Free space for free expression in english & italian

Managed by

La tua privacy è importante
Utilizziamo, senza il tuo consenso, SOLO cookies necessari alla elaborazione di analisi statistiche e tecnici per l'utilizzo del sito. Chiudendo il Cookie Banner, mediante il simbolo "X" o negando il consenso, continuerai a navigare in assenza di cookie di profilazione. More info

Cookie tecnici
I cookie tecnici sono necessari al fine di "effettuare la trasmissione di una comunicazione su una rete di comunicazione elettronica, o nella misura strettamente necessaria al fornitore di un servizio della società dell'informazione esplicitamente richiesto dal contraente o dall'utente a erogare tale servizio" (art. 122, comma 1 del Codice privacy).
Cookie analitici di terze parti
I cookie analytics sono utilizzati al fine di valutare l'efficacia di un servizio della società dell'informazione fornito da un titolare di un sito, per progettare un sito web o contribuire a misurare il "traffico" di un sito web, ovvero il numero di visitatori ripartiti per area geografica, fascia oraria della connessione o altre caratteristiche.
Cookie di profilazione
Sono cookie che creano profili personalizzati relativi all'utente per finalità di marketing, ad esempio il retargeting o advertising sui social network.

Accetto Chudi
social social social social print

The Tennessee Walker

Information Apocalypse

America is cognitively fractured. It is in a moment of metaphysical chaos from which a new pro-human future can emerge. Or the anti-human forces that sow unholy sedition into the minds of men can bring about the end of the American experiment. 
There are two frequencies that resonate through this world at its most fundamental level. There is a pro-human frequency represented by Life: human reproduction, positive emotional feedback loops among loving relationships, and creative expression through the intelligent creation of human systems, technological or otherwise.
There is also a frequency that is calling for control of the human being and ultimately its destruction. This anti-human frequency operates as a psychological operation. It does not build but uses lies and manipulation to shift and transform human systems.
The anti-human frequency’s most recent institutional champions in western governments adopted its control mechanisms in the wake of nuclear weapons. In America, this was formalized in the National Security Act of 1947. Transnational threats like nuclear, manufactured or otherwise, are the greatest tool of the anti-human frequency. 

Some of its attributes:

  • Its acolytes fear a of lack of control.

  • Its acolytes fear competition.

  • Its acolytes fear dying. 

  • Its acolytes are obsessed with overpopulation.

  • Its acolytes prefer to manage problems with Hegelian strategic tension, rather than solve problems.

  • Its acolytes replace the cybernetic power of human love with artificial intelligence.


The anti-human frequency has a very natural wave to ride in on. With the end of divine right of kings, how do men agree to govern themselves? Democratic republics like America are an answer, but as human systems and networks become incomprehensibly complex, can democratic governance work? Can a democratic government really control nuclear proliferation for instance? There is necessarily the development of a permanent corporate state that gradually eclipses elections.

Can this permanent state resonate with the pro-human frequency? The internal logic of the anti-human frequency is persuasive and rational. But it will mean the end of humanity.
To resonate with the pro-human frequency requires courage and humility. It means that you do not know what will happen, you do not know if you will survive, but you know that your Soul is Alive. 
The way forward in an information apocalypse is to resonate with that pro-human frequency and in doing so, keep your Soul.

Hillary 2.0?

I predict Hillary Clinton will become the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee at the July 2020 DNC convention. However, Trump will ultimately win re-election in November.


            The most important thing to know when analyzing national elections in the United States is that there is an “establishment” wing of the Democratic Party and a “grassroots” wing. This dichotomy is true of the Republican Party as well. The generally successful strategy for candidates is to hold extreme policy positions during the primary season to generate grassroots support, then shift to a moderate policy platform in the general election to attract independent voters. Candidates have to appear credible to both constituencies (establishment and grassroots) while managing the policy shift from extreme-to-moderate.


The candidates


Elizabeth Warren had a dramatic surge in the polls during the Fall of 2019. She was drawing crowds of over 10,000 people to her campaign events. Warren’s main platform is economic populism, which she articulates very well and which resonates powerfully with the Democratic base. The problem? Elizabeth Warren’s brand of economic populism does not resonate with the Party’s donor class, the “establishment”. Even as her popularity surged among the party’s base, the large donors and corporate elite, who would not benefit under Warren’s policies, withheld support. Warren lost momentum and she has fallen in the polls ever since.

