Ralph Benko

In virtually every airport bookstore in America right now you will find a little sleeper of a book in the business section which is as riveting as a thriller and as hard to put down. James Rickards Currency Wars made this reader remember what Secretary of the Navy John Lehman so vividly told Tom Clancy after reading his multi-million-seller Hunt for Red October: “Who the hell cleared this?”

At the end of the Cold, and Middle East, wars, we have entered a perilous new world. Currency Wars is as relevant as tomorrow’s headlines. No sleepy tome on monetary policy, Currency Wars is a white-knuckle exercise. It begins three years ago with a war game carried out by the Pentagon in a secret facility just outside of Washington DC.

“The Applied Physics Laboratory, located on four hundred acres of former farmland about halfway between Baltimore and Washington, D.C., is one of the crown jewels of America’s system of top secret, high-tech applied physics and weapons research facilities.

“Preeminent among these more abstract functions is the lab’s Warfare Analysis Laboratory, one of the leading venues for war games and strategic planning in the country. … It was for this purpose, the conduct of a war game sponsored by the Pentagon, that about sixty experts from the military, intelligence, and academic communities arrived at APL on a rainy morning in the late winter of 2009. … [T[he only weapons allowed would be financial — currencies, stocks, bonds, and derivatives. The Pentagon was about to launch a global financial war using currencies and capital markets instead of ships and planes?”

Rickards describes this with flair.

“The rectangular room has four wall-sized screens at the front end and banks of smaller fifty-inch plasma video screens mounted on the walls along both sides to patch in additional participants from remote locations or to display additional graphics. The seating is tiered with a central trapezoid-shaped table for twelve on the lowest level closest to the wall screens; the trapezoid is flanked by four banks of long tables, two on each side, at a slightly higher level laid out in a chevron pattern around the center.”

Shades of Dr. Strangelove! But is it just … a videogame on steroids? Rickards:

Ralph Benko

Ralph Benko, author of The Websters’ Dictionary: How to use the Web to transform the world. He serves as an advisor to and editor of the Lehrman Institute's thegoldstandardnow.org and senior advisor to the American Principles Project.