The School of Geography, Politics and Sociology

Event Item

External seminars - Geography 90

War and the “Cash of Civilizations”: The Military Turn to Money as a Target, Weapon, and Mission

Date/Time: 25/10/17 15:00-16:00

Venue: Daysh 1.29

Emily Gilbert [PSP], University of Toronto

War and the “Cash of Civilizations”: The Military Turn to Money as a Target, Weapon, and Mission

With the ‘war on terror,’ militaries—and the US military in particular—have been both deploying money as a weapon and targeting financial activities. In 2010, a doctrine of “counter threat finance” was adopted by the US Department of Defense, which draws upon strategies of counter-terrorism financing such as investor profiling and data-mining, to detect, disrupt or destroy the assets and finances of state and non-state threats to national security. For example, US and coalition aircraft have drawn upon financial intelligence to bomb cash storage warehouses held by the Islamic State. Militaries have also turned to the deployment of “money as a weapons system,” whereby money is disbursed by the military on projects ranging from infrastructure development to micro-loans as a regular part of warfare. This includes the cash payments that are made to civilian victims of war so as to win the “hearts and minds” of the population. This paper will critically examine this turn to money and finance by the US military, especially in light of its adoption of economic stabilization as a core mission. As I will address, the military embrace of free market initiatives and entrepreneurial investment has important implications not only for rethinking how violence and conflict unfold in war and civil-military relations, but also the ways that this reinforces a “cash for civilizations” geopolitics. How this maps on to the foreign policy of the new US Presidency will also be considered.

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