‘Out with the old, in with the new’

‘Out with the old, in with the new’ by Tariq Ali for The Guardian, February 7, 2005

The Iraqi elections were designed not to preserve the unity of Iraq but to re-establish the unity of the west

The US, unlike the empires of old Europe, has always preferred to exercise its hegemony indirectly. It has relied on local relays – uniformed despots, corrupt oligarchs, pliant politicians, obedient monarchs – rather than lengthy occupations. It was only when rebellions from below threatened to disrupt this order that the marines were dispatched and wars fought.

During the cold war, money was supplied indiscriminately to all anti-communist forces (including the current leadership of al-Qaida); the 21st-century recipients are more carefully targeted. The aim is slowly to replace the traditional elites in the old satrapies with a new breed of neo-liberal politicians who have been trained and educated in the US. This is the primary function of the US money allocated to “democracy promotion”. Loyalty can be purchased from politicians, parties and trades unions. And the result, it is hoped, is to create a new layer of janissary politicians who serve Washington. read more