This essay, by an "independent scholar" based in India and Sri Lanka, revives the petrodollar theory of the Iraq war and impending Iran war, and raises the prospect that the dollar's demise as the world's reserve currency can be levereged to end Ameican global hegemony.  --  "The beast has to be killed by attacking it at the point where it is most vulnerable," and  Rohini Hensman believes that the dollar is that point.  --  Hensman is one of a small but persistent group of writers who believe that the threat to dollar-denominated oil purchases was a key factor in the war on Iraq, and is now behind the Iranian crisis.  --  This view is tenaciously held by its adherents, for whom it provides the royal road to understanding contemporary geopolitics.  --  However, close examination of the arguments supporting this view reveal a lack of evidence, and many who are familiar with the operation of international financial markets reject it out of hand; few economists credit the theory.  --  In the week before the invasion of Iraq, for example, economist Paul Krugman posted a refutation of the notion on his website.  --  For other critical views of the petrodollar theory, see here and here.  --  Our problems with the theory are not so much with its logic, which is impeccable, as with its evidentiary basis.  --  Hensman cites William R. Clark (misspelling his name) as presenting "an impressive case, with a great deal of evidence" but examination of that evidence (much of which reappears in this article) shows that it is almost entirely circumstantial in nature.  --  The burden is on analysts to produce evidence in support; pending such evidence, for our part we continue to regard the petrodollar theory as a only an intriguing theory, and petrodollars only one factor among many, not the key to the understanding of world events....


By Rohini Hensman

November 17, 2007 (See original for links to many sources.)

INTRODUCTION [Note 1: In this article I have incorporated sentences and paragraphs from the article I wrote with Marinella Correggia after the 2004 World Social Forum in Bombay, entitled ‘U.S. Dollar Hegemony: the Soft Underbelly of Empire (and What Can Be Done to Use It!).']

When U. .resident Bush declared in October 2007 that if Iran acquired the knowledge to produce nuclear weapons, we would be plunged into World War III, he was not joking or even exaggerating: he was making his intentions clear. In the same month, Vice President Dick Cheney repeated the threat that the U.S. would not ‘stand by’ as Iran allegedly pursued a nuclear weapons program. If the present war in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Palestine spreads to Iran, we will indeed have World War III. We have long had circumstantial evidence that the Bush régime was building up to an attack on Iran: the constant allegations (denied by Mohamed ElBaradei, chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA]) that it was pursuing a nuclear weapons program, charges (denied by the Iraqi government) that it was sending arms and fighters into Iraq, a U.S. military build-up clearly directed against Iran, the designation of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps of Iran as a terrorist organization and imposition of sweeping sanctions against Iran. [Note 2: See Peter Symonds, ‘Stepped Up U.S. Preparations for War Against Iran,’ 2 February 2007, and Abbas Edalat and Mehrnaz Shahabi, ‘Turning Truth on its Head,’ 29 October 2007.] But it has now been revealed by two former high-ranking policy experts from the U.S. National Security Council that war against Iran was planned all along, and nothing that Iran offered to do -- including giving up its uranium enrichment program -- could have made a difference. [Note 3: John H.Richardson, ‘The Secret History of the Impending War With Iran that the White House Doesn’t Want You to Know,’ Esquire, 18 October 2007.]

If the Bush administration has decided to attack Iran militarily, is there any power on earth that can stop it if the people of the U.S. are unable or unwilling to do so? The argument below is that if the USA’s ability to undertake imperial conquests depends on its obvious military supremacy, this in turn is ultimately based on the use of the U.S. dollar as the world’s reserve currency. It is the dominance of the dollar that underpins U.S. financial dominance as a whole as well as the apparently limitless spending power that allows it to keep hundreds of thousands of troops stationed all over the world. Destroy U.S. dollar hegemony, and the “Empire” will collapse.

