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."
Tariq Ali is a writer and film-maker. He has written over a dozen books on world history and politics, five novels, and scripts for both stage and screen. He is an editor of New Left Review and lives in London.