Weaponized Finance

Forget bombs and bullets. Washington has weaponized finance – and finance is becoming America’s most potent weapon of war.

Posted on 05/12/19
By Dr. Farrukh Saleem | Via The News International


The US Department of Treasury now has a definite – -and defined – role in “advancing US national security interests.” Ian Bremmer, the founder of Eurasia Group, asserts that “instead of fighting countries militarily, the US can now cripple them financially.” Bremmer told Yahoo Finance that the “almighty dollar is more powerful than nuclear weapons.” According to Ian Bremmer, “George Washington carried a musket. Franklin Roosevelt sent in heavy bombers. The [new] armament of choice is weaponization of finance.”

Jack Lew, the 76th US secretary of treasury, told a symposium entitled ‘The evolution of Treasury’s National Security role’ that the “weaponization of finance offers to the US a new battlefield…..one that enables the US to go after those who wish the US harm without putting US troops in harm’s way or using lethal force.”

Weaponization of finance is all about bringing into service financial instruments and tools in order to advance a country’s national security interests. Weaponization of finance is all about employing new ways in which financially powerful countries use their financial resources – in addition to other instruments of national power – to affect global outcomes. Washington is now fully into weaponizing finance as an instrument of its foreign policy. Washington is now heavily dependent on financial measures in order to achieve its “core foreign policy and national security goals.”

According to Business Insider, “Forget nukes and battleships. Washington may increasingly flex its geopolitical muscle….using an unconventional weapon: finance.” On January 29, WikiLeaks leaked a document titled ‘Army Special Operations Forces, Unconventional Warfare (FM3-05.130)’. The leaked document reveals how the US military uses the IMF and the World Bank as ‘unconventional weapons’.

In the US, weaponization of finance also means a link-up between the Department of Treasury and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). For the record, David Cohen, who served as Under Secretary in the Department of Treasury, was made deputy director of the CIA.

There’s a new theater in town – the financial theater of war. The new armaments of financial warfare are both analog and digital. Analog weapons include the IMF/World Bank, economic sanctions and anti-money laundering regulations. Digital weapons include denial-of-service attacks, disruptive intrusions and data manipulations.

Forget bombs and bullets. Washington has weaponized finance – and finance is becoming America’s most potent weapon of war. Not to forget that the modern financial infrastructure continues to be America-centric and high-tech in nature. Modern warfare is not about ‘opposing armies’ but a “confrontation between opposing operational systems”. Modern warfare is not about counting ‘enemy casualties’ but about ‘system disruptions’.

Countering the weaponization of finance begins with a mapping exercise of critical financial functions and fault-lines plus a thorough assessment of our non-military vulnerabilities. Developing a counter-strategy to this non-kinetic, non-military assault means adopting a ‘whole of nation’ approach that includes ‘political leaders, military commanders, financial regulators and corporate executives.’

Modern warfare is a perpetual war. Yes, war is “still a contest of wills, but technology is changing its character”. Weaponization of finance aims at weakening the “war waging capability of the target nation”.

The writer is a columnist based in Islamabad.

Email: farrukh15@hotmail.com. Twitter: @saleemfarrukh

This article first appeared in The News International. Click here to go to the original.

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