Sanctions: a self-defeating weapon

The tectonic plates of the world order are beginning to shift as a consequence of imperialist parasitism.

Lalkar writers

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Lalkar writers

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It is an inescapable law of capitalism that there has to be a general striving towards monopoly. At a certain stage of development giant monopolies, as epitomised by the world’s multinational corporations, become so dominant that national governments become their handmaidens, representing the interests primarily of a tiny handful of super-rich monopolists rather than that of the exploiting class as a whole.

The monopolies come to control ever greater sections of the productive forces of society, with huge funds of money at their disposal, which scour the world to secure control of ever more sources of profit and domination. Although the monopolists have no loyalty to any country, nevertheless they are firmly rooted in a single national government and use the organs of that state as instruments of coercion, both internally in the country concerned and in support of their overseas depredations.

These countries must obviously be militarily, ideologically and economically powerful in order to be effective as instruments of coercion; these are the imperialist countries.

In their search for maximum profit, the monopolists are inexorably drawn to investments in countries other than their home countries, where wages, land prices and the cost of accessing raw materials are low, enabling them to accumulate yet more capital.

Relatively defenceless as many of these countries are against the military and economic might of the monopolists’ home country, they are invariably subjected to unfair terms of trade, amounting to what can only be called superexploitation.

Nevertheless, this investment does objectively have the effect of modernising the industries of the oppressed countries and proletarianising large sections of their population. It is thus a force for progress, albeit at horrendous human cost.

At the same time, industries in the home countries, where land is expensive and wages relatively high, are abandoned, laying waste former industrial centres and destroying the livelihoods of skilled and unskilled workers alike. The imperialist countries become parasitic, relying on overseas production for an ever-greater proportion of their consumption needs.

The inevitable result of this process is a disillusioned proletariat in the imperialist countries and an excess of imports over exports, resulting in growing indebtedness, despite the continuing flow of profits made from overseas investment, much of which is not necessarily repatriated.

The mighty United States is in just this position. Its industrial lifeblood is gradually ebbing away, while countries in which its monopolists have invested, and from which they have extracted billions in profit over several decades, are going from strength to strength, notwithstanding the continued wealth extraction by US and European monopolies.

China in particular, since it embarked in the late 1970s on its policy of ‘reforms and opening up’, has made offers to imperialism in terms of investment opportunities that the latter could not refuse. Monopolies from various imperialist countries, especially the US, unable to resist the lure of easy and fabulous profits, moved production facilities to China.

Consequent upon this, four decades later China has become strong enough economically and financially to be correctly perceived as a competitor rather than just a place to invest in, setting alarm bells ringing in the centres of imperialism.

Trump’s trade wars

US imperialism has for quite some time now been rethinking its own relationship with China. “For the first time in 40 years since the re-establishment of diplomatic relations, the economic relationship has shifted from complementary to competitive,” said Chris Johnson, a former top CIA China analyst. (Quoted in Trump zeroes in on China after trade truce with Europe by Demetri Sevastopulo and Shawn Donnan, Financial Times, 3 August 2018)

Actually, US imperialism has for quite some time experienced growing alarm at the speed of China’s rise. Currently, according to the 2017 IMF forecast, while the size of the US economy this year is expected to amount $19.4tn, China is rapidly catching up with an expected $11.9tn, and is forecast to overtake the US within 10 years.

What is happening now, perhaps ‘for the first time’, is that US imperialism is acting concertedly to ramp up measures to try to keep China down – hence the trade war. More than that: in order to maintain its dominance, the US has extended its trade war not only to cover China but also Europe, Canada and Japan, which theoretically are US imperialism’s allies.

According to US President Donald Trump, China, Europe and Canada have been treating the US “unfairly”, in that the US imports more from these countries than it exports to them. Well, since US-based monopolies have outsourced the production of a huge proportion of consumers’ necessities abroad in the interests of maximum profit, that is a result that can hardly be avoided!

As a result of that policy, US consumers, even if unemployed and bereft of life opportunities, at least get lower prices. With regard to Europe, Trump has claimed that it imposes unfair tariffs on US goods.

The Financial Times commented: “Does the US have a strong case against EU trading practices?

“No. The EU and US have very similar and low levels of tariffs on goods. Even though some trade is deterred by specific high tariffs on both sides of the Atlantic, the average weighted tariffs applied by the EU on US goods were 3 percent in 2015, a little lower than the US equivalent of 3.3 percent in the same year.

