Just posted at Counterpunch; hat-tip to Ben C.:
By MICHAEL HUDSON | June 15th
The city of Yekaterinburg, Russia’s largest east of the Urals, may become known not only as the end of the road for the tsars but of American hegemony too; as the place not only where US U-2 pilot Gary Powers was shot down in 1960, but where the US-centered international financial order was brought to ground.
Challenging America is the prime focus of extended meetings in Yekaterinburg, Russia (formerly Sverdlovsk) today and tomorrow (June 15-16) for Chinese President Hu Jintao, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and other top officials of the six-nation Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). The alliance is comprised of Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrghyzstan and Uzbekistan, with observer status for Iran, India, Pakistan and Mongolia. It will be joined on Tuesday by Brazil for trade discussions among the so-called BRIC nations—Brazil, Russia, India and China.
The attendees have assured American diplomats that it is not their aim to dismantle the financial and military empire of the United States. They simply want to discuss mutual aid—but in a way that has no role for the United States, for NATO or for the US dollar as a vehicle for trade. US diplomats may well ask what this really means, if not a move to make US hegemony obsolete. After all, that is what a multipolar world means. For starters, in 2005 the SCO asked Washington to set a timeline to withdraw from its military bases in Central Asia. Two years later the SCO countries formally aligned themselves with the former CIS republics belonging to the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), established in 2002 as a counterweight to NATO.
Yet the Yekaterinburg meeting has elicited only a collective yawn from the US and even European press despite its agenda—nothing less than the replacement of the global dollar standard with a new financial and military defense system. A Council on Foreign Relations spokesman has said he hardly can imagine that Russia and China can overcome their geopolitical rivalry, suggesting that America can use the divide-and-conquer that Britain used so deftly for many centuries in fragmenting foreign opposition to its own empire. But George W. Bush (“I’m a uniter, not a divider”) built on the Clinton administration’s legacy in driving Russia, China and their neighbors to find a common ground when it comes to finding an alternative to the dollar and hence to the US ability to run balance-of-payments deficits ad infinitum.
What may prove to be the last rites of American hegemony began already in April at the G-20 conference, and became even more explicit at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum on June 5, when Mr. Medvedev called for China, Russia and India to “build an increasingly multipolar world order.” What this means in plain English is: We have reached our limit in subsidizing the United States’ military encirclement of Eurasia while also allowing the US to appropriate our exports, companies, stocks and real estate in exchange for paper money of questionable worth.
The artificially maintained unipolar system,” Mr. Medvedev spelled out, is based on “one big center of consumption, financed by a growing deficit, and thus growing debts, one formerly strong reserve currency, and one dominant system of assessing assets and risks.” At the root of the global financial crisis, he concluded, is the fact that the United States makes too little and spends too much, particularly its vast military outlays, such as the stepped-up US military aid to Georgia announced just last week, the NATO missile shield in Eastern Europe and the US buildup in the oil-rich Middle East and Central Asia.
The sticking point for all these countries is the ability of the United States to print unlimited amounts of dollars. Overspending by U.S. consumers on imports in excess of exports, U.S. buy-outs of foreign companies and real estate, and the dollars that the Pentagon spends abroad all end up in foreign central banks. These banks then face a hard choice: either to recycle these dollars back to the United States by purchasing US Treasury bills, or to let the “free market” force up their currency relative to the dollar—thereby pricing their exports out of world markets and hence creating domestic unemployment and business insolvency.
Read the rest of the article.