Thursday, February 16, 2006

The End of Dollar Hegemony

This House floor speech on Wed by Congressman Ron Paul TX (R) (it's a really long read) strikes right at the heart of what is the biggest threat America faces today, and (surprise!) it's not terrorism nor the spread of WMDs (Not that those aren't serious threats, because they are). Paul's evidently a very bright true conservative, who aint afraid to tell it like it is.

This is really important. It's vital that America wake up to what Bush's economic policies have done to our country, and to what the future will hold because of it. Iran's oil bourse next month marks the beginning of the end of life as we know it, and Bushco knows it. Either we blame their nuclear program and bomb the crap out of them, which might grant our economy a temporary reprieve but will likely triple oil prices overnight, or we can count on a long period of double digit inflation as the basis our economy rests on will slowly disappear. Basically, we're in a lose-lose situation.

Congressman Paul holds no punches. He exposes the real reasons why Bush invaded Iraq, why this administration wants to paint Chavez as a bad guy (he even alludes to a US involvement in the failed coup against him), and why the rhetoric against Iran is mounting. Paul lets the cat out of the bag. I've written about this before, but now here is a Republican Congressman saying it. If there was any doubt before that we will soon be bombing Iran over oil and the US dollar so much more so than their nuclear program, it's gone after this speech.

I realize this post is really long but I have edited a lot out. If you have the time I highly recommend you visit Congressman Paul's site & read the whole thing. At the very least please read through this post & If you're really pressed for time, I've tried to bold the most important points.
A hundred years ago it was called “dollar diplomacy.” After World War II, and especially after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1989, that policy evolved into “dollar hegemony.” But after all these many years of great success, our dollar dominance is coming to an end. (...)

In the short run, the issuer of a fiat reserve currency can accrue great economic benefits. In the long run, it poses a threat to the country issuing the world currency. In this case that’s the United States. As long as foreign countries take our dollars in return for real goods, we come out ahead. This is a benefit many in Congress fail to recognize, as they bash China for maintaining a positive trade balance with us. But this leads to a loss of manufacturing jobs to overseas markets, as we become more dependent on others and less self-sufficient. Foreign countries accumulate our dollars due to their high savings rates, and graciously loan them back to us at low interest rates to finance our excessive consumption.

It sounds like a great deal for everyone, except the time will come when our dollars-- due to their depreciation-- will be received less enthusiastically or even be rejected by foreign countries. That could create a whole new ballgame and force us to pay a price for living beyond our means and our production. The shift in sentiment regarding the dollar has already started, but the worst is yet to come. (...)

The agreement with OPEC in the 1970s to price oil in dollars has provided tremendous artificial strength to the dollar as the preeminent reserve currency. This has created a universal demand for the dollar, and soaks up the huge number of new dollars generated each year. Last year alone M3 increased over $700 billion.**
**Let me interupt you here to point out the Fed's recent announcement that it will cease publication of the M3 monetary aggregate March 23, 2006. For a great explanation what that means please read this diary over at Dailykos. It's no coincidence this will coincide with Iran's oil bourse, and I'll venture it played no small part in Greenspan's decision to retire either.

The artificial demand for our dollar, along with our military might, places us in the unique position to “rule” the world without productive work or savings, and without limits on consumer spending or deficits. The problem is, it can’t last.

Price inflation is raising its ugly head, and the NASDAQ bubble-- generated by easy money-- has burst. The housing bubble likewise created is deflating. Gold prices have doubled, and federal spending is out of sight with zero political will to rein it in. The trade deficit last year was over $728 billion. A $2 trillion war is raging, and plans are being laid to expand the war into Iran and possibly Syria. The only restraining force will be the world’s rejection of the dollar. It’s bound to come and create conditions worse than 1979-1980, which required 21% interest rates to correct. But everything possible will be done to protect the dollar in the meantime. We have a shared interest with those who hold our dollars to keep the whole charade going. (...)