David Ludden’s article ‘America’s Invisible Empire’ [Note 4: David Ludden, ‘America’s Invisible Empire,’ Economic and Political Weekly, Vol.XXXIX No.44, Bombay, 30 October 2004, pp.4776-77.] sums up the problem of the world’s most recent empire with remarkable clarity. Constituting itself at a time when decolonization was well under way and other empires were disintegrating, U.S. imperialism could never openly speak its name. Initially, it disguised itself as the defender of democracy against Communism; when the Soviet Union ceased to exist, the pretext became the “war against terror.” National security and national interest were invoked as the rationale for global dominance.

Ludden’s description evokes the image of U.S. citizens (and a few others) living in a "Truman Show" world, a bubble of illusion created by state deception and media complicity that prevents them from being aware of the reality of empire, although everyone outside can see it only too clearly. It sounds quite credible that ‘the empire will not be undone until its reality and costs become visible to Americans’ (p.4777). However, Ludden’s claim that ‘U.S. taxpayers and voters pay the entire cost of the U.S. empire’ (p.4776) is less credible. If that were true, many more Americans would see their empire and oppose it; the Democrats would have put up a principled opposition to the occupation of Iraq and threatened war against Iran, and the overwhelming majority of the U.S. electorate would have supported them. But it is the rest of the world that has been paying for the U.S. empire: that is why it is almost invisible within the U.S.


The core advantage of the U.S. economy, the source of its financial dominance, is the peculiar role of the U.S. currency. It is because the dollar has been for decades the world’s reserve currency that the U.S. is able to maintain its twin deficits (fiscal and trade) and depend on the world’s generosity. It needs capital inflows of almost $4 billion from the rest of the world every working day to keep up its level of spending. [Note 5: C.Fred Bergsten, ‘The Current Account Deficit and the U.S. Economy,’ Testimony before the Budget Committee of the United States Senate February 1, 2007.] Its military superiority is one reason why it is unlikely ever to face an embargo, but more importantly, it has been able to live beyond its means because of U.S. dollar hegemony.

The dollar mechanism has been described extensively elsewhere; [Note 6: See Henry C.K.Liu, ‘US dollar hegemony has got to go,’ Asia Times Online, 11 April 2002, and Rohini Hensman, ‘A Strategy to Stop the War,' Economic and Political Weekly, Vol.38 No.16, 19 April 2003, pp.1556-1561.] this is merely a summary. The strength of the U.S. economy after World War II enabled the U.S. dollar, backed by gold, to become the world’s reserve currency. When the U.S. abandoned the gold standard in 1971, the dollar remained supreme, and its position was further boosted in 1974 when the U.S. came to an agreement with Saudi Arabia that the oil trade would be denominated in dollars. [Note 7: David E.Spiro, The Hidden Hand of American Hegemony: Petrodollar Recycling and International Markets, Cornell University Press, 1999.] Most countries in the world import oil, and it made sense for them to accumulate dollars in order to guard against oil shocks. Third World countries had even more reason to hoard dollars so as to protect their fragile economies and currencies from sudden collapse. With everyone clamoring for dollars, all the U.S. had to do was print fiat dollars and other countries would accept them in payment for their exports. These dollars then flowed back into the U.S. to be invested in Treasury Bonds and similar instruments, offsetting the outflow. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank, headquartered in Washington, reinforced dollar hegemony.

As a reserve currency fulfills world needs in addition to the functions of a domestic currency, the favored country can build up debt for a protracted period on a scale that would wreck any other country’s currency. But this advantage is a double-edged sword. [Paul Craig Roberts, ‘The coming currency shock,’ Counterpunch, 16 November 2004] It allowed the U.S. economy to decline unnoticed, its fiscal and trade deficits to climb steeply: by 2006 the U.S. trade deficit had reached $763.6 billion, the current account deficit $850 billion, the gross national debt around $9 trillion. Globalization destroyed the U.S. as a manufacturing nation; the outsourcing of services means that even this sector is gradually being shifted out of the U.S. Only its pre-eminence in the global financial services industry remains intact. [Note 9: Lawrence G.Franko, ‘US Competitiveness in the Global Financial Services Industry,’ October 2004.] And this is underpinned by U.S. dollar hegemony.

