Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Shifting Blame as US Agenda Unfolds in Myanmar

October 25, 2017 (Tony Cartalucci - NEO) - As violence continues to unfold in Myanmar's western Rakhine state against the nation's Rohingya ethnic minority, the agenda driving the conflict is likewise unfolding in a more transparent and direct manner. 


As was predicted - the US is shifting blame away from the US-backed client regime headed by Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League of Democracy (NLD) party the US installed into power in 2015 - and toward Myanmar's independent institutions, including the nation's still powerful military. 

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in a recent talk before the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington D.C. (PDF) laid the blame squarely on Myanmar's military, claiming: 
...we’re extraordinarily concerned by what’s happening with the Rohingya in Burma. I’ve been in contact with Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of the civilian side of the government. As you know, this is a power-sharing government that has – that has emerged in Burma. We really hold the military leadership accountable for what’s happening with the Rakhine area.
Reuters in an article titled, "Lawmakers urge U.S. to craft targeted sanctions on Myanmar military," would report: 
More than 40 lawmakers urged the Trump administration on Wednesday to reimpose U.S. travel bans on Myanmar’s military leaders and prepare targeted sanctions against those responsible for a crackdown on the country’s Rohingya Muslim minority.
And Freedom House - a subsidiary of the US government and corporate-funded National Endowment for Democracy (NED) - would also publish a piece titled, "Does Democracy’s Toehold in Myanmar Outweigh the Lives of the Rohingya?," shifting the blame away from the very regime it worked for decades to put in power, and target Myanmar's military.

It claimed:

In less than two months, more than half a million Rohingya have fled to neighboring Bangladesh to escape the destruction of entire settlements, systematic rape, and the mass slaughter of men, women, and children. This horrendous violence is perpetrated by the military, with assistance from elements of the local Rakhine Buddhist population.
It is clear that the confined nature of Myanmar's ongoing Rohingya crisis will not lead to the same type of nationwide militancy observed in Syria. It is also clear that the United States is likewise confining its condemnation for the violence not to the ultra-violent elements that it cultivated under Suu Kyi's political movement for decades, but on the military who often stood between Rohingya communities and violent onslaughts. 


The pressuring and weakening first, then either co-opting or overthrowing of Myanmar's current military leadership under the pretext of the current crisis will invite a larger and expanding US and European role in Myanmar's internal affairs. Secretary Tillerson alluded to precisely that in his recent remarks, claiming: 

And so we have been asking for access to the region. We’ve been able to get a couple of our people from our embassy into the region so we can begin to get our own firsthand account of what is occurring. We’re encouraging access for the aid agencies – the Red Cross, the Red Crescent – U.N. agencies to – so we can at least address some of the most pressing humanitarian needs, but more importantly so we can get a full understanding of what is going on. 

Someone – if these reports are true, someone is going to be held to account for that. And it’s up to the military leadership of Burma to decide what direction do they want to play in the future of Burma, because we see Burma as an important emerging democracy, but this is a real test.
With US ally Saudi Arabia fueling a militancy under the guise of a Rohingya "resistance," the US will also be able to justify military aid, joint-operations, and even permanent US military facilities - however meager - that will present a serious obstacle to Chinese influence in the nation and in the region. It will also be an obstacle that once erected, will be difficult to dismantle as America's enduring and unwanted military presence in the Philippines is proving to be.  

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.