[Eduardo Olier, La guerra económica global. essay sobre guerra y Economics (Valencia: Tirant lo Blanc, 2018), 357 pgs].
review / Emili J. Blasco
War is to geopolitics what economic war is to geoeconomics. Eduardo Olier, the driving force behind another related field in Spain, economic intelligence, has devoted much of his research and professor to the latter two concepts, which are highly dependent on each other.
The book The Global Economic War ( 2018) is a sort of colophon of what could be considered a trilogy, whose previous volumes were Geoeconomics. Las claves de la Economics global (2011) and Los ejes del poder económico. Geopolitics of the global chessboard (2016). Thus, first there was a presentation of geoeconomics, as a specific field inseparable from geopolitics (the use of the Economics by the powers as a new instrument of force), and then a commitment to the concretisation of the different vectors in struggle, with a prolific use of graphs and statistics, unusual in intellectual production in Spanish for a work of knowledge dissemination. This third book is somewhat more philosophical: it has a certain broom-like quality, finishing off or rounding off ideas that had previously appeared in some cases less contextualised in their conceptual framework , and integrating all the reflections into a more compact edifice. With hardly any graphics, here the narrative flows with more attention to the argumentative process.
The global economic war, moreover, puts the focus on confrontation. "Economic warfare is the reverse of political warfare, just as military wars, always political in origin, end up being economic wars," Olier says. He shares the view that "any economic transaction has at its heart a danger of conflict", that "trade is never neutral and contains within it a principle of violence": at final, that "war is the result of a flawed economic exchange ". The author warns that as a country increases its welfare at the same time it boosts its military capacity to try to gain more power. This need not necessarily lead to war, but economic dependence, according to Olier, increases the chances of war. "The possibility of increasing economic benefits from a potential victory increases the likelihood of starting an armed conflict," he says.
Olier is indebted to the development of this discipline carried out in France, where the School of Economic Warfare was born in 1997 as an academic centre attached to the technical school Libre des Sciences Commerciales Appliquées. These programs of study place special emphasis on economic intelligence, which in France is closely linked to the actions of the state secret services in defence of the international position of large French companies, whose interests are closely linked to national imperatives when it comes to strategic sectors. Olier represents in Spain the high school Choiseul, a French think tank dedicated to these same issues.
Among the interesting contributions of The Global Economic War is the dating and interrelation of the successive versions of the internet, globalisation and NATO: the beginning of the Cold War, 1950 (globalisation 1.0 and NATO 1.0); the dissolution of the USSR, 1991 (globalisation 2.0); creation of the internet, 1992 (web 1.0); entrance of Poland in NATO (NATO 2.0); birth of social networks, 2003 (web 2.0); annexation of Crimea by Russia and consolidation of cyberspace in all activities, 2014 (globalisation 3.0, NATO 3.0 and web 3.0). In this schedule he adds at another point the currency war: currency war 1.0 (1921-1936), 2.0 (1967-1987), 3.0 (2010); this is not an outlandish addendum , but very much to purpose, as Olier argues that, if raw materials are one of the keys to economic warfare, currencies "are no less the subject commodity of the Economics, as they can mark who has and who does not have power".
All this reflection is set in the context of a chain of cycles and counter-cycles, where economic and political cycles are interconnected. reference letter Referring to Kondratiev's long cycles, which are renewed every half century, he recalls that the last cycle would have begun in 1993, so that "the expansionary period should last until 2020, before falling and fill in the 50-year cycle, more or less, towards 2040, when a new expansion would begin" (Olier writes this without foreseeing how the current pandemic would, for the time being, reinforce the prediction).
Just as in geopolitics there are a few imperatives, geoeconomics is also governed by some laws, such as those that move directly to the Economics: when there is economic growth, leave unemployment rises and inflation rises, and vice versa; the conflict for a country and its international environment is when Economics goes down, unemployment rises and so does inflation, giving rise to stagflation status .
Geoeconomics as discipline forces us to look squarely at present and future realities, without allowing ourselves to be fobbed off with wishful thinking about the world we would like, which is why the outlook on the European Union ends up being sombre. Olier believes that Europe will experience its instability without revolutions, but with a loss of global power. "The bureaucratisation of the Structures government in Brussels will only help to increase populism. Brexit (...) will be a new silent revolution that will diminish the power of the whole. This will be increased by the different visions and strategies" of the member states. "A circumstance that will give greater power to Russia in Europe, while the United States will look to the Pacific in its staff conflict with China".
In his opinion, only France and Britain, because of their military power, show signs of wanting to participate in the new world order. The other major European countries are left to one side: Germany sample that economic power is not enough, Italy has enough to try not to disintegrate politically... and Spain is "the weakest link in the chain", as was the case just over eighty years ago, when the new order that was taking shape in Europe first confronted the major powers in the Spanish Civil War before the outbreak of the Second World War. Olier warns that "the nirvana of affluent European societies" will be seriously threatened by three phenomena: the instability of internal politics, mass migrations from Africa and demographic ageing that will cause them to lose dynamism.