Friday, October 20, 2017

China and Thailand: Tank Tracks and Train Tracks

October 21, 2017 (Joseph Thomas - NEO) - While Thailand undergoes a sensitive transition with the October funeral for its head of state, the widely respected and revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the Southeast Asia constitutional monarchy, home to 70 million and one of the strongest regional economies, continues forward with solid footing in its, and the region's realignment with its neighbours and East Asia, particularly China.


The Royal Thai Army took delivery this month of the first 28 Chinese-built VT4 main battle tanks (MBTs), with possibly over 100 additional tanks to be acquired in the near future. The growing fleet of VT4 MBTs joins other Chinese-built armoured vehicles in Thailand's inventory including over 30 VN-1 and over 450 Type 85 armoured personnel carriers.

The acquisition of Chinese military equipment by Thailand's armed forces also includes 3 submarines as well as joint-development of multiple rocket launchers. There is also a growing number of joint Thai-Chinese military exercises including Blue Strike 2016, which followed Falcon Strike 2015. The exercises involved both nation's marine and air forces respectively and represent an alternative to what was once the United States' exclusive domain in Southeast Asia.


In addition to growing Thai-Chinese military ties, both nations are moving forward with infrastructure projects including massive railway initiatives. Construction is set to start in November of this year on the Thai-Chinese high-speed rail network. The first stage will link Thailand's capital of Bangkok to the northeast province of Nakhon Ratchasima. Eventually, China and its Southeast Asian neighbours plan to create a high-speed rail network running from China all the way to Singapore via Laos, Thailand and Malaysia. Construction in Laos is already underway.

American Counterstrokes 

It is clear that Bangkok benefits from its growing relationship with Beijing. Washington, which openly and for decades has sought to hinder Beijing's regional and global rise, has little to offer as an alternative. Worse still, Washington has filled the void left by its inability to offer constructive military and economic ties with a regiment of political interference, coercion and even confrontation.

Bangkok is home to numerous foreign governmental organisations posing as "independent" nongovernmental organisations (i.e. Prachatai, Thai Netizens, Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, the New Democracy Movement and iLaw) fully funded by the United States government and a number of private US and European-based foundations, serving US and European interests. These foreign fronts seek to pressure the Thai government to adopt a system of economics and government that interlocks with and is subservient to US and European institutions, while overwriting Thailand's own independent institutions, particularly the military and the constitutional monarchy.


Monday, October 16, 2017

US Meddling Across Southeast Asia

October 17, 2017 (Joseph Thomas - NEO) - At a time when US political leaders decry with little evidence what they claim is a pandemic of "Russian interference" in Western political affairs from Western Europe to North America, years of documented evidence exist of this very same interference in the domestic affairs of other nations around the world, funded and directed not by Moscow, but by Washington D.C.


Across Southeast Asia alone is an interlocked, deeply rooted and heavily financed network of American-backed agitators and propagandists, operating behind the cloaks of journalism and rights advocacy, working to upend local, independent political institutions and replace them with a system created by and serving exclusively the interests in Washington that created them.

Shedding Light on US Interference in the Philippines

The Manila Times in a recent article titled, "CIA conduit funding anti-Duterte media outfits," would shed light on US government money being channelled into the Philippines for the explicit purpose of manipulating public perception, particularly regarding politics.

The article cites the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), and its grantees, the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ), the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR), and the Vera Files.

The article outlines the funding, stating:
NED documents show that for 2015—the earliest year for which data is available—2016 and 2017, it gave the PCIJ $106,900; Vera Files $70,000, and CMFR, $278,000. (Another funder of Vera Files is Reporters without Borders, which is also recipient of NED funds.)

Even if NED wasn’t a CIA conduit, it is an institution funded by the US government, and therefore advances US interests. Shouldn’t we be outraged that the US government is funding anti-Duterte media outfits here?
It also points out that this US interference in Filipino politics fits into a much larger, global pattern of political interference engaged in by the US government. The article cites US interference in Ukraine in particular, noting that it was US backing that eventually led to the overthrow of the elected government there between 2013 and 2014.

The article's author, Rigoberto Tiglao, attempted to contact several of the Filipino US NED grantees, only to be confronted or evaded, a response typical of US NED grantees worldwide when questioned about their foreign funding, the dangerous conflicts of interests they are indulging in and the contradictions of posing as independent media organisations entirely dependent on foreign government funding.


Pressure on the Philippines through US-funded media is only one of several fronts the US is using to transform, direct and determine the future of the Philippines as a nation. It has placed direct political pressure on Manila to cooperate in confronting Beijing over the South China Sea. It has also attempted to use Saudi-funded terrorism in the Philippines' south as a vector to reintroduce a significant and expanding US military presence across the archipelago nation.


Friday, October 13, 2017

How the West is Trying to Recreate Myanmar's Crisis in Thailand

October 13, 2017 (Tony Cartalucci - NEO) - Media platforms either directly funded by the United States government or by their political proxies in Thailand, including US-funded Prachatai and Khao Sod English, have begun investing increasing amounts of energy into fueling a currently non-existent sectarian divide in Thai society.


They are concentrating their efforts in promoting the activities of a small anti-Muslim movement in Thailand's northeast region often referred to as Issan. Issan - it is no coincidence - is also the epicenter of previous US efforts to divide and overthrow the political order of Thailand via their proxy Thaksin Shinawatra, his Pheu Thai Party, and his ultra-violent street front, the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD or "red shirts"). Shinawatra and his political proxies were ousted from power in 2014 by a swift and peaceful military coup.

Today, temples affiliated with Shinawatra's political network are turning from a tried and tired, primarily class-based narrative, to one targeting Thailand's second largest religion - Islam, in hopes of dividing and destroying Thai society along sectarian lines.

From northern cities like Chiang Mai to the northeast in provinces like Khon Kaen, suspiciously identical movements, with identical tactics, organized across social media platforms like Facebook are protesting Mosques, calling for specific acts of violence against Muslims, and using the same sort of factual and intellectually dishonest rhetoric peddled by veteran Western Islamophobes used to fuel the West's global campaign of divide, destroy, and conquer everywhere from the US and Europe itself, to Libya, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and more recently, Myanmar and the Philippines in Southeast Asia.

Tools of Empire: Divide and Conquer 

Myanmar, which borders Thailand, currently finds itself at the apex of nationalist and racist-driven violence targeting its primarily Muslim Rohingya ethnic minority. Groups of supposed "Buddhists" who form a more deeply rooted version of what the US and its proxies are trying to create in Thailand, were used to both create a deep sectarian divide where once there was coexistence, and to help put the US and European-funded political network of Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy (NLD) party into power.

Image: Aung San Suu Kyi, sectarian extremists posing as "Buddhist monks," and the US National Endowment for Democracy (NED) together in Washington D.C. 

The humanitarian crisis created in Myanmar serves several functions for the US and its European partners who have meticulously cultivated it over the course of several decades.