“Mr Trump’s complaint in a CNBC interview last week that ‘for years we have been losing $150bn with the European Union and they are making money easy’, relates to the US bilateral goods trade deficit with the EU. This is a product of a healthier US economy and a surplus in services rather than unfair European trade practices.” (Trump taunts EU on trade: what is at stake at Juncker meeting? by Chris Giles, 24 July 2018)

In the event, Trump agreed to postpone his proposed tariff increases on car imports in anticipation of future negotiations towards a comprehensive no-tariff trade deal – having been advised, no doubt, that he should not try and take on Europe and China at the same time.

While Trump appears to think that “trade wars are good, and easy to win”, the truth is that, as in all wars, both sides pay a horrendous price.

Already there have been retaliatory tariffs placed on US goods by China and Mexico, including on the import of soya beans, thus severely affecting the livelihoods of American farmers. Trump responded by earmarking $12bn as a bailout for affected farmers.

The New York Times editorial board, an arch enemy of Trump to be sure, seized on the opportunity to point out the drawbacks of trade war:

“In retaliation for Mr Trump’s tariffs, China, the European Union, Mexico and other countries quite predictably imposed tariffs on soybeans, corn, pork and other products, and so – equally predictably – demand, and therefore prices, dropped for these commodities. The agriculture sector is understandably upset. But a one-time payment is no way to fix this problem the president created.

“That’s why even lawmakers from farm states don’t like the president’s approach of using a Depression-era programme known as the Commodity Credit Corporation to help farmers. Senator Ben Sasse, Republican of Nebraska, likened the plan to spending ‘$12 billion on gold crutches’. He added, ‘This administration’s tariffs and bailouts aren’t going to make America great again; they’re just going to make it 1929 again.’”

And of course, “Mr Trump’s decision to pay farmers could run afoul of commitments the United States has made at the World Trade Organization not to unfairly subsidise its agricultural sector.

“That could give other countries, which will now be worried that their farmers will be at a competitive disadvantage, a reason to further retaliate against the United States. Countries have often fought about agriculture subsidies. For example, the Obama administration accused India of unfairly subsidising its farmers, and Brazil has long complained about American farm programmes …

“The Trump administration’s plan to rush taxpayer money to farmers it is hurting could also prompt other domestic industries hurt by the president’s trade wars to demand bailouts. Why shouldn’t manufacturing companies and other businesses ask to be made whole for having to pay higher prices for steel and aluminum after Mr Trump raised tariffs on those metals?

“What about the workers at Harley-Davidson who will lose their jobs when the company moves some production overseas to avoid the European Union’s retaliatory tariffs on American motorcycles? And surely the administration is distressed by the plight of bourbon producers in Kentucky and Tennessee that have also been subject to higher tariffs from the Europeans?” (Editorial: So now Trump wants to protect farmers from Trump’s trade war?, 24 July 2018)

All that can be said is that US imperialism is hoping that whatever pain the US has to suffer in this trade war, the damage to China’s growth will be worth it!

It should not be assumed, however, that US imperialism will be any more successful in its trade war than it is in its military wars against countries infinitely weaker economically and industrially than it is, but which US imperialism cannot beat, notwithstanding all the death and destruction it unleashes.

China will not have failed to predict the rage of US imperialism on discovering it has been bested, and has already taken steps to free itself from dependence on its export economy:

“In terms of prepping for a trade war with the US, China has implemented several important steps. For example, for at least the past 10 years the country has been shifting away from a pure export economy and reducing its reliance on sales of goods to the US.

“In 2018, Chinese consumer purchases of goods are expected to surpass that of American consumers. For the past five years, domestic consumption in China accounted for between 55 percent to 65 percent of economic growth, and private consumption was the primary driver of the Chinese economy – not exports.” (China has been preparing for a trade war for over a decade by Brandon Smith, Alt-market.com, 12 July 2018)

And it would be useful for US imperialism to remember that China is holding such vast quantities of US Treasury bonds (government debt) that it would cause a devastating drop in the value of the dollar were it to dump them, though of course both China and the rest of the world would suffer tremendous financial upheaval if it did:

“China would take a massive loss on its own position. And to the degree that such an event would also have an impact on global economic conditions, it’s a nuclear option not to be exercised lightly.” (America’s largest creditor: will China end US trade war with a ‘debt reset’, by dumping US Treasury holdings? by Chris Marcus, Global Research, 25 July 2018)

Nevertheless, it is apparently the case that both China and Russia have been buying up large stocks of gold that could be a hedge against the collapse of the dollar.

