In October 2006, Julian Assange founded WikiLeaks, an “international non-profit organization that publishes new leaks and classified media provided by anonymous sources.” On January 29, 2019 WikiLeaks published what it called “US coup manual FM3-05.130, US Army Special Operations Forces (ARSOF) Unconventional Warfare (UW)”. Appendix A of the manual states: “Of particular interest politically are the World Bank (WB), the IMF, and the World Trade Organization (WTO).”

Chapter 2 of the manual states: “Like the economic activity, which all nation-states, human groups, and individuals respond to, ARSOF can use financial power as a weapon in times of conflict up to and including large-scale general war. Like the economic activity that it is related to, most financial power is unmanaged, routine, and peaceful.

“However, manipulation of US financial strength can leverage the policies and cooperation of state governments. Participation in international financial organizations, such as the World Bank (WB), International Monetary Fund (IMF), Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), and the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), offers the US diplomatic-financial venues to accomplish such coalitions.”

Chapter 2 continues, “If properly authorized and coordinated, ARSOF can use – or coordinate for other agencies to use – measured and focused financial incentives or disincentives to persuade adversaries, allies, and surrogates to modify their behaviour at the theater strategic, operational, and tactical levels. Such application of financial power must be part of a circumspect, integrated, and consistent UW plan.”

Here’s a paragraph that specifically uses the term ‘financial weapons’: “Like all other instruments of US national power, the use and effects of financial weapons are interrelated and they must be coordinated carefully. Once again, ARSOF must work with the DOS and IC to determine which elements of the human terrain in the UWOA (unconventional warfare operating area) are most susceptible to financial engagement and what second-and third-order effects are likely from such engagement.

“The Treasury’s Office of International Affairs and Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence (TFI) (and its components), together with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), provide financially mission-focused channels for identifying opportunities to employ the financial weapon.”

On July 29, 2018, Mike Pompeo, US secretary of state, told CNBC: “Make no mistake. We will be watching what the IMF does. There’s no rationale for IMF tax dollars, and associated with that American dollars that are part of the IMF funding, for those to go to bail out Chinese bondholders or China itself.”

Financial markets actually provide a “theatre similar to the nuclear environment” for the US to play out its “pseudo nuclear war”. Financial warfare is now part of military strategy – and the US has a huge stockpile of financial weapons of mass destruction. To be certain, “financial warfare has greater targeting accuracy than the classic economic warfare…” Financial warfare is the equivalent of “precision military strikes” as oppose to economic warfare which is the equivalent of “carpet bombing of two decades ago.”

Not too long ago, the US Army War College and the Canadian Land Forces Doctrine and Training Center met at Queen’s University. The two concluded that “Time-honored concepts of national security and the classical military means to attain it, while still necessary, are no longer sufficient”. Plus, “War has changed. New organizing principles require a new paradigm that facilitates change from a singular military approach to a multidimensional, multi-organizational…approach to deal more effectively with the contemporary global security reality.”

The writer is a columnist based in Islamabad.