Terrorists or Freedom Fighters

Throughout modern history, there has been a continual clash of cultures with various power blocks vying for hegemony but no one power being able to maintain its dominant position for longer than a century or so. Spain, Portugal, Holland, England, Russia and China have competed with others for spheres of influence and striving for hegemony. Since the fall of the USSR and the neutralization of China by its conversion to capitalism (though of the non-democratic variety), the USA is the only super-power. No other nation or bloc is likely to match its power and influence using the usual methods- dominance of a means of production to produce wealth and power and the organisation of a population to support it within an empire or state.

So we are now without any checks or balances between power blocs. Only one hyper-power exixts. Is this good or bad?

From a narrow western perspective there seems to be a minimal problem, but how would the West feel if such global hyper-power status belonged to, say, a fundamentalist Islamic state ranging from the Atlantic to the Pacific, from Morocco to Indonesia?

Suppose that such a hyper-power controlled the source of and the new technology to develop energy without cost, so undercutting all previous western manufactures, and used such advantages to dominate the world.
What would be justified in resistance as the United Islamic Jihad States enforced their will by:

1/ Using the UIJS riyals (currency) to control world trade in the interests of the UIJS

2/ Insisted on other states adopting Islamic style governments if they were to benefit from association with the UIJS.

3/ Enforced de-militarization on non-UIJS associated states as a cost of continuing to trade with the UIJS.

4/ Ignored the United Nations as not being in the interests of UIJS citizens.

5/ Gradually removed all effective value within the international trading system back into the UIJS, leading to a precipitous decline in the West and descent into abject poverty for the citizens of the West.

What would the citizens of the West be justified in doing to avoid such hegemony?

Would actions that we now define as ‘terrorism’ and ‘evil’ become seen in the West as ‘resistance’ and ‘good’. Could such actions be defended as being appropriate to reinstate western liberal democracy against Islamic theocracy?

WOuld the resistance groups in the west feel justified in destroying symbols of government and economy of the UIJS by resistance/terrorism.

How would the citizens of the west feel when the UIJS started destroying one impoverished democratic state after another, claiming they were only removing these governments as they supported western resistance movements?

What would the West’s next move in defence of western democratic capitalism be?

I hear you loud and clear Pjen.

However, I was speaking to a Venezuelan exchange student at a bar recently. I asked him what he thought of America of late (post wwii), his response was, “when you’re the strongest, you can do what you want.”

Might doesn’t make right, but try explaining that to the world.

Yes, essentially that seems to be a large factor in the world and a lot of posters here seem to agree. The USA can do what it wants because it can and screw the rest of us. The trouble is, such reasoning makes it “right” for terrorists to do what they do, just as the new doctrine of pre-emptive strikes retrospectively validates Pearl Harbor.

You’re asking to choose between two relatively unpleasant hegemonies, one of which exists, and the other that doesn’t. Thankfully, the US is relatively benign, and secular, compared to the nightmare UIJS scenario you’ve proposed; I therefore choose US hegemony, if that is my only choice.

I also ask what you mean precisely by point 1.

Dollar= Riyal

World Bank and organisation to control tariffs and trade dominated and run by the UIJS with the intention of creating and maintaining the dominace of the Riyal to ensure that all benefits of world trade are effectively returned to the UIJS economic area and that other economic areas are impoverished.

It is how the West (and the US in particular) maintain economic dominace and impoverish the Third World.

And by what mechanism does the US “use the dollar” to do this?

Relatively benign? Covert assassinations, puppet dictators, postcolonial hegemonism, economic bullying, AND the unchecked, global proliferation of McDonalds? Shrub and his predecessors aren’t Genghis Khan, but their not Gandhi either.

Also, arbitrarily ascribing a benefit to secularity is a rather ethnocentric viewpoint. There is no reason to assume modernity, justice, democracy, or any other value cherished by the West are incompatible with asecular or theocratic polities.