Most importantly, the dollar/oil relationship has to be maintained to keep the dollar as a preeminent currency. Any attack on this relationship will be forcefully challenged—as it already has been.
In November 2000 Saddam Hussein demanded Euros for his oil. His arrogance was a threat to the dollar; his lack of any military might was never a threat. At the first cabinet meeting with the new administration in 2001, as reported by Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill, the major topic was how we would get rid of Saddam Hussein-- though there was no evidence whatsoever he posed a threat to us. This deep concern for Saddam Hussein surprised and shocked O’Neill.
It now is common knowledge that the immediate reaction of the administration after 9/11 revolved around how they could connect Saddam Hussein to the attacks, to justify an invasion and overthrow of his government. Even with no evidence of any connection to 9/11, or evidence of weapons of mass destruction, public and congressional support was generated through distortions and flat out misrepresentation of the facts to justify overthrowing Saddam Hussein.

There was no public talk of removing Saddam Hussein because of his attack on the integrity of the dollar as a reserve currency by selling oil in Euros. Many believe this was the real reason for our obsession with Iraq. I doubt it was the only reason, but it may well have played a significant role in our motivation to wage war. Within a very short period after the military victory, all Iraqi oil sales were carried out in dollars. The Euro was abandoned.

In 2001, Venezuela’s ambassador to Russia spoke of Venezuela switching to the Euro for all their oil sales. Within a year there was a coup attempt against Chavez, reportedly with assistance from our CIA.
After these attempts to nudge the Euro toward replacing the dollar as the world’s reserve currency were met with resistance, the sharp fall of the dollar against the Euro was reversed. These events may well have played a significant role in maintaining dollar dominance.

It’s become clear the U.S. administration was sympathetic to those who plotted the overthrow of Chavez, and was embarrassed by its failure. The fact that Chavez was democratically elected had little influence on which side we supported.

Now, a new attempt is being made against the petrodollar system. Iran, another member of the “axis of evil,” has announced her plans to initiate an oil bourse in March of this year. Guess what, the oil sales will be priced Euros, not dollars.

Most Americans forget how our policies have systematically and needlessly antagonized the Iranians over the years. In 1953 the CIA helped overthrow a democratically elected president, Mohammed Mossadeqh, and install the authoritarian Shah, who was friendly to the U.S. The Iranians were still fuming over this when the hostages were seized in 1979. Our alliance with Saddam Hussein in his invasion of Iran in the early 1980s did not help matters, and obviously did not do much for our relationship with Saddam Hussein. The administration announcement in 2001 that Iran was part of the axis of evil didn’t do much to improve the diplomatic relationship between our two countries. Recent threats over nuclear power, while ignoring the fact that they are surrounded by countries with nuclear weapons, doesn’t seem to register with those who continue to provoke Iran. With what most Muslims perceive as our war against Islam, and this recent history, there’s little wonder why Iran might choose to harm America by undermining the dollar. Iran, like Iraq, has zero capability to attack us. But that didn’t stop us from turning Saddam Hussein into a modern day Hitler ready to take over the world. Now Iran, especially since she’s made plans for pricing oil in Euros, has been on the receiving end of a propaganda war not unlike that waged against Iraq before our invasion. (...)

For the most part the true victims aren’t aware of how they pay the bills. The license to create money out of thin air allows the bills to be paid through price inflation. American citizens, as well as average citizens of Japan, China, and other countries suffer from price inflation, which represents the “tax” that pays the bills for our military adventures. (...) If oil markets replace dollars with Euros, it would in time curtail our ability to continue to print, without restraint, the world’s reserve currency. (...)

Once again Congress has bought into the war propaganda against Iran, just as it did against Iraq. Arguments are now made for attacking Iran economically, and militarily if necessary. These arguments are all based on the same false reasons given for the ill-fated and costly occupation of Iraq.

