April 4, 2012
There’s a popular theory among the world population that the U.S. launched wars in the middle east in order to control its oil reserves. On the surface, this seems entirely logical, but the truth of the matter may be much more sinister, and one should look a little deeper into the situation. It’s not the oil reserves the U.S. is after, although oil does play its part in this charade. The main concern of the U.S. in these wars is more likely the maintenance of its hegemony with U.S dollar as the world’s reserve currency.
The U.S. dollar became the de facto world reserve currency after World War II, when delegates from around the world met and together agreed to what became known as the Bretton Woods System. Under this system, the U.S. dollar would be linked to gold at $35/ounce. All other nations would tie their currencies not directly to gold, but indirectly through the U.S. dollar. This meant that those nations would hold dollars in their foreign reserves to support their local currencies. In order to obtain dollars, those countries had to either borrow them from the U.S. Federal Reserve or earn them with a trade surplus. The U.S. got a sweet deal here – perhaps justified due to the fact that after the war the U.S. was indeed the strongest, most productive nation on the planet, along with a huge stash of physical gold.
This system worked well for the world and especially for the U.S. during the prosperous years of the 1950’s and 60’s. But with the U.S. printing its own dollars to cover its increasing debts, including the vast expeditures on the Vietnam War, the world became concerned. Suspicious that the U.S. gold reserves would not cover the existing issue of paper dollars, countries began to trade in their reserve dollars for gold at the U.S. treasury using the pegged value of $35/ounce. The U.S. gold stash was steadily declining.
In order to prevent the total depletion of U.S. gold supplies, in 1971 the Nixon administration closed the gold window – nations were no longer allowed to exchange their reserve dollars for gold. It was the end of the Bretton Woods System, but not quite the end of the U.S. dollar hegemony in world reserve currency status.
One must then ask the obvious question: Why would a nation now hold a seemingly valueless paper dollar as a reserve currency, especially since its tie to gold has been cut?
The answer: The Petro Dollar.
After Nixon closed the gold exchange window, the dollar was a free floating fiat currency, competing with other currencies around the globe. Inflation started to escalate since there was no tie to gold anymore. In fact, in 1975 the average price of gold was $160 – more than 350% increase in just 4 years since abandoning the gold window. Additionally, OPEC nations had been using the dominant dollar as a preferred payment method for their oil exports, but now they were starting to lose money as the dollar lost its value. In 1973, OPEC launched an oil embargo, raised prices and started internal discussions on the logistics for trading oil for other currencies including gold. Steps had to be taken by the U.S. if it was to re-secure the dollar as the strong world reserve currency.
The first step was taken in 1974 when Secretary of State Henry Kissinger launched the U.S.-Saudi Arabian Joint Commission on Economic Cooperation. Kissinger used the term “petrodollar recycling” to refer to the overall plan, which was to allow Saudi Arabia to purchase U.S. assets and services with the dollars it was receiving for its oil sales. A beneficial result for the U.S. was that the Saudi Arabian central bank (SAMA) could now use its dollar proceeds to buy U.S. debt (Treasury bills, bonds, etc.).
But the most beneficial outcome for the U.S. was that Saudi Arabia, the most dominant member of OPEC, would agree to continue to accept only U.S. dollars in exchange for its oil sales and would convince the other members of the cartel to do the same. By 1975, all OPEC member nations restricted their oil trade to dollar transactions. To this day, as long as these key oil states play along, their leaders are showered in luxury and are quite secure in that they’re guaranteed the defense by the U.S. military and its industrial complex.
Meanwhile, countries around the globe must accumulate dollars in their own foreign reserves in order to import the most vital energy component – oil. Nations have to aquire those dollars the hard way – by borrowing from the U.S. Federal Reserve or earning them by trading resources, goods and services to other nations for dollars. But the U.S. enjoys the outrageous advantage of being able to print as much of the world’s reserve currency as it wants. Not only has it been able to use these dollars to purchase its own oil on the cheap, it has been able to continually out-do itself in annual deficit spending, now in the trillions of dollars, because it has had captive buyers for its debt.
One would think someone would cry “Foul!” Well, someone did. The first nation to step away from this rigged system was Iraq. In November of the year 2000, Saddam Hussein declared that Iraq would no longer accept the dollar for trade in the Oil for Food program. Instead, the oil would be priced in and exchanged for Euros. Many said this would be a bad investment for Iraq at the time, but the move was actually beneficial because the dollar declined 17% against the Euro until the U.S. attacked and accomplished its mission in May of 2003. Of course, now that the country was “stabilized” the Iraqi oil trade was repriced in the dollar market again and things went back to “normal” for a while.
The system would be challenged a second time, this time by Libya. In February of 2009, Muammar Gaddafi was elected the chairman of the African Union and would continue the effort to create the United States of Africa, which among other things, would include a unified currency, a dinar based on gold. Gaddafi went so far as to suggest that the African nations’ oil trade would be switched from the dollar to this new gold currency. Here’s a segment from Russia Today:
Furthermore, it’s quite interesting to note that prior to the Libyan Revolution in February of 2011, Libya didn’t have a central bank linked with its western counterparts. It’s strange that before the “rebels” even had concluded battle, before they had even established a new government, they created a central bank.
And now the petro dollar has a third challenger – Iran.
The western powers are terribly concerned with Iran’s pursuit of nuclear technology. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has publicly stated his intent to “destroy Israel” and of course this is not something to be taken lightly. Additionally, one must wonder why Iran would even need nuclear power when they’re sitting on one of the world’s largest oil and natural gas deposits.
However, attention should be given to recent events. Early in 2008, Iran launched a new commodity exchange known as the Iranian Oil Bourse. The intent was to allow for Iranian oil to be priced and traded with multiple currencies. As the system was ramped up, initially the exchange limited its trade to secondary petroleum products, with crude oil to be added “when the system was ready.” Iran recently announced it would be ready on March 20, 2012. This was a declaration of war on the petro dollar!
The U.S. along with the EU then implemented a defense. Just prior to the expansion of the Iranian exchange, on March 17, the EU carried out orders to expand sanctions against Iran by removing Iranian banks from the international bank-wire transfer system known as SWIFT. Furthermore, any banks caught doing business with Iran would be sanctioned as well. It seems Iran’s entire international commerce engine has been halted and its oil industry crushed.
Japan, China, India and Turkey are among the countries who’ve been dependent on Iranian oil to some degree. Various discussions have been taking place between Iran and its trading partners on the possibility to enlist trade for other commodities such as gold or grain. Unless someone caves in here, another war – perhaps a big one – seems to be on the horizon.
This article was researched and published by JonK.
Update: September 15, 2012: Must see video from CrisisHQ.
“If you want to understand what’s happening in the Mideast, particularly in Libya, Syria and Iran, you must first understand the main driving force behind U.S. foreign policy. Contrary to mainstream media propaganda, it is not our desire to spread democracy or to prevent tyrannical despots from murdering their own citizens. The real agenda is to protect the Petrodollar system, because it is the only thing that is currently preventing the total collapse of our fiat currency.”
Here’s a video from Alt Investors with a discussion on the petro dollar:
Source material from books (available at Amazon) on the petro dollar:
A Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order – 2004, F. William Engdahl
The Hidden Hand of American Hegemony: Petrodollar Recycling & International Markets – 1999, David E. Spiro
- Confessions of an Economic Hit Man – 2004, John Perkins
Here are links to further reading on OPEC’s petro dollar recycling: