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 todays
news and tomorrows 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? Arent
the consequences such as sorrow, anger, humanitarian aid and political
outcry similar in most cases? Public reaction is certainly no different.
Most people just couldnt care less, as long as it doesnt 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 arent 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 planets inhabitants
have all but forgotten the 21st of September 2001. That is when a similar
barbaric act knocked the bottom out of Indonesias 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' dont 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 couldnt 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
hadnt 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 islands 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 werent 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 doesnt matter
whether its the sloppy bus service in Paraguay, or the electricity
supply in Kenya l, oil keeps the wheels turning of everyones 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
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 neednt 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.
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