            Bernie Sanders has had a consistently popular democratic socialist platform and his poll numbers are challenging the frontrunner, Joe Biden. Bernie does not have the support of the donor class, but unlike Warren, he does not need it. In the last 3 months of 2019, Bernie Sanders raised $34 million from 1.8 million donations, with the average donation being $18. The donor class does not like his anti-capital positions and many in the Democratic Party do not believe (perhaps mistakenly) that he can win in the general election due to his democratic socialist platform. Most importantly, Sanders is 78 years old, and his health is an issue - he had a heart attack on October 1, 2019.

Joe Biden is often considered the perfect candidate. He is beloved by the grassroots for his “folksy” manner and by the donor class alike. He has a long political history and is therefore a predictable choice for the establishment. However, his cognitive abilities have severely deteriorated. He has clear neurological problems and is struggling. It really begs the question, why is the Democratic Party running a 77 year old man with clear cognitive impairments as its frontrunner? More on this later.

            The other candidates are interesting but not likely to gain meaningful traction. Bloomberg is notable for his business prowess and deep financial reserves and relationships. However, after spending $300 million on advertising, his poll numbers barely improved. He simply does not have the charisma to run a successful national campaign. Some analysts have surmised that he is running to insert Gun Control more prominently into the national debate. Regardless, for our purposes, he is not relevant. If he pre-announces a vice presidential running mate with charisma, he could possibly create a compelling candidacy.

Buttigieg is well-liked among the younger generation of the donor class (Silicon Valley) but he struggles with the base. He has a peculiar establishment background (Harvard, naval intelligence, Mckinsey, etc.) and his father founded the International Gramsci Society. It is an interesting plot line and could gain traction given his powerful allies, but probably not relevant to the final election outcome. Tulsi Gabbard is notable as a veteran and for her anti-war platform which resonates with the base, but the establishment is adamantly against her platform and independent streak. Andrew Yang is a highly intelligent and independent candidate, which is interesting in terms of what his candidacy says about the base, but he is most likely irrelevant for the 2020 final outcome.


“Super Delegates”


The Democratic Party has a primary system that includes “super delegates”. Voters in the Democratic primaries cast their vote at polling locations throughout their state. The state Democratic Party then awards state delegates to the candidates proportionally, according to how many votes they received. The state Party sends those delegates to the national Democratic Party convention where they are “pledged” to vote according to the state vote tallies for each candidate. Super delegates also represent the state at the national convention but they are unpledged delegates, i.e. not bound by the results of the state’s primary voting. Super delegates can vote for any candidate they choose at the national convention.

For instance, in the 2016 Iowa caucuses, 704 local delegates (representing primary voters at the state level) voted for Hillary Clinton while 700 local delegates voted for Bernie Sanders. This resulted in Clinton having 23 pledged state delegates from Iowa for the DNC national convention and Bernie Sanders having 21 pledged delegates. However, 6 “super delegates” sided with Clinton giving her a total of 29 delegates from Iowa for the national convention. In 2016, 85 percent of super delegates supported Hillary Clinton.

In 2016, Debbie Wasserman Schultzs, chair of the Democratic National Committee (the governing organization of the Democratic Party), actually stated in an interview, “Unpledged delegates exist to make sure that party leaders and elected officials don't have to be in a position where they are running against grassroots activists.” Due to broad anger in the Democratic Party’s base about what was perceived as a bias in the establishment’s favor, the Party changed the rules such that super delegates only come into play if the national convention becomes a “brokered convention”.


A “brokered convention”


A “brokered convention” simply means that if no candidate has a clear majority of votes after the first ballot at the DNC national convention in July, there is a second round of voting. For a candidate to win the Democratic Party nomination during the first round of voting, they have to receive 1,919 delegate votes. With at least three strong contenders (Biden, Sanders, Warren) and others rising, there is a real possibility of no candidate receiving that minimum number of delegates.