Meanwhile, the truce with Europe is unlikely to last. While Europeans are happy to have had the reprieve from the threatened hike in tariffs on motor vehicles, nobody thinks that in the long term negotiations will lead to the promised zero-tariff trade deal. The whole idea is already unravelling.

European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker and Trump have mutually agreed that the trade deal negotiations should be confined to non-auto industrial goods. In other words, agricultural products were, on France’s insistence, left out of account.

But US farmers are among those already most affected by retaliatory tariffs imposed by Mexico and China, and Trump had been promising a deal which would vastly increase their exports to Europe. He has not delivered for them, and as a result all Europe-US negotiations would be useless, as any results would never be acceptable to the US Congress.

At the same time, even if Europe were prepared to zero-rate agricultural imports from the US – most unlikely – there are still the issues of GM crops and antibiotic-infested meat, which nobody wants to see imported into their countries.

The sanctions war against Turkey – a Nato ally

As it weakens, US imperialism is resorting not only to trade wars but it has also weaponised sanctions and is using them as a substitute for the military wars it is no good at winning.

Those who stand in the way of its global dominance, if not outright targets for military assault, are increasingly becoming targets for sanctions – frequently, but not always, with the aim of weakening them in anticipation of imperialism mounting a military campaign against them.

Sanctions are used as a means of trying to force regime change, or policy changes that favour imperialism at the expense of the interests of the people of the countries concerned.

These tactics have been in operation for decades and there is nothing new about them. What is new, however, is US imperialism using them against allies, or in breach of Treaty undertakings – as in the case of the sanctions it is imposing on Turkey on the one hand and Iran on the other.

Not so long ago, Turkey and western imperialism were the best of friends, and the Turkish regime could get away with all the human rights abuses it liked without arousing a murmur of protest. Now, however, when human rights abuses have probably declined following the downfall of the military’s control of the government, the story is very different, as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan himself plaintively spelt out in the New York Times:

“Over the years, Turkey rushed to America’s help whenever necessary. Our military servicemen and servicewomen shed blood together in Korea. In 1962, the Kennedy administration was able to get the Soviets to remove missiles from Cuba by removing Jupiter missiles from Italy and Turkey.

“In the wake of the 11 September terror attacks, when Washington counted on its friends and allies to strike back against evil, we sent our troops to Afghanistan to help accomplish the Nato mission there.” (Erdogan: How Turkey sees the crisis with the US, 10 August 2018)

He might have added that Turkey rushed in to the US-backed jihadi assault on Syria not so long ago, and even shot down a Russian military plane that was supporting the Syrian government. But nevertheless, that was then.

What went wrong?

Things changed abruptly with the US supply of weaponry to Kurds in Syria – in fact, to organisations that both the US and Turkey had categorised as terror groups – in order to use them to make a last-ditch attempt to overthrow the Syrian government.

As Erdogan wrote: “My government has repeatedly shared our concerns with American officials about their decision to train and equip the PKK’s allies in Syria. Unfortunately, our words have fallen on deaf ears, and American weapons ended up being used to target civilians and members of our security forces in Syria, Iraq and Turkey.” (New York Times, ibid)

When, two years ago, there was an attempted coup against the Turkish government, Erdogan noted that there was no rush by US imperialism to condemn it. And, not unnaturally, he concluded that the US government was in favour of it – especially when Turkey demanded the extradition from the US of the person believed to have fomented the coup, the cleric Fethullah Gülen, and the request was refused.

Spurned by the master to which it had always shown such loyalty, Turkey’s love of US imperialism is fast turning to hate, and Erdogan has not hesitated to demonstrate that hate in concrete ways: extending the hand of friendship to the US’s hated adversary, Russia; purchasing from it a state-of-the art missile defence system rather than buying from the US; and even arresting and putting on trial a US national evangelist cleric who has been living in Turkey for years on charges of espionage, along with 19 other US citizens and three Turks who had been working at US consulates.

Turkey has also come close to Iran, the US’s bête noir, with a state-controlled Turkish bank (the Halkbank) breaking US imperialism’s unilaterally imposed sanctions on Iran, as a result of which the US has sentenced one of the bank’s executives to 32 months in prison, and is expected to slap draconian sanctions on the bank itself.

