Sep 12, 2007

Financial Warfare 101


The Foreign Policy Research Institute has published a new article by Yale professor Paul Bracken on the subject of Financial Warfare (as distinguished from the more traditional Economic Warfare).

There are all sorts of details that in a government document would likely be portion marked in such a way that the operational toolkit would remain inviolate.

An excerpt:

It is important to distinguish between financial and economic systems. This distinction is central to understanding the growing opportunities for financial warfare, as distinct from classic economic warfare. The economic system deals with the hard and soft outputs of the economy—that is, goods and services. The financial system deals with money and credit. In the modern financial system these can be very complicated. Bank credit, money transfers, stocks, bonds, and derivatives are the “stuff” of the financial system. It is a system built on confidence. There is trust that loans will be paid, that money transferred to an account will actually get there, and that money once placed in an account will not suddenly "disappear." ...

Financial warfare complements military operations as well as information operations. When combined with advances in social network mapping, it can give a highly detailed picture of an elite's communication and financial structure that can be used for targeting. Communication and software tools now exist to analyze connections in vast networks of heterogeneous information, such as financial transactions, mobile telephone calls, e-mail, and air travel. This gigantic information pool can be a source of knowledge about a nation's elite, where they stash their money, who they talk to, and their position in a social hierarchy. The key to doing this lies in constructing overlays of these datasets to visualize the various connections.

Watching how money flows out of a country in a crisis can be an important tip-off to who is in the know and who is at least partially responsible for national decisions. Carried to the next step, this can be combined with precise military attacks to go after a nation's elite. For example, tracking mobile telephone calls can reveal things like where the elite live, their vacation homes, and their travel patterns. Financial tracking of their bank accounts can reveal where they keep their money and who has access to their accounts. This creates the conditions for potentially ruinous attacks with far-reaching social implications on the national leadership. Were a national elite's overseas bank accounts frozen and their homes targeted with cruise missiles, simultaneously, a hyper-decapitation attack could destroy a nation's leadership. Clearly, this represents a large escalation. But there are many possibilities which fall short of this, and these constitute an important type of strategy: counter-elite targeting. Counter elite targeting has been considered in the past, both in the Cold War, with nuclear weapons, and more recently in conflicts in Kosovo and Iraq. But the 21st century is likely to see considerably more applications of it.

Spoofing—sending false signals of increased military and financial pressure—could be used to map out the crisis response patterns of a national elite, who they call, and where they send their money. This could be an intelligence treasure-trove of information. It could also be an input to information operations designed to make certain individuals, groups, or companies "suspect" in the eyes of a leader. This could undermine confidence in the regime. Seen as an escalation process, this focuses attention on actions which fall short of all-out attacks. These lower-level or intermediate actions are likely to provide U.S. decision-makers with a range of options between doing nothing and all-out attacks.

7 comments:

Bustednuckles said...

That ought to give Cheney a chubby.
I wouldn't doubt for a second he has a list of this type somewhere.
He came to mind immediately when I read that.

Meatball One said...

Do you think I'm on it?

Cheney mit ein chubby. How can you even think such a thought! Bastard!

Bustednuckles said...

Cheney mit ein chubby. How can you even think such a thought! Bastard!

Heh, I am most certainly an Ornery Bastard!See for yourself;

http://ornerybastard.blogspot.com/

steve said...

I immediatly thought of Cheney as well, but I was thinking more if anyone has mapped out his actions just before 9/11/01 - telephones calls, money transactions. The possiblilties are fascinating, and I suspect if I've thought of it, so have people who could do it.

Bustednuckles said...

Hah! I'm not the only paranoid bastard!
Glad to know there are other thinking people out there.
Cheney is going to be the monster mothers scare their children with to make them be good.

steve said...

Anyone who is not frightened of the the school of thought represented by Cheney and his ilk are not simply "unparanoid" - they are ignorant and blindly walking through life in a daze.

I'm euphoric over the fact that it's two days past 9/11 and the US still hasn't bombed Iran. Dare I be optimistic?

Probably not...

Meatball One said...

You guys need an intervention. Breast feeding disruptus prematura - who would've guessed it'd come to make such paranoid f*cks outta y'all.

Bustednuckles, meet Steve. Steve, hug Busted.