After heavy criticism over the role of super delegates in the 2016 election, the DNC changed its rules in 2018 such that super delegates can only play a role in a second round of voting at the national convention. So conceivably, no current candidate wins on the first round of voting. At that point, it becomes a brokered convention, and all delegates that were previously pledged to one candidate are “released” and can vote for whomever they choose. In the second round of voting, an entirely new candidate can enter the race.

Such an unstable scenario allows Hillary Clinton to enter the field as a “savior” from the chaos. Hillary still has a strong grip on the DNC and is actively participating in meetings, according to sources that have been on DNC conference calls. Tulsi Gabbard called this out in October, “From the day I announced my candidacy, there has been a campaign to destroy my reputation. We wondered who was behind it, and now we know… I challenge her [Clinton] to come out from behind her proxies and powerful allies in the corporate media, and face me directly.” Hillary Clinton went so far as to state that Russia is “grooming” Gabbard as a third party candidate and said, “She [Tulsi] is the favorite of the Russians.” More recently, Hillary Clinton has been attacking Bernie Sanders in the press. So Clinton has been shaping the race from the beginning.

The benefit of a brokered convention for Hillary Clinton is that it looks organic and she can avoid the accusation of 2016 - that she rigged the nomination process against Bernie Sanders. Also, if nominated in July, her candidacy would be only 3 months long. Much of the negative press that plagued her public life would not have sufficient time to gather speed. Also, such a short period would be much easier on her health which was called into question during the 2016 race.

The fact that the Democratic Party and its media allies continue to push Biden as the frontrunner is conspicuous. It is an interesting question as to whether Biden was placed in the primaries intentionally to split the vote and allow for a brokered convention. Hillary understands how unpopular she is among American voters and by having Biden represent the establishment throughout the primaries, she keeps Bernie Sanders from getting the required 1,919 delegates at the convention and effectively bypasses all of the drama and close examination of the primary season.


The Clinton strategy


            Hillary Clinton will use the next 6 months to shape her image as someone who can act as a “savior” from the chaos and beat Donald Trump. The line will be, “you may not like me, but I’m effective”. Her DNC and media allies will be pushing a message of “anyone but Trump”.

        For her savior image to work, she will need a voting base that is (a) destabilized via the brokered convention and (b) desperate for a savior that can defeat Trump. Over the next months, she will try to avoid the appearance that she is preparing to enter the race at the convention, but it will be difficult. She will also try to balance support for the frontrunners (currently Biden, Sanders, Warren), using her corporate media allies, so that no candidate gets a majority at the convention in July. That will primarily entail her and her allies attacking Bernie Sanders who is the clear frontrunner for grassroots voters.

Then, if Hillary Clinton becomes the candidate in July, she will utilize her allies in the mainstream press to keep the attention on Trump. The mainstream media is already a massive echo chamber with 93% of news being negative toward Trump. Hillary will run on an “anything but Trump” platform and will limit the news flow about herself or her campaign. She will utilize her allies in Silicon Valley and the mainstream press to actively shape the news flow.

There is a new documentary coming out about Hillary Clinton in March, and the first look reveals an honest message of “yes, I am a divisive leader, and I know it’s hard to like me”. So in this first stage, she will acknowledge the problems of her past candidacy and public life. In the next stage, that vulnerability and honest assessment will be followed with a “So what? The Party is in disarray and it needs me.” The tone and presence of her “stealth” candidacy will become more strong and ruthless as we approach the July convention. Her strategic goal is for strength to be more important than likability at the convention.


The prediction


I predict that Hillary Clinton will become the Democratic nominee, but Trump will win again in the November 2020 election. The support among his base has only increased since 2016. Tens of thousands of voters are still flocking to his rallies, sometimes waiting 20 hours in freezing temperatures to get inside.

The attacks on him so far have been unsuccessful. “Russia Gate” - accusations that Trump colluded with Russia to win the 2016 election - led nowhere. In the wake of the November impeachment hearings over dealings with Ukraine, Trump’s approval numbers actually increased. The public’s reaction to the impeachment was largely indifference, despite the mainstream press and Democratic leadership trumpeting that “the fate of our democracy hinges on this moment”. Currently, the Senate is holding a trial after receiving articles of impeachment from the House of Representatives. Trump’s approval rating rose 3 points during the trial’s first week.

