From Haiti to Iraq: Old empires strike back
from March 1 , 2004 www.SevenOaksMag.com
by Charles Demers
We live and operate, today, in a political world whose favourite prefixes imply that much of our old business is finished, and that we are constantly dealing with something new. When they emerged in the mid-1990s, the Zapatistas were roundly lauded as having put into motion the world’s “first post-modern revolution”; their enemies were the forces of neo-liberalism. Post-colonial studies have flourished in an age where IMF and World Bank austerity programmes have been renounced as harbingers of neo-imperialism. There are neo-cons, neo-Nazis, and plans for a space station on Mars giving us, in George W. Bush, a neo-Armstrong. While we should applaud the constant adaptation of activists and intellectuals to evolving political realities, we must also be prepared for regression. That is to say, we should be ready to recognise old friends, as well as old enemies. If the standing analysis ain’t broke, don’t prefix it.
Scholars and activist commentators around the world, led by Britain’s Tariq Ali in his lucid and expert Bush in Babylon, have rushed to highlight the significance of the fact that the Union Jack is again raised over Iraqi cities. An open experiment in the re-colonisation of ‘properties’ lost to twentieth century revolutions is underway in today’s Middle East. Because of the unapologetic ways in which hostilities manifested in direct military invasion and hostile take-over, Iraq has served as the most fluorescent example of the return of robust, old-fashioned imperialism.