Tunisia and the IMF’s Diktats: How Macro-Economic Policy Triggers Worldwide Poverty and Unemployment
by Michel Chossudovsky
January 20, 2011
General Zine el Abidine Ben Ali , the defunct and deposed president of Tunisia is heralded by the Western media, in chorus, as a dictator.
The Tunisian protest movement is casually described as the consequence of an undemocratic and authoritarian regime, which defies the norms of the “international community”.
But Ben Ali was not a “dictator”. Dictators decide and dictate. Ben Ali was a servant of Western economic interests, a faithful political puppet who obeyed orders, with the active support of the international community.
Foreign interference in Tunisia’s domestic affairs is not mentioned in the media reports. The food price hikes were not “dictated” by the Ben Ali government. They were imposed by Wall Street and the IMF.
The role of Ben Ali’s government was to enforce the IMF’s deadly economic medicine, which over a period of more than twenty years has served to destabilize the national economy and impoverish the Tunisian population.
Ben Ali as head of state did not decide on anything of substance. National sovereignty was foregone. In 1987, at the height of the debt crisis, the left nationalist government of Habib Bourguiba was replaced by a new regime, firmly committed to “free market” reforms.
Macroeconomic management under the helm of the IMF was in the hands of Tunisia’s external creditors. Over the last 23 years, economic and social policy in Tunisia has been dictated by the Washington Consensus.
Ben Ali stayed in power because his government obeyed and effectively enforced the diktats of the IMF, while serving the interests of both the US and the European Union.
This pattern has occurred in numerous countries.
Continuity of the IMF’s deadly reforms requires “regime replacement”. The installation of a political puppet ensures the enforcement of the neoliberal agenda while also creating conditions for the eventual demise of a corrupt and unpopular government which has been draw upon to impoverish an entire population.
The Protest Movement