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.

Additionally, the US has attempted to push through one-sided free trade agreements including the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) which eventually unravelled and was abandoned by Washington itself.

Image: Disingenuous foreign-funded fronts hiding behind rights advocacy used to project US power and influence into Thailand are a poor substitute for the sort of economic and military cooperation China has chosen and goes far in explaining America's waning influence in Asia Pacific. 

Thailand, which possesses a unified population, a formidable military and a strong, resilient economy, has weathered multiple attempts by the United States and its European partners to impose a client state through politicians like the recently ousted Yingluck Shinawatra and her brother, Thaksin Shinawatra.


America's Predictable Betrayal of the Iran Deal

America's withdrawal from the "Iran deal" doesn't prove that Iran is a threat to world peace and stability - instead - it proves that America cannot be trusted. 

October 18, 2017 (Tony Cartalucci - NEO) - In a recent public statement, US President Donald Trump announced the United States' decertification of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) also known as the "Iran Deal."


Fox News and AP in their article, "Trump decertifies Iran nuclear deal, slaps sanctions on IRGC in broadside at ‘radical regime’," would claim:
 “I am announcing today that we cannot and will not make this certification,” Trump said during a speech at the White House. “We will not continue down a path whose predictable conclusion is more violence, more terror, and the very real threat of Iran's nuclear breakthrough.” 

Friday's announcement does not withdraw the United States from the Iran deal, which the president called “one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into.” 

But the president threatened that he could still ultimately pull out of the deal.
The agreement regarded Iran's nuclear technology program, seeking assurances from Tehran that its use of nuclear technology would remain peaceful - and in turn - pressure placed on Iran both politically and economically - particularly economic sanctions - would be reduced.

While the argument stands that Western nations already possessing nuclear weapons, coercing non-nuclear nations to abandon ambitions to acquire parity - while Western forces occupy and ravage nations both east and west of Iran's borders is as hypocritical as it is unjust - the deal itself was nothing more than a means to advance - not hinder or reduce - Western aggression versus Iran.   

The "Iran Deal" Was Always Meant to be Broken 

President Trump's announcement fulfilled nearly a decade-long ploy to draw Iran into what US policymakers as early as 2009 called a "superb offer" designed solely to portray the US as having tried diplomacy before changing tack toward more direct economic, political, and military aggression. 

In a 2009 report titled, "Which Path to Persia?: Options for a New American Strategy Toward Iran" (PDF), corporate-financier funded US policy think tank the Brookings Institution would explicitly call for a deal to be offered by the US to Iran only to be intentionally broken and used as a pretext for direct military confrontation.

The report would propose (emphasis added):
...any military operation against Iran will likely be very unpopular around the world and require the proper international context—both to ensure the logistical support the operation would require and to minimize the blowback from it. The best way to minimize international opprobrium and maximize support (however, grudging or covert) is to strike only when there is a widespread conviction that the Iranians were given but then rejected a superb offerone so good that only a regime determined to acquire nuclear weapons and acquire them for the wrong reasons would turn it down. Under those circumstances, the United States (or Israel) could portray its operations as taken in sorrow, not anger, and at least some in the international community would conclude that the Iranians “brought it on themselves” by refusing a very good deal.
The exactitude by which this 2009 policy has been executed - transcending two US presidencies - and leading precisely to the edge of an impending US-Iranian confrontation in the Middle East already being fought out in proxy across Syria, Iraq, and some may argue, Yemen - should leave no doubts as to what happens next.

US Troops Already in Place to Fight Long-Planned Confrontation with Iran

US troops are now operating all along Iran's so-called "arc of influence" across the Middle East - thanks in part to the self-proclaimed "Islamic State" (ISIS) and America's alleged efforts to combat it. As was predicted at the onset of ISIS' entrance into the conflict, the US has used the terrorist organization's presence across the region to justify its initial and now expanding occupation of Syria and its continued interference in Iraq.


However, what the US has done instead of actually fighting ISIS - from Syria to Iraq - is divide and weaken Iran's regional allies - dragging them into a protracted and destructive conflict, exhausting their numbers and taxing their logistical and economic underpinnings. At the same time - however - they have created the circumstances in which Russia has intervened directly and on a scale eclipsing and complicating US involvement in both terms of diplomatic legitimacy and in terms of military force.

With Kurdish factions receiving US support and attempting to carve out territory straddling the Syrian-Iraqi border - also under the guise of "fighting" ISIS - the US and its partners are now attempting to introduce a new narrative - that Kurdish independence is under threat not by ISIS, but by Iranian-backed armies on both sides of the border.


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.

The use of terrorism as both a pressure point against Southeast Asian states and as a pretext for a US military presence is a tactic the US is attempting to reuse everywhere from Indonesia and Malaysia, to southern Thailand and neighbouring Myanmar. So is the use of US NED-funded organisations operating under the guise of independent journalism or rights advocacy.

Beyond the Philippines: Thailand and Cambodia 

Thailand faces a similar landscape of compromised opposition organisations posing as independent, yet entirely funded by the US government and US-based corporate foundations. These include Prachatai, Thai Netizens, the New Democracy Movement, the Isaan Record, Thai Lawyers for Human Rights and even the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Thailand (FCCT).

