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  • February 21, 2018 (Joseph Thomas - NEO) - As the United States intensifies its accusations against Russia for alleged interference in the 2016 US Presidential Elections, the United States itself is found engaged in confirmed political interference worldwide.

    This includes in Southeast Asia where Washington is attempting to rush elections in Thailand in hopes of returning their proxy Thaksin Shinawatra and his Pheu Thai Party (PTP) to power.

    US efforts to rush elections have included a concerted effort to dismiss those pointing out Shinawatra's continued influence in Thai politics, his continued leadership role over PTP and his intentions to use PTP to return to power.

    However, Reuters in an article titled, "Thai ex-PM Thaksin calls for party unity ahead of promised election," would openly admit Shinawatra, a convicted criminal and fugitive, still controlled PTP whose leadership met with him recently in Hong Kong.

    The article reported:
    Fugitive former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra met lawmakers from his Puea Thai Party in Hong Kong where he called for party unity ahead of an approaching general election, party members said on Monday.
    Many are watching to see how Puea Thai Party performs in a vote which the military government has promised to hold in November but which could be delayed.

    The necessity of repeated delays of Thai elections is very straightforward.

    Thaksin Shinawatra, a convicted criminal and fugitive still seeks to contest them through PTP. Allowing a fugitive to contest elections would be illegal and any election outcome influenced by a convicted criminal and fugitive would be illegitimate. By delaying elections, the current Thai government hopes to continue diminishing Shinawatra's unwarranted influence and wealth as well as that of his political network inside Thailand until both are no longer an obstruction to legal elections.

    Yet despite this straightforward necessity to delay elections, the United States and its European partners have repeatedly demanded rushed elections. Additionally, the US and its European partners are funding myriad opposition fronts ranging from media platforms to street protests to place pressure on the current Thai government to rush elections while it is believed Shinawatra and PTP still have a chance of winning.

    US Meddling

    The US accuses Russia of political interference based on activities of the Internet Research Agency a recent FBI indictment insinuated was linked to the Russian government. While no actual evidence has surfaced linking the organisation to the Kremlin, the US not only possesses its own organisations for the purpose of political interference, they are openly funded by and linked directly to the US government.

    In Thailand, the United States government through the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) is funding media organisations like Prachatai which promote daily protests and demands for immediate elections.

    Shinawatra also controls his own media organisations inside of Thailand. This includes VoiceTV supposedly founded by his son, Panthongthae Shinawatra, but clearly serving his father's political agenda.

    Supposed rights advocates like Fortify Rights (page 20, .pdf), iLaw, Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR), Cross Cultural Foundation, Thai Netizen Network and Isaan Record are also all funded by the US government via NED and have not only contributed toward attempts to manufacture dissent, but have also led small protests in the streets themselves.

    Anon Nampa of US-funded TLHR has repeatedly led anti-government protests demanding elections while concurrently representing fellow protesters in court cases, calling into question the supposed impartiality his organisation claims to represent.

    Protesting alongside Nampa are members of Thaksin Shinawatra's own street front, the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) also known as red shirts. This includes UDD organiser Sombat Boonngamanong and dedicated red shirts like Yupa Saengsai.

    The UDD red shirts have committed serial acts of violence and terrorism including gunning down two shopkeepers while committing widespread arson and looting in 2009, the use of some 300 heavily armed militants during protests in 2010 which led to nearly 100 deaths and also ended in widespread arson and looting, bombings including that of a Bangkok hospital and a terrorist campaign aimed at anti-Shinawatra protesters in 2014 that left nearly 30 dead.

    With the reemergence of Shinawatra's red shirts on the streets, observers have warned that violence is imminent.

    Yet despite this, efforts by the Thai government to arrest leaders and prevent another round of instability and violence have been decried by the US government and its European partners as well as US-funded fronts like Prachatai, TLHR, Fortify Rights and their partners in corporate foundation funded fronts like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.

    Under the guise of "human rights," "freedom of assembly" and "freedom of expression," these compromised organisations representing concerted foreign meddling in Thailand's internal political affairs are setting the conditions for another attempt at violently subverting Thailand's stability and political order.

    This reflects a similar pattern seen elsewhere around the globe where the US pressures nations into holding elections Washington is confident its proxies can win. Should those elections fail to place Washington's proxies into power, or be delayed, the US then organises increasingly disruptive street protests, then violence, before more directly involving itself in "regime change."

    Washington's Man in Dubai and Multipolar Thailand

    Thailand's longstanding political crisis centres around former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, ousted in a military coup in 2006, and who has attempted to return to power through a number of proxies including his own brother-in-law Somchai Wongsawat and his sister, Yingluck Shinawatra. His sister too was removed from power by a military coup in 2014 after she attempted to amend the nation's constitution to return her brother to power.

    Thaksin Shinawatra's administration represented the peak of US influence in Thailand.

    Between 2001-2006 Shinawatra privatised Thailand's natural resources including its oil and gas reserves for the sake of US energy giants, committed Thai troops to the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, approved of Washington's use of Thai territory for its extraordinary rendition programme and attempted to pass without parliamentary approval a free trade agreement with Washington that would have granted American corporations and financial institutions unprecedented access and control over Thailand's population, economy and resources.

    Shinawatra and his sister are both convicted criminals. Both have fled the country, evading a 2 year and 5 year prison sentence respectively, making them fugitives as well. Thaksin Shinawatra has allegedly been based in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates while his sister is supposedly being given safe-haven in London, UK.

    Since Shinawatra's ousting from office and his multiple failed attempts to return to power, Thailand has shifted its economic and foreign policy more inward toward Asia, including fostering greater ties with China.

    This includes Thailand replacing its ageing Vietnam War-era US military hardware with Chinese armaments. It also includes massive infrastructure deals signed with Beijing including high speed railways that will link major Thai cities as well as Thailand with both its Southeast Asian neighbours as well as China itself.

    Thailand is also forging stronger ties with its immediate neighbours in Southeast Asia in both economic and political terms. This includes cooperating with neighbouring countries in their own battle against US political meddling. Thailand's immediate neighbour to the east, Cambodia, recently asked for the repatriation of opposition members of the Cambodia National Rescue Party which was recently revealed to have colluded with the United States to seize power.

    It is clear why the US is determined to reverse its diminishing fortunes both in Thailand, and in Asia in general.

    Meddling Industrial Complex: Diminishing Returns?

    US attempts to meddle in Thailand's internal affairs depends on a small but loud and well-funded number of neoliberal Thais educated in the US and Europe and working for US and European institutions, media platforms and foreign-funded organisations. It also depends on Shinawatra's waning support base in northeast Thailand (referred to as Isaan) where his popularity depends on constant, unsustainable populist handouts.

    The diminutive protests held so far are owed to a lack of genuine support for Shinawatra. Protest leaders even admitted that without supporters brought in from Shinawatra's political stronghold upcountry, protests would remain limited.

    Pro-Shinawatra newspaper Khaosod in an article titled, "Protest Just a 'Kick-Off.' Activists Say," admitted:
    Sirawith [Seritiwat] said that many protesters upcountry had been blocked from traveling to the capital.
    "If the authorities were really brave, then take out those blocks and we'll fill all of Ratchadamnoen!" he said, referring to road blockades reportedly erected to prevent people from traveling to the capital.
    In actuality, there were no roadblocks, only bans on political activities, including Shinawatra's PTP's use of chartered buses to bring subsidised villagers to Bangkok as it has done in past protests. Should PTP pay villagers to board chartered buses now, they may face a political ban, finally barring them from elections.

    That an entire opposition movement exists in Thailand solely because of the money and directives of the United States and their proxy Thaksin Shinawatra, is an example of the blatant and extensive political interference Washington is engaged in around the globe as it accuses and attempts to punish Russia for interference and collusion in its own internal political affairs.

    More than mere "influence operations" as the FBI's indictment claims regarding Russian meddling, the US is creating entire opposition movements, from media platforms to street fronts to lawyers designated to defend members of the movement as the government arrests and charges them for sedition.

    For nations like Thailand facing extensive US meddling, one possible recourse might be to take pages from Washington's own rhetoric and punitive measures aimed at Russia, and apply them to US efforts aimed at Bangkok. Vigorous laws targeting US-funded fronts in Thailand posing as nongovernmental organisations modelled after laws the US itself has created and used against Russian media could be one example of this.

    However, Bangkok may also decide a more patient and reserved approach, simply delaying elections, weathering US-manufactured dissent and stretching out protests until they expose and exhaust themselves.

    Joseph Thomas is chief editor of Thailand-based geopolitical journal, The New Atlas and contributor to the online magazine "New Eastern Outlook".
  • February 23, 2018 (Tony Cartalucci - NEO) - At the end of December 2017 the Western media reported "widespread" protests sweeping Iran. Narratives indistinguishable from the US-engineered "Arab Spring" in 2011 flooded headlines and social media regarding a "popular uprising" spurred first by alleged economic grievances before protesters then began making demands echoing the US State Department regarding Iran's internal domestic affairs as well as its foreign policy.

    The protests were in fact so indistinguishable from the now admittedly US-engineered "Arab Spring" that still-fresh disillusionment regarding the fate of nations like Libya and Syria likely played a role in blunting the efficacy of the protests in Iran.

    Western Propaganda Outlived Actual Unrest

    An article in Politico titled, "Why the Iranian Uprising Won't Die," in an attempt to qualify and promote the West's narrative regarding the Iranian protests would claim:
    ...Iranians were enraged as they struggled to feed their children while their government spent billions on its foreign adventures in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and elsewhere. While Iran was made poor, the regime became richer. While Iranians suffered, the regime's allies became powerful and prosperous.
    Yet when Politico published the article on January 7, 2018, written by RAND Corporation analyst Alireza Nader, the protests had already since "died."

    Politico's article wasn't the only one published days and even weeks after the protests had already ended - indicating that the Western media had prepared weeks - even months of propaganda to fuel Iranian unrest within information space as US-backed opposition groups attempted to fuel it on the ground.

    Despite preparations that US policy papers indicate were years in the making - which included not only the creation of opposition fronts and armed militant groups within and along Iran's borders but the encirclement of Iran itself by US military bases including in Syria and northern Iraq under the pretext of "fighting the Islamic State (ISIS)" - the protests quickly ran their course and ended.

    If the majority of Iranians were truly driven into the streets by extensive economic and political grievances - and since none of these grievances could have possibly been addressed yet - it is unlikely the protests would have died out so quickly and with a minimum use of force by the Iranian government, even according to the Western media itself.

    However, if the protests were organized by the West and led by illegitimate, unpopular opposition movements within Iran and from abroad - and after the West has already long-abused these now transparent tactics of subversion - "widespread" protests diminishing in just days was not only likely, but inevitable.

    Washington's Extensive Preparations

    Preparations for the overthrow of Iran stretch back well over a decade and have transcended multiple US presidential administrations - both Republican and Democrat - including the current administration of US President Donald Trump and his predecessor, US President Barack Obama.

    The Brookings Institution in its 2009 "Which Path to Persia? Options for a New American Strategy toward Iran," laid out extensive plans for undermining and overthrowing the Iranian government.

    Chapters in the paper included:
    Chapter 1: An Offer Iran Shouldn't Refuse: Persuasion;
    Chapter 3: Going All the Way: Invasion;
    Chapter 4: The Osiraq Option: Airstrikes;
    Chapter 5: Leave it to Bibi: Allowing or Encouraging an Israeli Military Strike
    Chapter 6: The Velvet Revolution: Supporting a Popular Uprising;
    Chapter 7: Inspiring an Insurgency: Supporting Iranian Minority;
    And Opposition Groups and;
    Chapter 8: The Coup: Supporting a Military Move Against the Regime.

