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CC&CD Journal

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Politically Weaponized Economics

Posted on August 11, 2018 at 5:35 PM

Politically Weaponized Economics

Cory Newton


Mercantilsim is written into the United States Constitution and the political weaponization of economics is nothing new. Negative talk of trade wars, economic wars, and the collapse of the Post WWII Liberal Order, reveals how committed they’ve become to the idealistic global free trade paradigm.

Reasonable people should be able to agree that the Post WWII Liberal Economic Order established as an alternative to Soviet Communism was successful and that upon the collapse of the Soviet Union the United States became the sole superpower in a unipolar world and doubled down on that order.

Globalization and global free trade experienced major diminishing returns between 9/11 and the Financial Crisis of 2008. Yet globalization and global free were doubled down on again and again by the United States who failed to see reality, probably blinded by unipolarity and exceptionalism. By 2014 it was clear to me that the days of American unipolarity propping up the decayed Post WWII Liberal Order were numbered.

It is hard to tell who is worse in this whole thing, is it the IR crowd who cannot identify the transition to multipolarity, or is it the economists who can’t identify the diminishing returns associated with global free trade, and reflexively condemn every tariff as bad without mentioning elasticity and the adjustment period associated with it?

As we transition into the multipolar regional realignment, it is necessary to understand that mercantilsim and multipolarity have always gone hand in hand. It is useful to identify the tools and weapons of mercantilsm. If the United States can use the tools and weapons of mercantilism in a competitive way, it would be possible to begin competing with regional powers in the sphere of geoeconomics. Any list of politically weaponsized economic activties would not be complete without mention of sanctions and embargos.

Mercantilist Tools

Balance of Trade

Export Platforms

Monetary Policy

Mercantilist Weapons


Import Quotas


Protectionist Policies^


Exchange Rates

Geoeconomic Tools

“High risk research & development

market penetration investments

production over investment for market share forcing ”*

Geoeconomic Weapons

“Tariffs & quotas,

regulatory & covert impediments to imports,

discounted export financing,

national technology programs,

economic & technical intelligence”*

Political Tools/Weapons



 ^ I think an argument can be made Protectionist Policies are actually competitive policies

*From Edward Luttwak’s Turbo Capitalism

This post is an adapted version of things written in Chapter 4 The Utilization of Mercantilsm & Geoeconomics from the not yet finished,        Market Failure, Terrorist War, & Social Issues By Cory Newton

The Diminishing Marginal Utility of Chemical Weapons & Punitive Strikes

Posted on April 15, 2018 at 12:05 AM

The Diminishing Marginal Utility of Chemical Weapons & Punitive Strikes

Cory Newton


Despite the “immorality” of chemical weapons they are still used because the benefits of using them are greater than the costs of using them. If this was not true, then punitive strikes would not be necessary to increase the costs of using chemical weapons. The question then becomes, are the benefits of conducting punitive strikes greater than the costs of conducting them?

If 68% (71/103) of our missiles being knocked out of the sky is an accurate number, what does that say about the utility & effectiveness of that method of punitive strike compared to the barrels of chlorine rolled out of a helicopter in the initial attack we responded to?

If I were Assad I’d attack every one of the 1000-3000 remaining ISIS Army I could find with chemical weapons, essentially daring the U.K., French, U.S. coalition to sympathize with ISIS and attack higher risk for collateral damage, Syrian government chemical weapons targets that were not engaged last night.

Will the marginal utility of chemical weapons be diminished by punitive strikes?

Will the marginal utility of punitive strikes be diminished by the use of chemical weapons?

Is the Assad regime better off or worse off from their recent use of chemical weapons?

Is the United States better off or worse off from conducting our recent punitive attack?

Last night was the first time I tuned into television news in months. I watched the remarks of President Trump, Secretary Mattis, and General Dunford at 9 & 10pm respectively. What I heard was a moral, ethical, and values based Post WWII International Order maintenance rationale for conducting limited strikes to deter the localized use of chemical weapons.

Over the years I’ve evolved into my own version of a structural realist who has adopted a security, survival, Independence metric to judge interests. I’m thinking about dropping security because it is so easily manipulated. The concept of “linkage” has enabled the manipulation of “security” to the extent of absurdity. Syria is a shithole country and we should leave now.