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Why the End of the Petrodollar Spells Trouble for the US Regime

Why the End of the Petrodollar Spells Trouble for the US Regime


On January 17, the Saudi minister of finance, Mohammed Al-Jadaan, announced that the Saudi state is open to selling oil in currencies other than the dollar. “There are no issues with discussing how we settle our trade arrangements, whether it is in the US dollar, whether it is the euro, whether it is the Saudi riyal,” Al-Jadaan told Bloomberg TV.

If the Saudi regime does indeed embrace substantial trade in currencies other than the dollar as part of its oil-export business, this would signal a shift away from the dollar as the dominant currency in global oil payments. Or measured another way, this would signal the end of the so-called petrodollar.

But how large of a shift is this? With the increasingly frequent Saudi comments about trading in nondollar currencies, we’ve also seen an increasing number of pundits announcing the “collapse” of the dollar or the imminent implosion of the dollar’s currently outsized global power.

Will a shift away from the dollar in the global oil trade really lead to a big relative decline in the dollar? Probably and eventually. But a number of other dominoes would need to fall first, most especially the domino we call “Eurodollars.”

On the other hand, it would be foolish to simply dismiss the potential end of the Saudi preference for the dollar with hand-waving. The end of the petrodollar would indeed weaken the dollar, even if this would not be a mortal blow in itself. Moreover, it is especially foolhardy to ignore the status of the petrodollar because that status also has geopolitical implications. Saudi comments on the dollar signal that the Saudis no longer consider its alliance with the United States to be as important as it has been since the 1970s…

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An Empire of Denial

Is there a rise from the dead?

Despite claims to the contrary, we still live in an age of empires. The only difference this time is that the one dominating this planet is in full denial of this fact. No empire can avoid its fate however, and this one is of no exception either. In my previous post I’ve shown how Empires fail as they meet their fate at the end of their exponential growth period, but what are the ominous signs of this happening today? How long can the Empire mask its predicament by over-reliance on foreign resources, debt and constant territorial expansion? Is there a way to stop the unraveling, once the abundant flow of resources starts declining?

Finally, is there a way back for Empires from the land of the dead?

Empire State. Photo by Patrick Langwallner on Unsplash

In order to answer these questions, we have to understand what behavior has led up to this point. The key to understand this is that the overuse of resources to the point of unsustainability almost always lends a short term political advantage over those who are more reality conscious and think generations ahead. Thus the more unsustainable your actions are, the more successful you become — on the short term at least. This bidding game virtually guarantees that the Empire ends up overdoing things, resulting in overshoot: using natural resources and polluting Nature at rates well beyond the planet’s capacity to recover.

Lacking any meaningful — let alone politically acceptable — answer to this predicament, however, the Empire’s elite finds itself in a corner. The only way forward would be a rapid adaption and a radical cut-back on excess. Yet, elites cannot back down, else their rivals (both from within and outside) would immediately take advantage, threatening the Empire to plunge into chaos…

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Will the American Empire Collapse in Our Lifetime?

Will the American Empire Collapse in Our Lifetime?

All good things must come to an end.

Even the greatest of civilizations has an expiration date.

This happened to the likes of Ancient Greece and Rome, who were the most advanced civilizations of their respective epochs.

Once prosperous civilizations, eventually met their demise after years of economic and military decline. The arrogance, corruption, and myopia of their respective elites ushered in an irreversible phase of civilizational decline.

For centuries, historians have studied the causes of these civilizations’ respective declines. Elites of previous centuries did the best they could to understand the lessons of the past, and in turn, attempted to build political structures that would avoid similar fates of decline.

The Founding Fathers of the American Republic made sure to learn the lessons of Greece and Rome and create a system of government that would prevent many of the fatal mistakes these civilizations previously made.

While the American experiment has largely been successful, it is starting to go through a predictable phase of civilizational decay.

The past century has witnessed the American political class pursue policies that go against the very nature of the founding of the American Republic. Namely, the adherence to the principles of limited government.

The excessive domestic and military spending, the out of control monetary policy, the cultural decadence…..

Just some of the hallmarks of a civilization that’s clearly in a stage of decay.

It will take a massive awakening of the American populace to reverse course and prevent the country from falling down the predictable route of civilizational collapse.

The US will be no exception to this trend if things don’t reverse course anytime soon.

