Published on Dissident Voice, by Rohini Hensman, November 16, 2007.
An excerpt: … 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 US 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 US dollar as the world’s reserve currency. It is the dominance of the dollar that underpins US 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 US dollar hegemony, and the “Empire” will collapse.
David Ludden’s article ‘America’s Invisible Empire’4 sums up the problem of the world’s most recent empire with remarkable clarity. Constituting itself at a time when decolonisation was well under way and other empires were disintegrating, US 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 US 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 ‘US taxpayers and voters pay the entire cost of the US 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 US electorate would have supported them. But it is the rest of the world that has been paying for the US empire: that is why it is almost invisible within the US.
The history of dollar hegemony: … (full text).