Terrorism's Threat to Globalization

YellowTimes.org, November 12, 2002


Following the attacks of September 11, the United States recognized the threat terrorism posed to the global economy. Whether or not it was their specific intent, the architects of the attacks caused immense damage to the global economic structure. By striking at the economic and military core of this system, the inevitable spread of free trade capitalism throughout the world was temporarily postponed.

Since September 11, the United States has been pursuing a policy of coercion in order to destroy any threats to the current global economic order. The attacks of that day have been used as a justification to eliminate globalization opposition groups; this justification has also been used to mask increased U.S. expansion in parts of the world that were previously beyond Washington's sphere of influence.

Such newly acquired regional control can be seen in the Caucasus and Central Asia. This has given the United States greater influence in the Middle East by encroaching upon Iran's eastern and northwestern border. Military bases have been built in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. The U.S. has also been furthering economic ties with Georgia in the middle of fresh invasion threats from Moscow.

By increasing its presence, the United States has worried other regional powers, namely Russia and Iran. Moscow fears that the United States will gain more control over the oil and gas deposits in the southern Caucasus, in countries such as Georgia and Azerbaijan.

Tehran fears that increased U.S. involvement around Iran may limit their country's economic growth and possibly even threaten its existence. Iran recently built a gas pipeline from Turkmenistan and is currently planning a new pipeline with India; Tehran also fears that increased U.S. influence in oil-rich Azerbaijan could limit Iran's access to oil drilling sites in the Caspian Sea. How the resources of the Caspian will be divided is still under contest with the five bordering countries -- Iran, Azerbaijan, Russia, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan -- vying for rights. Further, U.S. corporations are planning on building oil and gas pipelines out of the oil and gas rich Caucasus and Turkmenistan bypassing Iran.

Along with encroaching U.S. troops on its eastern border with Afghanistan, many in Tehran worry about possible U.S. troops along its western border with Iraq. Iran and Iraq have strengthened economic cooperation recently with the Iraqi-Iranian joint committee for trade and economic cooperation. Both sides stressed the development of bilateral cooperation in all fields. All of this may be squandered any day with a U.S. invasion of Iraq. While many in Iran would not mind seeing Hussein go, the prospects of having the U.S. military next door is not a desirable alternative.

But Iran has remained cautiously silent over the encroaching United States. If they do not comply with U.S. demands, Tehran fears that the U.S. may induce "regime change" sooner than later considering that they are already part of the "axis of evil." U.S. President Bush recently stated, "Iran must be a contributor in the war against terror. Our nation and our fight against terror will uphold the doctrine: either you're with us or against us. And any nation that thwarts our ability to rout terror where it exists will be held to account, one way or another." Such statements have put Iran on the defensive.

With the American people supporting the Bush administration against perceived and real threats, the Bush administration has unique leverage to build more military bases and thus increase U.S. influence and intrusion around the world.

Washington is gambling that increased influence will decrease the chance of attacks against the global economic system and its own territory. With U.S. bases now littering previously hostile areas, and authoritarian central governments being propped up by funding from the U.S., the administration is hoping to suppress any militant sections of foreign societies.

However, such a policy is truly risky. The overt use of force by Washington is exposing U.S. policy, making it harder to disguise its strategy in moral and humanist terms. Because voting blocs primarily respond to moral justifications, the Bush administration could lose support at home as such justifications erode under continued scrutiny.

In addition, the administration could further inflame segments of the world already discontented with the global economic system. This could result in more attempts to attack the system. With the spread of U.S. forces as part of this strategy, there will certainly not be a lack of targets.

Further attacks on U.S. and Western interests will severely disrupt opportunity for economic growth. The October bomb attack in Bali, Indonesia was a perfect example of what further attacks will do to the world economy. Indonesia's tourist industry has been damaged, which threatens the entire country's economy since tourism accounts for 3.4 percent of its GDP; it also decreases foreign investment in what looks to be an unstable market. The Bali attack has already sharply reduced the flow of tourists to points of interest throughout Southeast Asia.

Therefore, Washington believes that the best way to increase world stability and thus restart economic growth is to expand U.S. influence across the globe. Instead of relying on foreign governments to control segments of their own populations who resist globalization, the United States is taking matters into its own hands. As for foreign governments who directly threaten global economic growth, either by not taking action against militants or simply hampering the release of economic resources into the world market, they risk certain demise.


Erich Marquardt drafted this report; Matthew Riemer contributed.

[The Power and Interest News Report (PINR) is an analysis-based publication that seeks to, as objectively as possible, provide insight into various conflicts, regions and points of interest around the globe. PINR approaches a subject based upon the powers and interests involved, leaving the moral judgments to the reader. PINR seeks to inform rather than persuade; it is currently a project of YellowTimes.org. This report may be reproduced, reprinted or broadcast provided that any such reproduction identifies the original source, http://www.YellowTimes.org.

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