In Rumsfeld’s words, the unknown became known on the morning of September 11th 2001 when terrorists attacked both the World Trade Centre in New York and the Pentagon in Virginia. The 9/11 attacks were in response to America’s ongoing meddling and interference in the Middle East. The symbolic nature of the attacks should not be missed either: bin Laden chose to attack centres of U.S. economic power and its intelligence apparatus. 9/11 was an attack on the dollar: bin Laden understood very well that the dollar was, and still is, the centre of gravity of the American empire. By attacking the dollar, he wanted to accelerate a run on the U.S. dollar which would have led to foreign investors divesting themselves of their dollar holdings and transferring them to other currencies. A collapse of the dollar would have meant that its status as the world’s reserve currency would have come to end meaning that, in effect, the U.S. could no longer maintain its vast military presence overseas, grant protection to the Saudi royal family indefinitely and providing subsidies to Israel, to say nothing of the massive structural imbalances in the U.S. economy that would need to be addressed if reserve currency status was lost.

The established wisdom, from both historical precedent and common logic; is that to wage a war, no matter how sophisticated the tools may be, a hardy man with an iron will is still required to wield it. We in the West seem to have abandoned that principle and chosen instead to recruit all manner of assorted misfits. Between these two suppositions, we can assume that the armies of the West are either presently or soon-to-be dysfunctional paper tigers. Our leaders are either blinkered by domestic politics or totally incapable of seeing the plain reality in front of them. What if we’re behind the times? And not, as is often retorted, because technology has outmoded human capabilities through force multiplication.

The petrodollar wars – U.S. foreign policy and the dollar system

The origins of the petrodollar and its role in the global financial system