In the meantime, make sure to check out George Gammon’s video on how the American Empire could potentially collapse.

Putting all the Pieces Together

We start our podcast today more than 2,500 years ago at a time when the dominant superpower in the western world was the Achaemenid Empire of Persia.

Their civilization had reached an unfathomable level of wealth and sophistication; historical records show that, at peak, the Persian treasury had more than $300 BILLION in savings (in today’s money).

They had an intricate road network, a highly-functioning postal system, impressive engineering works, and had even invented a crude form of refrigeration and air conditioning.

Most of all they had a fearsome military. It was huge. And it was terrifying. Simply put, an invading Persian Army had never been defeated.

And yet, early in the 5th century BC, when they went to war against a rapidly rising power in Greece, the Persians suffered a humiliating defeat. Then again. And again. And again.

The losses changed the perception of their Empire forever. Practically overnight their reputation sank, and they were no longer viewed as a terrifying superpower able to dominate the world.

We’ve seen this story over and over again throughout history, from Ancient Rome to the Mongols to Imperial Portugal in the early 1800s.

Simply put, dominant superpowers almost invariably have an equally dominant, fearsome military that inspires awe and intimidation in the rest of the world… and especially in the superpower’s adversaries.

But superpowers have a life cycle. They rise, peak, and decline. And at some point during the decline, the military begins to show signs of weakness.

Often times there’s some specific event– something happens that’s so humiliating to the superpower that it shocks the world.

This is what happened to the Persians in 490 BC. And it’s what happened to the United States in 2021.

As a West Point graduate and US Army veteran, I still hold in my heart that the US military is the finest fighting force on the planet.

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The US Empire Is Accelerating Toward Global Conflict On Two Fronts

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The Revolt of the Imagination, Part Three: Co-Creating the Future

The Revolt of the Imagination, Part Three: Co-Creating the Future

As I write these words, the Russo-Ukrainian war has raged for a week.  To a great many people, crises like these make the theme of my recent posts here—the potential of the human imagination—seem wholly irrelevant.  That’s a common mistake, but it’s still a mistake. To begin with, let’s please remember that wars and the political and economic crises that drive them are normal parts of human experience.  Granted, for the last three quarters of a century there’s been very little open warfare in the industrial world, but in the nonindustrial world—which is after all where most human beings live—insurgencies, civil wars, and wars between nations have been very nearly as common as ever.

The industrial nations have been relatively peaceful because they’ve been subject to the global hegemony of the United States.  That hegemony is cracking around us, and the Ukraine war puts the decline in American power into high relief. As something like 225,000 Russian troops drive deep into Ukraine, supported on the ground by tanks and artillery and from the air by waves of fighter-bombers and cruise missiles, and Ukranian military units and civilian irregulars confront them on battlefields scattered across Europe’s second largest country, the US response consists of moving a few token forces to countries well out of the line of fire, and imposing yet another round of financial sanctions aimed at Russian politicians—you know, the sort of meaningless gestures that have reliably failed to accomplish anything when used against other hostile nations for decades now.  It’s a good question why this response remains so rigidly glued in place, despite its abject failures…

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The American Empire Self-Destructs, But Nobody Thought That It Would Happen This Fast

The American Empire Self-Destructs, But Nobody Thought That It Would Happen This Fast

Photograph Source: Phil Dolby – CC BY 2.0

Empires often follow the course of a Greek tragedy, bringing about precisely the fate that they sought to avoid. That certainly is the case with the American Empire as it dismantles itself in not-so-slow motion.

The basic assumption of economic and diplomatic forecasting is that every country will act in its own self-interest. Such reasoning is of no help in today’s world. Observers across the political spectrum are using phrases like “shooting themselves in their own foot” to describe U.S. diplomatic confrontation with Russia and allies alike. But nobody thought that The American Empire would self-destruct this fast.

For more than a generation the most prominent U.S. diplomats have warned about what they thought would represent the ultimate external threat: an alliance of Russia and China dominating Eurasia. America’s economic sanctions and military confrontation have driven these two countries  together, and are driving other countries into their emerging Eurasian orbit.

