Economic security

Dr Farrukh Saleem
Sunday, Nov 28, 2021

Pakistan’s economy is under attack – from all directions. To be certain, Pakistan’s ‘economic security’ continues to be the most neglected element of our ‘national security'. For us, ‘national security’ continues to be all about ‘military security’. For us, national security continues to be unidimensional. For us, national security continues to be uni-organisational. There’s little doubt that ‘economic weapons’ are being deployed to ‘influence, coerce, intimidate and undermine’ Pakistan’s interest.

Consider the Gerasimov Doctrine: “War is now conducted by a roughly 4:1 ratio of non-military and military measures (General Valery Gerasimov is the current chief of the general staff of the armed forces of Russia).” Russia’s nonlinear war is all about the deployment of conventional military forces in conjunction with ‘economic weapons’. Then there’s Russia’s new ‘chaos theory of political warfare’ that creates “confusion and disorder….exacerbates the perception of insecurity in the populace as political, social and cultural identities are pitted against one another.”

Jack Lew, the 76th United States Secretary of the Treasury (2013-2017), pioneered the Department of Treasury’s National Security role by opening up of “a new battlefield for the US, one that enables us to go after those who wish us harm without putting our troops in harm’s way or using lethal force.” According to Jack Lew, the US continues to “employ – and increasingly rely upon – financial measures to help achieve our core foreign policy and national security goals.”

An internal document (FM 3-05.130) of Army Special Operations Forces Unconventional Warfare, leaked by WikiLeaks, states: “Like all other instruments of US national power, the use and effects of financial weapons are interrelated and they must be coordinated carefully.” The document further states: “Financial markets actually provide a theatre similar to the nuclear environment for the US to play out its pseudo nuclear war.” The same document mentions three organisations – the World Bank, the IMF and the World Trade Organisation. Ian Bremmer of Eurasia Group (HQ: New York City), claims: “Instead of fighting countries militarily, the US can now cripple them financially”.

We need to adopt ‘economic security’ as a ‘system’ – a system whose functions are divided up into at least four groups: protective function, regulatory function, warning function and a social function. Economic security’s protective function is about ‘protecting critical economic infrastructure, sectors and processes’ from internal and external threats. Regulatory function is about government regulation of critical sectors. And the warning function of “state economic security is focused on predicting the emergence of potential crisis situations during economic activity and on preparing the economic system to resist them”.

We need to understand that financial warfare is now a preferable alternative to military conflict. We need to understand financial weapons of war. We need to map out our financial vulnerabilities. And, we need to understand the non-military threat spectrum.

Yes, financial warfare is the new warfront – and it's a 24/7 war. Pakistan must also move away from the “rigid military taxonomy presently employed to define warfare”. The once clear-cut division between war and peace has been erased – completely erased. The new war has no division between military and civilian engagement either. There’s little doubt that our national security now “requires a new paradigm that facilitates change from a singular military approach to a multidimensional, multi-organisational” approach. There’s little doubt that we need to redesign our national security with the ‘economy’ as its core. There’s little doubt that ‘economic security’ is the organic dimension of ‘national security’.

The writer is a columnist based in Islamabad.

Email: Twitter: @saleemfarrukh