Our whole economic system depends on continuing the current monetary arrangement, which means recycling the dollar is crucial. Currently, we borrow over $700 billion every year from our gracious benefactors, who work hard and take our paper for their goods. Then we borrow all the money we need to secure the empire (DOD budget $450 billion) plus more. The military might we enjoy becomes the “backing” of our currency. There are no other countries that can challenge our military superiority, and therefore they have little choice but to accept the dollars we declare are today’s “gold.” This is why countries that challenge the system-- like Iraq, Iran and Venezuela-- become targets of our plans for regime change.

Ironically, dollar superiority depends on our strong military, and our strong military depends on the dollar. As long as foreign recipients take our dollars for real goods and are willing to finance our extravagant consumption and militarism, the status quo will continue regardless of how huge our foreign debt and current account deficit become.

But real threats come from our political adversaries who are incapable of confronting us militarily, yet are not bashful about confronting us economically. That’s why we see the new challenge from Iran being taken so seriously. The urgent arguments about Iran posing a military threat to the security of the United States are no more plausible than the false charges levied against Iraq. Yet there is no effort to resist this march to confrontation by those who grandstand for political reasons against the Iraq war.

It seems that the people and Congress are easily persuaded by the jingoism of the preemptive war promoters. It’s only after the cost in human life and dollars are tallied up that the people object to unwise militarism.

The strange thing is that the failure in Iraq is now apparent to a large majority of American people, yet they and Congress are acquiescing to the call for a needless and dangerous confrontation with Iran.

But then again, our failure to find Osama bin Laden and destroy his network did not dissuade us from taking on the Iraqis in a war totally unrelated to 9/11.

Concern for pricing oil only in dollars helps explain our willingness to drop everything and teach Saddam Hussein a lesson for his defiance in demanding Euros for oil.

And once again there’s this urgent call for sanctions and threats of force against Iran at the precise time Iran is opening a new oil exchange with all transactions in Euros.

Using force to compel people to accept money without real value can only work in the short run. It ultimately leads to economic dislocation, both domestic and international, and always ends with a price to be paid
...(more)
Why there is not one Dem or even one of the major blogs willing to go where Ron Paul went is baffling. I figure they would rather chimpy go ahead and bomb Iran first because they figure it will all but ensure a sweep of both houses come November. That's a dangerous assumption IMO because we haven't had a fair election in years, so I don't know why anyone would expect one in the near future, if ever again. That, and it's condoning more mass murder which is exactly what a war based on lies is.

No? Condoning [[Graphic] Mass Murder] for Lies. I'll gladly debate anyone on this point.

This is not some big secret. As Paul is showing here, Congress knows all about it. I figure Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi must have known about this all along, but have they mentioned it at all? What are they doing about it? Nada. No press conferences, no mention of it in the media, nothing, and what's even more troubling to me, is that there's been nary a mention on any of the powerhouse blogs (Save Mike at C&L for shining a light on me here. Thanks Mike btw) despite this having received much attention in the rest of the world. I don't just mean blogs on the left or right, because as the Congressman makes obvious, this is an issue that transcends political boundaries.

IMO, It's just plain immoral to sit idly by and let chimpy slaughter people in his mission to force unsound fiscal policies upon the world militarily. Time and time again, ever since the Peloponnesian War at least, the belligerant hegemon is always brought down by other entities that coalesce to balance against it. Unilateralism has never worked, and it will not work this time either. Just ask Hitler. If we have indeed moved from being more like Greece to being more like Rome, then we shall be dealt the same fate for our overreach. The problem is, thanks to advancements in technology, the consequences could be so much worse for the world as a whole. :(

Are we as a people really in favor of our country being an imperial nation? Do we as a people want our country to takeover and maintain militarily a favorable chunk of what's left of the world's oil supplies? If that's what all the killing is for, they need to be up front about it. While I acknowledge our country's dependence on oil, I don't think it's worth going to war over. I don't think our soldiers joined the military with that thought in mind, and I don't think we voted for our public representatives to declare war for these reasons. Aren't we the voters supposed to decide these things? Who is in charge? Afterall, if this is our secret agenda, maybe it's the military behind the election rigging. Maybe our politicians are as helpless as we are to stop it. Congressman Paul's speech eerily has that kind of tone.

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