Like their Filipino counterparts, they pose as proponents of democracy and as human rights advocates, but cover current events in a transparently one-sided manner, excusing or omitting abuse and corruption among the opposition and targeting only Thailand's independent institutions, particularly the military and the monarchy.


In Cambodia, US government funding goes one step further, funding the entire opposition, hosting them in Washington D.C. and creating an entire media network to skew public perception in favour of this foreign enterprise and the interests that propel it.


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.

First, it allows the West to continuously hold significant leverage over the current government - one who at any moment may be tempted to break away from its decades-long Western sponsors and collaborate with a more local, sustainable, and constructive partner like China.

Second, because the Rohingya crisis is highly localized to Myanmar's western state of Rakhine, it also presents a highly controlled conflict the US can use to introduce foreign-funded terrorism, and in turn, create a pretext for Western "counter-terrorism" assistance in the form of US and European troops, military assets, and even bases on the ground.

A small contingent of Saudi-funded and directed militants has already been introduced into Myanmar's ongoing crisis and will likely be expanded until US military "assistance" and thus the first stage in establishing a permanent military presence in Myanmar can be justified.

This would fulfill a long-term goal the United States has sought to achieve in Southeast Asia - the permanent positioning of US military assets in a nation directly bordering China.


Catalan Independence: Out of Madrid's Frying Pan, Into the NATO Fire?

October 9, 2017 (Tony Cartalucci - NEO) - Media on all sides surrounding the recent Catalan referendum for independence from Spain focused on Madrid's security crackdown on voters. However, what is not being mentioned about Catalonia's ongoing bid to achieve independence, who is leading it, and what their plans are for the region should they succeed, is just as important.



Catalonia is one of the most prosperous regions of Spain, possessing a population and GDP on par with or slightly above Singapore or Scotland. It has enjoyed various levels of autonomy for decades and - unlike many US-European "independence" projects around the world - could likely emerge as an independent and prosperous sovereign nation.

For this fact alone, many people support and are enthusiastic about Catalan independence.

Real Independence, or Shifting Dependence from Madrid to Brussels? 

However, despite attempts by the Western media and the special interests they represent to appear indifferent or even opposed to Catalan independence, policy papers from Western corporate-financier sponsored think tanks indicate an eagerness - particularly by NATO - to integrate what they expect to be a robust military capability into their global wars of aggression.

In an article published in 2014 by NATO think-tank, the Atlantic Council titled, "The Military Implications of Scottish and Catalonian Secession," it would state:
Catalonia has 7.3 million people, with more than $300 billion in GDP. Spending just 1.6% of that on defense provides over $4.5 billion annually, or roughly the budget of Denmark, which has well-regarded and efficient armed forces. Catalonian military plans are more vague, but so far, they emphasize the navy. With excellent ports in Barcelona and Tarragona, Catalonia is well-positioned as a minor naval power, ‘with the Mediterranean as our strategic environment, and NATO as our framework’, as the nationalists’ think-tank on defense argues. The rough plans call for a littoral security group of a few hundred sailors at first. After a few years, Catalonia would assume responsibility as "a main actor in the Mediterranean," with land-based maritime patrol aircraft and small surface combatants. Eventually, the nationalist ambition may include an expeditionary group with a light assault carrier and hundreds of marines, to take a serious role in collective security.
The Atlantic Council article cites Catalan policy papers regarding what they called, "a valuable and refreshing view of specialization in collective defense," in reference to Catalan intentions of joining NATO should they achieve independence.


This is confirmed by unambiguous statements made by leading Catalan politicians themselves, including the former President of the Generalitat of Catalonia Artur Mas who personally picked and supported his successor, current president, Carles Puigdemont.

In a 2014 article titled, "Catalan PM confirms NATO membership, commitment to collective security," then President Artur Mas stated unequivocally Catalonia's plans to join NATO.

The article would state: 
Prime Minister Artur Mas explicitly confirmed Catalonia is seeking NATO membership. In a recent interview with the Italian daily La Reppublica, Catalan Prime Minister Artur Mas explained that an independent Catalonia sees herself at the heart of NATO. This is in line with Catalonia's commitment to the international community, the principle of collective security, international law, and the rule of law at sea.
The article - written by Alex Calvo and Catalan naval analyst Pol Molas- also claims:
Catalonia seeks freedom, not to avoid the inescapable responsibilities that come hand in hand with it, but to fully exercise them side by side with partners and allies. Catalans understand fully that freedom never comes without cost, and that whereas independence means government of the people, by the people, and for the people, instead of alien rule, it also means that they will not be able to look the other way when a crisis or challenge arises. They understand that when the next Afghanistan comes, Catalan blood will also be spilled.
In 2015, the Financial Times in an article titled, "Catalan president steps up breakaway plan," would quote former president Artur Mas, stating:
The most sensitive task, he added, would be to prepare “the design” for a future Catalan military. “Defence is the most delicate of all these aspects, and there is no consensus about this in Catalonia,” Mr Mas said. “But my party and I personally believe that Catalonia has to remain part of Nato. And as a member of Nato we have to pay our dues . . . It would be impossible for Catalonia not to have its own defence structure, even though it would be a light one.”

Policy papers - like those from the pro-independence Catalan National Assembly - have already begun to lay out the specifics of integrating Catalonia into NATO as a member nation focused specifically on configuring its military forces, not for national self-defense, but "collective defense" within NATO.