21 November 2019 · 1 min read

Digital Currency Wars: A National Security Crisis Simulation

Harvard Kennedy School’s JFK Jr. Forum was transformed into the White House Situation Room Tuesday with Harvard and MIT faculty and former government officials portraying National Security Council members and other officials charged with developing – in an hour’s time – options for the president to respond to a national security crisis. “Digital Currency Wars: A National Security Crisis Simulation” was organized by the Belfer Center’s Economic Diplomacy Initiative.

The date of the simulated crisis: Nov. 19, 2021 – two years from now. The situation: North Korea successfully launched a warhead-tipped missile into the Philippine Sea near Guam – openly defying financial sanctions by using China’s new and extremely popular digital currency (digital yuan) to hide payments for arms, raw nuclear materials, rocket fuel, and other sanctioned products. Since these transactions operate on Chinese-owned infrastructure, North Korea’s economic activity is hidden from U.S. authorities.

• National Security Adviser: Eric Rosenbach (Co-Director, Belfer Center; former Cyber Czar, Pentagon)
• Deputy National Security Adviser: Aditi Kumar (Executive Director, Belfer Center; former Principal at Oliver Wyman and Project Manager, World Economic Forum)
• Secretary of Defense: Ash Carter (Belfer Center Director; former Secretary of Defense)
• Secretary of State: Nicholas Burns (Founder of the Center’s Future of Diplomacy Project; former Ambassador and Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs)
• Secretary of Treasurer: Lawrence Summers (Charles W. Eliot University Professor and President Emeritus of Harvard; former Secretary of the Treasury)
• Vice President: Meghan O’Sullivan (Director of the Geopolitics of Energy Project; former Special Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Adviser for Iraq and Afghanistan)
• Director of National Intelligence: Jennifer Fowler (Director, Brunswick Group, D.C. and former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes in the Department of Treasury)
• Ambassador to China: Richard Verma (Vice Chairman and Partner, Asia Group; former Ambassador and Assistant Secretary of State for Legislative Affairs)
• Assistant to the President for Economic Policy: Gary Gensler (Professor of Practice of Global Economics and Management, MIT School of Management; former Chairman of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission)
• Assistant to the President for Digital Currencies: Neha Narula (Director of the Digital Currency Initiative, MIT Media Lab; former senior software engineer, Google)