Dollar militarisation kills free trade

The Russian invasion of Ukraine is accelerating the fragmentation of the world economy that began with the economic crisis of 2008. Western countries are proposing the formation of an “economic NATO” and the relocation of the activities of their industrial groups to friendly countries. China is seen as the most important rival, both an economic and political adversary.

The 2008 crisis brought the world market closer to international politics and the erection of protectionist barriers by developed countries under the pretext of “national security”. Since February last year, war has become the norm in international economic relations. The world has moved from trade wars to all-out war. Today, wars mobilise both military means and economic instruments.

The dollar has militarised and fragmented the world economy. The United States is proposing to the European Union to extend the military alliance between the two sides of the Atlantic to other areas and is asking the monopolies in these countries to return the production chains to the “friendly countries”. The aim is to stop China being the “world’s factory” and to drive it out of the world markets.

Russia is of course also the target: in March last year the United States and European countries revoked the most-favoured-nation clause, which is at the heart of multilateralism in their trade relations with Russia.

Shortly after the 2008 financial crisis, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton proposed the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the US and the EU to counter the rise of China and, more generally, the Brics (Brazil, China, India, Russia and South Africa). In 2013 the Wall Street Journal spoke of an “economic NATO” and others, such as former British Prime Minister Liz Truss, proposed turning the G7 into such an “economic NATO” (1).

The project failed and was later taken up by teams close to the White House to form a bloc of countries associated with the United States. Free trade (“globalisation”), which was based on the rules of multilateralism, embodied by the World Trade Organisation, had its honeymoon with the fall of the Berlin Wall and has come to an end in Ukraine thirty years later.

Moreover, in 2020, Janet Yellen, the current US Treasury Secretary, asked the monopolies for the second offshoring: to return production chains to politically submissive allied countries (2). This position was adopted at a specially convened conference on the future of the world economy and the economic direction of the United States two months after the outbreak of the Ukrainian war. Several European leaders, including the President of the European Central Bank, Christine Lagarde, support this demand (3).

It is the end of “free trade”, and even of the internet as an interconnected global network. The major Western powers have begun to draw up lists of “allied countries” and strategic sectors that cannot be delocalised. This is what the European Commissioner for Industry, Thierry Breton, calls the “geopolitics of supply chains”.


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