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The Decline of the American Century
|by K. Gajendra Singh|
Continued from More Brutal and Random
“It is the afternoon sun that dazzles onlookers though it is past its prime. That sums up the height of US power before last September 11. If the US nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki without fear of retaliation was the acme of the American Century, then the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, symbols of economic and military might, could be termed the beginning of the end of the American Century.
The current international finance architecture is founded on the US dollar as the dominant reserve currency, accounting for 68 percent of global currency reserves, up from 51 percent a decade ago. Yet in 2000, the US share of global exports ($781.1 billion out of a world total of $6.2 trillion) was only 12.3 percent and its share of global imports ($1.257 trillion out of a world total of $6.65 trillion) was 18.9 percent.
Ever since 1971, when US president Richard Nixon arbitrarily took the dollar off the gold standard ($35 per ounce) in force since the Bretton Woods Conference at the end of World War II, the dollar has become the global monetary instrument that the United States, and only the United States, can produce by fiat, despite record US current-account deficits and the US as the leading debtor nation. The US national debt as of April 4 was $6.021 trillion against a GDP of $9 trillion.
The Bush administration's foreign policy has undermined the fragile structure of international law and conventions built up during the past three centuries, to which the United States made important contributions.
Look how the energy interests are trying to rule the United States and the rest of the world. Zalmay Khalilzad, whom the Bush administration appointed as its envoy to Afghanistan after the fall of the Taliban, was a Unocal consultant, as was, according to some reports, Karzai himself. (Pushtuns call Karzai "America's Babrak Karmal", a reference to the Soviet-backed president who ruled Afghanistan from 1979-86.) It is well known that the Bush family acquired its wealth through oil; former president George Bush Sr still works with the Carlyle Group that specializes in huge oil investments abroad. His son's commerce secretary, Dale Evans, was chairman and chief executive officer of an oil company. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice was on the board of Chevron before going to Washington. (The oil company even named a giant tanker after her, although the ship has reportedly been quietly renamed the Altair Voyager.) Dick Cheney, before becoming vice president, worked for the giant oil conglomerate Halliburton.
The danger to the US "way of life and stability" could come from within, from black American Muslims who now number 3 million to 5 million.
The black community and Muslims remember many historic wrongs done to them. Of the 2 million Americans in prisons, two-thirds are non-white. Many feel oppressed by the white power structure and sentencing disparities, which too often fall most harshly on minorities. Islam offers brotherhood, dignity, and a sense of pride and solidarity, especially for non-whites. But many, alienated and disfranchised, are prime targets for radical Islamists who preach a religion of violence, of overcoming oppression by jihad. Many black Americans have experienced maltreatment and dehumanization. Conversion to Islam increased after September 11, even among Hispanics.
Perhaps it is in the United States itself where its ill-informed and misinformed people need not just a regime change but a system change. Where energy and military-industry corporate interests have hijacked power from the people to pursue their narrow objectives. Where corporate chiefs enjoy coercive powers even the Communist Party chiefs in the former Soviet Union would have envied. Where blacks, Hispanics and the poor cannot freely choose a president (as in Florida, where only by not counting their votes did George Bush become the president).
After the fall of the Berlin Wall, one misses Pravda and Izvestia, not that they propounded truth (Russian Pravda) but they were a check on the so-called free Western media, which were careful and comparatively honest. Now, without any restraints, the brainwashing monopoly of Western propaganda is wreaking havoc around the world, especially in the United States, whether it was the 1990-91 Gulf War, the bombing of Yugoslavia, Jammu and Kashmir, and now Iraq.
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