IKIM Views by Mazilan Musa, Fellow/Director of the Centre for Economics, Social Study and Technology
IT WAS Thursday morning on March 20. Iraq was attacked by the Americans and their gang. My wife was in tears and I was left numb and speechless.
I believe the same feelings were and are still shared by many Malaysians.
Why did America and its friends heartlessly invade Iraq though no consent was given by the United Nations?
In fact, the weapon inspectors of the United Nations were progressing well in disarming Iraq from the so-called weapons of mass destruction.
However, by now, we already know who actually possess these weapons of mass destruction!
We must now understand that war is just a tool used by the Americans.
For what you may ask?
As a tool to ensure globalisation will serve their economic interests, that is the answer.
So, what is the connection between the Iraq war and globalisation?
The whole world has been fooled (or forced) to believe that globalisation is to create fairer international trades.
We are told globalisation is supposed to make cross-border trade easier and this is possible through the abolishment of tariff and non-tariff barriers.
For example, a company in Malaysia is free to sell its products in the United States and vice versa.
That is an ideal international trading situation.
It is a beautiful picture indeed.
However, that is not the reality.
It may be easier for an American firm to sell its products in Malaysia but the same facility will not be enjoyed by a Malaysian firm which wishes to penetrate the American market. Why?
First of all, the main obstacle is the American government itself.
The Americans always act under the banner of “protecting their own interests.”
Despite globalisation, they will impose various restrictions for foreign entries if the latter are to affect their domestic companies.
On the other hand, why did the Bush administration refuse to sign the Kyoto Protocol?
Definitely to protect its oil companies.
Why did the Bush administration fail to attend the World Earth Summit in South Africa?
Again, to protect its oil companies.
Why did the Bush administration passionately attack Iraq?
Again, besides trying to finish the unfinished business of Bush Sr, the objective of the war is to serve the interests of its oil companies.
During his speech immediately after the attacks on Iraq began, President Bush promised “sustained commitment” in Iraq after the war.
What does he mean by “sustained commitment”?
Are we so foolish to believe what he really meant is “with good intentions” to help the Iraqis?
There is actually business to be made out of the suffering of the Iraqis.
“Sustained commitment” means to remain in Iraq after the war to rake in the opportunities offered by the oil fields.
The made-in-Iraq-by-America devastation offers business opportunities to American construction companies.
The war also creates a feeling of insecurity in the region.
This will boost the demand for a defence system, which is a very lucrative business in America.
Why did the American government always act in favour of the oil companies and not to forget, the defence industry?
The lobby system in America allows various interest groups to influence the US domestic and international policies.
This is where money comes to play.
Oil giants spend a lot of money to hire good lawyers to lobby and influence the policies of the US administration.
At the same time, Bush is indebted to, among others, the oil giants for helping his presidential campaign in 2000.
An estimated US$191mil (RM726mil) was spent during the campaign.
Now it is the turn of the sponsors (or investors?) to benefit.
Therefore, regardless of what the international conventions say, the Bush administration will always ignore them if the interests of the oil companies are at stake.
The international community can bark endlessly at the US about poisonous gas emission, global warming or the suffering of the Iraqi civilians, only to see they wouldn’t give a hoot.
The lobby system also creates injustice in the process of globalisation.
Their lobby groups play a significant role in protecting local interests by barring entries of foreign products.
For example, look at what happened to the tropical wood industry.
The wood industry in the West uses non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to protest against the tropical wood industry on environmental issues, including global warming.
After totally destroying their forests, suddenly they had the idea that only tropical forests serve as the green lung of the earth.
Therefore, tropical forests cannot be disturbed.
Why didn’t they say so before this?
Even my eight-year-old son knows that all types of forests, be they temperate or tropical, absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen.
These NGOs managed to influence their governments to ban the import of tropical wood products.
At the same time, their campaigns were targeted at the domestic consumers to boycott such products.
Very much similar to the American invasion of Iraq, globalisation is almost certain to occur.
However, whether globalisation is the right thing to do really needs serious reconsideration.
The spirit of globalisation is noble and should be embraced by every nation in the world.
However, looking at how the Americans and other developed nations behave, the actual implementation of globalisation will be one-sided and only benefit their companies.
Globalisation also allows their large corporations to gobble up relatively small companies in other countries.
For example, car makers Opel, Vauxhall, Holden and Isuzu are now controlled by the American auto giant General Motors (please see www.gm.com/ company/corp_info/profiles/index2.htm)
If this happens to Malaysian companies, what will be left for us?
If we want to see globalisation benefit all, America must be cuffed from being the sole superpower of the world.
The proposed military coalition among Germany, France and Belgium is a good idea.
Maybe Russia and China should join in.
This will create a system of check and balance in the world.
Otherwise, the American soldiers will storm our doors whenever they fail to get what they want.
As a fellow human being, I just wonder: “How is it possible that the general American public can sleep soundly at night on the beds made of blood and miseries of other people?”
Finally, to readers, I want to let you know that I feel good driving around using Petronas gas.
At least, my conscience is clear. How about you?