The Implications of the Petrodollar System for America and World Geostrategy
Welcome to Part III of Running on Empty, my three-part analysis of the Petrodollar system. Part I of this series explained what the petrodollar system is, how it came to be, and what its financial effects have been on the United States. Part II explained the petrodollar’s implications for foreign policy in the Middle East. If you haven’t read those yet, check them out!
In Part III, below, we look at how those implications scale to at the geostrategic level. In Part IV, we’ll discuss how the sanctions brought about by the Russo-Ukraine War might cause the petrodollar system to break down. (I’d hoped to wrap up the series in three parts, but due to length, I had to break it up.)
Ruler of the World Ocean
Many of history’s leading nations — and all of its commercial empires — have been thalassocracies. For the last 207 years, the globe has been dominated by maritime powers. The United Kingdom began the trend in 1815. Emerging as the winner of the Napoleonic Wars, the UK established the so-called Pax Britannica and enforced it with the world’s greatest navy. While Britannia ruled the waves, the sun never set on her flag. Germany tried twice to unseat Britain at sea, and failed both times. Japan tried to turn the Pacific into its own thalassocracy in the form of the “Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere,” but suffered defeat at the hands of the UK and the US. Since 1945, the UK has gradually ceded control of the oceans to the US. America rules the waves today. The World Ocean is mare nostrum, our pond.
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