American economic and financial power was expected to avert this fate. During the half-century since the United States went off gold in 1971, the world’s central banks have operated on the Dollar Standard, holding their international monetary reserves in the form of U.S. Treasury securities, U.S. bank deposits and U.S. stocks and bonds. The resulting Treasury-bill Standard has enabled America to finance its foreign military spending and investment takeover of other countries simply by creating dollar IOUs. U.S. balance-of-payments deficits end up in the central banks of payments-surplus countries as their reserves, while Global South debtors need dollars to pay their bondholders and conduct their foreign trade.

This monetary privilege – dollar seignorage – has enabled U.S. diplomacy to impose neoliberal policies on the rest of the world, without having to use much military force of its own except to grab Near Eastern oil.

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Ukraine Is A Sacrificial Pawn On The Imperial Chessboard

Ukraine Is A Sacrificial Pawn On The Imperial Chessboard

Listen to a reading of this article:

The war is not going well for Kyiv, and it would be unreasonable to expect that to change. As a vastly superior military force overwhelms the US client state, reality is in the process of crashing down hard in the face of western liberals who bought into the war propaganda that the brave, sexy comedian was leading an upset victory to kick Putin’s ass out of Ukraine.

Zelensky is now raging at NATO powers for refusing to intervene militarily against Russia, apparently having previously been given the impression that the US-centralized empire might risk its very existence defending its dear friends the Ukrainians from an invasion.

“Unfortunately, today there is a complete impression that it is time to give a funeral repast for something else: security guarantees and promises, determination of alliances, values that seem to be dead for someone,” Zelensky said Friday.

“All the people who will die starting from this day will also die because of you,” Ukraine’s president added. “Because of your weakness, because of your disunity.”

It must be hard, the process of learning that you were never actually a valued partner in western civilization’s fight for freedom and democracy. That you were always just one more sacrificial pawn on the imperial chessboard.

In a new article titled “U.S. and allies quietly prepare for a Ukrainian government-in-exile and a long insurgency“, The Washington Post reports that US officials anticipate Russia will reverse its early losses and successfully drive the Zelensky regime out of the country, after which “a long, bloody insurgency” is planned against the invaders backed by billions of dollars in US funding. 

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Perhaps The US Should Shut The Fuck Up About Respecting Other Countries’ Sovereignty

Perhaps The US Should Shut The Fuck Up About Respecting Other Countries’ Sovereignty

Listen to a reading of this article:

So Putin has finally made a move, issuing a decree formally recognizing the sovereignty of the separatist-held Donbas territories in eastern Ukraine known as the DPR and LPR. Russian troops are being deployed to the region in what Putin describes as a “peacekeeping” mission amid a dramatic spike in ceasefire violations.

“The recognition of the DPR and LPR means Russia’s withdrawal from the Minsk agreements, which were signed in 2014 and 2015 to establish the ceasefire in eastern Ukraine,” writes Antiwar’s Dave Decamp. “Under the Minsk agreements, Ukraine agreed to cede some autonomy to the DPR and LPR. Russia has grown increasingly frustrated over the fact that Kyiv hasn’t fulfilled its end of the agreement.”


Needless to say, the US empire has not been happy about this move. President Biden has already imposed strict sanctions on the DPR and LPR, saying Moscow’s recognition of their independence “threatens the peace, stability, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of Ukraine, and thereby constitutes an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.”

“Tomorrow we will be announcing new sanctions on Russia in response to their breach of international law and attack on Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” White House spokesperson Jen Psaki added.

“This decision represents a complete rejection of Russia’s commitments under the Minsk agreements, directly contradicts Russia’s claimed commitment to diplomacy, and is a clear attack on Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” adds Secretary of State Tony Blinken.

Other member states of the empire were equally upset about this unforgivable violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty.

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Stockman: “We’re Not Useful Idiots!”

Stockman: “We’re Not Useful Idiots!”

Honest injun. We’re not useful idiots here at Contra Corner!

Actually, we thought it up all by our lonesome! Well, we’ll grant we did have a fair amount of help from Google, which insofar as we know works for the CIA, not the Russian SVR (foreign intelligence service).

In any event, at the very center of the crisis is the Washington claim that the rule of law and the sanctity of sovereign borders are on the line in Ukraine and that, therefore, Russia must not be allowed to encroach a single inch into sacrosanct Ukrainian territory.

That is to say, it is not a matter of America’s national security interest in the precise Ukrainian geography, which happens to lie cheek-by-jowl on Russia’s border, but the very governance of the entire planet: Conform to the “rule of law” as articulated by Washington or get sanctioned, outlawed, pariah-ed, and even invaded, if worst comes to worst.