In other words, Erdogan has been forced to join the ranks of those who have been resisting US imperialism, and as such his government has become yet another target for US imperialist aggression.

Thus “with half an eye on his christian voters, the US president recently demanded that Erdogan release the jailed pastor”, and, in support of that demand, “he slapped sanctions and tariffs on Turkish exports”.

“Seeming to sense vulnerability, Mr Trump piled on pressure and announced additional economic sanctions – doubling tariffs on imported Turkish steel to 50 percent and on aluminium to 20 percent – after having already penalised two Turkish government ministers last week.

“The move effectively priced Turkish steel out of the American market, which accounts for 13 percent of Turkey’s steel exports.” (Tensions between Turkey and US soar as Trump orders new sanctions by Carlotta Gall and Jack Ewing, New York Times, 10 August 2018)

The result was a precipitous fall in the Turkish currency. Turkey, however, has no intention of falling on its knees to beg for relief, although no doubt imperialism is hoping, even expecting, that economic hardship will cause Erdogan and his party to be forced out of office by the Turkish people themselves.

The Financial Times considers, however, that rather than undermine Erdogan, the sanctions will have given him a huge boost in the eyes of the Turkish public. Katie Martin writes: “Thanks to US sanctions, the Turkish leader can claim there is an effort to sabotage him.” (Erdogan and Trump battle it out in the lira blame game, 16 August 2018)

The imperialist media are in fact all at pains to claim that Erdogan’s internal policies have been wrecking the Turkish economy, basically because he is ignorant of the laws of bourgeois economics – despite the fact that “In power for 15 years already, Mr Erdogan’s popularity has depended greatly on his ability to bring Turks continued economic growth.” (New York Times, op cit)

Erdogan himself blames the pressure on the Turkish currency on long-term money market manipulation by imperialism, and he may well be right. Certainly the imposition of sanctions and tariffs by imperialism will strengthen Erdogan’s case.

Be that as it may, US imperialism’s hostile policy towards Turkey cannot but rebound on US imperialism itself:

“Time and again, Recep Tayyip Erdogan has proved willing to back down in diplomatic disputes when the circumstances required it. As his row with Donald Trump ramped up in recent weeks, wreaking havoc on the Turkish lira, many analysts were convinced that economic necessity would once again force the Turkish president’s pragmatic streak to shine through.

“But Mr Erdogan’s continued defiance has triggered growing anxiety that this time could be different.” (Turkey looks to ‘new alliances’ for way out of crisis by Laura Pitel and Andrew England, Financial Times, 12 August 2018)

Turkey’s role as partner supporting US military aggression in the middle east may well be over:

“While the US and Israel have for many years contemplated military action (including the pre-emptive use of nuclear weapons) against Iran, this military agenda – which relied on a longstanding military-intelligence alliance between Israel and Turkey – is currently in jeopardy. And so is Ankara’s bilateral military alliance with Washington.” (Is Turkey sleeping with the enemy? The Russia-Turkey-Iran ‘Triple Entente’ by Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research, 10 August 2018)

It seems US imperialism is preparing to shoulder the loss of its airbase in Turkey. According to the New York Times: “as relations with Turkey have worsened, American commanders have been quietly looking for alternatives to Incirlik, including in Romania and Jordan”. (US imposes sanctions on Turkish officials over detained American pastor by Adam Goldman and Gardiner Harris, 1 August 2018)

All in all, for all US imperialism’s might, even in waging its economic wars, in the end it loses out:

“Some observers fear that, even if Mr Erdogan does back down, the row will have inflicted lasting damage on the west’s relationship with a nation that straddles Europe and the middle east, is home to a major US airbase and is hosting 3.5 million Syrian refugees. ‘Trump’s rugged diplomacy will push Turkey into the hands of the Russians,’ said a senior western diplomat. ‘Erdogan will look for other allies. There will be geopolitical alliances that we won’t like.’” (Financial Times, op cit)

US imperialism’s economic warfare against Turkey is also likely to rebound on its European allies, whose economies are already being adversely affected by the US’ unilaterally-imposed sanctions on Iran:

“Who is most exposed to this looming crisis? Conventional wisdom says Spain and Italy, whose banks have Turkish subsidiaries. However, this slightly misses the point, since much of that lending is in lira. Those banks should be able to survive even the loss of their stakes.

