By Pepe Escobar
The Panama Papers, stripped to the bone, may reveal themselves, as I have argued, essentially as an infowar operation initiated by the NSA – which would conveniently target mostly Global South “enemies” (as in the BRICS nations) and selected, disposable, Western pawns.
In its current stage, the Panama Papers have morphed into a weaponized psyops posing as an ‘activist leak’, straight from the Hybrid War playbook.
The relentless, expert mainstream media exposure has been at pains to portray the massive leak as “responsible journalism”, yet without addressing eyebrow-raising questions on how the leak really came about; how 2.6 terabytes of data, including 5 million emails, have been selective edited; how it was obtained without encription; how there was not a single leak while the whole hoard was being sorted out by 400 or so reporters for over a year; and how the information is being selectively released.
“Responsible journalism” gatekeepers are spinning this came from a digital musketeer; a whistleblower. Not necessarily. The leak has already sparked a credibility war between WikiLeaks and the new mainstream leakers, the heavily compromised, Washington-based, US foundations-funded ICIJ.
The NSA thesis is sustained by the fact the NSA specializes in breaking into virtually any database and/or archive anywhere, stealing “secrets” and then selectively destroying/blackmailing/protecting assets and “enemies” according to US government interests. Add to it that Ramon Fonseca, founding partner of Mossack Fonseca, is stressing, “We rule out an inside job. This is not a leak. This is a hack.”
Countering “Strategic Threats”
The Panama Papers function as much as a precision strike as a “message” for an array of players to toe the line — or else; after all, the leak/hack unveils a web of connections to several dozen companies, individuals and politicians across the Global South who are kind of superstars — or aspiring superstars — in US sanctions blacklists.
The obsessive mainstream media focus on the enemies and/or “strategic threats” to Exceptionalistan also raise eyebrows; here’s how the Beijing leadership is expertly dissecting it.
The Panama Papers also happen to perfectly fit into a massive US trade deal offensive. You can read it as a reminder of the TPP-TTIP corporate power grab; if you don’t join our play for US-controlled One World trade, we’ve got dirt on you.
It’s naturally healthy to be offered at least a glimpse of the nasty undercurrents of turbocharged casino capitalism, a.k.a. “global financial system”, where major banks and an army of financial sharks allow “secret” companies to park illicit and/or corrupt funds.
In parallel, it’s enlightening to observe how all electronic money transactions are now totally traceable. The Panama Papers happen to come to light only a few months before an obscure global information-sharing treaty will be implemented. Whether global financial sharks will be able to circumvent it is an open question. Crucially; Panama is not part of the signatories.
On the crucial financial shark angle, over half of the companies listed in the massive leak/hack are registered in the UK — or “Crown dependencies”. Savor the sweet smell of revenge by US corporate media denouncing what it practically amounts to the British Tax Evasion Empire.
Everyone knows the City of London largely operates as a world-class money laundering racket. Yet forget about British “responsible journalism” gatekeepers getting into the heart of it. It’s much more popular to blame Putin as guilty by association than to examine how David Cameron’s father, Ian, chose to keep the family money (and the future Prime Minister’s inheritance) away from the tax man.
Or how the President of that NATO-friendly failed entity, Petro Poroshenko, stashes his wealth not in unruly Ukraine but “protected” in the Virgin Islands. And forget about investigating the former bureau chief of former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Dov Weisglass, who, like Cameron’s father and Poroshenko, is actually named in the Panama Papers.
Moreover, don’t except a Cayman Papers or a Virgin Island Papers — the real deal — anytime soon. The real elite would never let it happen.
And then there’s the ultimate Exceptionalistan angle. Even Bloomberg, three months ago, had formally announced to global public opinion that the top tax haven in the world is now the US — complete with notorious tax haven service provider Rothschild-in-Reno. Unlike Panama, whatever happens in Reno stays in Reno — and we’re not talking wild lap-dancing nights deep in the Nevada desert.
Add to it a juicy deep state-connected source’s take on the “only 441 Americans” (all of them still mysterious) named in the leak/hack; “The Nevada office of Mossack Fonseca received advance information via the NSA to alert Panama to delete all the records in Nevada. The NSA is a political control mechanism. They have nothing to do with terrorism, and would have no idea where to look unless guided by Operation Gladio-style insiders.”
The US government’s war on fiscal paradises is, predictably, also selective. Switzerland has been a key target. Now Panama. Considering the NSA thesis, it’s clear key American billionaires as well as key American corporations would have all been redacted out of the leak/hack.
The gold standard for the Panama Papers not to be regarded as a limited hangout cum psyops will be, for instance, whether HSBC, Coutts (a subsidiary of RBS) and UBS — all deeply connected with Mossack Fonseca — will be fully investigated. Whether oil trader Vitol, linked to Panama Paper-exposed Azerbaijan’s ruler Ilham Aliyev, will be investigated. Whether Poroshenko will be investigated. Whether the nasty connections between Big Oil and Western Big Banking will be unveiled.
And of course after the Panama Papers assorted dodgy weapons dealers, drug barons, corrupt oligarchs and certified tax cheats may continue to be lavishly rewarded, undisturbed — as long as they know how to play the turbocharged casino capitalist game.
The Panama Papers are all about timing. Why now? After all, this massive hoard had been sitting under full scrutiny in total secrecy for over a year.
