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ANATOMY OF TORTURE — Historian Christopher Dietrich on the 100-year-long history of American torture; Jeffrey St. Clair on the implications of giving impunity to the CIA’s torturers; Chris Floyd on how the US has exported torture to its client states around the world. David Macaray on the Paradoxes of Police Unions; Louis Proyect on Slave Rebellions in the Open Seas; Paul Krassner on the Perils of Political Cartooning; Martha Rosenberg on the dangers of Livestock Shot-up with Antibiotics; and Lee Ballinger on Elvis, Race and the Poor South. Plus: Mike Whitney on Greece and the Eurozone and JoAnn Wypijewski on Media Lies that Killed.
The Endgame of US Power

Collapse: a Foregone Conclusion

by BEN DENBY

Since 1971, the value of the US dollar, and with it the corporeal integrity of the US economy, has been tied to what we know today as the petrodollar system. This arrangement is the result of Nixon’s abolition of the gold standard in 1971, the basis of valuing the US dollar since the end of WW2, coupled with a deal struck with Saudi Arabia and other OPEC nations for US military hardware and protection in return for oil sales exclusively in US dollars. Despite rendering the US dollar a fiat currency, in the short term at least this arrangement bolstered the dollar’s flagging value by creating demand for it outside the country — thereby rendering what would have otherwise become inflation into a useful export. The concept of a ‘petrodollar’ arose as the volume of these fiat greenbacks outside US borders rose proportionally to those within, as a way of distinguishing between the two.

At the time the ‘Nixon Shock’ as it came to be known may well have seemed like a useful workaround for various problems associated with the disintegration of the postwar Bretton Woods system, which had set monetary policy on exchange rates and the like amongst industrialized states during the intervening period, not least of which being high rates of unemployment and inflation internal to the United States itself. At the same time as saving the dollar from what might be regarded as the inherent shortcomings of market ideology in the short term, however, it also appears to have been a fatal error to the extent that it tied the value of the dollar to what was and remains a finite resource — a fact that would ultimately lead to the collapse of the petrodollar, and with it the US economy.

While none of Nixon’s courtiers may have been willing to acknowledge that the king has no clothes, in retrospect it seems clear that Nixon was beset by myopia; in lieu of alternative means to maintain the value of the currency, then, the collapse of the dollar, with it the US economy, and with it the empire, was and remain a foregone conclusion. Even if though various wars of aggression the US military could establish control all the remaining oil reserves on the planet, under the pretext of protecting democracy from terrorist attacks etc., the finite nature of the oil supply meant were only so much to be controlled; that being the case, all that remained was to determine when collapse would in fact occur. It was only a matter of time. This was to become all the more pressing as other factors such as the peak oil phenomenon signaled the onset of the permanent decline in supply.

One might very well...

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