I am not an economist, but the mechanism works something like this:

All other economic regimes in the world either need to value their currency against the dollar or avoid any real value trade with the rest of the world. For instance, if the UK starts to produce more ‘money’ then this will tend to depress the international value of the pound in a free market, or cause inflation in the UK and loss of gold reserves etc. if the value of the pound is artificially supported. Conversely, the effect of dollar over-production does not impact so strongly on the US economy.

The US is essentially the ‘lender of last resort’. If any other country acts to over-produce its currency, that country suffers. As the hegemonic currency, if the dollar is over-produced, the damage is shared by the whole worls and the US is partially protected.

The World Bank and International Trade agreements always favor the West (and particularly the US) in their operation. They exist mainly (but covertly) to ensure that wealth flows steadily from the Third World to the West .

Yes, relatively benign. Note the use of the word relatively. The UJIS would be more like Genghis IMO.

The secular nature of the US hegemony is extremely important. GWB is a god-botherer, and that disturbs me; the UJIS would be worse: I don’t want to have a religion imposed on me. The very nature of the Union that pjen has invented is religious, and all decisions would stem from its Jihad.

If pjen had invented another union, that wasn’t run by a Jihad, then maybe I’d feel differently, but it’s his hypothetical situation.

pjen, I’m not an economist either, but what you’re describing sounds to me like merely a natural side-effect of currency exchange, and nothing at all to do with using the dollar to control trade interests.

Bretton Woods:


World Bank:




Dollar Hegemony:

The Mundell-Fleming thesis, for which economist Robert Mundell won the 1999 Nobel Prize, states that in international finance, a government has the choice between (1) stable exchange rates, (2) capital mobility and (3) policy autonomy (full employment/low interest rates, counter-cyclical fiscal spending, etc). With unregulated global markets, a government can have only two of those three options.

Through dollar hegemony, the United States is the only country that has managed to defy the Mundell-Fleming thesis. For more than a decade, the US has kept the dollar significantly above its real economic value, attracted capital account surpluses and exercised unilateral policy autonomy within a globalized system dictated by dollar hegemony. The reasons for this are complex but the single most important reason is that all major commodities, most notably oil, are denominated in dollars, mostly as an extension of superpower geopolitics. This fact is the anchor for dollar hegemony. Thus dollar hegemony makes possible US finance hegemony, which makes possible US exceptionism and unilateralism. Asia Times

Me no economist either so please point out errors in the following;

When the Soviet Union went bust that wasn’t much of a problem to most countries. Who of us had great amounts of Rubels anyway, let it devaluate, Pfft.

Large scale devaluation of the Dollar would have huge consequences. Nobody wants the Dollar to devaluate, as trade and their own currency are coupled to it.

As a result the U.S. can live on credit, nobody wants to crack down on the US to pay its bills. The US just paying interest is the best scenario available. What is it, $3 Billion a day?
(Dunno if that number is correct and what % that is of the GNP but it sure sounds like a lot). (Wonder too if the US would be able meet the budgetary health demands required for membership of the EU.)

While other countries have to carefuly balance their budget, the US can spend and take new loans to its hearts delight.
Thus being able to maintain its military and its hegemony.

OK, Latro, I get that. However, I still fail to see the mechanism by which a mere descriptor could be “the anchor for dollar hegemony”. It’s just an expression of something’s value - it also has equivalent value in other currencies.

Tell that to all of the women who suffer under Sharia laws. Where the law is based on theology instead of logic. Or is stoneing people to death for adultery a western idea?

Well, IMHO you dont have to participate in it. It is kind of like the way people sometimes say that the U.S. has a strangle hold on the world. There are other countries out there. No one is forced to come and do business with the U.S. It isnt our fault if we are the best at doing certain things. The same could be said for the UIJS. They could become big and powerful , but no one has to do buisness with them.

Isnt that always the way of things? We label the people who drove planes into buildings and conduct suicide bombings as “terrorists” , but in their own eyes they are “freedom fighters”.Who is to say which definition is correct?

I am sure that they would. Just like the Al-Quadia didnt think it was wrong to destroy the WTC and the pentagon.