Dollar hegemony is what concealed the costs of its empire, which were effectively being paid for by the rest of the world, from U.S. citizens. Other countries were compelled to accept fiat dollars because they had no choice. It was the world’s only reserve currency.


When the euro came into being, even then the choice was only a potential one, as the euro initially lost value, making it unattractively risky as a reserve currency. The first non-European countries that made a move in its direction did so for political rather than economic reasons. When Saddam Hussein switched to the euro in late 2000 and converted Iraq’s $10 billion reserve fund at the U.N. to euro, some analysts commented that this political gesture would have a heavy economic cost. [Note 10: See, for example, Charles Recknagel, ‘Iraq: Baghdad Moves to Euro,’ Radio Free Europe, 1 November 2000] But against all expectations, he actually made a profit when the euro staged a recovery. [Note 11: Faisal Islam, ‘Iraq nets handsome profit by dumping dollar for euro,’ Observer, 16 February 2003] Iran is another country which in 2002 converted more than half its foreign exchange reserves to euros. [Note 12: ‘Forex Fund Shifting to Euro’, Iran Financial News, 25 August 2002] Both Iraq and Iran being oil-producing countries, the impact of their shifting currency allegiances would be significant. By contrast, North Korea’s official shift to the euro for trade in December 2002 [Note 13: Caroline Gluck, ‘North Korea embraces the euro,’ BBC News, 1 December 2002.] was negligible from the standpoint of the world economy, yet it signified a trend that U.S. imperialism had to stop at all costs. Suddenly George Bush’s diatribe against the ‘Axis of Evil,’ which seemed so arbitrary and laughable at the time, doesn’t appear quite so funny. Add to this picture the fact that Hugo Chavez -- against whom the U.S. supported a coup in April 2002, and who continues to be under attack by the Bush regime -- has taken a large part of Venezuela’s oil trade out of the orbit of the U.S. dollar, and the economic compulsions driving U.S. foreign policy become clearer. Military might alone does not seem to be a sufficient basis for sustaining an empire: economic power is crucial. And for the declining U.S. economy, U.S. dollar supremacy is essential for maintaining its economic clout.

Thus, there seems to be good reason to believe that the main purpose of the invasion of Iraq was to change the denomination of its oil sales back to dollars, [Note 14: William Clark in particular makes an impressive case, with a great deal of evidence, in his web-based essay ‘Revisited: The Real Reasons for the Upcoming War With Iraq: A Macroeconomic and Geostrategic Analysis of the Unspoken Truth’ (January 2004), which is a revised version, with addenda, of his original essay of January 2003. Many of the references in this article are taken from him. See also Gavin R.Putland, ‘The War to Save the U.S. Dollar,’ 18 April 2003.] especially given that one of the first actions of the U.S. occupying forces was to do precisely that. But the action backfired badly. Anti-war protesters immediately began campaigns to boycott the dollar, [Note 15: See Rohini Hensman, ‘Boycott the Dollar to Stop the War!’ 27 March 2003, and Dave Emory, ‘For the Record #407’ 21 April 2004, quoting Robert Block, ‘Some Muslims Advocate Dumping the Dollar for the Euro,’ Wall Street Journal, 15 April 2003: In Nigeria, anti-war demonstrators shouted “Euro yes! Dollar No!’] and the campaign spread, with the call being taken up by the Boycott Bush campaign after the 2004 World Social Forum. [Note 16: See] Former Prime Minister of Malaysia Mahathir Mohamed took up the call in 2004 and again in 2006, arguing that Israel would not be able to oppress the Palestinians and Lebanese without the financial and military support of the U.S., which would be put under pressure by a dollar boycott. [Note 17: ‘Dr. M. Tells World to Use Dollar Weapon to Pressure Washington,’ 29 July 2006.] In December 2006, Iran announced it was going to shift the rest of its foreign exchange reserves from dollars to euro, using the euro for most of its oil deals, and in July 2007 asked the Japanese to pay for their oil in yen. [Note 18: ‘Dollar dropped in Iran asset move,’ 18 December 2006, and ‘Iran demands Japan’s oil payments in yen, not U.S. dollars,’ 14 July 2007.]