    It should be noted that each and every option has been pursued since 2009, either against Iran directly or against Syria in a bid to spread conflict over Iranian borders. This includes Washington's use of Israel to carry out airstrikes on Syria while the US attempts to maintain plausible deniability.

    Within these chapters, detailed plans were laid out to create and back both political opposition organizations and armed militant groups. It laid out a variety of economic sanctions that could be used to pressure Tehran and create division and discontent among the Iranian population. It also proposed methods of attacking Iran militarily both covertly and overtly as well as possible ways of goading Tehran into full-scale war.

    The paper was written shortly after the failed US-backed "Green Revolution" during that same year - a US-engineered protest that was larger in scale and duration than the most recent protests.

    US Sought to Draw Out and Overextend Iran Ahead of Subversion
    Another paper - by the RAND Corporation also published in 2009 - titled, "Dangerous But Not Omnipotent : Exploring the Reach and Limitations of Iranian Power in the Middle East," noted that Iran's foreign policy was pursued mainly in self-defense. The paper explicitly noted that (emphasis added):
    Iran's strategy is largely defensive, but with some offensive elements. Iran's strategy of protecting the regime against internal threats, deterring aggression, safeguarding the homeland if aggression occurs, and extending influence is in large part a defensive one that also serves some aggressive tendencies when coupled with expressions of Iranian regional aspirations. It is in part a response to U.S. policy pronouncements and posture in the region, especially since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The Iranian leadership takes very seriously the threat of invasion given the open discussion in the United States of regime change, speeches defining Iran as part of the "axis of evil," and efforts by U.S. forces to secure base access in states surrounding Iran.
    The paper discusses Iran's extensive ties to Syria and Lebanon's Hezbollah as well as its growing ties with Iraq. These ties - according to the RAND paper itself - were pursued to create a buffer in Iran's near-abroad against regional US military aggression.

    By 2011, the US was pursuing a proxy war consuming the entire Middle East and North Africa region (MENA) with Libya overthrown and left in perpetual ruination by the end of the year and Syria consumed by nationwide conflict as foreign-funded and armed militants flooded the country from Syria's borders with Turkey and Jordan.

    The fact that Libya was overthrown first, then used as a springboard for the proxy invasion of Syria illustrates the wider regional context that drove the US-NATO intervention in Libya.
    In essence, the US was attacking the pillars of Iran's national defense in its near-abroad. Knowing how critical Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq were to Iran's national defense strategy of hindering US encirclement and keeping in check Washington's regional allies particularly in the Persian Gulf - the region-wide destabilization was designed to draw the Iranians into a costly regional intervention.

    Iranian forces have lent extensive aid to Syria and Iraq including direct and indirect military support - the extent of which when coupled with decades of economic sanctions imposed upon Iran by the US and its Western allies - contributed to the so-called "economic" grievances recent US-backed protests in Iran attempted to leverage.

    The US has maintained troops in several Persian Gulf states including Qatar and Bahrain, a continuous military presence in Iraq since the 2003 invasion, and a US military presence in Afghanistan on Iran's eastern borders since 2001.

    More recently, the US has occupied eastern Syria and lent extensive aid to Kurdish militant groups both within Syria and in northern Iraq. The US also provides political and covert support to Buluchi terrorists in southwest Pakistan and western Afghanistan.

    On a map, it is clear that the US has continued to further encircle Iran since 2011 both with its own military, and with proxies engaged in costly conflicts along Iran's peripheries.

    The Opposition Was Intentionally Left "Unnamed"

    Despite sensational Western headlines promoting and attempting to perpetuate unrest in Iran, the Western media was particularly careful about not identifying the political and militant groups taking to the streets. Just like in Libya and Syria where "pro-democracy protesters" were eventually revealed to be extremists drawn from listed terrorist organizations, many of those taking part in Iran's protests had likewise unscrupulous backgrounds.

    Protesters in Iran invoked the names of opposition groups and figures mentioned by name in the 2009 Brookings paper under a subheading titled, "Finding the Right Proxies." These included the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) - a US State Department designated foreign terrorist organization delisted in 2012 for the sole purpose of allowing the US to more openly fund and arm the group. It also included exiled Iranian opposition figure Reza Pahlavi, the son of the ousted Iranian Sha who now resides in the United States.

    The bulk of pro-opposition coverage in Iran came from overtly US-funded media sources including the US State Department's Farsi-language version of Voice of America and the New York-based "Center for Human Rights in Iran."

    To then claim the recent Iran "protests" were merely "spontaneous" expressions of Iranian frustration and not simply the next step in an admitted US conspiracy against Tehran is an absurdity the Western media is having increasing difficulties selling to global audiences.

    Washington's Return on Investment

    Still, the unrest, when coupled with ongoing efforts by the US to encircle and envelop Iran, have at the very least applied additional pressure on Tehran - forcing it to invest more resources at home while still fighting against multiple US-backed proxy conflicts across the region.

    The 2009 Brookings paper "Which Path to Persia?" explicitly states that:

    While the ultimate goal is to remove the regime, working with the internal opposition also could be a form of coercive pressure on the Iranian regime, giving the United States leverage on other issues.
    It continues by stating:
    In theory, the United States could create coercive leverage by threatening the regime with instability or even overthrow and, after having done so, use this leverage to force concessions on other issues such as Iran's nuclear program or support for militants in Iraq.

    However, each time the US attempts to use foreign-funded opposition and militant groups to destabilize Iran - especially as alternatives to Western media domination continue to grow - this tactic losses a certain degree of credibility, sustainability, and thus viability.

    That the recent protests ran their course so quickly despite the fact that Iran has been overstretched militarily and economically amid years of conflict in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen, illustrates just how unsustainable this foreign policy option has become for the US when targeting well-prepared, formidable states like Iran.

    A combination of well-honed information warfare, well-prepared security forces, and well-organized counter-protests on Tehran's part blunted this latest round of US-backed subversion.

    Washington's apparent impotence versus Tehran when coupled with its struggling attempts to overthrow the Syrian government and assert hegemony over Iraq further undermines the illusion of legitimacy the US has attempted for decades to construct around its otherwise illegitimate hegemonic foreign policy.

    Washington's increasingly sloppy and transparent meddling in Iran will undermine efforts later this year as Washington prepares to destabilize other nations everywhere from South America to Southeast Asia. And with the US accusing Russia of meddling in American politics, obvious questions will be raised as to why it is not acceptable for Moscow to allegedly "influence US elections," but acceptable for the US through organizations like the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and USAID to not only openly influence foreign elections around the world, but to openly run entire opposition parties from Washington D.C.

    Washington's return on investment for its extensive and so-far failed attempts to destabilize and overthrow Iran is indeed questionable. Iran - as well as other nations likely to be targeted by the US next - will simply review this latest round of protests and be better prepared for it next time. As more people become aware of tactics used during US-backed subversion, these tactics will grow less effective.

    US Still Losing in Syria and Iraq

    Meanwhile, the protests in Iran seem to have had little impact on Washington's precarious position in nearby Syria as Syrian forces continue making advances into Idlib and as the US struggles to justify its continued presence in the eastern region of the country. If Idlib is secured, it will leave US and Turkish occupation forces at the fringes of the conflict and at the fringes of international legitimacy.

    Irregular warfare targeting Turkish or American forces in Syria could transform their respective occupations into untenable and costly conflicts. It will be difficult to differentiate between Syrian, Russian, or Iranian-backed irregular forces and the terrorist organizations Turkey and the US themselves have been arming and funding while simultaneously claiming to fight.

    Just as the repeated overuse of US-backed protests have cost the US a once valuable tool from its geopolitical bag of tricks, the use of terrorism against targeted states appears poised to boomerang back Washington's way. Like all waning empires in human history, the US will be unable to simply "go home." It will require many more years of direct and indirect conflict before the US is fully uprooted from the MENA region. However, the spectacular failure of US-backed subversion in Iran before New Year's may be further evidence of US hegemony's irreversible decline.

    Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine"New Eastern Outlook".
  • February 11, 2018 (Tony Cartalucci - NEO) - North Korea has been depicted by the Western media as a dangerous rogue state, plotting the nuclear holocaust of America and holding global peace and stability hostage with its irrational aggression. It is the supposed threat North Korea poses to the world that the United States uses to justify its enduring decades-long military presence on the Korean Peninsula.

    In the recently released 2018 US Department of Defense Nation Defense Strategy, it claims:

    North Korea seeks to guarantee regime survival and increased leverage by seeking a mixture of nuclear, biological, chemical, conventional, and unconventional weapons and a growing ballistic missile capability to gain coercive influence over South Korea, Japan, and the United States.

    Yet North Korea's immediate neighbor - South Korea - felt comfortable enough with this "rogue regime" that it not only invited high level diplomats to the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games, it had its own athletes compete side-by-side with their North Korean counterparts as a unified team.

    The opening ceremony included a unified parade, song, and chorus group. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's sister publicly greeted South Korean President Moon Jae-in. Other senior North Korean leaders and diplomats were present and interacted with their South Korean counterparts.

    ABC News would report in their article, "Kim Jong Un's sister shakes hands with South Korea's president at Olympics opening ceremony," that:

    After arriving in South Korea with a high-level delegation, the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un publicly shook hands with the neighboring nation's president during tonight's opening ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics.
    CNN would report that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un would go as far as inviting South Korean President Moon Jae-in to the North Korean capital, Pyongyang.

    Evident is the absurdity of Western political and media claims about the danger North Korea presents to the world, when the very nation it is allegedly still technically at war with - South Korea - invites its leadership to a sporting event their athletes compete as a team together in and whose leaders watch, sitting side-by-side.

    However, CNN's article, "Kim Jong Un invites South Korean President Moon to Pyongyang," would reveal:
    Moon responded to the invitation by suggesting the two countries "should accomplish this by creating the right conditions," adding that talks between North Korea and the United States were also needed, and requested that North Korea be more active in talking with the US, according to Kim Eui-kyeom.
    In essence, the president of South Korea requires US permission to conduct what should be South Korea's own bilateral talks with its immediate neighbor to the north. And here is revealed both the root of tensions on the Korean Peninsula - America's involvement - and the sum of all American fears - peace between North and South - especially on their own terms.

    For the United States, North Korea has been a convenient pretext to remain deeply embedded on the Korean Peninsula, admittedly part of Washington's strategy - not to deal with a rogue state - but to further encircle and contain China's rise in Asia. The US maintains a significant military presence in Japan for similar purposes and has attempted to reestablish a significant military presence in the Philippines toward this end as well.

    Pretext For Permanent US Occupation

    It has been the United States pressuring South Korea to maintain a heavily militarized and belligerent posture versus North Korea, conducting annual military exercises with the United States aimed at provoking North Korea's leadership.

    The Telegraph in its article, "US Navy Seals tasked with North Korea 'decapitation' strike could be part of exercises," would report:

    A unit of US special forces tasked with carrying out "decapitation" operations may be aboard a nuclear-powered submarine docked in the South Korean port of Busan, the nation's newswire reported on Monday, citing a defence source.

    The USS Michigan, an 18,000-metric ton submarine, arrived in Busan on Friday, ahead of a ten day joint US-South Korean drill led by the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier.

    The report was part of widespread psychological warfare carried out in concert by Western and South Korean media aimed at provoking North Korea's senior leadership. The Foal Eagle exercises the US special forces were allegedly taking part in included thousands of US troops and simulated airstrikes on North Korean targets.