“The real question is: who has been lending Turkish companies all this foreign exchange debt? That brings us to the sting in the tail. For when you dig through Turkish treasury data, as the Deutsche Bank economist Oliver Harvey has, you discover that the country that lent most to Turkey, both short and long term, was the UK.

“That’s right: Britain, or more specifically the City of London, is by far the most exposed to a collapse in the Turkish economy.” (Turkish tremors will cause shocks in Britain by Ed Conway, The Times, 17 August 2018)

Not that US imperialism cares. For the moment at least, Britain and the rest of Europe are likely to continue to be willing to back down, as Erdogan has been in the past.

The sanctions war against Iran – in breach of Treaty obligations

Europe is not even expected to stand up for itself in spite of the harm being caused to its interests by US withdrawal last May from the 2015 nuclear deal treaty with Iran, and US imperialism’s imposition on Iran of unilateral sanctions that European companies will be forced to abide by if they don’t want to be sanctioned themselves.

“By restoring the sanctions, the United States is effectively forcing its allies to go along with the penalties, pressuring major European companies to choose between the tiny Iranian market and the huge American market.” (US to restore sanctions on Iran, deepening divide with Europe by Gardiner Harris and Jack Ewing, New York Times, 6 August 2018)

The sanctions, which took effect on 7 August, prohibit Iran from using US currency, bar trading in cars, metals and minerals, including gold, steel, coal and aluminium, and also bar Iran from buying US and European aircraft. In November, the US will reimpose another tranche of sanctions that prohibit imports of Iranian energy and prevent financial institutions from conducting transactions with Iran’s central bank.

“Individuals or entities that fail to wind down activities with Iran risk severe consequences,” Mr Trump said.

Like Turkey, Iran has also been subjected to money market manipulation by imperialism that has caused the exchange value of its currency to plummet, resulting in price rises that have hit Iranian consumers hard. The sanctions are intended to intensify that hardship to undermine the support of the Iranian people for their government, facilitating its replacement by one that will dance to US imperialism’s tune.

The European Union is fuming with impotent rage at the callous disregard US imperialism has shown for its interests, and has even attempted countermeasures:

“The EU said it would allow European companies hit by sanctions to sue the US government. Under a ‘blocking statute’, European businesses will not have to comply with US secondary sanctions that target companies that do business with Iran. They will also be able to sue the US in EU member states for compensation.” (US reimposes economic sanctions on Iran by Demetri Sevastopulo, Mehreen Khan and Najmeh Bozorgmehr, Financial Times, 7 August 2018)

The ‘blocking’ statute would also subject a company to penalties if it did comply with US sanctions.

The New York Times is confident that this blocking statute is unlikely to be enforced:

“‘The idea that the European Commission would come after Siemens or Total for not doing business in Iran is legally dubious and politically very tricky,’ said Jacob Funk Kirkegaard, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington. ‘I can’t imagine that happening.’

“While European leaders insisted they would resist the sanctions, some have quietly taken actions to comply.

“The Bundesbank, Germany’s central bank, introduced a change to its rules last month that could block the transfer of hundreds of millions of euros from an Iranian bank in Hamburg back to Iran. The Bundesbank is the conduit for major international transfers of money.”

Nevertheless, the article warns that “European leaders’ powerlessness to counter American sanctions has only widened a divide over a host of issues including Nato, immigration and relations with Russia that could undercut current efforts to defuse tensions over trade.” (New York Times, op cit)

And Russia too

It is now some years since US imperialism imposed sanctions on Russia in the hope of bringing down the government of President Vladimir Putin. Yet despite the problems these have caused for the Russian economy, President Putin is still riding high and Russia is still playing a decisive role in defeating the US-backed jihadis in Syria.

So what does US imperialism do? It ratchets up the sanctions – sanctions that, besides hurting Russia, are also hurting the European Union, especially Germany.

Deutsche Welle, the German international broadcaster, has lambasted the existing US sanctions, imposed as revenge for Russia’s reintegration of Crimea into its territory in 2014:

“The impact of western sanctions on Russia’s economy has so far been rather insignificant, says Andrey Movchan, Moscow-based head of economic programmes with the Carnegie Foundation.

“‘I would say that the actual effect of the sanctions on the GDP has been negligible; a high estimate is at half a percent and it’s probably closer to zero,’ he told DW …

“By imposing sanctions, the EU and the US aim to punish Moscow and score a change in its policy over the annexation of Crimea, the fighting in eastern Ukraine, the alleged election meddling, and – most recently – the poisoning of Sergei Skripal [implausibly attributed to Russia].

