," read this book. I hear the "nightly news" a little differently now.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen O'Neal

    A worthwhile critique of President Obama from the left. One of the very first books to come out that spoke critically of Obama's presidency from a radical left-wing perspective. A worthwhile critique of President Obama from the left. One of the very first books to come out that spoke critically of Obama's presidency from a radical left-wing perspective.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Noric Dilanchian

    A wet fish slap across the face of nieve beliefs about what makes the United States what it is in recent times.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Atif Ijaz

  22. 5 out of 5

    Huda Ramli

  23. 5 out of 5

    Hani Naqvi

  24. 5 out of 5

    Arman Raina

  25. 5 out of 5

    Trisha

  26. 4 out of 5

    Somaya

  27. 4 out of 5

    Daniel

  28. 5 out of 5

    Arielle88

  29. 5 out of 5

    Sascha Korent

  30. 4 out of 5

    Seā Emarṓsa

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