    The US has penned entire policy papers discussing plans to invade, overthrow, and subjugate North Korea, usually with South Korea playing a supporting role. The influential corporate-funded US policy think tank - the Council on Foreign Relations - in its 2009 "Preparing for Sudden Change in North Korea," paper would claim the need for a US occupation of North Korea should its leadership for whatever reason collapse. It would claim:
    How large a force would be required to bring security and stability to North Korea would depend on the level of acquiescence to foreign intervention. Based on previous experiences elsewhere, the rule of thumb for the number of troops required for successful stability operations in a permissive environment is somewhere between five and ten per thousand people. Because North Korea has a population of approximately twenty-three million, a successful operation could require between 115,000 to 230,000 military personal. In addition, tens of thousands of police might also be needed to support these forces in more basic tasks. Those requirements would place a significant strain on South Korea, particularly in view of the current plan to reduce its army by some 30 percent over the next decade.
    Again, even in this 2009 report, South Korea is said to have been preparing to reduce its military by up to 30%, exposing again the perceived threat the US claims North Korea is to the world, and North Korea's immediate neighbor to the south preparing to stand down over a quarter of its military because it knows otherwise.

    South Korea has existed as a subordinate in terms of its own defense since the effective end of the Korean War. The US still maintains wartime operation control, has tens of thousands of troops stationed on the Korean Peninsula and requires South Korea to pay a percentage of the money required to keep them stationed there. The US openly and repeatedly refers to the "US-ROK alliance" that "defends South Korea."

    The Straits Times would report in an article titled, "South Korea pays more than 'peanuts' to host US troops: The Korea Herald," that:

    South Korea pays about half of the costs for maintaining the 28,000 American troops, which reached 944.1 billion won (S$1.1 billion) in 2016. The payment has gone up steadily - from 488.2 billion won in 2001 to 680.4 billion won in 2005 and 790.4 billion in 2010.
    The article would also add:
    One more thing to note when one counts "defence surplus and deficit" is the fact that South Korea is a major purchaser of US arms, having spent 36.4 trillion won on weapons and military equipment over the past 10 years.
    The article finishes by citing China's rise - not the threat of North Korea - as the actual purpose of US troops in both South Korea and Japan.

    It is clear that to remain in Korea and to sell an immense amount of US weapons, the US must manufacturer a threat sufficient to justify both. Containing China's so-far peaceful economic rise is not a sufficient justification - though that is the true purpose for America's presence on the Korean Peninsula.

    In the end, it turns out it was the US itself - through concerted lies and a history of provocations and threats - that has intentionally perpetuated tensions on the Korean Peninsula, not North Korea. It was US Vice President Mike Pence who turned a cold shoulder as leaders from North and South Korea exchanged greetings at this year's Winter Olympic Games. And it will be the United States that intentionally foils any attempt by North and South Korea to build upon the historic meetings that took place during the sporting event.

    The US does not fear a nuclear holocaust on US soil brought about by North Korean intercontinental ballistic missiles, it fears peace on the Korean Peninsula on North and South Korea's own terms and another corner of Asia that shows it to the door.

    Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine "New Eastern Outlook".
  • March 2, 2018 (Tony Cartalucci - NEO) - Propaganda used by the United States and its partners amid its destructive campaign of regime change aimed at the Syrian government has collapsed. Western media platforms find themselves relying on increasingly absurd narratives told to an increasingly smaller audience. They also find themselves the targets of growing criticism from around the world.

    The US and its allies are currently reporting "violations" of the UN resolution regarding a ceasefire in Ghouta despite the text of the resolution itself authorizing continued military operations against Al Qaeda and its affiliates both in Ghouta and across the rest of Syria.

    The UN resolution states clearly that:
    ...the cessation of hostilities shall not apply to military operations against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as Da'esh), Al Qaeda and Al Nusra Front (ANF), and all other individuals, groups, undertakings and entities associated with Al Qaeda or ISIL, and other terrorist groups, as designated by the Security Council;
    Even Western "human rights" fronts like Human Rights Watch has admitted to Al Qaeda's presence in Ghouta. HRW director Kenneth Roth in one social media post would claim:
    Putin-Assad seem to be using the presence of an al-Qaeda linked group (Ahrar al-Sham) in one tiny corner of Eastern Ghouta as an excuse to attack civilians throughout the besieged enclave despite UN Security Council ceasefire.
    Roth never explains why Syria or Russia would use their limited military resources to "attack civilians" instead of the armed terrorists Roth himself admits are present in Ghouta attempting to overthrow the Syrian government and kill both Syria and Russian personnel in Syria - and this among other unraveling narratives is why the West's propaganda war has lost tremendous ground.

    However, despite this important step forward, exposing and derailing the propaganda component of the West's war on Syria alone is not enough to stop Western military aggression - both direct and by proxy - or to eliminate the threat Syria and its allies - as well as the entire region - still face.

    Might Still Makes Right

    The United States' ability to wage war on nations like Iraq, Libya, Yemen, and Syria is not owed to its ability to tell convincing lies. Instead, it is rooted first and foremost in its immense economic and military power which in turn affords it equally immense and unwarranted influence and political power.

    This is reflected in the corporate-financier sponsorship of US policy think tanks - institutions of unelected policymakers who in fact devise long-term US foreign policy and merely have politicians rubber stamp it legislatively, while media organizations promote it publicly.

    The ability of the US to intervene in, invade, and occupy nations around the globe is dependent on its massive resources, including a network of military bases and logistical hubs, fleets of ships used to move weapons and equipment into theaters of military operations and to continue resupplying forces for years at a time. This is a network that rising nations even as big as China will takes years to develop, if they ever develop them to the extent the US has.

    Nations and blocs attempting to confront and balance global power against Western hegemony understand this fully. The rising economies of nations like China, regions like Southeast Asia, the BRICS association, a reemerging Russia, and other developing nations around the globe are accompanied by attempts to create an entirely alternative global order based on multipolar geopolitics.

    This includes the creation of alternatives to the US dollar in global trade, alternatives to US and European dominated industries and markets, and the creation and proliferation of defensive military technology negating America's long-standing military superiority.

    These efforts are extensive. ongoing, and long-term. It will take years still to rein in US aggression and the military and economic primacy that underpins it. Until a global balance of power can be struck, the maxim of "might makes right" will continue to prevail and define the global geopolitics of the US and its allies.

    Facing the Threat as Individuals

    For nation states across the globe, the process of creating alternatives to compete with and eventually displace US and Western hegemony is already ongoing. Unfortunately, for most individuals around the globe, both the genuine root of the problem and the solution is still poorly understood.

    For the many people invested in resisting Western propaganda, many still find themselves on a daily basis paying into the very corporations and financial institutions underwriting that very propaganda and driving the agendas that propaganda serves. Very few - even when aware of this - have the desire to commit themselves to a full spectrum boycott of the Western corporations driving Western military aggression globally. Fewer still have the desire or ability to contribute to alternatives to the West's long-standing monopolies.

    However, there is hope. The alternative media itself is an example of many ordinary people around the globe with differing political and ideological backgrounds creating alternatives to established Western media monopolies. They have forced Western media monopolies to react and adapt to the growing competition and in many ways it has been this growing competition that has compromised the many ongoing narratives the West had once been able to perpetuate with impunity. This includes the narratives the US has used versus Syria.

    The main driving factor behind the alternative media has been technology. It once took large amounts of capital - both financial and human - to run a news room in order to reach thousands or millions of readers. Today, tools for publishing written, audio, and video content are free or cheap enough for virtually anyone to afford. A single person can access thousands, even millions of viewers. The smaller budgets available to developing nations are more than enough to compete with established Western propaganda, provided their content is of more substance than the West's.

    While Western monopolies have struck back with a series of technological solutions including algorithms designed to favor corporate media, these solutions will only provide a temporary reprieve.

    Technological progress in other industries ranging from energy to manufacturing are helping decentralize the many economic and military fields the West has long dominated. Even within the West itself, technology is enabling emerging entrepreneurs who do not share Wall Street and Washington's principles or lack thereof and seek a different and more constructive direction for the West.

    It is important to understand the Syrian conflict in the much larger global paradigm it fits into. By understanding this, we can collectively expose and undermine the special interests fueling the conflict. Currently, the US and its allies have exhausted their proxies and find themselves more directly engaged in military intervention in Syria.

    Defeating this conspiracy against both the Syrian people and the peace and stability of the Middle Eastern region can no longer be done by simply exposing and eliminating the West's proxies. It must also include a strategy of exposing and eliminating the very source of power driving the West's agenda in the first place, well beyond Syria's borders - on Wall Street, in London, and Brussels. It must be done by identifying and displacing the unwarranted power and influence of Western corporate-financier monopolies.

    The emerging victory over Western propaganda is only a start. But it is a start that can be built upon and expanded to include a continued campaign of raising awareness and pressure regarding Western aggression against Syria itself, as well as a campaign aimed at placing pressure on and even displacing the special interests responsible for this aggression.

    Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine "New Eastern Outlook".
  • A 2012 US policy paper admittedly sought to "bleed" the Syrian government, and with it the Syrian people. Today in Syria, the consequences of America's depraved foreign policy is being blamed by Western special interests on the very victims it targeted.

    March 5, 2018 (Tony Cartalucci - NEO) - From the beginning of Syria's conflict the United States presented to the world its unyielding ultimatum that the government in Damascus be deposed and replaced by a government headed by the armed militants the US cultivated before the conflict and has armed and funded throughout its now seven year course.

    US demands of regime change in Syria were not exclusive to the current conflict. Syria was upon US President George W. Bush's "Axis of Evil" announced after the attacks on September 11, 2001 despite Syria playing no role in the attacks and in fact being one of the principal nations waging war on Al Qaeda and its many affiliates - including its predecessor the Muslim Brotherhood - stretching back to the 1980s when the US itself was arming and funding the terrorist organization's members in Afghanistan.

    US Intentionally Fuels Syria's Conflict

    Today, regions in Syria under government control now enjoy peace and security unseen since the conflict broke out in 2011. This includes Syria's largest city of Aleppo which was invaded by Al Qaeda-linked militant groups crossing over Syria's border from NATO member Turkey beginning in 2012.

    Construction vehicles are replacing tanks in Aleppo. After years of occupation by terrorist groups, Aleppo was finally liberated, with reconstruction now underway. Peace and security was restored to Aleppo not through any initiative led by the United Nations, or Western states like the US, UK, or other NATO members, but instead by joint Syrian-Russian-Iranian military operations conducted in direct defiance of Western demands terrorist enclaves remain intact.

    Reflecting the security Syria's government still is able to offer the Syrian people versus regions still ravaged by Western-backed militants is the fact that the vast majority of displaced Syrians reside in government-held territory.

    This is revealed in a 2017 UN report titled, "UNHCR seeing significant returns of internally displaced amid Syria's continuing conflict," which states (emphasis added):
    Aid agencies estimate that more than 440,000 internally displaced people have returned to their homes in Syria during the first six months of this year. In parallel, UNHCR has monitored over 31,000 Syrian refugees returning from neighbouring countries so far in 2017. Since 2015, some 260,000 refugees have spontaneously returned to Syria, primarily from Turkey into northern Syria.
    The main factors influencing decisions for refugees to return self-assisted mostly to Aleppo, Hama, Homs, Damascus and to other governorates are primarily linked to seeking out family members, checking on property, and, in some cases, a real or perceived improvement in security conditions in parts of the country.
    It should be noted that Aleppo, Hama, Homs, and Damascus all fall under the control of the current Syrian government. Regions still occupied by terrorists - particularly Idlib in northern Syria - are omitted from the report.

    It's clear that if the United States' agenda in Syria was a humanitarian one, it would be assisting the Syrian government in its efforts to improve security conditions across the country. Instead, the US actively works to undermine such efforts - intentionally creating and perpetuating conditions to jeopardize security and induce continued human suffering.

    A map of Syria's current conflict reveals that violence continues solely in areas the West and its regional partners remain committed in. This includes NATO-member Turkey whose ongoing invasion and destruction of Syria's northern countryside aimed at Afrin goes unmentioned in UN proceedings. It also includes America's continued, uninvited occupation of eastern Syria.

