Michael Greenwald

  • A Financial Statecraft Strategy for the United States to Address the Rise of China

     For the first time since the fall of the Soviet Union, the United States finds itself in a great power competition, this time with China. In the post-World War II era, this competition has many more, and more sophisticated, financial battlefields than in the past. In the field of sanctions, there are two issues posed by Chinese behavior: first, the use of Chinese actors to evade sanctions regimes targeting third parties; second, the use of Chinese actors domestically for goals that violate international norms, including on human rights, cyberspace, and territorial sovereignty. Unlike prior enforcement challenges, China’s financial system is of such a scope that large-scale sanctions infractions are difficult to punish with a normal suite of secondary sanctions, highlighting the need to target new sectors of the economy.


    With this in mind, Washington should adjust its coercive economic strategy to reflect a broader use of tools beyond sanctions. The

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  • Policing Terror Finance in an Era of Great Competition

    The United States' sanctions strategy is increasingly burdened by the involvement of systemically important financial institutions and sovereign investors in global financial statecraft. In the post-9/11 world, Washington’s strategy was highly effective in pursuing non-state actors like al-Qaeda or ISIS, as well as small, rogue nations like Iran. Yet in addressing larger sovereigns like the Kremlin, US strategy has struggled to maintain the same effectiveness given the cross-border financial connections linking these entities to Western markets. As an era of great power competition among Washington, Moscow, and Beijing sets in, these foes will crowd out smaller, non-state actors, thus demanding an adequate response from the Treasury.


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  • The Silk Road and the Gulf: A New Frontier for the RMB

    Many view China’s Belt and Road Initiative as the most geoeconomically significant infrastructure project since the Marshall Plan. Promising alternative trade routes, abundant capital flows, and advanced infrastructure to the developing world, the program has scaled significantly since its inception in 2013.


    Standing at the crossroads of Eurasia, the Arab Gulf states and broader Middle East are an important link between the economies of East Asia and Western Europe.

    Yet the region’s chronic and destabilizing conflicts pose a challenge for Beijing, which has distanced itself from entangling alliances outside its core periphery. In the Middle East, China will find it much harder to invest neutrally, especially within the context of the Saudi-Iran conflict and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) dispute. In the case of the former, China is Tehran’s key economic benefactor, with sanctions now being re-imposed. With Iranian oil locked out of European and US markets, the

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  • Greenwald in The Hill: In the Gulf, China Plays to Win But US Has Upper Hand


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  • The Future Financial War with China

    The detention of Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Chinese tech giant Huawei, in Canada in December at the request of the United States heightened tensions in an already fraught US-China relationship. Huawei has been the target of the ire of China hawks in the United States dating back to the early 2010s amid scandals tied to sanctions evasion in Iran and concerns about possible espionage. Yet in the buzz about its ties to China’s People’s Liberation Army, the company’s extensive dollar exposures have received little coverage.


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  • Can Sanctions Put a Dent in Crypto Crime?

    On November 28, the US Treasury Department took an important step in responding to the SamSam ransomware cyberattacks, which occurred earlier this year. Considered one of the most effective cyberattacks in US history, the hackers behind SamSam since 2015 have targeted institutions ranging from companies to hospitals to schools, demanding payments in Bitcoin as ransom. After being paid, the hackers laundered these funds through online cryptocurrency exchanges into Iranian riyals, reaping the rewards of their malicious behavior. As part of their designation, the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) included the Bitcoin addresses of Iran-based Ali Khorashadizadeh and Mohammed Ghorbaniyan, who are accused of...
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  • The Future of the Dollar in a Post-Iran Deal World

    The European Union’s announcement in September 2018 that it would begin to create a special payments channel with Iran in response to the US withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) once again raises the question of the role of the US dollar (USD) in the international economic order. Under the surface of discussions of alternative payment mechanisms is the legitimate question of the negative impacts of US coercive economic statecraft on the USD status as the leading global reserve currency.

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  • Greenwald Joins CNBC to Discuss US-Saudi Relations


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  • Greenwald in Belfer Center: The New Race for Contemporary Arts Dominance in the Middle East


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  • Greenwald Quoted in The Washington Post on the Persian Gulf Crisis


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