April 15, 2014
WE HOLD ALL THE WEAPONS:
The West's Financial Arsenal (Harold James, 4/10/14, Project Syndicate)
As the former US Treasury official Juan Zarate revealed in his recent memoir Treasury's War, the US spent the decade after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks developing a new set of financial weapons to use against America's enemies - first Al Qaeda, then North Korea and Iran, and now Russia. These weapons included asset freezes and blocking rogue banks' access to international finance.When the Ukrainian revolution began, the Russian banking system was already over-extended and vulnerable. But the situation became much worse with the toppling of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and the annexation of Crimea, which triggered a stock-market panic that weakened the Russian economy considerably and depleted the assets of Russia's powerful oligarchs.In a crony capitalist system, threatening the governing elite's wealth rapidly erodes loyalty to the regime. For the corrupt elite, there is a tipping point beyond which the opposition provides better protection for their wealth and power - a point that was reached in Ukraine as the Maidan protests gathered momentum.
Posted by Orrin Judd at April 15, 2014 4:42 AM