Habit and inertia might have prevailed against these political initiatives to undermine the dollar as the world’s reserve currency, if continuing U.S. belligerence and mismanagement of its economy had not helped to push the value of the dollar lower. As the dollar steadily lost value due to the massive U.S. debt, George Soros pulled his money out of dollar assets, and other U.S. investors followed suit. [Note 19: Jennifer Hughes, ‘Dollar gets sinking feeling as investor confidence fades,’ Business Standard, 24-25 May 2003; ‘U.S. appetite for foreign stock takes toll on $,’ Economic Times, 20 December 2004] An article in China Daily on 28 September 2004 by Jiang Ruiping, the director of International Economics at the China Foreign Affairs University, pointed out that China was already losing due to the dollar slide and would lose even more if it crashed; he recommended moving out of dollars into euros and possibly also yen, as well as using its dollar reserves to stock up on oil. [Note 20: Gary North, ‘Asian doubts regarding the dollar’, 1 October 2004.] In fact, only about 15 per cent of China’s additional foreign exchange reserves acquired in the first three quarters of 2004 were in U.S. Treasury holdings, and OPEC countries reduced the dollar assets in their reserves from 75 to 60 per cent. [Note 21: A.V.Rajwade, ‘Asia’s dollar dilemma,’ Business Standard, 20 December 2004.] In July 2005, the fixed exchange rate of the yuan to the dollar was abandoned, followed closely by the Malaysian ringgit, with both currencies being allowed to float in a tight band against a basket of foreign currencies. [Note 22: Peter S.Goodman, ‘China ends fixed-rate currency,’ Washington Post, 22 July 2005; ‘Malaysia too ends dollar peg,’ Dawn, 22 July 2005.] The Japanese government indicated it might diversify its reserves portfolio, and the Reserve Bank of India started buying euro-denominated securities. Note 23: ‘RBI may diversify into Chinese yuan,’ Economic Times, 12 March 2005.] In March 2005, the Bank for International Settlements in Basle announced that Asian central and commercial banks held only 67 per cent of their deposits in dollars in September 2004, compared with 81 per cent three years earlier; Indian banks were down from 68 to 43 per cent, while Chinese dollar holdings were down from 83 to 68 per cent, with the euro and yen being the most popular alternatives. [Note 24: Steve Johnson, ‘Asian banks cut exposure to dollar,’ Economic Times, 11 March 2005.] Holdings in more exotic currencies also grew rapidly, albeit from much lower levels: Chinese renminbi (yuan) by 530 per cent, Indonesian rupaiah by 283 per cent, Taiwanese dollars, Korean won, and Indian rupees by 129, 117, and 114 per cent respectively, presumably on the expectation that they would grow in importance. [Note 25: Gayatri Nayak, ‘Dragon raises its head in the forex market too,’ Economic Times, 28 March 2005.]

