Courtesy Reuters

Over the last five years, U.S. national security policy and the international banking system have become inextricably intertwined. With terrorism and nuclear proliferation at the top of the United States' foreign policy agenda and few diplomatic or military levers left to pull, Washington has increasingly turned to the private sector for help in confronting some of its biggest international challenges. That has meant, above all, an effort to work with banks to put pressure on states and other international actors that the United States otherwise has little ability to influence.

This effort is defined by a careful dance between the U.S. government and the global banking industry. Through targeted financial measures, Washington has signaled to banks situations in which it sees dangerous actors intersecting with the international financial system. Banks, for the most part, have acted on these signals, and the two most recent chapters in this unfolding

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  • Rachel L. Loeffler, former Deputy Director of Global Affairs at the U.S. Treasury Department, was a 2007-8 Council on Foreign Relations International Affairs Fellow at the University of Virginia's Miller Center of Public Affairs.
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