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Saturday, August 20, 2022

SWIFT, Sanctions and Shameless US hypocrisy Part 1 – how they colluded in secret

There is a war going on in Europe. And then there’s a war going on in the world.

This latter is garishly termed, by corrupt elites of west, a war of ‘Democracies Vs Autocracies.’ No opinions of global south were asked or even deemed necessary on this matter. Even those of ‘other’ democracies.

Why?

Because it’s about ‘Rules-based-International-Order,’ led by west and specifically USA; and its automatically assumed that in such a system designed by west, whatever the west says, should automatically be acceptable to the rest of the world.

And the west is surprised and angry today, that Bharat, the biggest democracy in the world, had refused to follow their diktat. (But is it really surprising for them? Considering their prime ‘independent ranking institutes’, funded by western governments and anti-Hindu hatemonger George Soros have already called Bharat an ‘Electoral Autocracy’ that’s just ‘Partly Free?’ Why are they insisting on Bharat’s democratic credentials then?)

In material terms, the corrupt liberal thinking is as follows: ‘Bharat should’ve condemned Russian war of aggression as a fellow Democracy. Buying Russian oil is funding ‘Putin’s war,’ (despite our entire oil purchase being just an afternoon’s worth for Europe. Completely ignoring that west is making exceptions for Russian energy itself because… needs of people with blond hair and blue eyes being much higher than the needs of s*ithole countries with Brahmin women.)

But the most outrageous for them was this: A widely speculated Rupee-Rouble trading mechanism in the face of such artificial restrictions on our pandemic stricken economy, that’d ‘undermine or backfill US led sanctions regime,’ which is built on weaponization of hegemony of Dollar and SWIFT financial messaging system.

The insolent Daleep Singh, so-called architect of US sanctions, represents the true face of arrogant west indeed when he shed all pretenses of diplomatic niceties and screamed: ‘Consequences.’ That it could employ secondary sanctions (like those against Iran and Venezuela) against us if we continued to buy and diversify against dollar hegemony. And all that is apart from the ever hanging sword over us named sanctions under CAATSA, for purchasing S-400 air-defense system from Russia. 

In the face of such brazen threats and intimidation, the Bhartiya public rose in giant solidarity across partisan lines and bravely resisted western diktat to our foreign policy by showing them the mirror. Even the completely non-Indian Express penned an editorial chiding Daleep singh for going too far off the script in carefully allowed India bashing.

Even before that, Bhartiya people (and indeed people of the world) had called out western hypocrisy in countless popular examples. Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yugoslavia, Yemen and so many illegitimate coups and regime change operations by CIA and MI6 after world war 2. 

So when the west calls out to other, smaller nations, to stand up for Ukraine because of violation of concepts like ‘Territorial Integrity’ and ‘Sovereignty’ by its powerful neighbor – a dangerous scenario that could apply to any number of them if they don’t pick a side now – the rest of the world remains skeptical of west’s true intentions, much less its moral authority to preach to them. Despite such concepts being sound in theory. 

Because in international relations, there’s only one universal truth that every nation recognizes: No, it’s not UN charter, it’s called ruthless national interest.

Every nation looks out for its own. 

Which is why I’m going to limit this discussion to Indian subcontinent now and its experience with US hypocrisy.

There are 2 examples, which I’m surprised no-one had brought up in this regard, none that at least I could see or done forcefully enough, considering how prescient and important they are. The 1st is so-called SWIFT.

SWIFT being part of Rules based International Order, my foot!

In simpler terms, it’s a means for big international banks to update each other on financial transactions between them. For defense deals to energy payments, even governments rely on it for their sovereign needs. SWIFT is a cooperative society registered in Belgium. Essentially an NGO formed for a single purpose: fear of American monopoly in financial transactions. (and how well founded it was.)

Recent sanctions on Russia might be the 1st time many people have heard about the SWIFT financial messaging system.

I wasn’t one of them. 

In fact, the moment the talk of kicking Russia out from SWIFT started doing rounds, a-la economic nuking of it, I rolled my eyes. 

But for threatening Bharat about ‘consequences’, of trying to bypass SWIFT and establish a Rupee-Rouble payment system, because it undermined ‘international sanctions regime or Rules based International Order’, I nearly sat up on the sofa and threw my chappal at the TV which showed Daleep Singh openly delivering that threat. 