We hear this refrain repeatedly from Secy Blinkey and national security advisor Snake Sullivan. But we find ourselves doubled over with laughter each time, knowing practically by heart the list of coups, regime change plots, invasions and occupations Washington has foisted upon other sovereign nations over the last 70 years.

For want of doubt, however, we recently Googled in pursuit of the exact list and came up with a systematic study by a young scholar named Lindsey A. O’Rourke. Here’s her summary conclusion:

Between 1947 and 1989, the United States tried to change other nations’ governments 72 times; That’s a remarkable number. It includes 66 covert operations and six overt ones.

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Choose One, But Only One: Defend the Billionaire’s Bubble or the U.S. Dollar and Empire

Choose One, But Only One: Defend the Billionaire’s Bubble or the U.S. Dollar and Empire

The Empire is striking back, protecting what really counts, and the Billionaire Bubble sideshow is folding its tents.

One of the most enduring conceits of the modern era is that the Federal Reserve acts to goose growth and therefore employment while keeping inflation moderate (whatever that means–the definition is adjustable). This conceit is extremely handy as PR cover: the Fed really, really cares about little old us and expanding our ballooning wealth.

Nice, except it doesn’t. The Fed’s one real job is defending the U.S. dollar, which is the foundation of America’s global hegemony a.k.a. The Empire.

One thing and one thing alone enables global dominance: being able to create “money” out of thin air and use that “money” to buy real stuff in the real world. The nations that can create “money” out of thin air and trade it for magnesium, oil, semiconductors, etc. have an unbeatable advantage over nations that must actually mine gold or make something of equal value to trade for essentials.

The trick is to maintain global confidence in one’s currency. There is no one way to manage this, as confidence in a herd animal such as human beings is always contingent. Once the herd gets skittish, all bets are off.

The herd is exquisitely sensitive to movements on the edge of the herd, where threats arise. There are various tricks one can deploy to maintain confidence: pay a higher rate of interest on bonds denominated in one’s currency, so global capital flows into your currency; treat this capital well with a transparent set of tax laws and judiciary / regulatory oversight, maintain a deep pool of liquidity so capital can enter and exit without stampeding the herd, and having at least a semi-productive, diverse economy that generates goods, services and income streams to support the currency.

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Undermining US Global Hegemony Is Good, Actually: Notes From The Edge Of The Narrative Matrix

Undermining US Global Hegemony Is Good, Actually: Notes From The Edge Of The Narrative Matrix

Listen to a reading of this article:

China and Russia are right to try to undermine US unipolar hegemony. The planet is not America’s property and efforts to stop it being treated as such are good.

It’s not okay to be a grown adult in 2022 and still believe the US is a force for peace and justice in this world.

The belief that China is trying to become the next unipolar global hegemon is premised on the idea that Beijing has been watching the floundering US empire burn itself out and get crushed under its own weight after just a few decades and thinking “Oh that looks awesome! Let’s definitely do that!”

“No no you don’t understand, the US needs to keep bombing and starving civilians and engaging in nuclear brinkmanship and arming extremist militias and supporting dictators and destroying any nation who disobeys it. Otherwise the world might be taken over by a tyrannical regime!”

You could very easily fill a list with one thousand things Americans should care about more than the one year anniversary of a few wingnuts wandering around the Capitol Building for a bit and then leaving.

Americans have always had a special love for fake fighting. Civil War reenactments. Pro wrestling. Jerry Springer. Democrats vs Republicans.

Biden is a better Trump than Trump was; he’s advancing all Trump’s policies more effectively than Trump and actually doing things that Trump only talked about. If Trumpers had any actual ideological consistency instead of vapid partisan hackery they’d all be Biden supporters.

Please consider the possibility that it’s not a coincidence that Democrats have done literally exactly what those who oppose “vote blue no matter who” said they would do when they took power.

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Everything Going Great

Everything Going Great

Bad Faith, Worse News, and Julian Assange

Gospel, a word from Old English, is a compound that means “good news.” And it’s gospel that’s been in short-supply as we head into the Christmas season. Whenever this fact gets me down, I remember that finding evil, malfeasance, and even suffering in the headlines is just a sign that the press is doing its job. I don’t think any of us wants to wake up in the morning and read “Everything Going Great!” over our egg-nog-spiked chai — though even if we do, we know a headline like that is just an indication of all that’s unreported.