By the end of 2005, euro-denominated securities had overtaken dollar-denominated ones as a medium for international investors. [Note 26: Francis Cripps, John Eatwell and Alex Izurieta, ‘Financial Imbalances in the World Economy,’ Economic and Political Weekly, Vol.XL No.52, 24 December 2005, pp.5453-56.] In 2006, the Swedish central bank cut its dollar holdings from 37 per cent to 20 percent, the Russian central bank from around two-thirds to 40 per cent, while Italy switched a quarter of its foreign currency reserves from dollars to sterling; Russian President Vladimir Putin also called for a ruble-denominated oil and natural gas exchange in Russia. [Note 27: Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, ‘Bank of Italy slashes dollar holdings in favour of UK pound,’ 3 August 2006; Julian D.W.Phillips, ‘Russian Rouble to attack the $ -- Exchange Controls in the U.S.?’ 16 May 2006.] The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), planning to launch a common currency in 2010, was thrown off-course when Kuwait abandoned the dollar peg in May 2007 in order not to continue importing inflation via a devaluing dollar; later, as the subprime mortgage crisis struck in the U.S., and the Federal Reserve cut interest rates by 0.5 per cent, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain did not cut their rates in unison, amidst reports that there was an ongoing debate on a more flexible alternative to the dollar peg in all six GCC countries. [Note 28: ‘Gulf could unite to drop dollar peg,’ 31 October 2007.] Data released by the U.S. Federal Reserve showed that between late July and early September 2007, foreign central banks reduced their holdings of U.S. Treasury Bonds by $48 billion. [Note 29: Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, ‘Is China quietly dumping U.S. Treasuries?’ 6 September 2007.] Meanwhile, plans to establish the Banco del Sur by seven Latin American countries (with others likely to join), in order to provide an alternative to U.S.-dominated funds like the IMF, World Bank, and Inter-American Development Bank, Note 30: Jeb Blount, ‘South American Countries Agree to Found Banco Del Sur (Update6),’ 8 October 2007.] would be an even greater threat to the dollar if they included the use of a regional currency. An interesting result of the dollar’s declining value is that while the rich turn to euro, the less wealthy, from Russia to the Maldives and Mexico to Vietnam, prefer their local currency to the dollar. [Note 31: ‘Demising US dollar gives way to euro cash in Russia,’ Pravda, 17 February 2005; William Pesek, ‘Dollar’s Demise Can Be Seen Even in the Maldives,’, 29 October, 2007.]

It is easy to agree with Xu Jian, a vice-director of China’s Central Bank, that the dollar is ‘losing its status as the world currency,’ [Note 32: Agnes Lovasz and Stanley White, ‘Dollar Slumps to Record on China’s Plans to Diversify Reserves,’, 7 November 2007.] especially when the same sentiment is expressed by American analysts. [Note 33: Paul Craig Roberts, ‘The End Is Near! – Gisele Bundchen Dumps Dollar,’, 8 November 2007; Mike Whitney, ‘Plummeting Dollar, Credit Crunch…,’, 15 September 2007.] What this means is that the U.S. dollar is no longer the sole world currency; this position is now shared with other currencies. But it is still dominant, for a number of reasons. So long as the oil sales of most countries continue to be denominated in dollars, the U.S. dollar will still be in demand; this could change, of course, if Russia were to launch its ruble-denominated oil and gas exchange. And countries like China and Japan, which between them hold trillions of dollars, would be unwilling to dump them because that would hit the value of their own reserves. Moreover, like other countries that rely heavily on the U.S. market, they would prefer to keep their currencies low against the dollar, even though by November 2007 the yuan had appreciated by 11.6 per cent against the dollar since the peg was dropped, and the yen by 7.7 per cent since the beginning of the year. [Note 34: Belinda Cao, ‘Yuan Heads for Biggest Weekly Advance Since July 2005,’, 12 November 2007; Stanley White and David McIntire, ‘Yen Rises to 1 ½ Year High Against Dollar on Risk Reduction,’, 12 November 2007.] On the other hand, building up dollar reserves would simply increase their losses as it declined. Other countries with smaller dollar reserves would also face the same dilemma. [Note 35: See, for example, Mike Dolan, ‘Dollar fall will come at a price for all,’ 21 November 2004 and Ila Patnaik, ‘Day of the declining dollar -- How should India be responding to this trend?’ Indian Express, 18 December 2004.]