The Panama Papers totally fit into Hybrid War. As with the Car Wash investigation in Brazil — which is a spin-off of the NSA spying on Petrobras — the Panama Papers may be regarded as a Monster Truck Wash, with the target being the Global South, and the BRICS in particular.
It’s not by accident that immediately after the leak/hack came to light, Pentagon supremo Ash Carter, speaking at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington — a neighbor to the ICIJ — insisted once again the Pentagon needed to be more “agile” to fight the US’s five strategic challenges, which he named, in that order, as “Russia, China, North Korea, Iran and terrorism.”
Note the “threat” predominance of Russia, China and Iran — the key nodes of Eurasia integration, and all of them heavily featured on the Panama Papers, mostly in guilt by association mode.
The timing of the release of the leak/hack certainly has to do with Palmyra. The recent liberation of Palmyra — for 3,000 years the door to Southwest Asia for those who come from the West and the door towards the Mediterranean for those who come from the East — was a brilliantly executed geo-strategic plan that left many a Pentagon mouth agape.
Daesh had turned Palmyra into a key base for an all-out attack on Damascus — controlling the only road leading to the capital.
So only a meticulously coordinated counter-offensive — up to 20,000 men, from the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) to local militias, Hezbollah special forces, Iranian pasdaran (including many Iranian-trained Afghans) and Russian Spetsnaz — would be able to pull it off.
Syrian generals have been adamant to stress that Europe, “invaded” by the refugees “liberated” by Turkey’s Sultan Erdogan, preferred all along to support those inexistent “moderate rebels”- a Beltway fiction — weaponized by Turkey and Saudi Arabia. Now Europeans have to face blowback in European soil.
The SAA, meanwhile, defended Damascus, a unified and secular Syria and — SAA generals proudly stress — Europe itself. Their work won’t stop in Palmyra. The next objectives, for the next few months, are Deir ez-Zour, then the final assault on the fake “Caliphate” capital, Raqqa.
So which role Exceptionalistan — the land of the “war on terra” — played in this epic endeavor?
None. It’s not an accident that terrorism features last in the Pentagon’s list of “strategic threats”. It’s more like fiction unveiling reality, as in the last scene of the current season of House of Cards: “We make the terror”.
In the case of Daesh, Washington did “make the terror”, as in made the terror happen; the flourishing of the fake “Caliphate” was a willful US government decision. And now Russia has blown up or good — for all the world to see — the US government’s fictional narcissistic self-portrait of undisputed champion of the “war on terra”.
Ouch. That hurts. Cue to that by now famous visit by US Secretary of State John Kerry to Moscow, two weeks ago, to talk to President Putin.
It may have been part of a “grand bargain” in Syria (no, there were no leaks over what they really discussed). And it may have been a tactical retreat, as Kerry acknowledged Russia “won” in Syria, but NATO — as in the Pentagon — will keep up the pressure in Russia’s western borderlands. Hybrid War resumed shortly afterwards, via the Panama Papers.
We Rule One World
A fake “Caliphate” will never be a strategic threat to Exceptionalistan; but Eurasian integration definitely is.
No wonder the Beltway is alarmed. Syria has already yielded two key developments.
1) the high-level coordination between Moscow, Damascus, Tehran and Baghdad — via the Baghdad joint information center — was the antechamber of how the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), in the future, may intervene in a hot spot as the absolute opposite of NATO: eradicating chaos instead of fomenting it via humanitarian imperialism.
2) This was also an antechamber, in terms of interstate cooperation, of how the New Silk Roads may proceed across Eurasia, further integrating China and Russia with Central Asia and Southwest Asia.
As for the Beltway, the priorities remain the same. First of all, prevent Russia and the EU from establishing a bilateral, strategic, trade/commerce partnership that adds to Eurasia integration. Hardcore Hybrid War in Ukraine remains the key spanner in the works, as well as NATO beefing up its “patrols” based in Eastern Europe vassal states.
The key overall objective is to prevent Eurasian integration by all means available. As for Wall Street, what matters is to build a One World flow of American capital to the benefit of a turbocharged casino capitalist system controlled by the US — and not Eurasia. Compared to the Big Picture, Panama may eventually yield the odd road kill. Not enough. Be prepared for the long haul. For the gas-guzzling Hybrid War Monster Truck, the road goes on forever.
Pepe Escobar is an independent geopolitical analyst. He writes for RT, Sputnik and TomDispatch, and is a frequent contributor to websites and radio and TV shows ranging from the US to East Asia. He is the former roving correspondent for Asia Times Online, where he wrote the column The Roving Eye from 2000 to 2014. Born in Brazil, he’s been a foreign correspondent since 1985, and has lived in London, Paris, Milan, Los Angeles, Washington, Bangkok and Hong Kong. Even before 9/11 he specialized in covering the arc from the Middle East to Central and East Asia, with an emphasis on Big Power geopolitics and energy wars. He is the author of “Globalistan” (2007), “Red Zone Blues” (2007), “Obama does Globalistan” (2009) and “Empire of Chaos” (2014), all published by Nimble Books. His latest book is “2030”, also by Nimble Books, released in December 2015. He currently lives between Paris and Bangkok.
The statements, views, and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of EMerging Equity.