            The US public is experiencing “Trump fatigue” and shrugs off every controversy the Democratic party tries to pin on Trump. The establishment wing/ Clinton team would like to believe that 2020 is different, but the public will simply see a Clinton versus Trump matchup in the exact same light as 2016. In addition, Bernie Sanders supporters will be even more enraged in 2020 and even less likely to vote for Hillary Clinton in November.


How Trump could lose


There is one main scenario where Trump loses and that is if the United States enters recession prior to the election in 2020. That currently appears unlikely, although there are signs that we are nearing the end of this business cycle. For instance, the unemployment rate is at a record low. We have a robust economy with no slack in the labor market. At the same time, consumer debt defaults are rising. Historically, there is a significant lead time from when consumer defaults start rising and the unemployment rate turns up again leading into a recession so it appears unlikely in 2020.

            The economic environment seems similar to the wage-push inflationary environment of the mid-1960s. Inflation was just starting to pick up, but no one knew it or felt it. Trump voters may be losing ground due to this burgeoning inflationary environment, but they don’t recognize it. Inflation starts out as a stealth problem. Ironically, that is helpful for Trump who only needs voters to feel good for the next 10 months.

            There will be other attempts to stop Trump - accusations of sexual misconduct, corrupt business dealings, abuse of executive power - but none of these have worked so far. If Trump’s actions in Ukraine and Iran are any indication, he has so far been effective at thwarting geopolitical sabotage efforts (i.e. Kerry back-channeling with Iran).

            There is one other outlier that has to be considered. Voter fraud and outright election fraud are very real problems. Consider the fact that some California counties reported more votes than there are registered voters. So Trump could be defeated with an orchestrated and targeted Election Fraud strategy - whether via the electronic voting machines or through actual physical voting. In several key swing states, he only won by several thousand votes so it is a real possibility. There is also the impact of Silicon Valley’s grip on social media. The prominent research psychologist Dr. Robert Epstein has estimated that Google was able to shift between 3 and 10 million votes to Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election via manipulating search results.


The fight for the American Empire


            There is a loose constellation of corporate and political interest groups that protect the American Empire’s structure, which allows for leveraging American financial and military power globally to establish advantageous trade regimes and political unions. This worked for awhile, but now the American public can no longer bear the burden of the Empire.

      In the course of setting up and defending this structure, many “globalist” agents set up what are essentially toll booths along the frontier of the empire. If foreign partners want into the imperial core, or internal actors want outside, they have to pay the toll to these globalist operatives. Over time, the loyalty of these operatives to the United States has come into question. Trump is part of a group that is loyal to the United States and trying to rebalance the American Empire. These “toll keepers” are not happy about it.

         For instance, he boasts of Saudi Arabia paying $1 Billion for more troops. He wants countries to pay to host American troops and bases. He wants NATO members to pay more. He wants to renegotiate trade agreements. He wants Europe to buy American energy. Every foreign policy initiative by Trump can be reduced to this rebalancing effort.

The American public doesn’t fully understand this strategic shift, but they intuitively grasp that Trump is trying to do something different than the “globalist” status quo and so they vote for him, even if they don’t like him as a person. There are many different “deep states” and “globalists” in the US. Trump represents a nationalist brand with its own military, intelligence, corporate and financial assets. The group working with Trump has no choice but to exercise all available resources to ensure he wins the 2020 election.

In January 2016, I predicted that Trump would win because he presented the most compelling case for rebalancing the American Empire. I predict he will win again.

Geopolitical Signals in the Market Noise - The Uranium Edition

There is a new economic security paradigm. The world is entering an era of the Golden Rule: “He who has the Gold makes the Rules.” Or in the terms of this article: “He who has the Uranium makes the Rules.” It appears the US military agrees.

