By Dr Mahathir Mohamad
1. Oil drives the world. Ever since the invention of the internal combustion engine, the demand for oil has been increasing by leaps and bounds.
2. Today the estimated total consumption of oil per day amounts to 70,000,000 plus barrels. Engines has been made more efficient i.e. consume less oil for a given power. But still the demand for oil continues to rise.
3. In 1973 the price of one barrel of crude oil was just 3.50 USD. The oil producing countries were being robbed. They remained poor and at the mercy of the Seven Sisters – the biggest and richest petroleum companies of the world. They dictated the price. And they paid royalty amounting to only 20% or so of the price of crude to the poor countries.
4. The producing countries would have remained poor but for the anger over the state of Israel being supported by the West. Following the Yom Kippur War, the Organisation of Oil Producing Countries, decided to cut oil supply to the West.
5. Suddenly the producer countries got the upper hand. They could deny supply and therefore they could dictate prices.
6. Within one year the price shot up to 12 USD. From then on the price went up higher and higher.
7. Today the price is USD 120 per barrel. The producing countries had accordingly become extremely wealthy from their production sharing contracts.
8. But it is not just the producers who are pushing up oil price. The Western consumer countries are even more guilty. Their profligate ways and their policy of dominating the world has resulted in sanctions and wars against the Muslim oil producers which invariably affected the supply of oil to the world. The war against terror initiated by the United States has resulted in blockades against many Muslim oil producing countries.
9. In total disregard for international law and the United Nations, the United States is currently blockading Iran, a major oil exporter. In order to make the sanctions effective the United States need other countries to do the same.
10. But countries which source their oil from Iran are naturally unwilling to join in the blockade. To get them to apply sanction the United States is now doing a lot of arm-twisting, making threats against the total trade of these countries. Countries like Malaysia are very susceptible.
11. This great advocate of free trade, of globalisation, of a borderless world seems ever ready to renege on its undertaking on free trade. You get to trade freely if you do as you are told.
12. But the United States cannot force China, Russia and India. No attempt is made against European countries either because without Iranian oil their economies would grind to a stop.
13. This great country which is so dedicated to promoting free trade picks and choose the countries to bully. But then it is also not so committed to the freedoms of democracy.
14. Faced with the threat of terrorism the United States did not hesitate to curtail freedom even for its own people. Having passed the equivalence of the ISA on foreign terror suspects, Obama recently extended detention without trial to American citizens as well.
15. But the United States Congress has done better. It also legalised torture. So there is no need to send prisoners to countries which permits torture.
16. Malaysia should be proud of having the United States and Britain copy its legal system. But while Malaysia rids itself of the ISA, don’t expect the United States to do the same. Guantanamo is now 10 years old. It is set to go on forever.
17. There will be no trial for the detainees. Homeland security means no security for others. At any time they can be bombed and rocketed out of existence, starved through sanctions and failure to cooperate in applying sanctions against Iran will result in denial of free trade.