Hardball or Softball? Diamantball!
How not to react to US pressures on Bank Secrecy, Iran, Cuba, North Korea, etc.
by ICONOCLAST - 27.9.06 - url: www.solami.com/diamantball.htm ¦ .../Selbstbestimmung.htm ¦ .../Kundenschutz.htm
.../Anekdoten.htm ¦ .../hornung.htm ¦ .../Strasbourg.htm ¦ .../glasnost.htm ¦ .../vision.htm ¦ .../edouardbrunner.htm ¦ .../iran.htm ¦ .../ciaprisons.htm

Following 9/11, the US threatened to bomb Pakistan "back to the stone age" (President Pervez Musharraf, BBC, 22 Sep 06: www.solami.com/stoneage.htm). Except for the blue-eyed admirers of the naked emperor, that's no surprise for anybody blessed with related sensors, a memory and a sense of genuine sovereignty. To be sure, a clear-sighted Swiss ambassador alerted his superiors early on of the creeping US "economic warfare" against Switzerland (Interpellation 03.3487). And Jean-Pascal Delamuraz dared, in early 1997, to publicly label some of Stuart Eizenstat's utterings as "blackmail". Notwithstanding such increasingly rare examples of sovereign competence and individual courage, ever since 1981, hardball-playing SEC, IRS and other US officials have seen fit to draw Swiss bankers over the table, to make them dance to their tunes, and to oblige them to circumvent or even violate Swiss bank secrecy - courtesy of a particularly friendly former Swiss attorney general. Essentially based on the same advice - and in spite of the mutually binding contrary Swiss-American conventions regarding legal assistance in penal matters - a Swiss firm involved in the Swiss-led good offices operations between the US & Iran for the release of the US hostages in Teheran, Marc Rich & Co AG, in 1982, was leaned on to pay $50000/day for as long as it did not produce documents sought in relation with, a.o., the US Trading-with-the-enemy-Act. Repeatedly, even the NZZ sounded the tocsin on US practices and Swiss responses, already in 1987 under the title: Schweizer Antworten auf amerikanische Ideen (.../walderbsi.htm#Hohn).

Thus accustomed to servile and even premature Swiss legal assistance, US officials didn't take kindly to Swiss resistance, as expressed in e.g. its noted amicus curiae briefs of 1984 and 1986. And when, encouraged by a critical mass in Parliament, Switzerland's first lady Federal Councillor finally drew the line, she paid her courage with her own downfall. Notwithstanding punctual successes on the fiscal and the nuclear front, insider, money laundering and other lex americana copies have brought the universally acclaimed Swiss banking culture to the level of US visions and opportunism. Thus, from allies of their clients, Swiss banks have "volontarily" accepted to become QIs by the good grace of the US IRS (qualified intermediaries: .../QI.htm). And though Nationalrat Luzi Stamm had raised the yellow card with his letter of 13 December 2000 to the Swiss Bankers Association, he has yet to draw the courtesy of a substantial answer (SBA: .../swissbanks.htm#STAMM).

Not surprisingly then, when another emmissary of the US Government, the Under-Secretary of the US Treasury Stuart Levey, recently delivered the latest US desirata - i.e. to cut off all Swiss bank dealings with Iranian banks, starting with Saderat ("Washington invite les banques suisses à couper les liens avec l'Iran", Yves Genier, Le Temps, 21 sep 06: .../swissbanks.htm#Saderat; Stuart Levey: «Pour sanctionner l'Iran, notre meilleur allié est le secteur privé», Le Temps, 2 juin 2007: .../iran.htm#sanctionner) - his listeners in Berne "didn't notice any pressure". Probably not unlike the greenhorns in the US State Department who, in 1941, didn't notice Japan's declaration of war couched in the diplomatic language of another generation. At any rate, the "routine exchange of views" reportedly caused no alarm. And the way things have been going, the visitor may not even have been told that Switzerland's current good offices on the US/Iran nuclear conflict can only be as successful as both parties refrain from undermining our position as a neutral and credible facilitator. Indeed, a permanently neutral country must not favor either side in a given international conflict - not militarily, not politically and not commercially (see also: Report by the Federal Council on Swiss Foreign Relation, annex on neutrality, 1993 [*; Motion 08.3402]). Sanctions, even if decided by the UN Security Council, must not be allowed to impede a neutral country's normal trade and other relations; however, and beyond the "courant normal", it must not allow either its infrastructure to be used for sanctions-busting. Even more compellingly, essentially the same and further principles apply if a state is to effectively lend its services as a mediator, as an honest broker, including good offices for seeking to resolve an international conflict, small or big. Accordingly, Switzerland's international credibility is all but favored if even the mere suggestion of Swiss banks joining a banking boycott against a conflict party is no longer rejected out of hand - and may in fact already be officially favored.