    While the US has claimed its purpose for occupying eastern Syria was to "defeat" the self-proclaimed "Islamic State" (ISIS), Washington's own Defense Intelligence Agency revealed in a leaked memo in 2012 that ISIS' initial creation was specifically desired by the US and its allies as a means of isolating the Syrian government.

    The 2012 memo (PDF) would state specifically that:
    If the situation unravels there is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist principality in eastern Syria (Hasaka and Der Zor), and this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime, which is considered the strategic depth of the Shia expansion (Iraq and Iran).
    The DIA memo would also explain who these "supporting powers" are:
    The West, Gulf countries, and Turkey support the opposition; while Russia, China, and Iran support the regime.
    With ISIS now mostly defeated in both Syria and Iraq, the US has used multiple and increasingly strained narratives to explain why it not only remains in Syria illegally, but why it is seeking to even expand its presence there. This includes claims it must "provide a bulwark against Iranian influence," according to the Guardian. Such pretexts stand at face value as contradictory, with Iranian influence having played a central role in America's desire to create ISIS in the first place, and ISIS' defeat at the hands of a Syrian-Russian-Iranian coalition.

    Eastern Ghouta, located east of Damascus, also remains as a pocket of enduring violence owed solely to US efforts to impede Syrian efforts to liberate the area from terrorist occupation and restore the same order the rest of Damascus enjoys. Observers of the Syrian conflict can draw identical parallels between US propaganda aimed at impeding Aleppo's liberation in 2016 and current efforts to prolong violence in Eastern Ghouta.

    US Policy in Syria: Bleed It

    Concluding that Washington's policy in Syria is to intentionally prolong human suffering for as long as possible is not merely a matter of superficially assessing its current actions - it is stated as US policy throughout policy papers for the last several years.

    As early as 2012 when speedy US-backed regime change had clearly failed and a more protracted conflict had begun, prominent US policy think tank, the Brookings Institution, would publish a policy paper titled, "Saving Syria: Assessing Options for Regime Change."

    The paper would state (emphasis added):
    The United States might still arm the opposition even knowing they will probably never have sufficient power, on their own, to dislodge the Asad network.Washington might choose to do so simply in the belief that at least providing an oppressed people with some ability to resist their oppressors is better than doing nothing at all, even if the support provided has little chance of turning defeat into victory.

    Alternatively, the United States might calculate that it is still worthwhile to pin down the Asad regime and bleed it, keeping a regional adversary weak, while avoiding the costs of direct intervention.

    The paper not only openly admits US intervention in Syria has nothing to do with humanitarian concerns but rather "keeping a regional adversary weak," it specifically recommends prolonging the conditions under which a humanitarian crisis will only expand, and for as long as possible.

    The US intentionally backing an "opposition" that has no chance of overturning the Syrian government equates to intentionally and maliciously prolonging a deadly conflict and all the horrors that accompany it. The Brookings paper specifically suggesting the US "bleed" the Syrian government is done with full knowledge of the cost in human suffering that "bleeding" would undoubtedly incur.

    With this poorly hidden reality underpinning America's true intentions in Syria in mind, the US' ongoing charade within the halls of the UN posturing as a champion for human dignity amid a catastrophe of its own intentional, premeditated design reveals both US special interests and the "international order" they preside over as a genuine and unparalleled rogue state.

    In essence, US policymakers intend to hold the world hostage by threatening enduring bloodshed until their political demands are met - in Syria's case - the removal of Syria's government and its replacement by suitable US proxies. By very definition this is terrorism - and terrorism that should come as no surprise considering the US' predominant role in funding the terrorist organizations currently ravaging Syria.

    While the US leads efforts to isolate and undermine a growing list of nations opposing the increasingly depraved nature of American hegemony, it is incumbent upon the rest of the world to isolate and undermine the special interests driving American hegemony. The notion that the current "international order" is predicated upon the rule of law lacks credibility when Washington can openly create a humanitarian catastrophe like that unfolding in Syria, hold the world hostage to it if its demands are not met, all while posing as a champion for the multiple laws and human values it is blatantly violating in the process.

    Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine "New Eastern Outlook".
  • March 10, 2018 (Joseph Thomas - NEO) - From Cambodia to Thailand American and European media companies have launched a campaign of disinformation aimed at reversing Washington's waning influence in the region vis-à-vis not only Beijing, but the growing strength of nations the US and Europe once saw as mere geopolitical pawns.

    Cambodia Expels US-Run Opposition Party and Media

    In Cambodia, articles depicting the government as having trampled free speech and democracy are in direct response to Phnom Penh's decision to disband the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) headed by Kem Sokha who now resides in jail. The media storm also follows the Cambodian government's decision to shut down US government funded propaganda networks posing as local, independent news organisations.

    This includes Voice of America and Radio Free Asia, both funded and directed out of Washington D.C., not anything resembling independent, local political interests in Cambodia itself.

    A good example of this disinformation campaign comes from Voice of America Khmer itself in an article titled, "U.S. Cutting Aid to Cambodia for Recent Democratic Setbacks." The article claims:
    In its annual World Report, the rights group said the government, controlled by Prime Minister Hun Sen's Cambodian People's Party for more than three decades, disbanded the main opposition party, the Cambodia National Rescue Party, and arrested its leader on questionable treason charges. The dissolution came after a ruling the CNRP was involved in an attempt to overthrow Hun Sen's regime.

    However, what VOA calls "questionable treason charges" are never explored further in the article. The charges stem from CNRP leader Kem Sokha himself being caught on video openly admitting to conspiring with the US government to seize power in Cambodia.

    ABC Australia in its article, "Australian speech the key 'treason' evidence against Cambodian opposition leader," would quote Kem Sokha during a speech he gave while in Australia, as saying:
    The USA, which has assisted me, has asked me to take the model from Yugoslavia, Serbia, where they were able to change the dictator Milosevic.

    I don't just do what I feel, I have experts, university professors in Washington DC, Montreal, Canada hired by the Americans in order to advise me on the strategy to change the leaders.
    While Kem Sokha's defenders have claimed his remarks merely meant changing the government through "democratic means" it should be noted that by virtue of admitting one has foreign assistance negates anything democratic about one's means. Democracy is built upon self-determination while Kem Sokha's agenda was clearly being devised and determined in Washington D.C.

    It should also be noted that the US intervention Kem Sokha referred to in Serbia was admittedly undemocratic in means as well.

    The New York Times in its article, "Who Really Brought Down Milosevic?," would admit:
    American assistance to Otpor and the 18 parties that ultimately ousted Milosevic is still a highly sensitive subject. But Paul B. McCarthy, an official with the Washington-based National Endowment for Democracy, is ready to divulge some details.
    The article continues, stating:
    ''...from August 1999 the dollars started to flow to Otpor pretty significantly.'' Of the almost $3 million spent by his group in Serbia since September 1998, he says, ''Otpor was certainly the largest recipient.'' The money went into Otpor accounts outside Serbia. At the same time, McCarthy held a series of meetings with the movement's leaders in Podgorica, the capital of Montenegro, and in Szeged and Budapest in Hungary. Homen, at 28 one of Otpor's senior members, was one of McCarthy's interlocutors. ''We had a lot of financial help from Western nongovernmental organizations,'' Homen says. ''And also some Western governmental organizations.''
    In today's current climate of "Russian meddling" hysteria, should similar evidence surface that an entire opposition party was funded, organised and meeting with Russian government representatives in the manner Serbia's or indeed, Cambodia's opposition did with Americans, we can only imagine the repercussions.

    Yet in the world of US and European "fake news," the public is led to believe Cambodia's government is being unreasonable in disbanding a political party openly admitting to treason and dismantling a foreign propaganda network funded directly by the US government.

    "Fake News" Rewrites Thai History

    Reading a recent Agence France-Presse (AFP) article regarding Cambodia's neighbour to the west, Thailand, the public would be led to believe despotism is spreading fast across the region.

    Titled, "Dozens of new political parties register in run-up to Thai poll," it claims:
    Thailand has been under army rule since a 2014 putsch toppled an elected government and installed the country's most autocratic regime in a generation. The generals have banned all political activity and repeatedly postponed a promised return to democracy.
    Just like in US and European disinformation regarding Cambodia, what is omitted is just as important as what the article attempts to claim. The current military-led government in Thailand ousted Yingluck Shinawatra, sister of convicted criminal and fugitive Thaksin Shinawatra.

    Her brother was ousted in a military coup in 2006 after a raft of corruption scandals, abuse of power and a mounting record of human rights abuses. In 2003 alone and over just 90 days, Thaksin Shinawatra would launch a "war on drugs" that would leave some 2,800 dead gunned down in extrajudicial street executions. This alone would make Thaksin Shinawatra the worst human rights abuser in contemporary Thai history.

    Human Rights Watch (now also fully engaged in propaganda against the current Thai government) would report in its 2008 statement, "Thailand's 'war on drugs'," that:
    In February 2003, the Thai government, under then Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, launched a 'war on drugs', purportedly aimed at the suppression of drug trafficking and the prevention of drug use. In fact, a major outcome of this policy was arbitrary killings. In the first three months of the campaign there were some 2800 extrajudicial killings. In 2007, an official investigation found that more than half of those killed had no connection whatsoever to drugs. Apart from the thousands who lost their lives, thousands more were forced into coercive "treatment" for drug addiction.
    Other US and European media organisations would report on his many other abuses, including his muzzling of Thai critics and even the assassination and disappearance of his critics.

    The New York Times, for example, in its 2005 article, "Thaksin accused of 'dirty war' on media," would admit:
    Prime Minister Thaksin has an agenda all his own. Although he is the founder of a telecommunications empire and keen to project Thailand as a fast-modernizing part of the global economy, Thaksin has little tolerance of the criticism aired in a free press. His concentrated political power and the considerable resources of his family's commercial empire have been combined to muzzle critics in both the broadcast and print media.
    At one point, the New York Times quotes a British writer who compared Thaksin Shinawatra's Thailand to Moscow before the Berlin Wall fell.

    AFP, if honest, would at best be able to compare the current government to Shinawatra's previoulsy admitted autocratic streak. Yet AFP in its recent article never mentions Shinawatra's abuses at all.

    AFP's supposed "most autocratic regime in a generation" in stark contrast to Shinawatra's regime, has killed no one. Its political bans are aimed solely at Thaksin Shinawatra's supporters, who with significant US funding as in Cambodia, are attempting to once again take to the streets and lobby for Shinawatra's illegal return to power.

    Those arrested by Thailand's current government are solely associated with Thaksin Shinawatra and his still potent political machinery. These facts too are never mentioned by AFP and other US and European media organisations in their portrayal of Thailand as "autocratic."

    Western Media's Biggest Opponent is Itself

    What's most appalling in regards to AFP's recent dishonesty is that those contradicting its propaganda are not representatives of the current Thai government nor "Russian trolls," but headlines and information published in past years by AFP's own peers across the Western media, with many of these peers now also engaged in disinformation aimed against Thailand side-by-side AFP.

    For AFP and other US and European media organisations, their continued perception by the public as reputable news organisations stems solely from the public's ignorance regarding current events and their collective short memory regarding past events. When editors at AFP can publish entire articles their own reports from years ago contradict completely, they illustrate not journalistic integrity, but contempt for the intelligence of their readership and contempt for journalism itself.

    How effective the lies regarding Cambodia and Thailand spread by US and European media organisations is debatable. While the US government in particular has invested heavily in indoctrinating local youth, propping up political parties and opposition groups and assailing Southeast Asian leadership who defy US special interests, a look at Southeast Asia's declining economic relationships with the US versus growing ties with the rest of Asia and Eurasia seem to indicate the growing din of propaganda is at least partially related to America's loss of actual influence in the region.

    Even local business leaders taking over family fortunes and deeply indoctrinated by Western "values" face a reality in which doing business with the US and Europe will put them at a disadvantage among those who have recognised and adapted to the West's continued decline. Propaganda alone can be a useful tool to augment the designs of powerful special interests, but propaganda cannot fulfil those designs alone.