The gradual decline in the value of the dollar that is occurring would have been the best option, if not for the urgency of the situation facing us. Millions have died in Iraq and Afghanistan as a result of the U.S.-led occupations, and the carnage continues; meanwhile, the apartheid state of Israel, fully supported by the U.S., has occupied the whole of historical Palestine, herding the original inhabitants into ghettoes in the West Bank and one big ghetto in Gaza, and subjecting them to ethnic cleansing and daily killings. [Note 36: See Gideon Polya, ‘Two Million Iraq Deaths, Eight Million Bush Asian Holocaust Deaths, and Media Holocaust Denial,’, 7 October 2007.] If Iran is attacked, the conflict would become a nuclear war, at least in the sense that it would involve bombing Iran’s nuclear facilities; but it might also involve nuclear weapons. Apparently ‘The only thing standing in the way of a preemptive attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities is foot-dragging by the U.S. military,’ but there is frightening evidence of attempts by the government to get around this resistance from the U.S. military. [Note 37: Ray McGovern, ‘Attacking Iran for Israel?’, 1 November 2007.] Several cruise missiles armed with nuclear warheads were secretly flown across the U.S. in violation of all standard procedures on 29/30 August 2007, and several military personnel who might have known about the incident or been involved in it died under mysterious circumstances shortly before or after it, leading to speculation that the missing nukes incident was connected to U.S. war plans against Iran. [Note 38: Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, ‘Missing Nukes: Treason of the Highest Order,’ Global Research, 29 October 2007.] It hardly needs to be pointed out that such a war, in which Russia and China might get involved, would be catastrophic, mainly for Iran and West Asia, but also for the rest of the world.

Among the side effects of U.S. military aggression is the expansion of fundamentalist forces; the Taliban has not only made a come-back in Afghanistan, but is now spreading in Pakistan, while Al Qaeda, which had no presence in Iraq under Saddam Hussein’s rule, is now well entrenched there. Democracy in Iran has yet to recover fully from the U.S.-inspired regime change in 1953, and it is likely that a U.S. military attack will set it back by another half-century. But can such an attack be prevented?


This brings us back to the dilemma posed by David Ludden. The costs of empire will become apparent to the U.S. public only when they have to pay those costs, and this will happen only when (a) other nations stop colluding in its imperial adventures, and (b) the dollar loses its role as the world’s reserve currency.

For citizens of the world who are opposed to U.S. imperialism, that suggests several possible courses of action. The ‘world’s second super-power,’ world public opinion, made a hugely impressive showing prior to the invasion of Iraq, yet it failed to stop the invasion itself; stronger action is required. But the armed struggle taking place in Iraq is killing and maiming hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and thousands of Americans, most of them from poor families; surely this is not desirable. The alternative proposed here is non-violent non-cooperation with the imperial monster. For example:

1) We should put pressure on all other governments not to participate in the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan, or any attack on Iran or sanctions against it, and/or vote out candidates who are colluding in this aggression and vote in alternatives. This will leave the burden of running their empire fairly and squarely on the shoulders of the U.S. administration.

2) We should refuse to use the U.S. dollar except within the U.S. itself. Given the current weakness of the dollar, this could undermine its reserve currency role even if it is done on an individual basis. For example, large numbers of people from developing countries cross international borders every day, for work, business, tourism, pilgrimages, or to visit relations; since their own currencies are not accepted internationally, they have to buy ‘hard’ currencies, and if they were to refuse to use the U.S. dollar in this capacity, it would certainly make an impact. Economic actors like the fair trade movement should also shift to other currencies for their international trade. Both academics and activists should stop using dollar equivalents to measure incomes and GDP; for the moment, the euro can be used as a standard. Mass action of this sort played a major role in ending British rule in India and thus the British empire; employed on a much wider scale, it can help to end the U.S. empire.

3) People in Third World countries should put pressure on their governments to shift foreign currency assets out of dollars, and to create regional currencies to strengthen regional commercial and economic ties. This would not only be a gesture of solidarity to the beleaguered peoples of Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine, Iran, and others oppressed or threatened by the U.S. empire, but would also make good economic sense. The dollar is sliding, and developing countries which hold all or most of their foreign exchange reserves in dollars are losing money as it loses value. If it crashes, their reserves could be wiped out.

