19 FEBRUARY 2003

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Toon this week: You are what you eat

With a price hike in crude oil

The price of crude oil reached new peaks this week. The price hike is undoubtedly related to the current tensions over the preparations for war in Iraq.
Economists are warning that the hard hit economies of Europe have still to face the worst. The recession that has hit Germany is expected to spread to France, as the industrial statistics from France for the last quarter in 2002 indicate a steady decline in production levels.
The onset of war in Iraq has not helped in building confidence, a buzzword very much required in the business and consumer sectors alike.
Indeed the world economy still rests very well on the US consumer.
A hike in oil prices is not a good sign for Malta.
For one it will lead to the inevitable increase in fuel prices and to a lesser extent to a negative effect on exports and incoming tourism from the EU. Since fuel is grossly subsidised in Malta, the immediate effect of a price hike will not be noted.
The US and Blairite fixation with Iraq will not only bring about further instability in the Middle East, it will also continue to add more negative pressure to the global economy.
This is one reason to oppose war.
On the local front, war will not help the referendum and election results and may well contribute to fortifying the ‘no’ vote.
Once again, we can only pray that war is averted and better sense prevails, even though no one wishes for Mr Saddam Hussein to stay on as the repressive and cruel dictator of his country.

The intentions that count

The former UN French self styled governor for Kosovo was reported in a radio interview that the conflict in Iraq could very well be justified if the reasons for intervention were amended.
He explained that in Kosovo, the situation was far worse with very few resources and too many divisions. Yet, then the argument for intervention was based on the premise that human rights violations could not be tolerated and that human rights needed a shield and a hand.
On Iraq, instead of Clintonian talk, we have had Bush, who has unconvincingly repeated that the cause for war is the presence of weapons of mass destruction.
These weapons have not materialised, to Bush/Blair’s chagrin.
In a last ditch attempt, the Bush administration has argued that there is an Al Qaeida connection with Iraq. Yet no one believes this.
Even the sceptics know that Saddam Hussein’s regime is far drawn from the religious zeal of most Moslems.
The world today lacks the wisdom and vision of yesterday’s leaders - Clinton, Rabin, Prodi, Mitterand and Palme may well have heralded an era that will not return for some time.
Perhaps it is only a matter of time before the Brady bunch that rules this world will disappear, only to be replaced by more considerate and humane faces.


Copyright © Newsworks Ltd. Malta.
Editor: Saviour Balzan
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