In September 2008, the American Department of the Army published the “Army Special Operations Forces Unconventional Warfare” manual (FM 3-05.130). Though access was supposedly restricted to agencies of the U.S. Government, WikiLeaks publicly leaked the document shortly after its release.
Recently, FM 3-05.130 has gained renewed attention because of the events in Venezuela and the sections of the document which discuss how international economic bodies can be used as weapons of war against foreign powers to coerce governments and indigenous populations to believe and act as the United States desires. As a result, the manual appears alarmingly like a document on how to successfully wage a neo-colonial campaign against an enemy.
To defend against the unconventional economic warfare of neo-colonialism will likely require a similarly unconventional approach. Mass adoption and social integration of Bitcoin (BTC) within a nation, state, or other territory threatened by American neo-colonialism, or other authorities, may offer one path of resistance.
What is Neo-Colonialism?
FM 3-05.130 reads like a manual on how to successfully implement neo-colonialism into foreign territories. Though the word “neo-colonialism” is not used within the document, the tactics defined are of the same type which would be used during a neo-colonial campaign.
Neo-colonialism literally means “new colonialism” and refers to that form of colonial intention and action which historically follows the traditional colonialism waged by European nation-states against the vast majority of the world between the 16th and 20th centuries. Areas of the world which were the subject of colonial control by European nation-states are now subjects of neo-colonial control by the United States, other developed nations (typically in the northern hemisphere), and multinational corporations established in those regions. Many territories within Africa, the Americas, the Middle East, or the Asian South Pacific were once colonized and now remain under the influence of neo-colonial powers.
Traditional European colonialism involves the overt use of force by one government, state, or group against another in a different territory while neo-colonialism uses less forceful and more coercive means to accomplish similar goals. The overt theft of a territory, installation of a colonial government, and acts of overt violence are replaced by economic, financial, diplomatic, informational, and other coercive modes of control. In both cases, the maintained control over indigenous populations, their governments, or the resources they own is a shared feature.
Overt physical force has typically been the calling card of colonialism. In the case of colonialism, the power of the outsider is pronounced and obvious; however, neo-colonialism seeks to hide the overall influence and authority of the foreign invader or invaders. Thus, a nation may appear to govern itself freely while being under the indirect influence of foreign power. The use of military violence can be used to accomplish neo-colonial goals — but it is rarely the primary tactic.
Economic Weapons of War vs. Bitcoin
FM 3-05.130 discusses how international economic bodies like the World Bank (WB), International Monetary Fund (IMF), and World Trade Organization (WTO) can be used as neo-colonial weapons of war in unconventional warfare. Such institutions offer financial and economic services to nations which are experiencing political crisis, economic catastrophe, mass poverty, or other states of distress.
In theory, the loaning of fiat currencies and other forms of assistance by these institutions are meant to help these struggling nations. In practice, the American government is able to manipulate these organizations to coerce people and governments to act in ways that will maintain U.S. power across the world.
Bitcoin (BTC) and other cryptocurrencies are free from the influence of the American government. They are decentralized and are less susceptible to becoming weapons of war like the dollar or other fiat currencies. Furthermore, if the majority of BTC was seized by a government or international economic body, other cryptocurrencies can be created which can thwart the attempts at political and economic control over a group of people by an outside power like the U.S. As well, many other types of cryptoassets can be used to facilitate the building of infrastructure, advancement of state sovereignty, and increase communal and individual rights and freedoms.
Not the Petro
Attempts to institute nationalized cryptocurrencies have been made. On Feb 20, 2018, Venezuela introduced the Petro as a nationalized cryptocurrency to facilitate the usage of their fiat bolivar. However, by most standards, the Petro has failed. It is not widely used and most of the uses seem to be forced onto the people by the government. Venezuela continues to suffer an economic crisis and is now seeking other alternatives.
There are a number of problems with the Petro.
- It was introduced into Venezuela without evidential support from a majority of the nation’s population.
- It was designed as a complementary currency to the nationalized fiat, not as an alternative to replace it.
- The exact purposes of the Petro remain ill-defined.
- The Petro is a centralized cryptocurrency much like the country’s nationalized fiat.
- It also does not appear that the Petro has been able to free the government from neo-colonial American power.
Currently, Venezuela is seeking loans from the IMF to aid in its economic development and growth. While such may occur, any loans accepted from the IMF grants the American government indirect power over the nation. Neo-colonialism remains wherever the IMF, WB, or WTO exist as actors — given the information presented in FM 3-05.130.
For a cryptocurrency to successfully free a people or nation from the influence of authoritative governments requires its uses to be chosen freely by the people who use it. If a government forces the cryptocurrency onto the people, that government maintains control and power over the economic system and the people who use it. Such adoption may free individuals in a nation from neo-colonial influence, but they will still be under the influence of authorities — namely, national governments.
The anarchist and democratic possibilities that emerge through the use of decentralized cryptocurrencies naturally oppose neo-colonial and other forms of authority. It allows the people to freely choose to participate in the creation, distribution, and usage of the currency. Only when the people own the currency they use and the machines which generate it can true economic freedom emerge.
What's happening with Venezuela? @WikiLeaks' publication of US coup manual FM3-05.130, Unconventional Warfare [UW], provides insight
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) January 28, 2019
In short, the freedom of the people to create and use the currency of their collective choosing is a prerequisite for economic freedom and the end of neo-colonialism.
Do you think that Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies or cryptoassets can be used to free nations from the American war machine and its neo-colonial power? Let us know what you think in the comments below!
Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Twitter.
[Editor’s Note: Any opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily reflective of those of BeInCrypto or its team members.]