Tariq Ali elaborates
Source Doug Henwood
Date 04/10/30/14:22

[Tariq Ali asked me to circulate this. He sent it under the subject
heading "Rage from Outer Space." You can listen to the interview at


As I expected my interview with Doug Henwood on the US elections has
resulted in a flurry of e-mails and not a few distortions, which one
has come to expect from sections of the US Left. Not a single e-mail
from friends/comrades/acquaintances on any other continent. Outside
the US few progressives get agitated when one hopes in public that
Bush is defeated. Before the more virulent sectarians begin to choke
in their own bile let me set the record straight on what my views are
and what they are not. Soon the elections will be over and we can get
back to uniting against the war in Iraq and adventures elsewhere.

(1) A defeat for Bush would be a defeat for a war-monger President
who invaded Iraq and whose policies have left 100,000 Iraqi civilians
and over a 1000 US soldiers dead. Tens of thousands have been
severely wounded. Defeating a regime that has waged this war is not
an abstract question. It is real and should be a priority for
everyone who was opposed to the war in Iraq. A victory for Bush could
have a demoralising impact globally and in the US. In Iraq and
Venezuela, Afghanistan and Cuba, South Africa and China, people will
think Bush has been re-elected because a majority of the US
electorate support his policies. The defeat of the incumbent has to
be de-linked from the political character of the available
alternative. Why? Because a defeat for Bush will mark a defeat for
his policies.

(2) Defeating Bush, alas, means voting for Kerry in the swing states.
His policies, except on abortion and some other social issues, are
virtually indistinguishable from those of Bush. We can all wish there
was a better candidate, but there ain't one. And we do need a
candidate to defeat Bush. I agree with many of Alexander Cockburn's
criticisms as expressed in the latest New Left Review, while
disagreeing with his conclusions. Despite the pathetic nature of
Kerry and his cohort Edwards, the Left has no other choice IF it
wants to defeat Bush. If it regards the outcome of the election as
irrelevant, then of course, I understand the anger directed against
myself. Rage from outer-space leaves me unmoved.

(3) A significant proportion of Democratic voters are opposed to the
war and if Kerry continues on the same trajectory in Iraq as he
promises to do then a section of his own base will detach itself and
fight against him from Day One. That is why I have argued that the
Inauguration should be an occasion for the largest national antiwar
gathering possible demanding the withdrawal of all US troops from
Iraq. There is no question of 'sowing illusions' in Kerry or the
Democrats. The last chapter of the paperback 'Bush in Babylon' makes
my views on the US Democrats very clear. So we will carry on fighting
the incumbent if the incumbent carries on the war in Iraq. And if he
does then surely at the end of four years he will go down as well and
an intelligent third party could have an impact. But four years is a
long way away and the US Empire is not as strong as it imagines. If
they do not withdraw from Iraq they will be humiliated. Which is why
some real nutters privately speak of nukes and killing a million
Iraqis to calm the situation.

(4) I feel exactly the same regarding our local war-monger Tony
Blair. I am for his defeat, despite the backing he has received from
the labour movement. If a Liberal-Democrat candidate can defeat a
pro-war New Labour ghoul, then I will vote for the Liberal-Democrats,
despite their Kerry-like weaknesses. The reasons are the same.
Politicians who deserve to be tried as war-criminals should not be

(5) Many dear friends are committed to voting Nader/Camejo. On the
West Coast and in New York this registers a vote to the left of Kerry
and could add to the pressure but only if Kerry were elected. If the
dynamic duo help Bush win in the swing states, you can say farewell
to the chance of creating a meaningful Third Party for many, many
years. I do not live in the United States, but am reassured that Noam
Chomsky, Howard Zinn and other veterans hold a similar view.

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