Coming into this Christmas season, I find myself beset by odd religious yearnings—I say odd, because I’m not much of a believer, not in God, not in governments, not in institutions generally. I try to save my faith for people and principles, but that can lead to some lean years in the slaking of spiritual thirst. I can find a way to attribute my stirrings to the ritualism of Covid — the ablutions of sanitizing and masking, the penitent isolation, the what-does-it-all-mean? that comes from confronting powerlessness and the caprice of illness — but a more convincing source might be the novelty of parenthood: religion being a stand-in for tradition in general, I ask myself, what am I going to leave my child? What intellectual and emotional inheritance?

At least he’ll know how to keep his privacy.

Along with “good news,” I’ve been thinking of “bad faith,” a phrase that always reminds me of the Thomas Pynchon joke, wherein everything bad becomes a German spa: Bad Kissingen, Bad Kreuznach, Baden-Baden… Bad Karma.

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They’re Killing Him: Assange’s Stroke Reveals The Western Version Of The Saudi Bone Saw

They’re Killing Him: Assange’s Stroke Reveals The Western Version Of The Saudi Bone Saw

Listen to a reading of this article:

Julian Assange suffered a mini-stroke in October during the hearing for the US appeal of a UK court’s ruling on his extradition case.

“The WikiLeaks publisher, 50, who is being held on remand in the maximum-security jail while fighting extradition to America, was left with a drooping right eyelid, memory problems and signs of neurological damage,” The Daily Mail reports. “He believes the mini-stroke was triggered by the stress of the ongoing US court action against him, and an overall decline in his health as he faces his third Christmas behind bars.”

“Assange was examined by a doctor, who found a delayed pupil response when a light was shone into one eye – a sign of potential nerve damage,” the article reads.

“Julian is struggling and I fear this mini-stroke could be the precursor to a more major attack. It compounds our fears about his ability to survive the longer this long legal battle goes on,” Assange’s fiance Stella Moris told the Daily Mail.

“Assange’s stroke is no surprise,” tweeted UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer in response to the news. “As we warned after examining him, unless relieved of the constant pressure of isolation, arbitrariness and persecution, his health would enter a downward spiral endangering his life.”

Melzer examined Assange with medical experts in 2019 and published a report with the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights saying that “Mr. Assange showed all symptoms typical for prolonged exposure to psychological torture, including extreme stress, chronic anxiety and intense psychological trauma.”

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John Pilger: A Judicial Kidnapping

John Pilger: A Judicial Kidnapping

Julian Assange’s High Court judges offered no mitigation, no suggestion that they had agonised over legalities or even basic morality, writes John Pilger.

Let us look at ourselves, if we have the courage, to see what is happening to us” –-  Jean-Paul Sartre.

Sartre’s words should echo in all our minds following the grotesque decision of Britain’s High Court to extradite Julian Assange to the United States where he faces “a living death”. This is his punishment for the crime of authentic, accurate, courageous, vital journalism.

Miscarriage of justice is an inadequate term in these circumstances. It took the bewigged courtiers of Britain’s ancien regime just nine minutes on Friday to uphold an American appeal against a District Court judge’s acceptance in January of a cataract of evidence that hell on earth awaited Assange across the Atlantic: a hell in which, it was expertly predicted, he would find a way to take his own life.

Volumes of witness by people of distinction, who examined and studied Julian and diagnosed his autism and his Asperger’s Syndrome and revealed that he had already come within an ace of killing himself at Belmarsh prison, Britain’s very own hell, were ignored.

The recent confession of a crucial F.B.I. informant and prosecution stooge, a fraudster and serial liar, that he had fabricated his evidence against Julian was ignored. The revelation that the Spanish-run security firm at the Ecuadorean embassy in London, where Julian had been granted political refuge, was a C.I.A. front that spied on Julian’s lawyers and doctors and confidants (myself included) – that, too, was ignored.

Collage of UC Global surveillance photos made for C.I.A. inside Ecuador embassy.  (Cathy Vogan)

The recent journalistic disclosure, repeated graphically by defence counsel before the High Court in October, that the C.I.A. had planned to murder Julian in London – even that was ignored.

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Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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