On April 13, 2018, a draft bill was sent to the Russian Duma which would ban all trade between Rosatom (the Russian state-owned nuclear company) and US nuclear utilities. These proposed sanctions on nuclear fuel exports were in response to sanctions that the United States imposed on Russia earlier in the month on April 6th. 
The bill was unlikely to advance, given that Tenex (the marketing arm of Russia’s state-owned nuclear company, Rosatom) books over $6.5 billion in contracts with the United States every year, and the sanctions would only hurt Russia’s position in the global uranium market. However, this series of events highlighted a critical vulnerability for the United States. 
The US is the largest consumer of uranium in the world, using 46 million pounds U3O8 per year to fuel its 99 reactors. Nuclear energy represents 20% of US baseload power, and yet, the US will produce only 1.1 million pounds U3O8 in 2018, which means it imports 98% of its annual uranium requirement (and that does not include its military requirement). 
Of that imported amount, 40% comes from Russia, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan. Globally, Kazakhstan holds a dominant position in uranium production with 39% of the world’s annual mining output. Russia holds a dominant position in uranium enrichment with 40% of global enrichment capacity. So this threat from Russia has real substance and is a reminder that nation-state conflict is multi-dimensional, played out through kinetic violence but also through trade and financial flows.

The uranium section 232 petition

Commodity prices are famously cyclical given inelastic demand, unpredictable environmental and political factors, and long lead times for production. From the time a uranium deposit is discovered to the point a mine is permitted, built, and put into production - it can be 10 years or more. So when there are strategic vulnerabilities like uranium supply for the US - 98% of US supply is imported with 40% coming from Russia or Russian influenced nations - it cannot immediately be blamed on unfair trade practices or government subsidies for state-owned enterprises. 
This must be said because the most extreme Free Trade activists will decry any intervention into markets with a religious ferocity, not realizing that all markets have an underlying political construction. So yes, this author acknowledges that supply destruction naturally occurs in commodity markets due to their hyper-cyclical nature. With that said, uranium is clearly already a highly politicized market and market intervention deserves an honest multi-dimensional (economic and national security) assessment. 
The Trump Administration is currently reviewing a petition by two US uranium companies (Energy Fuels, UR Energy) that calls for 25% of the US uranium market to be reserved for domestic producers. In addition, it would require the US government to purchase uranium only from the domestic market. The Trump administration has already implemented trade restrictions on aluminum and steel based on a similar “Section 232” petition, so there is a high likelihood of trade actions resulting from the uranium petition (scheduled May-July 2019).

Market Pricing and the Strategic Objectives of authoritarian capitalism and democratic capitalism

Government intervention into markets is a spectrum ranging from completely free market pricing to government price fixing. The market “tool set” of authoritarian capitalism exists much closer to the price-fixing end of the spectrum. However, the failure of the Soviet and Maoist models have pushed authoritarian regimes to selectively implement market forces. Despite this, authoritarian regimes still distort global markets with their policies, subsidizing state-owned enterprises and their domestic resource markets. It satisfies their domestic population with lower input costs (fuel, materials) and with employment. When this subsidized source of supply is introduced into western markets, it acts as a syphon of financial resources and employment from the western world directly to the authoritarian regimes. In addition, it makes democratic capitalist economies more dependent on resources originating in the authoritarian capitalism sphere of influence, which satisfies a strategic objective for authoritarian regimes. 
The uranium market is no different. State-owned uranium companies in Russia, Kazakhstan, and China are operating at a loss, driving out the private sector from the market such that there is only one producing mine in Canada and two producing mines in the United States. Indeed, up to 90% of global uranium mines are currently operating at a loss. Western companies like Rio Tinto, BHP, and Paladin are all either cutting production or selling their assets. In the meantime, authoritarian capitalists are consolidating their position in the market - China just bought a controlling stake from Rio Tinto in the the Rössing mine in Namibia, one of the largest uranium mines in the world. It has already invested in and seeks to invest more in Canada’s Athabasca Basin, the world’s leading source of high-grade uranium.
It must be mentioned that other political and environmental forces have also acted on the uranium market price for decades. One of the largest sources of secondary supply was the Megatons to Megawatts program from 1983 to 2013, when Russians were downblending highly enriched uranium from 22,000 ICBMs to low enriched uranium and selling it to American utility buyers. In some years, they sold as much as 20 million pounds of uranium. 
Then of course the Fukushima disaster happened in 2011. Japan shut down all of its reactors (12% of global demand) and began to sell its uranium fuel reserves into the global spot market. For two years after Fukushima, the Megatons-to-Megawatts program continued to pour uranium onto the spot market, ultimately driving the price down to $18/lbs. In 2011 before Fukushima, the uranium price was $75/lbs, and in the commodity bull market of 2003-2007, the price of uranium reached $136/lbs. Thus, there are other secondary sources of supply that have weighed on uranium markets in the last few years besides government intervention by the authoritarian area into primary supply sources.
The point is that when commodity prices reach cyclical lows, authoritarian regimes can acquire assets cheaply and consolidate their position in the market so that when the price rebound occurs, they have already secured sources of supply. In contrast, at cyclical lows companies in the democratic capitalist area have trouble accessing capital and thus cannot accumulate assets at the same scale or speed as state-owned enterprises. Governments in the democratic capitalist area have an incentive to help commodity prices rebalance as quickly as possible so that capital flows back into democratic capitalist companies. Democratic capitalist nations can do this by collecting and broadcasting market data as well as direct types of action like the uranium Section 232 petition calls for.
Democratic capitalism relies on market price incentives for strategic objectives (like domestically-sourced uranium supply). Authoritarian systems can temporarily override market mechanisms to artificially inject capital into their state-owned enterprises at cyclical price lows and consolidate their market position at a time when no capital is available to democratic capitalist companies.