4) We should appeal to governments in oil-producing countries not to denominate their oil trade in U.S. dollars. This does not necessarily involve a wholesale shift to the euro. Venezuela has concluded several barter deals with other Latin American countries including Cuba, giving them oil in exchange for goods and services, [Note 39: Hazel Henderson, ‘Beyond Bush’s Unilateralism: Another Bi-polar World or a New Era of Win-Win?’ InterPress Service,June 2002.] and this is a pattern other oil-producing countries could consider; if a regional currency is established by the Banco del Sur, that too could be used for oil sales. Russia could denominate its oil sales in rubles, and the GCC countries in their new currency, which would enable the remittances of hundreds of thousands of migrant workers from South and Southeast Asia in Gulf countries to be used directly for oil imports. Barter deals which do not involve oil could also be concluded between developing countries.

5) World trading patterns would also need to change. If the dollar sinks drastically with world trade unchanged, many countries which now rely on exports to the U.S. will be affected adversely by its inability to import their goods with a weakened dollar. A reorientation of trade away from the U.S. would therefore be necessary. For example, plans to constitute the South Asia Free Trade Area as a regional bloc free of tariff and immigration barriers should be pursued at greater speed, and trade with other countries promoted at the same time. MERCOSUR in Latin America has the potential to develop into an institution similar to the European Union. China and Japan, the biggest creditors of the U.S., suffer most from the decline of the dollar, and would have to work out alternative trade patterns to safeguard their economies.

6) For many Third World countries, including India and China, expanding domestic mass markets would be an important component of any strategy. This would involve campaigning nationally and internationally for policies of employment creation, protection of workers’ rights, shorter working hours, and enforced payment of minimum wages that are adequate to support a decent standard of living. Such a redistribution of resources from militarism and wasteful consumption of the rich and powerful to productive consumption of working people would play a positive economic role, not only in Third World countries but also in Europe and North America.

7) In addition to these economic measures, ending U.S. imperialism would require pressing for the development and implementation of international humanitarian law, international law and multilateral treaties (such as the Geneva Conventions, Rome Treaty of the International Criminal Court, Chemical Weapons Convention, Biological Weapons Convention, Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, Land Mine Treaty, ILO Core Conventions, CEDAW, and the Kyoto Protocol), and the strengthening and democratization of multilateral institutions (like the UN, ILO, and WTO).

8) It must be emphasized that none of these actions are aimed at ordinary U.S. citizens, a large and growing number of whom are opposed to U.S. imperialism, and all of whom are affected adversely by it, whether they realize it or not. On the contrary, it is an open secret that the U.S. Treasury and Federal Reserve are encouraging the decline of the dollar because it is seen as the best cure for the ailing U.S. economy, since it slashes the foreign debt and makes American products more competitive. [Note 40: ‘Dollars, Debt and the Trade Gap, Thoughts on the Dropping Dollar,’ Wall Street Journal Online, 19 December 2006.] A cheaper dollar would expand employment and increase the bargaining power of workers, enabling them to fight against the current policies of tax cuts for the rich, wage and welfare cuts for workers and the poor. Taxpayers would also regain power as their contributions to government spending increased in importance; the war could continue indefinitely so long as foreigners fund it, but once tax-payers are funding it, a tax strike could bring the troops home.

Even if all possible adjustments are made, there is no doubt that the decline and fall of the dollar as the sole world currency will cause pain, both within and outside the U.S. But the alternative is incomparably worse. The world order cannot much longer survive having a heavily armed rogue state on the rampage in violation of all international law and multilateral treaties. The world economy cannot afford to depend on the currency of a bankrupt nation with a colossal military budget. And the earth itself is put at risk by a country which devours massive quantities of fossil fuels and spews out greenhouse gases at a catastrophic rate.

U.S. imperialism would not be able to pursue its destructive policies without the unlimited supply of blank checks extended to it by the rest of the world, so it is the responsibility of the rest of the world to withdraw that source of funding. The beast has to be killed by attacking it at the point where it is most vulnerable. Meanwhile, if enough people in the U.S. work to ensure that the next elections install a president and representatives who undertake to abandon the pursuit of Empire and instead seek to reintegrate the U.S. into the international community as a law-abiding, fiscally-responsible, non-polluting member, the result will be a far safer and more stable global order, world economy, and environment.

--Rohini Hensman is an an idependent scholar, writer and activist based in India and Sri Lanka. Rohini can be reached at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.