CSIF Conference – The New Financial Wars

February 24, 2015
1:00 pm -


FDD celebrated the launch of its Center on Sanctions and Illicit Finance with a conference titled “The New Financial Wars: The Convergence of Illicit Finance, Economic Power, and National Security.” The event brought together more than 200 government officials, policy professionals, and scholars for an afternoon of lively discussion on the critical role of economic power and financial warfare in U.S. national security.

Many of the panelists noted that U.S. government often finds itself using out-of-date tools to combat 21st century threats. CSIF aims to provide decision makers and practitioners with new policy ideas and sophisticated tools to combat the emerging and over-the-horizon threats.

Introductory Remarks by Mark Dubowitz

Executive Director of Foundation for Defense of Democracies. 

Mark Dubowitz, executive director of FDD and director of CSIF, opened the conference by highlighting the expertise and talent of CSIF’s leadership, scholars, and board of advisors.

Video | Transcript

Panel One: New Threats From Illicit Finance in the Middle East and Africa

  • Thomas JoscelynSenior Fellow, Foundation for Defense of Democracies; Senior Editor, The Long War Journal@thomasjoscelyn
  • Gretchen PetersSenior Fellow on Transnational Crime, George Mason University; Author, Seeds of Terror
  • Jonathan SchanzerFormer Terrorism Finance Analyst, Department of the Treasury; Vice President for Research, Foundation for Defense of Democracies@JSchanzer
  • Moderator: Jay SolomonForeign Affairs Correspondent, The Wall Street Journal,@WSJSolomon

​What challenges do the U.S. and its allies face in combatting the threats of illicit finance, not only today but over a longer horizon? What tools does the United States need to effectively combat evolving challenges? These questions and more were tackled by our panel of experts. This panel set the tone for the conference, raising the numerous challenges that CSIF has and will continue to examine.

Video | Notes

Keynote Remarks from Juan Zarate

Former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes; Former Deputy National Security Advisor for Combating Terrorism; Chairman & Senior Counselor, Center on Sanctions and Illicit Finance@JCZarate1

CSIF Senior Counselor Juan Zarate offered remarks on the vision and goals of the Center on Sanctions and Illicit Finance. He noted that we have entered a new era in which financial power and economic influence are central to national security and are filling the gap between diplomacy and kinetic activity. While this offers advantages to the United States, it also creates vulnerabilities for the United States in a globalized and interconnected financial and commercial system.

Video | Transcript | Notes

Panel Two: Russia, China, and the Future of Economic Warfare


  • Luke DemboskyDeputy Assistant Attorney General, National Security Division, Department of Justice
  • Amb. Paula DobrianskyFormer Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs
  • Peter HarrellFormer Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Counter Threat Finance and Sanctions
  • Samantha RavichFormer Deputy National Security Advisor to the Vice President
  • Moderator: Chip PoncyFormer Director of the Office of Strategic Policy for Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes, Department of the Treasury; Senior Advisor, Center on Sanctions and Illicit Finance

The second panel focused on the future of economic warfare and questioned whether the United States might already be in or headed toward a form of economic warfare with Russia and China. The panelists focused on wide-ranging questions including: What is economic warfare and what do we mean by it? What structures does the United States have in place to defend the nation, its allies, and its interests against vulnerabilities and is it the right structure? and, How should we be considering or applying these aspects of economic warfare to Russia and China?

Video | Notes

Remarks by General Michael Hayden

General Michael V. HaydenFormer Director of the National Security Agency and the Central Intelligence Agency

General Michael Hayden, former NSA and CIA director, provided remarks on the transformation of economic coercion and the evolution of targeted sanctions, which he called “the precision-guided weapons of the 21st century.” However, he noted that these weapons can only be as effective as the intelligence that guides them. General Hayden shared anecdotes from his 30-year career that helped shape his thinking on sanctions and illicit finance.

Video | Notes


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FDD’s annual policy summit—where foreign policy and national security professionals, diplomats and members of Congress provide insightful analysis and astute perspectives on the most complex national security issues facing America and its allies.

For information on confirmed speakers, and to save your seat today, visit: www.FDDWashingtonForum.org