Is the US military engaging in economic security policy-making?

The uranium price is rebounding, up 42% in 2018, which means the market price is responding to a range of price-constructive supply and demand factors. The Megaton program is no longer running. Japan is now bringing its reactors back online. Kazatomprom has cut production. There are 59 reactors currently under construction worldwide. The IAEA estimates that the global all-in sustaining cost (AISC) for uranium production is $60/lbs. While Kazatomprom likes to tout production costs for its best ISR uranium projects in the teens, some analysts point out that the Kazakhs have not been reinvesting capital into their mines and the real cost of production is much higher. 
Why then, is the Trump Administration considering the Section 232 petition if the uranium market seems to be operating according to supply and demand? If the global AISC is $60/lbs, and the market is recognizing that the global swing producer Kazatomprom actually has much higher costs than reported (perhaps $45/lbs), then the market price will rise from the current $29/lbs and US uranium producers will compete again at closer to free market prices.
Of course, it is a reaction to the fact that Russia and other authoritarian regimes have consolidated the uranium market effectively. Section 232 petitions originate in the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, which authorizes the President of the United States to adjust specific imports from other countries if the importation “is in such quantities or under such circumstances as to threaten to impair the national security.” What is interesting is that the CEO of UR Energy said in a recent interview that Rick Perry, the US Secretary of Energy, asked him to file the Section 232 petition. Meaning, the Trump Administration is pushing the Section 232 action, not responding to the appeals of domestic producers. 
The U.S. Department of Energy is an integral part of the national security infrastructure. It oversees the US nuclear weapons program and naval nuclear reactors. Now it is stepping into the uranium market itself for national security reasons. This is part of what appears to be a larger move of the US military and defense establishment into a more active role in US economic security policymaking. 
If true, it is not a surprise that the US military is taking on a more active role. Consider the newly implemented steel tariff. Inferior Chinese steel was being used for US military applications and was prone to failure. In fact, Chinese and Russian steel imports almost completely eliminated US domestic steel production capacity. Consider the recent news that chinese spy chips were found in hardware used by Apple and Amazon. Or consider that Russia supplies the RD-180 rocket engines used by NASA and the Pentagon because the US does not have a reliable domestic alternative. More than ever, the US military is being pushed into the realm of economic security, which has traditionally been the domain of financial operators. 
When Admiral Michael Mullen said in 2010 that US debt levels are the most serious national security threat to the United States, it signaled a heightened economic security awareness and emphasis among the military establishment. That level of engagement is increasing as the US military sees that financial operations are no longer sufficient to meet US economic security strategic objectives. (A personal note: this author has worked with Wall Street veteran, Jim Rickards, who is now training the US military in financial and non-conventional economic warfare.)

A new economic security paradigm?