    It can even be argued that Kem Sokha wouldn't be in jail right now and the Shinawatra siblings wouldn't be hiding abroad were Western propaganda sufficiently backed by actual power, or possessed significant power in its own right. The storm clouds of Western "fake news" are gathering over Southeast Asia, but it is a storm of sound and fury signifying nothing?

    Joseph Thomas is chief editor of Thailand-based geopolitical journal, The New Atlas and contributor to the online magazine "New Eastern Outlook".
  • March 14, 2018 (Ulson Gunnar - NEO) - The United States has spent over a year now leveling accusations against the Russian Federation regarding alleged political meddling during the 2016 US elections. While accusations range from everything including "fake news" spread across the Internet to direct ties to the administration of US President Donald Trump used to assist him into power, no evidence has yet to surface to prove Russia has meddled at all in America's internal political affairs.

    And while Russia certainly possesses a large and growing presence across the international media, concerted attacks against this presence stems more from the fact that decades of uncontested control over global public opinion by the US and Europe is now shifting toward a multipolar balance of power in information space.

    In stark contrast to the whispers of shadows cited by the US and Europe regarding Russia, to begin understanding the scope of US political meddling abroad, one needs only to visit the US State Department and corporate-funded National Endowment for Democracy's (NED) own website.

    Industrial-Scale Meddling

    US meddling is so extensive that NED is broken into multiple subsidiaries (National Democratic Institute (NDI), International Republican Institute (IRI) and Freedom House) which in turn, are joined by parallel organizations such as George Soros' Open Society Foundation, USAID, the UK's DFID and many more.

    The NED website is broken into several regions including:
    Central and Eastern Europe;
    Latin America and Caribbean and;
    Middle East and Northern Africa.
    Within each region, NED lists its extensive funding for organizations and fronts in over 100 different nations around the globe.

    Within each nation, NED funds between a handful to several dozen organizations posing as legal firms, media platforms, environmental groups and human rights advocates. They collectively create the components of a political machine used to pressure incumbent governments to heed US interests, or overthrow them if they fail to.

    Because the NED and recipients of its funding are increasingly exposed as a form of political subversion, NED has opted to list its funding in some nations in very general terms, never revealing the actual organizations or individuals receiving US money. Many organizations in targeted nations refuse to disclose their funding to the public. Many even possess the gall to solicit public donations despite receiving (and concealing) extensive funding from the US government.


    Entire opposition parties have been created by NED. One example is that of the current government in Myanmar headed by State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy (NLD). From the party's senior leadership, down to its rank and file, many NLD members are the direct recipients of indoctrination and training provided by programs funded by the US NED.

    Current Minister of Information Pe Myint, was trained in a US NED-funded program hosted by the Bangkok-based Foreign Correspondents' Club of Thailand (FCCT), which the FCCT would later deny despite evidence appearing on their own website confirming otherwise.

    Elsewhere in Asia, the current anti-government opposition in Thailand consists of a small network of NED-funded organizations which dovetail into the US and European media organizations operating out of Bangkok. Small protests consisting of only 5-10 individuals are transformed into international headlines by NED's army of media fronts including Prachatai, Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, the Cross-Cultural Foundation and their partners in the US and European press as well as Western diplomats who all openly collaborate and coordinate daily across social media.

    When agents of foreign interests are arrested, they are often accompanied by US, British, Canadian and European Union diplomatic staff to police stations.

    In next door Cambodia, the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) is led by Kem Sokha who previously and repeatedly traveled to Washington to openly conspire against the government in Phnom Penh before being arrested by Cambodian authorities. Ironically, while the US punishes Russia for mere allegations of political interference, it demands Cambodia release opposition members caught openly discussing their plans with opposition media to overthrow their own nation with America's assistance.

    Hong Kong, since returning to China after an extended period of occupation by the British, is also home to a large network of US NED-funded opposition aimed at Beijing. A similar hypocrisy is demonstrated by Washington as it protests the exposure and disruption of these foreign-funded networks of subversion Washington itself would never tolerate upon its own shores.

    The Middle East

    It is a fact, admitted by prominent US media platforms such as the New York Times, that the entire 2011 Arab Spring was a result of extensive preparations directed by the NED, its partners and subsidiaries.

    After helping create the conflicts currently consuming the Middle East, NED now funds a variety of activities in nations like Syria to help prolong the conflicts. This is done by aiding and abetting militants fighting Damascus under the guise of providing humanitarian aid. It also includes assisting in the administration of territory seized by militants from Damascus' control.

    The nation of Iran, yet to be consumed by the violence sweeping across Syria, Yemen, Libya and Iraq, is host to networks of both NED-funded and CIA-backed groups ranging from supposed activists, to militant groups aimed at the violent overthrow of the government in Tehran.

    Eastern Europe

    It was in Eastern Europe that NED perfected what is now called the "color revolution." It is now admitted that the US NED and other US agencies played a pivotal role in overthrowing the governments of Georgia, Ukraine and Serbia. It was in fact the US-backed overthrow of the Serbian government in 2000 that Cambodia's Kem Sokha cited as a model to replicate in Southeast Asia with US assistance.

    After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the NED's color revolutions swept through Eastern Europe like a plague, consuming national sovereignty and bending the former Soviet territories to new masters in Washington, London and Brussels.

    More recently, as Russia has begun to reassert itself and court nations in both Eastern and Western Europe, NED has stepped in once again to oust leaders who refuse to reduce or eliminate economic, military and diplomatic ties with Russia at Washington's behest. A prime example of this includes the 2013-2014 Euromaiden protests in Ukraine. During 2013-2014, US senators including John McCain would literally take to the protest stages in Kiev to offer direct political support for the unrest which was spearheaded by Neo-Nazi political circles.


    Remarkably, as Washington accuses Russia of political meddling within the United States, the NED openly lists nearly 100 subversive activities or organizations they are funding inside of Russia itself. Beyond what is listed on NED's website is support the US and Europe is providing unpopular opposition figures like Alexei Navalny, the now deceased Boris Nemtsov, Yevgeniya Chirikova (NED-funded Strategy 31), Lev Ponomarev (NED-funded Moscow Helsinki Group), Liliya Shibanova (NED-funded GOLOS) and many others who have been repeatedly caught conspiring with American diplomats and financiers backing their subversive activities.

    Were evidence to surface that Russia did any of the above forms of meddling, including maintaining entire stables of opposition figures who regularly filter in and out of the Russian Embassy in a targeted nation, it would be categorically condemned by Washington. Yet Washington flagrantly engages in overt political subversion, not just in Russia, but in (at least) 100 other nations around the globe, including nations the US is currently, outright occupying militarily.

    For empire, what it fears the most is competition. It seeks to be the sole hegemon with all else beneath it. The US does not oppose political meddling in a sovereign nation's affairs, it opposes the obstruction of its own meddling worldwide and seeks to eliminate others offering better alternatives to coercive subjugation by Washington, thus why it has singled out nations like Russia, China and others who are increasingly successful in doing just that.

    For those tempted to join the bandwagon in condemning nations like Russia and China of political meddling, first they must recognize and account for the industrial scale meddling the US and its European partners are engaged in.

    For those who are taking NED money worldwide in the belief that they are somehow advancing a liberal progressive agenda, particularly democracy, they must ask themselves what about a foreign nation meddling in their nation's political affairs is "democratic" or conducive to the principles of self-determination democracy is built upon? One cannot honestly conclude that NED money is meant to support a nation's capacity to determine its own destiny when clearly Washington is spending these vast amounts of money in order to determine it for that nation.

    Ulson Gunnar, a New York-based geopolitical analyst and writer especially for the online magazine "New Eastern Outlook".
  • March 16, 2018 (Tony Cartalucci - NEO) - As the West rallies around recent allegations by the UK against Russia regarding the alleged poisoning of former Russian military intelligence officer-turned British spy - Sergei Skripal - it is crucial to point out the alarming lack of actual evidence involved.

    It is also important to point out the history of the accusers predicating entire wars on allegations now confirmed to have been intentional lies.

    The Skripal Incident

    The alleged poisoning of Sergei Skripal in Salisbury, UK on March 4 led to a lighting-fast escalation with Russia. Not even two weeks after the attack, UK Prime Minister Theresa May declared a deadline for Russia to provide an "explanation" for the incident the UK had squarely blamed on Moscow.

    The Kremlin's explanation was simple - it had nothing to do with the attack. Russia also offered to aid in the investigation, requesting samples of the poison used in the alleged attack.

    However, the UK failed to produce any samples of the alleged poison - a Soviet-era nerve agent known as Novichok - either to the Russians to examine or to relevant international organizations as required under the Chemical Weapons Convention.

    The UK also failed to explain why Russia would have carried out such an attack - or how the UK could have confirmed the use of Novichok agents without first possessing samples of the agents themselves. If the UK possessed Novichok agents to compare samples taken from the attack with, the entire rationale of accusing Russia because it is supposedly the only nation in possession of the agents is revealed as entirely false.

    US, UK Certainly Have "Novichoks"

    The Daily Beast in its article, "Soviet Scientist Who Developed Novichok Poison Used on Sergei Skripal: 'I'm Sorry'," would admit:
    For the prime minister to be able to publicly accuse the Russians of using a nerve agent like a novichok, British authorities at least must have had access to novichok's unique chemical signature—which it legally could have had despite the Chemical Weapons Convention, due to the clause of countries being able to hold samples for testing in these incidences.

    Testing for novichoks, even based on a formula published by Mirzayanov in a memoir based on his work in the 1980s, is a potential sign that the British have potential access to newer variants of the nerve agent.
    The Guardian too would admit in an article titled, "Novichok nerve agents -- what are they?," that:
    The fact that so little is known about the novichoks may explain why Porton Down scientists took several days to identify the compound used in the attack against the Skripals. And while the agents were invented in the Soviet Union, other labs with access to the chemical structures would be able to manufacture them too.
    The fact that the alleged creator of Novichok agents - Vil Mirzayanov - fled to and currently lives in the United States suggests the West has both knowledge of and the means to create Novichok agents themselves.

    The UK's presumption that "only Russia" could have produced the agents when the creator of Novichok lives in the United States - and British labs clearly have access to the poison - is at face value contradictory and dishonest.

    Since the UK has refused to produce any tangible evidence, including producing samples under its obligations to the Chemical Weapons Convention, all that is left for the international community to consider is the source of these accusations.

    Consider the Source: The West Has a Sordid History of WMD Lies

    In the lead up to the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq, the Western media sold the global public tales of "weapons of mass destruction" (WMDs).

    Then US Secretary of State Colin Powell sat before the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) presenting fabricated evidence to the world in an effort to build a case for the upcoming US invasion.

    Powell would claim (emphasis added):
    We know that Saddam Hussein is determined to keep his weapons of mass destruction; he's determined to make more. Given Saddam Hussein's history of aggression, given what we know of his grandiose plans, given what we know of his terrorist associations and given his determination to exact revenge on those who oppose him, should we take the risk that he will not some day use these weapons at a time and the place and in the manner of his choosing at a time when the world is in a much weaker position to respond?
    Yet upon the US invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq, none of these supposed weapons of mass destruction were found. Eventually the US and UK incrementally began admitting to fabricating evidence, "sexing up" dossiers, intentionally citing unreliable sources, and misleading their allies and the world.

    Former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown would accuse the US of intentionally misleading the UK. In a Guardian article titled, "Gordon Brown says Pentagon misled UK over case for Iraq invasion," it's admitted that:
    The US defence department knew that Saddam Hussein did not have weapons of mass destruction but kept Britain in the dark, according to an explosive new claim from Gordon Brown.
    In an extraordinary allegation, the former prime minister states that a secret US intelligence report into Iraq's military capabilities was never passed to Britain and could have changed the course of events. The revelation leads Brown to conclude that the "war could not be justified as a last resort and invasion cannot now be seen as a proportionate response".

