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POLITICAL COMMENT

THE CREEPING THREAT
James Skinner - Our Spanish Correspondent

'The long-term economic effect of terrorism is slowly and surely moving in...'

An earthquake in Algeria, heavy floods in France, a plane crash somewhere else, its all today’s news and tomorrow’s history. Husband murders wife in a small town in France, another drug baron hits the dust in south Portugal and the extreme right have finally taken over in some forgotten European state. Life on this side of the pond goes on, despite human tragedies hitting the headlines on a daily basis.

But what about the shattering news whenever international terrorism strikes yet again, is that any different to other world calamities? Aren’t the consequences such as sorrow, anger, humanitarian aid and political outcry similar in most cases? Public reaction is certainly no different. Most people just couldn’t care less, as long as it doesn’t happen to their next-door neighbour. But one thing is certainly being overlooked and that is money! The long-term economic effect of terrorism is slowly and surely moving in and although a great deal of the world leaders are aware they certainly aren’t advertising it.

When four passenger airliners were hijacked by a highly organised group of Islamic thugs who gate crashed their way through the US airspace and smashed themselves and thousands of innocent victims into smithereens, the world stood still. Two years later, most of the planet’s inhabitants have all but forgotten the 21st of September 2001. That is when a similar barbaric act knocked the bottom out of Indonesia’s tourist economy by blowing up a few yuppie karaoke joints in Bali some time later. The aftermath consequences were very similar. People just turned over the page and read on. And so we go from one terrorist atrocity to another, from one suicide bomber to another, from Chechnya to Saudi Arabia, from Kenya to Morocco.

But is something really changing that we 'the People' don’t yet realise? What about our daily purchasing power, that delicate economic balance of co-existence that we all share on this planet built up over centuries of progress? Has a new international roller-coaster scenario been set, kicked off by cheapo bomb happy religious fanatics who couldn’t give a damn about human life? Is the world economic order going up in smoke, literally because small pockets of radicals and anarchists are having a field day? Is our house of cards finally beginning to crumble?

‘All you have to do is bottle it, put on a fancy label and we can make six hundred percent profit!’ This was the statement made by the marketing executive in a scene from a low budget movie made some years ago called ‘Water’. Featuring among other comedians, Michael Caine and Brenda Vaccaro, it is the story of a small fictitious British colony in the Caribbean that discovers natural pop soda. Although the film is a complete farce involving international politics, economic exploitation, military intervention and terrorism, it does highlight, ironically and on a parallel basis the effects of the discovery of oil in the Middle East. The film opens with the initial unscrupulous exploitation by an American multi-national corporation ready to make a quick buck out of the innocent islanders. They are soon stopped in their tracks through devious political manoeuvring by the almighty British crown, which incidentally hadn’t a clue where the island was. A young Maureen Stapleton brilliantly portrays the role of Maggie Thatcher. Eventually, all hell breaks loose including French mercenaries who blow up the source in order to offset possible ‘Perrier’ competition. Cuban freedom fighters enter; ready to promote Che Guevara all over again and finally, a rock and role concert at the United Nations asking for the island’s freedom. A real hoot of a movie! What was the moral of the story? Nobody gave a damn about the natives as long as profit prevailed. Ring a bell with the Middle East and oil?

Lets face it, if it weren’t for the ‘black gold’ the world economy over the last few decades would have fallen apart. Without producing mountains of statistical figures on energy and the likes, the whole bloody lot of us the world over depend on this gooey crap. It doesn’t matter whether it’s the sloppy bus service in Paraguay, or the electricity supply in Kenya l, oil keeps the wheels turning of everyone’s livelihood day in and day out. And where is the damn stuff? In Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia and a few other odd places dotted around this revolving planet. And who needs it more than anyone, the dear old consumer in the developed world!

When Henry Ford started producing his model ‘T’ motorcar he triggered off a world threat. He opened the door to the craving for oil and the incentive for oil producers to grab monopolies. The British were the first to exploit the stuff by digging for it in the early part of the 20th century. The French and the Americans soon jumped on the bandwagon and were also exchanging all kinds of useful goodies with the locals for the new ‘holy water’. But then along came a guy called Rezah Pahlavi, also known as the Shah of Iran, who realised that the oil producers were being screwed, particularly by the Western powers. Welcome to the oil crisis of the seventies! The guy upped the price of oil by about, wait for it, six hundred percent. And so a new era of prosperity for the oil producers was born. And once again, the large oil consuming countries adjusted their international political strategy in order to continue their thirst for the stuff. But unfortunately, like all other economic turmoil, prosperity brought instability and instability turned into war. The Middle East over the past few decades is a hotbed of trouble.

We needn’t delve into every corner of the last hundred years of history dissecting the plethora of events that have eventually ended in war. Humanity has certainly suffered enormously because of various political and religious reasons ending in brutal conflict. Yet behind all this horror, the world, in particular the developed one, continued to progress practically ‘ad infinitum’ as it strived for a richer and better life style. Energy was always the basis for development, and the source continued to emerge from all the oil fields throughout the planet. Yet terrorism has brought a dramatic change. A simple bomb placed in the right place, at the right time will trigger a tremendous panic worldwide. Whilst old fashioned wars were in many ways predictable this new order is not. The creeping threat of economic instability due to the now fashionable ‘hit and run’ terrorism is irreversible. The final analysis is yet to come and it will probably awaken the world with a big bang. At the moment, oil is the cause and greed is still the common effect, but the credit card is running dry. Just watch this space.

© James G. Skinner. 2003.
jamesskinner@cemiga.es
Vigo Spain

Terrorism Here to Stay?

James on Terror


HUMPTY DUMPTY SAT ON A WALL
James Skinner on Iraq and Texas


The Media At War
James Skinner on embedded journos

Islam v Consumerism
James Skinner
on the origins of the current conflict


‘DIVIDE AND CONQUER’
‘Is this the coalition’s slogan as they forge their way through Iraq to destroy oppression and liberate the people?

The Sinking of The Prestige
James Skinner on the poisoned beaches of Spain
'Much too little too late'


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