When the US developed its economic security doctrine in the 1940s, it was built around two pillars - trade policy and the US Dollar as global reserve currency. Access to the robust consumer economy in the US incentivized the cooperation of its western allies. USD status as global reserve currency and use in global payments also afforded the US an “exorbitant privilege”. However, the 2008 financial crisis was a signal that US consumption can no longer support the global economy, and while the US Dollar still represents 60% of global reserves and 80% of global payments, recent “de-SWIFTing” efforts and the Chinese/ Russian response prove that US influence on global financial flows is attenuating.
Under the Obama administration, the US waged financial warfare against Iran, imposing sanctions on Iranian individuals and entities, and banning Iran from the U.S. Fedwire payment system. So Iran switched to selling its oil for Euros and transacting through the international SWIFT payment system. Next, the US leaned on its SWIFT partners to ban Iran from using that system. This measure was effective, cutting off Iran from its major source of hard currency through oil sales. There was a run on Iranian banks, interest rates rose to 20%, and the Iranian rial collapsed. US dollars were smuggled in through Iraq while gold and consumer goods were smuggled in through Dubai. (The Obama deal in 2015 eased pressure on Iran, only to be reversed by the Trump administration. Iran is again under pressure.) 
But how effective will such sanctions and “de-SWIFTing” measures be in the future? Russia has already created an alternative to SWIFT (the System for Transfer of Financial Messages) that is growing in use. China has created the China Interbank Payment System. These competitors to SWIFT will grow in use and compatibility, seriously limiting the US ability to wage financial warfare. The technology for digital currency and payment messaging is not difficult, and the distributed ledger technology used by cryptocurrencies helps to solve many of the Trust issues in information networks. So the outsized influence that the US holds over SWIFT cannot last indefinitely.
Likewise, in terms of trade, consider the example of Iranian oil - the US has no effective mechanism to stop China from buying Iranian oil, which gives the Iranian regime a substantial lifeline. Financial operations and trade mechanisms will be insufficient to ensure US economic security in the future. Both the United States “stick” (trade and financial enforcement mechanisms) and “carrot” (access to its large consumer market) are becoming weaker and weaker.
There is a common assumption in the United States that debt and other financial obligations have built-in coordination mechanisms (negative enforcement protocols and positive economic growth externalities). Likewise, the US and its allies are operating under the assumption that mutual gains to trade and increasingly complex multilateral expectations will lead to global cooperation. But these assumptions are built - whether it is acknowledged or not - on the monopolization of the use of force (US military). 
The former US economic security paradigm resulted in a brilliant global market structure for over 60 years. However, the US military now sees that structure as a threat to its ability to operate in its traditional security capacity. There are many arguments for why (Clinton allowing China into the WTO, collapse of Soviet Union putting undue pressure on the US market, etc), but regardless, Trump is introducing the world to the new economic security paradigm.


The Trump Administration recently released a list of 35 “critical minerals”, including uranium. The US is 100% import-dependent for 14 of the minerals and 50% import-dependent for 16 of the minerals. It has already taken action on aluminum and steel, and probably will soon on uranium. The US is taking concrete steps to secure supply of strategic raw materials. This author would encourage US allies to consider that these efforts, while protectionist in nature, may be an effort to grapple with the new economic security paradigm, not necessarily a response to the complaints (or inefficiencies) of domestic producers.
From the beginning of the Trump presidency, this author has viewed the Trump administration as essentially a military operation. The move into politics by the US military, albeit behind the scenes, started in 2013 when the military made a public rebuke of the Obama team for its actions in Syria. Obama retaliated by reshuffling the military’s officer ranks. 
What then are the intentions of Trump and the military? Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (who himself is deeply embedded in the US military establishment) said in a recent foreign policy speech that the Trump administration seeks to build a “new liberal order”, an “open, just, transparent and free world of sovereign states.” This mention of ‘sovereign states’ speaks directly against those elements in the US and European elite who are trying to build a world based on the primacy of multilateral institutions.

            If and how that “new liberal order” is built remains to be seen, but US allies should consider that it may be an honest effort on the part of the Trump administration that ultimately originates from the national security establishment itself, particularly its oldest and original elements that are most loyal to America’s founding principles. If Pompeo is speaking honestly, actions by the Trump administration to reformulate American economic security are not necessarily isolationist in nature, but are attempts to grapple with a new security environment.

© The Unedited 2018
contacts: info@theunedited.com