    Other reports attempted to claim the US itself was "duped" by unreliable intelligence sources. The UK Independent in an article titled, "Curveball: How US was duped by Iraqi fantasist looking to topple Saddam," would claim:
    As US secretary of state, Colin Powell gathered his notes in front of the United Nations security council, the man watching — Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi, known to the west's intelligence services as "Curveball" — had more than an inkling of what was to come. He was, after all, Powell's main source...
    Everything he had said about the inner workings of Saddam Hussein's biological weapons programme was a flight of fantasy - one that, he now claims was aimed at ousting the Iraqi dictator.
    The Independent - however - stretches credibility by claiming al-Janabi "duped" the US. The same Independent article would admit that al-Janabi was never even in contact with the US directly despite the US basing its entire UNSC presentation on his claims. The lack of due diligence in confirming al-Janabi's admitted lies doesn't suggest a concerted attempt on Washington's part to ascertain the truth, but a cynical and intentional attempt to conceal it.

    The US simply found whatever source it could to bolster otherwise baseless accusations to justify an otherwise unjustifiable war it had already long-ago elected to wage.

    In hindsight, even then US President George Bush admitted there were no weapons of mass destruction. President Bush attempted to blame faulty intelligence, but as the Powell-al-Janabi connection - or rather - disconnection reveals, there was never any intelligence to begin with - simply fabricated lies.

    Who Will Play Powell, Bush, and "Curveball" This Time?

    This brings us back to the Skripal incident. The accusations of the British government already aren't adding up. Considering the lack of actual evidence the UK has provided and the British government's verified history of fabricating claims regarding the use of WMDs to advance it and its allies' geopolitical agendas - the burden of proof never rested upon Russia.

    Just as the US and UK did during the lead up to the Iraq War in 2003, an avalanche of propaganda is being produced to stampede the world into backing whatever long-ago elected course of action the West has decided to take against Russia.

    In the hindsight of whatever course of action the UK and its allies decide to take in the coming days, weeks, and months based on the Skripal incident, who will play the role of "Curveball" who supposedly duped Theresa May in making her Powell-style accusations before declaring her Bush-style retaliation?

    And considering the ramifications for the West regarding its lies in the lead up to Iraq and the fallout the West has faced in the aftermath of Iraq's destruction, what do Western policymakers expect to gain from an incident many times more transparently staged and self-serving against a world increasingly skeptical of their claims and actions?

    Still, the accusations are serious and the prepared responses from the West will assuredly further endanger global peace and stability. That the alleged attack took place on British soil means that - unlike in Syria - there is no UNSC the West must pass through before taking matters into its own hands.

    This fact alone - following years of frustration in the face of Russia's veto power upon the UNSC in regards to Syria - makes the nature of the Skripal incident even more suspicious. The UK appears to have a pretext and a clear path toward escalation before it - how far it and its allies are prepared to go remains to be seen.

    Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine "New Eastern Outlook".
  • March 21, 2018 (Joseph Thomas - NEO) - US soft power is included in US policy papers and promoted by US politicians and diplomats on a regular basis. It is also included as the admitted purpose of US, UK and European international programmes like Chevening and Fulbright scholarships.

    Foreign Affairs magazine, published by big-business-funded US policy think tank, the Council on Foreign Relations, would reveal in a review of Joseph Nye's book, "Soft Power: The Means to Success in World Politics," that (my emphasis):
    ...the term "soft power" -- the ability of a country to persuade others to do what it wants without force or coercion -- is now widely invoked in foreign policy debates.
    The United States can dominate others, but it has also excelled in projecting soft power, with the help of its companies, foundations, universities, churches, and other institutions of civil society; U.S. culture, ideals, and values have been extraordinarily important in helping Washington attract partners and supporters.
    And in reality, US domination and its soft power work together to create what is modern day empire and the foundation of US global hegemony.

    The United States' many organisations, from the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) to its Young Leaders Initiatives targeting the Americas (Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative/YLAI), Africa (Young African Leaders Initiative/YALI) and Southeast Asia (Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative/YSELAI), all seek to indoctrinate and co-opt the populations of targeted nations to serve the interests of Wall Street and Washington rather than their own.

    While the US does this often under the guise of promoting "democracy," it is clearly engaged in precisely the opposite. While democracy is generally understood as a process of self-determination, through US soft power, the process is co-opted and abused to allow Wall Street and Washington to determine the policies and direction a targeted nation takes rather than its own people.

    Often times victims of US soft power are youths who are indoctrinated in university programmes or targeted by US-funded fronts posing as nongovernmental organisations (NGOs). They believe they have arrived at their conclusions and adopted their personal set of principles on their own, unaware of the amount of time, money and energy invested in ensuring they adopt a worldview and a set of political proclivities that serve US interests rather than those of their own nation, people and those of the individuals themselves.

    The use of soft power is not new. It is a practice as old as empire itself.

    The ancient Romans engaged in sophisticated cultural colonisation we could easily describe as soft power.

    Ancient Roman historian Tacitus (c. AD 56 -- after 117) would adeptly describe the systematic manner in which Rome pacified foreign peoples and the manner in which it would extend its sociocultural and institutional influence over conquered lands.

    In chapter 21 of his book Agricola, named so after his father-in-law whose methods of conquest were the subject of the text, Tacitus would explain (my emphasis):
    His object was to accustom them to a life of peace and quiet by the provision of amenities. He therefore gave official assistance to the building of temples, public squares and good houses. He educated the sons of the chiefs in the liberal arts, and expressed a preference for British ability as compared to the trained skills of the Gauls. The result was that instead of loathing the Latin language they became eager to speak it effectively. In the same way, our national dress came into favour and the toga was everywhere to be seen. And so the population was gradually led into the demoralizing temptation of arcades, baths and sumptuous banquets. The unsuspecting Britons spoke of such novelties as 'civilization', when in fact they were only a feature of their enslavement.
    In a very similar manner, youths today in nations targeted by US soft power describe the notions of "democracy" and "human rights' as well as Western-style neo-liberal politics and institutions as "civilisation." They often seek out every opportunity to disparage the culture and institutions of their own nation, describing them as backwards and demanding they be promptly replaced with new notions and institutions modelled after or directly beholden to those in the US and Europe.

    We can see across the whole of Asia this full process of soft power coming to fruition. Years and millions of dollars spent in infiltrating universities, indoctrinating youths through programmes like YSEALI or the British Chevening scholarships and funding and directing fronts posing as NGOs has led to the creation of entire political parties contesting power, comprised of indoctrinated youths beholden both to the notions of Western culture and institutions as well as the money and technical support nations like the US and UK directly provide these parties.

    Hong Kong's "Demosisto" political party is made up entirely of youths and NGO representatives that have been created and funded for years by the US, UK and various other European interests.

    Myanmar's ruling National League for Democracy has the top echelons of its party run by former journalists, activists and politicians cultivated, funded and trained by US-funded programmes for decades. This includes the current minister of information, Pe Myint.

    Case Study: Thailand

    The recently formed "Future Forward" opposition party headed by Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, the heir of a multi-million dollar auto-parts business, has overtly advertised itself as an amalgamation of Western-style neo-liberal political ideology.

    While the supposed "founders" of the party appear to fully represent various social issues, the immense amount of money needed to perform "Future Forward's" campaigning indicates the true founders (and financial sponsors) have chosen to remain behind the scenes.

    Reuters in its article, "Thai auto heir launches new party, promises to heal political rift," would admit:
    Thanathorn introduced other party co-founders on Thursday, including a filmmaker and a number of activists involved in LGBT and environment causes, among other issues.

    Party co-founder Piyabutr Saengkanokkul, a law lecturer at Bangkok's Thammasat University, said the party hopes to transcend Thailand's political divide, a sentiment echoed by the student-led groups that have held anti-junta protests across Bangkok in recent weeks.

    But some say the party might find it difficult to appeal to grassroots voters.

    "Will they, academics and NGOs ... be able to connect with grassroots people, which is a large part of the electoral base?," asked one Twitter user.

    To create that electoral base, the US is currently funding programmes inside Thailand specifically to infiltrate and co-opt local, regional and national concerns. Everything from environmental issues regarding the building of dams and power plants to women's rights and access to education have been used as vectors by US-funded organisations seeking to co-opt and knit together various genuine individual pragmatic causes into a singular, national political clearinghouse.

    Part of this singular front's responsibilities will be to serve as a voting bloc to place parties like "Future Forward" into power.

    NED and YSEALI are two examples of how single US organisations are targeting and cultivating youths much in the way Tacitus described in Agricola. These individuals are cultivated to be "leaders" who then create their own organisations (often US funded) to begin recruiting and indoctrinating additional members.

    Like a pyramid scheme, the efforts' structure enables the US to recruit and indoctrinate Thais faster than any single US organisation could do on its own. While programmes like YSEALI boast of thousands of leaders who undoubtedly have infected thousands more with US-funded indoctrination, its still isn't likely enough to create a voting bloc big enough to place "Future Forward" into power.

    But it doesn't need to be. The US is still depending on existing political machines of politicians like US proxy Thaksin Shinawatra to create the support needed to propel "Future Forward" and other parties like it politically.

    Future Forward: The Evolution of a US Proxy

    While Reuters admits that Future Forward has been accused of ties to US proxy Thaksin Shinawatra, the article fails to mention the substantial evidence those making the accusations are citing.

    Piyabutr, mentioned by Reuters as the party's co-founder, had previously abused his academic credentials to organise and host an indoor event for Thaksin Shinawatra's United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) also known as red shirts. The event held at Thammasat University, included Thaksin Shinawatra's lobbyist Robert Amsterdam given a front row seat during the proceedings.

    The red shirts are Shinawatra's street front whose reputation had become a political liability after back-to-back riots and deadly armed violence the front carried out in 2009-2010.

    Piyabutr and fellow academics endeavoured to rehabilitate the UDD's public image by transforming it into a more academic movement, papering over the crass populism and demagoguery used to create it in the first place. While the "red shirt" street front is still used to give emerging successors to Shinawatra's political machinery the numbers they need at public events, protests and rallies, this new, more academic face is what is being presented to the public, and the world.

    Soft Power's Final Destination: Consume All, Including Allies

    The US will continue attempting to create a voting bloc independent of traditional political figures like Thaksin Shinawatra and his own networks of patronage. While Thaksin Shinawatra has been a loyal servant of US interests for years, the US would prefer a political party and a voting bloc it controls entirely on its own. By Shinawatra supporting the creation of parties like "Future Forward" he is in reality sealing his own political fate.

    Special interests sponsoring "Future Forward's" political activities are also creating a monster that will eventually consume them both politically and economically in the future. As demonstrated in nations around the world subjected to the full cycle of US meddling, co-opting, infiltration and domination, even those special interests that eagerly assisted US ambitions find themselves unwelcomed competitors once the US finally succeeds.

    Those who believe they can "ride the tiger" of US hegemony into power often find themselves the target of the very domestic networks of agitators and activists they helped the US create.

    Protecting Against US Soft Power

    Clearly, the soft power process has nothing to do with any genuine interpretation of democracy. It is simply using democratic themes and procedures to lend legitimacy to what is modern day imperialism and the very sort of soft power employed by the Romans against the ancient world centuries ago.

    Thailand and other nations targeted by US soft power can only defend themselves by being able to both effectively expose US soft power methods, and by countering them through the work of indigenous institutions and genuine NGOs filling Thailand's political, activist, educational, information and economic space sufficiently enough so that no room remains for foreign-funded alternatives.

