political commentator, historian, activist, filmmaker, novelist and an editor of the New Left Review. His most recent book is The Extreme Centre: A Warning. He is also the author of several books on Pakistani politics and history.
Following the attacks in Lahore, leading Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump tweeted to his 7 million followers, "Another radical Islamic attack, this time in Pakistan, targeting Christian women & children. At least 67 dead, 400 injured. I alone can solve." We speak to British-Pakistani commentator Tariq Ali about Trump’s candidacy, as well as Bernie Sanders.
AMY GOODMAN: Following the attacks in Lahore, the killing of, what, more than 72 people, injuring close to 350, the presidential front-runner of the Republican Party, Donald Trump, tweeted to his 7 million followers. Quote, "Another radical Islamic attack, this time in Pakistan, targeting Christian women & children. At least 67 dead, 400 injured. I alone can solve," Trump tweeted. Tariq Ali?
TARIQ ALI: Complete fantasist, Amy. What can this guy do to deal with the problem in Pakistan? He doesn’t even understand it, if he speaks of only Christians being killed. That’s bad enough. Lots of Muslims, as you said earlier and as the country knows, more Muslims than Christians, have died. Why didn’t he mention that? Why, if he’s a serious politician, didn’t he say that these terrorist attacks do not only take place in Europe or North America, they actually target other Muslims in Muslim states regularly, and more people die there? It’s simply this one got more publicity because it came very soon after Brussels, so it made the front pages of The New York Times and various European papers. Had it happened six months later, it would have been inside-page news. But for Trump to be so completely ignorant of what’s going on is hardly a surprise. And this is just empty bravado. "I can deal with it." What—how can you deal with it? By nuking the country? I mean, it’s just ridiculous.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, Donald Trump, his first television advertisement certainly created a lot of controversy, as it demanded a ban on Muslims entering the United States, while vowing to decapitate the militant group ISIS.
TARIQ ALI: Well, I mean, you know, how can you decapitate a group that has been created as a result of your own actions? Everyone knows, it’s not a secret—and Trump himself actually has said it; Obama has said it, too—that had we not invaded Iraq, there would have been no ISIS, which is absolutely true. So it’s U.S. policies which create these groups, and then more wars are proposed to deal with them, to decapitate them, when the actual problem isn’t understood.
But I think, Amy, that Trump’s popularity, whether we like it or not, doesn’t come from stupid, absurd remarks like this, but comes that he appeals to a layer which feels—social—a social layer in American political life which has been ignored by mainstream politicians, and which is poor, white, working-class families. That is where his appeal is coming from. And thank God we’ve got Bernie Sanders also appealing to this layer, and others, and saying there is an alternative on the other side. My fear is that if Bernie is not the presidential candidate of the Democrats—which might be the case, though I hope not—and Trump has to deal with Hillary on the issue of war, on the issue of TTIP and all these trade treaties that have been signed, on the issue of doing something for poor whites, he’ll trump her, to use an awful pun. He will do better than her. She has absolutely no reply on any of these issues or of being a creature of Wall Street.
AMY GOODMAN: We have less than a minute, but you have the interesting political phenomenon in Britain of Jeremy Corbyn rising to be Labour leader. The Independent just reported that Jeremy Corbyn overtakes David Cameron in leadership satisfaction ratings. If you can very quickly comment on Jeremy Corbyn now in his tenure as Labour leader?
TARIQ ALI: Amy, I’ve written a long essay on his progress in the last London Review of Books. He’s doing well. He carries on addressing meetings. He’s very similar in many ways to Bernie Sanders, except that he’s actually the leader of a political party. If the Blairites stop sniping at him from inside the Labour Party and let him get on with it, I don’t think it’s at all impossible that Jeremy Corbyn could be the country’s next prime minister, because David Cameron is in a fix with the euro referendum coming up, with his own party divided. So we could have an election sooner than 2020, and a unified force behind Jeremy could actually propel him into Downing Street.
AMY GOODMAN: Tariq Ali, I want to thank you for being with us, political commentator, historian, activist, filmmaker, novelist, editor of the New Left Review. His latest book, The Extreme Centre: A Warning. He’s written a number of books on Pakistani politics and history.
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