Of course, the experiences & conditions thus brought into focus, so far somewhat have found their balance with more enchanting instances of genuine cooperation between two sovereign people sharing common values. Yet, officials, bankers & entrepreneurs interested in successfully dealing with our American friends must not allow themselves to be blinded by their sympathy for their American relatives and friends, but keep the social Rider Curve in mind and reflect seriously upon the following insights:
1.    Until proven otherwise, Americans have grown up in, are thoroughly used to and, as a rule, have their sensors not trained to an environment different from one of - often reckless, if not ignorant - hardball-playing competition. The Israeli example continues to show: fully appreciated, respected and honored is only someone who - even under an unfavorable rapport des forces - responds to such Americanisms with hardball, better even with diamantball.  Thus, someone who is seen to curry favors with niceties and softball, deservedly - in the American mindset - is routinely treated with contempt, disrespect and abuse.
2.    Fertile chaos being a dominant feature of US society and politics, there is no such thing as a unified policy on almost anything. Hence, hire & fire, social mobbing, friendly fire, collateral damage and ill-considered & ill-advised "policies" are not the exceptions but the characteristics of daily events in all segments and power levels of US society, be it in the domains of the economy, religion, politics, armed forces, etc. Checks & balances, effective supervision, respect for Treaties and the Rule of Law - as demonstrated by the US Supreme Court with its unfortunate Aerospatiale ruling - reflect less reality than constitutional aspirations of the Founding Fathers who thus labored to temper such dominant human motivators as greed, self-rightousness and opportunism. Even at the top of the power hierarchy, this deeply enrooted Wild West, bounty hunting & Flat Earth mindset today still translates into "shoot first, ask questions later", "you're either for or against us", "in case of doubt, bomb them", "war on terror", "get me that scalp called Swiss bank secrecy", "shut down non-compliant Swiss banks", etc. To be sure, in most cases this is not merely heavy-handed clumsiness & benign hilly-billy ignorance, but society-permeating viciousness, as evidenced by Robert Ringer's best-seller "Winning through intimidation". All of which adds up to a mockery and abuse of democratic agendas and institutions - as if we were faced with the 4th Reich. And it results in real power vacuums at high and highest offices which can, have been and, if the past is any guide, will continue to be exploited by baby-faced, yet reckless office holders - in as much as they are being helped, accomodated or not sent back to go fly a kite and consult first with their colleagues in other departments.
3.    Good, mutually respectful and beneficial Swiss-American relations are not only desirable, but possible. As demonstrated by the Joint Resolution of the US Congress of 1985, they are readily recognizable also by our American friends as being crucial not only to Swiss but to US interests. However, they deserve and need to be moored in a better understanding of both our existing treaty rights & obligations, genuine US roots, values & interests, and on-going operations here & there. Also, there are corresponding lessons to be learned from essentially self-inflicted damages, including the "diplomatic treasons" (art.267 CP) apparently committed by various lex americana promoters, such as Swiss attorney generals - both former and current.

In summary, instead of blissfully heeding whatever American official visitors transmit as the latest US desirata, principled, visionary and well-considered initiatives of our own are called for, if the Swiss financial market, Swiss products & services, and Swiss sovereignty is to have a future. All of which indicates a political willingness and calls for adequate support measures for exploring and eventually realizing such mutually beneficial projects as:
1.    Swiss Good Offices - not excluding parallel diplomacy efforts (.../edouardbrunner.htm) - for resolving the current nuclear disputes between the US (Israel) and Iran (.../iran.htm ¦ .../nptmotion.htm ¦ .../wargames.htm ¦ .../3103memo.htm ¦ .../3103.htm ¦ .../255.htm) .
2.    Installation, notably in Swiss bank tresors, of monitoring equipment as a key Swiss contribution to the US/Russian Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism - in return, sine qua non, for conditions where lex helvetica, and not lex americana, is again genuinely the law of the land.
3.    Development and application of methods and vehicles to effectively combat "soft law" bureaucratic lawmaking at the UN, EU, OECD (FATF), etc (.../oecdmandate.htm ¦ .../merz.htm ¦ .../crime.htm ¦ .../GAFI.htm ¦ .../finma.htm).