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Treasury's War: The Unleashing of a New Era of Financial Warfare

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 19, 2013

    This book is well written and you do not need an advanced degree

    This book is well written and you do not need an advanced degree in finance or economics to accompany the author through the complex world of international finance and banking. Unfortunately, for me, the book is long on policy, strategic objectives and meetings while being short on specifics and results. Overall, I was disappointed in the book.
    The first part of the book describes how the new approach would help isolate and capture enemy actors. The old adage of ‘follow the money’ is at the crux of this book but takes too to get there (and it is often repeated throughout the book). At around page 80, we finally get an example of the results of all the money, resources and meetings. Yasin al-Qadi was designated (not captured or charged in any court of law just designated- and he eventually won delisting in European courts). This example is followed by several good examples of success but they are limited. Then, as soon as the book gets traction, the Treasury Dept. suffers through reorganization. The long winded description of this reorg loses the momentum that took 100 pages to get going.
    The second half of the book shifts from isolating individuals to attempting to isolate countries. The search for Saddam Hussein’s cash is interesting and led all over the Middle East. The chapter on N. Korea is well detailed but other than closing one bank and ‘isolating’ the rogue regime, the only concrete result described involved $25M in a bank in Macau. Of course, the State Department eventually worked a deal so that the DPRK could get this back. A good example of how one department in the US government works against another. Designating specific banks apparently was so effective that until used against the Lebanese Canadian Bank in 2011, is was used only ‘sparingly .. since the designation of Banco Delta Asia in 2005’.
    The efforts against Iran started shortly after 9/11, but it was Sep 2006 before any banks were designated. In between were more meeting, briefings and lots of international travel for scores of government workers. While severe pressure has been applied against Iran, it sure has not altered their goal of becoming a nuclear power.
    The last part of the book seems a collection of miscellaneous stuff. The author spends a lot of time explaining how rogue actors get around US financial pressures. He discusses at length how bad guys and bad countries make money through smuggling, kidnapping for ransom, drug trafficking, extortion, arms dealing and even selling used cars. But he does not detail how the US is using this financial pressure to stop any of this. Money flows have been curtailed but it is not clear if this is due to these financial weapons or traditional law enforcement activities. Then in 2011, the US designated six Al Qaeda members operating in Iran. According to the author, this designation ‘was explosive’. But again, there is no information as to whether the designation did anything. For all, we know, the six individuals may still be operating as before.
    It seems that these tools are a great innovation to use against Americans enemies. But other that general statements that are too often repeated, there is little substance to make a 400+ page book.

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