The entire world is affected by the Coronavirus pandemic but none more so than the US. The number of infections worldwide has surpassed 40 million and deaths have exceeded one million. These are shocking statistics since most of the victims are elderly or the weak and poor. But in a perverse way, the pandemic also offers some opportunities for those at the receiving end of US aggression.
It has exposed deep weaknesses in the US political, administrative, economic, social and healthcare systems. Its indifference to the plight of ordinary people is shocking. While blacks comprise only about 15-18 % of the US population, their death rate is 2.3 times higher than whites. This is the direct result of lack of healthcare facilities as well as economic resources for blacks.
The US leads the world in both infections —eight million—and deaths—more than 225,000. Over the years, successive regimes have gutted the healthcare system. Wedded to raw capitalism, only people that can pay get treatment; others are left to suffer and die.
The country’s infrastructure was already collapsing. Broken roads and bridges, ghost cities and polluted water systems have put millions of people at risk. The US has no money to repair them.
With the largest military budget in the world ($650 billion/year), the US also has more than 800 military bases worldwide. It is currently involved in at least 24 wars. As the former US President Jimmy Carter pointed out, in its 244-year history, the US has been at war for 227 years!
Despite massive military spending, the US has not won a single war since the end of the Second World War. And it has seldom waged any war alone. The US and its so-called allies act like a pack of wolves attacking much weaker victims but they have singularly failed to achieve their military or political objectives.
The pandemic, however, has exposed the US as a failed state. Excluding its deaths during the Second World War, more people have died due to COVID-19 in nine months than were killed in all US wars: First World War, Korean War, Vietnam War, the Wars on Afghanistan, Iraq etc.
After the Second World War, the US supplanted Britain as the leading power of the Western world. The rival camp was led by the Soviet Union. Three factors accounted for US global hegemony: military power, its soft power appeal, and dollar as global reserve currency. Its military has been exposed as being a giant with feet of clay.
One arena where the US has hitherto been highly successful was through its soft power appeal. Projected through Hollywood movies and massive propaganda, it presented itself as a beacon of light and freedom compared to the oppressive system in the Soviet Union. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, the West’s claims to freedom have been exposed as completely fraudulent. The horrific mistreatment of minorities especially since 911, and the illegal torture camps at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib have exposed the true nature of the US.
While always a racist society, the mindboggling police brutality has brought to the fore what is wrong with the US. ‘Black Lives Matter’ protests have further exposed the criminality of the US system. With the rise of armed militias, encouraged by Donald Trump, it may be heading for a civil war.
Let us, however, consider the real strength of the US economy: dollar hegemony. Since 1973, when US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger convinced the Saudis to trade oil in dollars, it has acted as a virtual global reserve currency. If oil did not trade in dollars, it would be no different than any other currency such as the British pound or the Japanese Yen.
At the beginning of this century, 80% of the world’s central banks had their reserves in US dollars; today it is down to 61%. The Euro, the Chinese Yuan and the British pound have absorbed the rest of reserves. If oil were traded in Yuan or even a larger percentage of it, dollar’s hegemony would soon end.
The pandemic and the collapse of US power have opened up opportunities for others to seek new ways to conduct trade and economic activity. These include barter trade as well as trading in each other’s currency. Many countries have been the victims of illegal US sanctions that have greatly affected ordinary people. Iran, Venezuela, Cuba, China, Russia, Syria and Turkey are well-known victims. The negative impact of sanctions can be overcome if the targeted countries cooperate at the strategic, economic and military levels.
There should be work at two levels: among likeminded Muslim countries; and between them and likeminded non-Muslim countries.
Likeminded Muslim countries could include Islamic Iran, Turkey, Pakistan, Malaysia and Indonesia and some of their allies such as Iraq, Syria and perhaps Qatar. The list of non-Muslim countries would include China, Russia, Venezuela, Cuba and South Africa. Other will join the group as they see the benefits of such alliances in opposition to tyranny and oppression.
The key to all this is to abandon the US dollar as soon as possible and trade either in local currencies or through barter trade. Why should the rest of the world subsidize American profligacy and wars of aggression?
While the pandemic has caused much suffering worldwide, it also offers great opportunities for victims of US imperial aggression to put in place policies to protect their people and their interests.