    As to why the US is so interested in co-opting and controlling Thailand politically, the answer lies in Washington's larger Asia-Pacific agenda which includes the encirclement and containment of China with nations that do business with and are entirely under the influence of Washington. A political party run by the products of decades of US cultural colonisation and soft power efforts taking office in Thailand would directly serve Washington's wider regional ambitions and augment its efforts to co-opt and control Thailand's Southeast Asian neighbours as well.

    Joseph Thomas is chief editor of Thailand-based geopolitical journal, The New Atlas and contributor to the online magazine "New Eastern Outlook".

  • March 28, 2018 (Guest Post - Jack Anderson) - Tensions have escalated between the United States and Russia. These tensions have also appeared in various parts of the world, including Syria, the Mediterranean, the Baltics, and the Crimean Peninsula. As time passes, the battlefield between the United States and Russia becomes wider. European countries, too, have directly gotten involved in the complex situation. On the one hand, without the support of the US and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), they have the power to form an independent and unified army to counter Russia's threats. On the other hand, their commitments to the United States and NATO have led to a sharp decline in their maneuverability in the peaceful settlement of existing conflicts between the United States and Russia.

    What is certain is that European countries, as effective actors in the international arena, see their security as a precondition for avoiding a persistent controversy (especially in the military dimension) between the US and Russia. European countries know well that in the event of any conflict between Washington and Moscow, Europe will be the main venue for it. But will the European countries have mediation power between the White House and the Kremlin? Will they be able to resist engagement in case of chronic tensions between Russia and the US? The answer to this question is definitely no.

    The fact is that the membership of many EU member states in NATO as well as the specific geo-strategic and even geo-economic status of the European Union has made these countries part of the conflict between the United States and Russia. While, according to the best-known mediation rules in the international system, if the independence of an actor is less, mediating power also declines. Europe can not only play a mediating role between the United States and Russia, but will directly influence the conflict. The European Union is now faced with Russia in various geographic and strategic areas.

    Undoubtedly, in the near future, we will see more serious political conflicts regarding Europe's relationship with the United States and NATO. These disagreements will augment conflict between the United States and Russia. Since 2014, as a result of the crisis in Ukraine and the intensification of tensions between Russia and NATO in Syria, Europe has directly entered the conflict between the United States and Russia. In 2017, the trend was intensifying. In the NATO military maneuvers in the summer of 2017 in Poland and Lithuania, NATO members presented a controversial military confrontation with Russia. By contrast, Russia also responded sharply to NATO's military maneuvers in the Kaliningrad area. Undoubtedly, in 2018, the tensions between Russia and the United States will increase further. However, the main question is, what will be the future of Europe? No one can answer this question.

    The United States and the European Union are making a joint and complementary effort to change the political fabric of Russia. Washington and NATO members are well aware that one of the major ways in which the Russians rethink foreign policy and the retreat of the Kremlin against NATO threats is to deflect Russia's internal structure through the emergence of some political conflicts and chronic disagreements.

    The next point is that the United States and the European Union consider the "election" as the most sensitive political event in Russia which can strengthen the pro-NATO currents within Russia and weaken Putin's power. In other words, the United States and Europe see Russia as an opportunity to inject some of the deterrent factors in Moscow's domestic and foreign policy towards the 2018 presidential election. Washington and Europe know that according to polls Putin will be reelected. Nonetheless, NATO members are struggling to strengthen the internal divide between Russian parties and the Russian people. The West does not pay much attention to the outcome of the Russian presidential elections, but seeks to curb Russia's power by creating a turbulent political atmosphere inside the country.

    Jack Anderson's article is a guest post on the Land Destroyer Report. From time to time we receive articles from readers we feel are useful contributions to geopolitical analysis and will publish them. If you would like to contribute an article, please contact us through our contact form.
  • March 28, 2018 (Vladimir Platov - NEO) - Last December, US President Donald Trump signed a decree banning the use of Kaspersky Lab software within US government agencies. This latest iteration of anti-Russian sanctions demanded all individuals employed by Washington to wipe the world-renowned anti-virus software off their computers within 90 days of the decree's signing.

    However, as the latest IT news show, Kaspersky Lab which received recognition for its achievements in the fight against all sorts of malware was not thrown out the door for genuine security concerns, but as a part of ongoing anti-Russia propaganda efforts we've been witnessing lately across the West. It's also clear that Washington couldn't care less about the efforts that Kaspersky Lab has been taking in countering high-profile cyber-espionage and government-sponsored malicious activities on the Internet that American intelligence agencies have been exposed as engaged in.

    Such conclusions can be made based on outcomes during the recently held Kaspersky Security Analyst Summit (SAS), where Kaspersky Lab experts blew the lid off about the sophisticated spy-ware program known as Slingshot. It turned out that this malware has been operational since 2012, but it took IT security firms years to spot it. And it was the Russian-based company Kaspersky Lab that exposed this spy-ware of US intelligence agency-design to establish total surveillance over the Internet, as it's been noted by the The Times.

    According to this British publication, Kaspersky Lab, now barred from US markets, uncovered this malicious software, which allows US agencies to access routers to monitor user activity across the web.

    Originally, Slingshot was created by the US military to track suspected terrorists who would use Internet cafes across the Middle East and North Africa to coordinate their activities. This malware was deployed in Afghanistan, Iraq, Kenya, Sudan, Somalia, Turkey and Yemen and, according to some experts, and over just six years of Slingshot becoming operational, a great many of both individuals and government agencies suffered across the Middle East and Africa.

    Image: Since the US sponsors Al Qaeda and the US Defense Intelligence Agency admitted the US and its allies intentionally created the so-called "Islamic State," Slingshot is obviously not being used to track Al Qaeda terrorists in nations targeted by the cyber espionage program. More likely it is tracking opponents to US ambitions throughout MENA and Central Asia.
    This Slingshot spy-ware is similar to the program created by the NSA for establishing total surveillance in the Western segment of the Internet. Experts from CyberScoop, while citing anonymous US intelligence agents (both retired and acting), report that Slingshot is a special operation launched by the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), a component of the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM). Researchers also agree that the algorithms used by Slingshot are similar to those used by such hacker groups as Longhorn and The Lamberts affiliated with the CIA and the NSA, developed with the tools of the two above mentioned groups that were disclosed by WikiLeaks.

    CyberScoop experts and their sources believe that Kaspersky Lab couldn't know for sure, but suspected that one of the countries of the Five Eyes intelligence alliance, which includes Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States, was behind developing Slingshot.

    According to cyber security experts, Slingshot is an extremely complex platform for attacks that one couldn't develop without investing huge amounts of effort, time and money. According to those same analysts, the complexity of Slingshot makes even Project Sauron and Regin pale in comparison, which means that government-sponsored hackers could only develop something like this.
    According to the statement released by Kaspersky Lab:
    While analysing an incident which involved a suspected keylogger, we identified a malicious library able to interact with a virtual file system, which is usually the sign of an advanced APT actor. This turned out to be a malicious loader internally named 'Slingshot', part of a new, and highly sophisticated attack platform that rivals Project Sauron and Regin in complexity.
    The initial loader replaces the victim´s legitimate Windows library 'scesrv.dll' with a malicious one of exactly the same size. Not only that, it interacts with several other modules including a ring-0 loader, kernel-mode network sniffer, own base-independent packer, and virtual filesystem, among others.
    While for most victims the infection vector for Slingshot remains unknown, we were able to find several cases where the attackers got access to Mikrotik routers and placed a component downloaded by Winbox Loader, a management suite for Mikrotik routers. In turn, this infected the administrator of the router.
    What is clear is that this malware is aimed at hijacking all sorts of sensitive information, including network traffic, screenshots and passwords, while monitoring its own invisibility. Re-flashing firmware doesn't help the user get rid of this malware, since Slingshot is capable of self-copying and employing all sorts of tricks to stay operational, some of which haven't been fully exposed. To divert the attention of anti-virus software, Slingshot independently initiates security checks, which allowsed it to mask its presence from 2012 onward.

    In recent years, Slingshot has been actively used by US intelligence agencies to establish total control over the Internet by spying upon US citizens and abroad, including among Washington's "allies."

    And given that it was Kaspersky Lab that was able to track spy-ware Washington invested so many resources to develop, it's no wonder that Trump decided to put an end to the operations of this Russian-based company in the United States, trying to carry on its lies about "Russian hackers" that nobody has ever seen or tracked, while continuing with America's criminal cyber espionage activities at the highest level.

    Vladimir Platov, an expert on the Middle East, exclusively for the online magazine "New Eastern Outlook".
  • March 31, 2018 (Tony Cartalucci - NEO) - Talk surrounding US President Donald Trump's move to appoint John Bolton as his new National Security Advisor has focused on Bolton's role in promoting the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq and the profound contrast his appointment signifies in light of President Trump's 2016 campaign promises to "drain the swamp."

    However, Bolton's appointment carries with it greater implications both to those apparently criticizing him as well as those attempting to promote him. Bolton has - for years - lobbied for a terrorist organization guilty of kidnapping and killing both US service members as well as US civilian contractors, along with an untold number of Iranian civilians and politicians in a campaign of terror that has stretched over several decades and continues today.

    Worst of all, the terrorist organization Bolton lobbied for was literally listed on the US State Department's Foreign Terrorist Organizations list during his lobbying activities - in direct violation of US counter-terrorism laws. That organization - Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) and its political front, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) - has since been delisted as of 2012. However, the organization was delisted not because it has fully given up armed terrorism, but because the US has planned since at least as early as 2009 - according to Washington's own policy papers - to use MEK as armed proxies against the nation of Iran.

    MEK are Terrorists, Even According to Their US Sponsors

    Despite claims by a growing army of MEK advocates spanning various social media platforms, MEK is without doubt a dangerous terrorist organization. Even those seeking to sponsor MEK as a militant proxy against Iran have admitted as much.

    In the 2009 Brookings Institution policy paper, "Which Path to Persia? Options for a New American Strategy Toward Iran," US policymakers openly admitted MEK's candidacy as a US proxy (emphasis added):
    Perhaps the most prominent (and certainly the most controversial) opposition group that has attracted attention as a potential U.S. proxy is the NCRI (National Council of Resistance of Iran), the political movement established by the MEK (Mujahedin-e Khalq). Critics believe the group to be undemocratic and unpopular, and indeed anti-American.
    In contrast, the group's champions contend that the movement's long-standing opposition to the Iranian regime and record of successful attacks on and intelligence-gathering operations against the regime make it worthy of U.S. support. They also argue that the group is no longer anti-American and question the merit of earlier accusations. Raymond Tanter, one of the group's supporters in the United States, contends that the MEK and the NCRI are allies for regime change in Tehran and also act as a useful proxy for gathering intelligence. The MEK's greatest intelligence coup was the provision of intelligence in 2002 that led to the discovery of a secret site in Iran for enriching uranium.
    Brookings policymakers also openly acknowledged that MEK was without doubt a terrorist organization (emphasis added):

    Despite its defenders' claims, the MEK remains on the U.S. government list of foreign terrorist organizations. In the 1970s, the group killed three U.S. officers and three civilian contractors in Iran. During the 1979-1980 hostage crisis, the group praised the decision to take America hostages and Elaine Sciolino reported that while group leaders publicly condemned the 9/11 attacks, within the group celebrations were widespread.

    Undeniably, the group has conducted terrorist attacks—often excused by the MEK's advocates because they are directed against the Iranian government. For example, in 1981, the group bombed the headquarters of the Islamic Republic Party, which was then the clerical leadership's main political organization, killing an estimated 70 senior officials. More recently, the group has claimed credit for over a dozen mortar attacks, assassinations, and other assaults on Iranian civilian and military targets between 1998 and 2001. At the very least, to work more closely with the group (at least in an overt manner), Washington would need to remove it from the list of foreign terrorist organizations."

