The United States’ ability to maintain its influence over the rest of the world has been slowly diminishing. Since the petrodollar was established in 1971, U.S. currency has monopolized international trade through oil deals with the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and continuous military interventions. There is, however, growing opposition to the American standard, and it gained more support recently when several Gulf states suddenly blockaded Qatar, which they accused of funding terrorism.
Despite the mainstream narrative, there are several other reasons why Qatar is in the crosshairs. Over the past two years, it conducted over $86 billion worth of transactions in Chinese yuan and has signed other agreements with China that encourage further economic cooperation. Qatar also shares the world’s largest natural gas field with Iran, giving the two countries significant regional influence to expand their own trade deals.
Meanwhile, uncontrollable debt and political divisions in the United States are clear signs of vulnerability. The Chinese and Russians proactively set up alternative financial systems for countries looking to distance themselves from the Federal Reserve. After the IMF accepted the yuan into its basket of reserve currencies in October of last year, investors and economists finally started to pay attention. The economic power held by the Federal Reserve has been key in financing the American empire, but geopolitical changes are happening fast. The United States’ reputation has been tarnished by decades of undeclared wars, mass surveillance, and catastrophic foreign policy.
One of America’s best remaining assets is its military strength, but it’s useless without a strong economy to fund it. Rival coalitions like the BRICS nations aren’t challenging the established order head on and are instead opting to undermine its financial support. Qatar is just the latest country to take steps to bypass the U.S. dollar. Russia made headlines in 2016 when they started accepting payments in yuan and took over as China’s largest oil partner, stealing a huge market share from Saudi Arabia in the process. Iran also dropped the dollar earlier this year in response to President Trump’s travel ban. As the tide continues to turn against the petrodollar, eventually even our allies will start to question what best serves their own interests.
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