“There, too, they appear to be ineffective. Not only has the Kremlin held its political course since 2014, but the sanctions have actually helped Putin strengthen his grip on power, experts say.

“‘Effectively, the sanctions have been one of the major reasons for the increase of support to the central government and the Kremlin in Russia,’ Movchan explained. ‘Sanctions have been a clear evidence of the west’s hostility, and the majority of the population took that as an unjust declaration of war against Russia, in the economic sense, of course.’” (Western sanctions on Russia: lots of noise and little impact by Darko Janjevic, 5 April 2018)

Since the Crimea sanctions have not had the desired effect, the US is now using the unproven and unlikely alleged involvement of Russia in the poisoning of the Skripals to introduce yet more sanctions – even, it would seem, at the expense of the US weapons industry.

“The Department of State argues Russia is in breach of the Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act of 1991.

“As the US Department of State said on 8 August, the first package of sanctions applies to dual use products, the export to Russia of all sensitive goods and know-how related with US national security, and also electronics, components and technologies for the oil and gas industry.

“‘We intend to impose sanctions against the Russian Federation in a number of respects, the most significant of which is the imposition of a presumption of denial for all national security sensitive goods or technologies that are controlled by the Department of Commerce pursuant to the export administration regulations.

“‘These goods are currently subject to a licence – a case-by-case licence determination, but we are – henceforth, when these sanctions go into effect, we will be presumptively denying such applications,’ the Department of State said …

“Alongside this, the act envisages the possibility of far harsher sanctions to be taken in three months’ time. The second package of restrictions envisages a downgrade of bilateral diplomatic relations or their complete suspension, an overall ban on the export of US goods to Russia except for foods and on the United States’ import of Russian goods, including oil and oil products, refusal of permission to any planes of Russian government-controlled air carriers to land in the United States and Washington’s veto on all loans to Moscow from international financial organisations.” (First package of US sanctions against Russia over Skripals affair takes effect, TASS, 22 August 2018)

Apparently, Trump will back down on these sanctions if Russia agrees to pull out of Syria and Ukraine and ‘work’ with the US – an offer that Putin will no doubt feel he can absolutely refuse!

Counterproductive effect of sanctions

Every sanction imposed by US imperialism in an endeavour to bully the rest of the world into submission to its demands is another shower of rocks that it is dropping on its own feet.

– It drives its victims into the camp of those who resist US imperialism, just as Turkey is now making common cause with Russia, China and Iran.

– It creates havoc in the world market, causing serious problems for fellow imperialists and other allies by disrupting their trade with targeted countries and inflicting losses on them arising from huge falls in exchange rates.

– It forces countries to set up industries of their own rather than rely on proscribed imports, thus reducing the export markets of fellow imperialists and other allies.

– It forces countries to set up financial arrangements that bypass imperialist institutions and the dollar, thus laying the ground for one of the most important props of the dollar’s exchange value to be seriously undermined.

– It tempts both Russia and China to offload their holdings in US Treasuries – ie, the loans to the US government that help keep it going. If and when they do so, the US economy can be expected to collapse as the government will be unable to pay its bills.

As the Financial Times warns: “Even the most carefully calibrated and worthwhile sanctions … risk prompting other countries to decouple from the dollar and US-dominated financial networks. Moscow has launched a rival electronic payment card to Visa and Mastercard and claims to have developed its own financial transfer system that would protect it from being shut out of Swift, the global interbank network.” (Editorial: Trump and the use and misuse of US sanctions, 14 August 2018)

And further: “Russia is trying to reduce its dependence on the dollar by cutting US securities holdings and settling more trade payments in other currencies, Moscow’s chief economic policymaker said, as he sketched out the government’s response to intensified US sanctions …

“‘We have decreased to a minimum level and will further cut our investment in the US economy, in US securities,’ he added, in the most direct confirmation so far of a Russian government sell-off of US Treasuries. According to data released by the US Treasury last month, Russia’s holdings fell from $96bn to just under $15bn in the two months up to the end of May.” (Russia reduces dependence on US dollar in response to sanctions by Kathrin Hille, Financial Times, 12 August 2018)

These most welcome developments all signal the ongoing decline of US imperialism, notwithstanding its egregious aggression, overwhelming military capacity and overweening sense of superiority. The paper tiger is already curling at the edges and the time is fast approaching when it will finally go up in smoke.

Roll on the day!