The unfair financial system and the dollar's hegemony

Published 09.01.2019 00:00
Updated 09.01.2019 08:00

The world has been longing for an alternative to the U.S.-dominated financial system. While European countries such as Germany and France have called for independence from the U.S.-dominated financial system and created their own systems to gain financial freedom, others like Russia and China are aggressively promoting their own systems for their international financial transactions.

The U.S. has been able to dominate global finance since its supremacy after World War II. Since then, until the euro emerged as an alternative currency, the U.S. dollar had been the most powerful currency. The U.K. pound, meanwhile, is the other major currency besides the U.S. dollar and the euro widely used in trade across the world.

Currency wars

The United States has been trying to maintain its position as a global superpower and for that purpose, uses the dollar as a weapon. The U.S. has access to the data of SWIFT transactions, which allows it to monitor global financial transactions and to deter any challenges that may harm its national interests. Any country trying to challenge the dollar and shifting to other alternatives is punished severely, particularly in recent history.

For instance, former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein – for a couple of minutes, let's put aside his brutal policies in the region – was a strong long-term ally of the U.S. In October 2000, when the Iraqi government announced that it would dub the U.S. dollar "the currency of the enemy" and would trade its oil in euros, Baghdad was attacked by Washington.

In the 15 months following Iraq's declaration, then-U.S. President George W. Bush listed Iraq along with Iran and North Korea as part of an "axis of evil" and started targeting them in the international community.

Similarly, when Muammar Gaddafi, the late Libyan ruler, tried to introduce the gold dinar for Libya's oil trading and to make it a currency for the entire African continent, he met a similar fate. It is well-known what happened to Libya after that.

Countries are not the only targets of the U.S.; banks can sometimes fall victim to Washington as well. For example, BNP Paribas was fined almost $8.9 billion in penalties for "concealing transactions" with the countries like Sudan, Iran and Cuba – all on the U.S.' blacklist. HSBC was also fined nearly $1.3 billion for conducting transactions on behalf of customers in Cuba, Iran, Libya, Sudan and Burma, all of which were on the U.S. sanctions list as well. These are just few of examples.

A game is being played by the U.S. in the financial system. If U.S. interests take a minor hit, Washington doesn't refrain from attacking the countries or banks. Since it is a superpower with hegemonic influence in almost all international organizations, particularly in the United Nations, the U.S. can easily manipulate its opponents. When a country dares to resist the U.S.-dominated system, it is at risk of facing a crisis in its own borders.

Turkey has faced similar complications. Since President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's Justice and Development Party (AK Party) came to power, Turkey has undergone a major transformation. Ankara has managed to balance its norms and Western parameters to reach its goals. By doing so, Turkey has been accepted by Western states, setting a good example for other non-Western countries.

However, it didn't last. Although Turkey can so far be described as successful, the country, today, couldn't avoid a U.S. economic attack. Since Erdoğan clearly voiced objections to the U.S.-dominated financial system, being an advocate of the use of local currencies rather than the U.S. dollar in global trade, the Turkish economy was attacked by the U.S. and is still battling outside manipulation of its domestic market and stocks. The devaluation of the Turkish lira, the decrease in global investors and other unbalanced economic developments have been fueled by U.S. meddling.

Turkey is just one victim of the world's unfair financial system. If the U.S. cannot be restrained in global finance and the economy or if the dollar's power is not limited, similar stories are likely to pop up in other corners of the world.

* Op-Ed contributor based in Goa, India

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