My guess is that it would be all the excuse people needed to go to war if it was done quickly and violently. If it was done kind of hodge podge one here and one there thenI doubt people would even realize what was happening untill it was to late. Kind of like how the U.S. helps a dictator here and a genocide there. It is a slow and creeping empire that remains underestimated.

That would depend on who is in charge. Some leaders would advocate war and be the big bully , others would advocate sanctions in an attempt to starve them of things. Unfortunately I dont think a single politician would advocate for westerners to get off of their dead asses and try to do it better that the next guy.

Moderator’s Note: Is there something wrong with the quote tags? Do they maybe make it too easy for others to follow who said what or something?

Is no-one willing or able to take on the questions I asked in the final part of my original post:

'What would the citizens of the West be justified in doing to avoid such hegemony?

Would actions that we now define as ‘terrorism’ and ‘evil’ become seen in the West as ‘resistance’ and ‘good’. Could such actions be defended as being appropriate to reinstate western liberal democracy against Islamic theocracy?

Would the resistance groups in the west feel justified in destroying symbols of government and economy of the UIJS by resistance/terrorism.

How would the citizens of the west feel when the UIJS started destroying one impoverished democratic state after another, claiming they were only removing these governments as they supported western resistance movements?

What would the West’s next move in defence of western democratic capitalism be?’

I think we do that already. We supported the northern alliance in Afghanistan, the KLA in kosovo, and now a variety of groups in iraq.

Of course there is no universal definition of terrorism, so its hard to say who is a terrorist and who isn’t. But the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan would probably constitute a terrorist organization, and we supported them wholeheardly in overthrowing an Islamic state.

I would say unwilling, because it seems to be simply a set-up to justify (or rationalize) actions currently directed against the U.S.

You have laid out a scenario that is far worse than what I perceive the U.S. to be actually doing, but it would appear that any justification provided for opposing the UIJS would then be turned around with the claim that the U.S. is doing “the same thing.”

I think the U.S. over the years has done and continues to do a number of reprehensible things (and I suspect that Bush/Cheney/Ashcroft are planning several more). I also acknowledge that many things that the U.S. has done that are perceived in the U.S. as neutral or fair have probably contributed to problems in other parts of the world. However, partly due to a decision by a significant number of people in the U.S. and partly due to their own incompetence, I suspect that Bush and Co. have not created the same world domination that you posit for the UIJS. Therefore, the discussion is liable to lead to one more bash-the-U.S. fest with people on the Left or Right single-mindedly defending their viewpoints and people in the middle getting disgusted early, and quitting.

I do not suggest that your specific intention was to simply set a “trap” to bait people into supporting an attack on the U.S. I do suspect that the terms of your OP lead inevitably in that direction. (Laws of unintended consequences, and all that.)

Tom, of COURSE Pjen’s OP was intended as a “trap” to bait people into supporting a (rhetorical) attack on the US. Pretending otherwise is naive.

I for one am sick and fucking tired of the “one man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist” argument. No, no, one thousand times no. The ends do not justify the means, and the means do not justify the ends. Your ends matter, and your means matter, your intentions matter and your actions matter. Genocide and mass murder are wrong, even when carried out for what seem like good ends. Al Qaida justified 9/11 as both as a means to a good end, and as a good in and of itself.

Moral relativism collapses on itself, since if one accepts it then one cannot defend it against people who disagree. In Pjen’s morally depraved mind, America might be equivalent to a fascist theocracy. That just revealls Pjen’s lack of connection to reality.

Call me crazy, but I don’t think an unprovoked attack on random UIJS buildings would be justified under your scenario.

i agree with Super Gnat, I think that you have to take in to account the religious aspect of the US, which is dominantly Christian, but has large portions of all kinds of religions, where as the UIJS (which uses jihad as one of its titles, I mean lets face it, I don’t think that such a state as the UIJS would be as restrained as the US is in world affairs), but back to my point. I don’t think western citizens would be as likely to commit acts of terrorism or even be so blind as to think such acts are patriotic or justifiable.