US citizens constitute 5 percent of the world’s population but consume 24 percent of global energy. On average, one person in the US consumes as much energy as two Japanese, six Mexicans, 13 Chinese, 31 Indians, 128 Bangladeshis, 307 Tanzanians and 370 Ethiopians.
The US is able to consume at such a level because the dollar serves as the world reserve currency. This means high demand for it is guaranteed as most international trade (especially oil) is carried out using the dollar. US dominance and wealth accumulation depends on maintaining the currency’s leading role.
The international monetary system that emerged near the end of the Second World War was based on the US being the dominant economic power and the main creditor nation, with institutions like the World Bank and International Monetary Fund eventually being created to serve its interests. Since coming off the gold standard in the early seventies, Washington has been able to run up a huge balance of payments deficit by using the (oil-backed) paper dollar as security in itself (rather than outright ownership of gold) and engaging in petro-dollar recycling and treasury-bond super-imperialism.
Like all empires, Washington has developed a system to hitch a free ride courtesy of the rest of the world funding its generally high standard of living, militarism, financial bubbles, speculations and corporate takeovers.
With its control and manipulation of the World Bank, IMF and WTO, the US has been able to lever the trade and the financial system to its advantage by various means (for example, see this analysis of how Saudi Arabia’s oil profits enabled Wall Street to entrap African nations into debt). Based on the US neocons’ holy scriptures for 21st century war and imperialism – the Project for a New American Century and the Wolfowitz doctrine – Washington will not allow its global hegemony and the role of the dollar to be challenged. Given Russia’s reemergence on the global stage and China’s rise, we are witnessing a sense of urgency to destabilise and undermine both countries, especially as they are now increasingly bypassing the dollar when doing business.