Let’s completely ignore the ‘International Sanctions regime’ part and its complete lack of authority on any legal basis. Who gave NATO and 40 odd countries the right or permission to sanction Russia? It wasn’t UN. It was a completely unilateral economic warfare launched by the west against Russia. Moreover, who gave them the right to threaten other countries of ‘consequences’ if they continued their regular trade with Russia? Where is the binding UN resolution for it? Show me that. 

But like I said, lets totally ignore that. 

If the west exhorts other countries to follow the SWIFT based sanctions on Russia as an exercise of upholding ‘Rules based International Order,’ and interprets any attempt circumventing that as a violation of it, then what I really want to ask, is this: What is a bigger violation of SWIFT? A publicly discussed mechanism of Rupee-Rouble trade/SFMS messaging system by RBI; Or covertly getting into SWIFT network for pursing ‘American national interest’ and breaking already established European laws on privacy?

That’s right. That was what US, the leader of ‘Rules based International Order’, did. It started 2 decades ago, as part of their ‘War on Terror.’ Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times  and liberal paper of record New York Times, published their own investigations on 23 June 2006, about how US demanded from SWIFT the millions of financial transactions’ details under a secret program unimaginatively called TFTP: Terrorist Finance Tracking Program. And the SWIFT, pet dog of liberal democracy, came wagging tails to their masters with their financial balls in the mouth (no vulgar pun intended.)

At the time SWIFT had 2 data centers (now 3). One in Netherlands and one in US. All transactions were copied from one to the other so both reflected total transactions around the world. Immediately after 9/11 Bush administration invoked what they call, ‘International Emergency Economic Powers Act’. This was the umbrella full of legal loopholes under which CIA ran the program under Treasury department’s ‘oversight’ – which was more like a ‘blessing.’

In practice, what they used was ‘administrative subpoenas’ which was different from individual subpoenas where security agencies got warrants for individual financial records from grand juries and courts, and financial institutions complied with them happily enough because it targeted a single individual or financial institution. Administrative subpoenas meant the truckload of data about thousands of individuals from hundreds of financial institutions was just dumped by SWIFT into the lap of CIA.

Mind you this was not some ‘hack’, it was an ‘active collusion’ between USA and SWIFT where key players in top positions of both parties knew exactly what was going on. Those initial years saw so brazen violations that every month US Treasury department would issue an administrative subpoena and SWIFT will turn over entire database to them.

Yes, complete records of every single financial transaction all over the world that used SWIFT. What does it mean? It means if you have a Bhartiya relative working anywhere in the world who sent money to you back in early 2000s from overseas, US has full details of both you and your relative. Including your address. 

By their own admission several US officials were uncomfortable for such vast, unprecedented breach of individual privacy. There were initial debates among Justice department lawyers about the ‘legality’ of that program, but were eventually dismissed in favor of ‘national interest’. The whole thing was basically a legal gray area operation in uncharted territories which US exploited to the fullest extent possible.

Eventually, even SWIFT guys became apprehensive of such overreach, and at their insistence the search fields narrowed, but it was still thousands of financial records they were handing over. And still no courts or due oversight mechanism was involved save for some ‘outside auditor’ keeping tracks of the things. 

When in 2006 the media broke the news of such unilateral breach of rights of countless individuals by US, American government even asked the NYT to not publish the article. Citing national security and how it’ll affect counter-terrorism operations. They went ahead with it anyway. But the question is: What did the EU do after the bombshell broke?

Investigations were started. Some years later it was actually determined in courts that US had violated Belgian / EU privacy laws. 

What do you think might’ve happened after it? Sanctions on US? Fines? Diplomatic fallout? Cutting US off SWIFT?

Nope. 

Exact opposite. 

US and EU went ahead and legalized the transferring of SWIFT data to US under an August 2010 treaty, despite EU parliament initially rejecting it. 

Guess who played the matchmaker between 2 jilted lovers across Atlantic on this matter?

He was vice president at the time, his name was Joe Biden and today he’s president of United States of America, overseeing the sanctions that include financial equivalent of nuclear option: cutting Russia off from SWIFT. 

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Abhinandan Pande
Abhinandan Pande
Abhinandan Pande is an aspiring Spy Thriller writer who sees the threats to Bharat as they are - An institutionalized Abrahmic/Left-Liberal revulsion for Hindus' Right to Exist.

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