    It should be noted that Brookings' mention of MEK was made under a chapter titled, "INSPIRING AN INSURGENCY Supporting Iranian Minority and Opposition Groups," indicating that groups being considered for US sponsorship would undoubtedly be armed and carry out a campaign of violence - if not terrorism, then the full-scale military operations similar US-sponsored militant groups have been carrying out in Syria.

    Brookings recommendation that MEK be removed "from the list of foreign terrorist organizations" would eventually be fully realized by 2012 - spearheaded by lobbyists led by prominent US politicians and policymakers including US National Security Advisor John Bolton.

    MEK's Decades of Terrorism and its Future Terrorism

    MEK has carried out decades of brutal terrorist attacks, assassinations, and espionage against the Iranian government and its people, as well as targeting Americans including the attempted kidnapping of US Ambassador Douglas MacArthur II, the attempted assassination of USAF Brigadier General Harold Price, the successful assassination of Lieutenant Colonel Louis Lee Hawkins, the double assassinations of Colonel Paul Shaffer and Lieutenant Colonel Jack Turner, and the successful ambush and killing of American Rockwell International employees William Cottrell, Donald Smith, and Robert Krongard.

    Admissions to the deaths of the Rockwell International employees can be found within a 2011 report written by former US State Department and Department of Defense official Lincoln Bloomfield Jr. on behalf of another lobbying firm - Akin Gump - in an attempt to dismiss concerns over MEK's violent past and how it connects to its current campaign of armed terror.

    The report would state:

    The State Department's Country Reports on Terrorism 2009 document says that the MEK killed the deputy chief of the US Military Mission in Tehran in 1973, two members of the US Military Assistance Advisory Group in 1975, and two employees of Rockwell International in 1976, and that it claimed responsibility for killing an American Texaco executive in 1979.
    MEK's violent past of armed terrorism, coupled with admissions by the US that it seeks to use MEK as an armed proxy against Iran calls into question the US State Department's decision

    Regarding that decision, the US State Department's 2012 statement titled, "Delisting of the Mujahedin-e Khalq" would claim:
    With today's actions, the Department does not overlook or forget the MEK's past acts of terrorism, including its involvement in the killing of U.S. citizens in Iran in the 1970s and an attack on U.S. soil in 1992. The Department also has serious concerns about the MEK as an organization, particularly with regard to allegations of abuse committed against its own members.

    The Secretary's decision today took into account the MEK's public renunciation of violence, the absence of confirmed acts of terrorism by the MEK for more than a decade, and their cooperation in the peaceful closure of Camp Ashraf, their historic paramilitary base.
    The US State Department admits that the organization carried out terrorism in the past and continues today with abuses toward its own members. And as US policymakers within the pages of Brookings papers admit, the entire campaign aimed at delisting MEK in the first place was to legitimize the organization's use as a militant proxy against Iran - a role that will most certainly violate MEK's supposed "renunciation of violence" and contravene the grounds upon which MEK was delisted as a terrorist organization by the US State Department in the first place.

    John Bolton's Advocacy of Terrorists

    Considering the undeniable terrorist nature of MEK past, present, and Washington's own admitted plans for its terrorist future, the troubling nature of John Bolton's advocacy for the group comes into full focus. This is particularly so within the context of Bolton's new role as National Security Advisor.

    Bolton's role in lobbying for MEK and NCIR has been promoted most prominently by his own supporters among the US media. Right-leaning CNS - for example - in an article titled, "Senior US, Saudi Figures Call for Tehran Regime to be Overthrown," would admit:
    Bolton, who has attended the annual NCRI event for a decade, cited Iran's military intervention in Syria, in maneuvering in Iraq, and its support for Hamas and Hezbollah terrorists and for Houthi militia in Yemen.
    The same article would note however, that:
    Supporters view the NCRI and affiliated People's Mujahedeen Organization of Iran (MEK) as a viable opposition to the clerical rulers in Tehran, and praise it for exposing the regime's covert nuclear programs.

    Detractors view with suspicion its history of support for the regime of Saddam Hussein, and what critics have described as cult-like behavior.

    The MEK was designated a foreign terrorist organization by the U.S. until 2012, when the Obama administration delisted it, citing a renunciation of violence and "the absence of confirmed acts of terrorism by the MEK for more than a decade."
    Foreign Policy would also expose Bolton's lobbying efforts. In FP's 2011 article titled, "MEK rally planned for Friday at State Department," it would include mention of a full-paged ad taken out in the Washington Post. The ad included a letter to then US President Barack Obama which stated:
    We are writing to you with urgency to underline the need for an immediate decision to remove Iran's opposition group the Mujahedeen-e Khalq (MEK) from the list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO).

    The 2011 ad was signed by John Bolton along with other prominent US politicians including Howard Dean, Rudy Guiliani, and Tom Ridge.

    Since MEK has only been removed from the US State Department's Foreign Terrorist Organizations list since 2012, CNS, Foreign Policy, and the lobbying efforts of Bolton himself serves as evidence that Bolton provided support and lobbying services to what was a listed terrorist organization in blatant violation of 18 U.S. Code § 2339A - providing material support to terrorists.

    Bolton's speeches openly supporting MEK prior to 2012 are easily found online. One published in 2010 features Bolton speaking in Paris openly advocating not only the US removing MEK from its Foreign Terrorist Organizations list, but also lobbying for US support to be provided to MEK and others in what he called the "Iranian opposition." Since the 2012 delisting, Bolton has continued attending MEK events and advocating both support for MEK and openly calling for the US-led overthrow of the Iranian government.

    While some have attempted to defend Bolton and others lobbying for MEK claiming that MEK could not have been removed from the State Department's list even if it was no longer a threat to the US without the aid of lobbying - it should be remembered that the job of adding or removing terrorist organizations from the State Department's list is the responsibility of the Bureau of Counterterrorism in the State Department - not political lobbyists.

    The State Department itself notes on its website that:
    The Bureau of Counterterrorism in the State Department (CT) continually monitors the activities of terrorist groups active around the world to identify potential targets for designation. When reviewing potential targets, CT looks not only at the actual terrorist attacks that a group has carried out, but also at whether the group has engaged in planning and preparations for possible future acts of terrorism or retains the capability and intent to carry out such acts.
    Clearly - however - the presence of immense lobbying campaigns like those led by Bolton on behalf of MEK indicates that the State Department's list is dictated by political motivations, money, and lobbying, not independent analysis provided by US security and intelligence professionals either in the US State Department or elsewhere within the US government.

    Furthermore, it is clear by the US State Department's own criteria that MEK is still very much a foreign terrorist organization. According to its own criteria, any organization that is even planning or preparing for possible future acts of terrorism, must be included on the list. US policymakers and even John Bolton himself have openly stated that MEK will be used as an armed proxy against Iran.

    A Terrorist Collaborator Advising on US National Security

    A National Security Advisor openly guilty of violating US anti-terrorism laws having provided material support to a US State Department-listed foreign terrorist organization for years illustrates just how profoundly compromised US institutions are and reflects an agenda that not only exclusively serves special interests - but does so at the cost of the American people's actual security.

    The position of National Security Advisor - officially known as "the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs" - is described by the US White House's official website as part of the National Security Council as follows:
    The National Security Council (NSC) is the President's principal forum for considering national security and foreign policy matters with his senior national security advisors and cabinet officials. Since its inception under President Truman, the Council's function has been to advise and assist the President on national security and foreign policies. The Council also serves as the President's principal arm for coordinating these policies among various government agencies.
    A National Security Council that includes lobbyists representing terrorist organizations with American blood on their hands constitutes not only a dire threat to actual US national security, but global security as well.

    MEK terrorists backed by a nation possessing nuclear weapons and a history of provoking wars through fabricated evidence and staged incidents ensures that America's foreign policy will continue to pursue destructive wars abroad at the cost of US treasure and blood and the resources and lives of nations the US sets its industrialized military aggression upon.

    John Bolton - however - is not the architect of the policy he has advocated for well over a decade. He is simply fulfilling what US policymakers themselves have meted out in the pages of US policy papers for just as long. These policymakers - in turn - are funded by American arms manufacturers, energy conglomerates, financial institutions, and other immense corporate-financier special interests.

    The Brookings Institution whose 2009 paper, "Which Path to Persia?" spelled out verbatim the steps Bolton has since undertaken with his lobbying efforts, has a long list of such corporate-financier interests underwriting and directing its work.

    Image: Some of Brookings' corporate-financier sponsors.

    Understanding that efforts to remove MEK from the US State Department's Foreign Terrorist Organizations list and prepare them for their role as armed proxies against Iran transcended the administrations of George Bush, Barack Obama, and now Donald Trump exposes the continuity of agenda - regardless of who occupies the White House or US Congress - advanced by these unelected corporate-financier interests.

    While exposing John Bolton's complicity in the material support of egregious terrorists and his efforts to use them as armed proxies against Iran in a war he has attempted to promote and instigate for years is important, it is equally important to expose, confront, isolate, and extinguish the influence of the corporate-financier interests that have underwritten and directed Bolton's efforts and the efforts of countless others working to drag the United States, its allies, and the rest of the planet into another destructive conflict.

    Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine "New Eastern Outlook".
  • April 6, 2018 (NEO) - In this Review: In light of continued US accusations of supposed Russian meddling, we're going to take a look at verified, even admitted US meddling taking place around the world. We'll also take a look at what happens to US proxies when Washington is done with them.

    Read more articles and stay up to date with the latest in geopolitical analysis from New Eastern Outlook at .
  • April 6, 2018 (Tony Cartalucci - NEO) - For decades the United States and its NATO allies have helped Saudi Arabia export methods of political indoctrination known as Wahhabism to radicalize individuals and swell the ranks of mercenary forces used to wage proxy wars abroad and manipulate Western populations at home.

    What began as a means for the House of Saud itself to establish, expand, and eventually consolidate political power on the Arabian Peninsula in the 18th century has now become a finely honed tool of geopolitical power integrated into Washington's foreign policy.

    A remarkable admission was recently made in the pages of the Washington Post in an article titled, "Saudi prince denies Kushner is 'in his pocket'."

    The article would quote Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, stating (emphasis added):
    Asked about the Saudi-funded spread of Wahhabism, the austere faith that is dominant in the kingdom and that some have accused of being a source of global terrorism, Mohammed said that investments in mosques and madrassas overseas were rooted in the Cold War, when allies asked Saudi Arabia to use its resources to prevent inroads in Muslim countries by the Soviet Union.
    Successive Saudi governments lost track of the effort, he said, and now "we have to get it all back." Funding now comes largely from Saudi-based "foundations," he said, rather than from the government.
    While the article claims "successive Saudi governments lost track of the effort" and that funding is now provided by "Saudi-based "foundations,"" this is not true.

    There are no "successive governments" in Saudi Arabia. The nation since its founding has been run by a single family - the House of Saud.

    And while Saudi-based foundations may be the conduit through which Wahhabism is organized, funded, and directed, it most certainly is done at the behest of Riyadh in a process underwritten by Washington.

    A Tool, Not an Ideology

    Wahhabism was created and used as a political tool as early as the 1700's. It served as the cornerstone of Saudi Arabia's founding. Conveniently, Wahhabism - since its inception - was intolerant to outsiders. To the Saudis seeking political power through conquest, this intolerance was easily translated into the use of violence against tribes and neighboring states that did not submit to Saudi power.

    The British would harness this political tool further in its contest of power with the Ottoman Empire. It encouraged and cultivated extremist ideologies like Wahhabism before and after the fall of the Ottoman Empire. After the World Wars, the British and the Americans would ally themselves with nations like Saudi Arabia and begin exporting Wahhabi indoctrination worldwide.

    Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's admission of this gives further insight into Washington's use of extremists in Syria in the late 1970s and early 1980s as well as US support to militants in Afghanistan aimed at dislodging the Soviet presence there.

    But it also reveals precisely how terrorism as a geopolitical tool is being used post-Cold War today, and who is using it.

    "Mosques" funded by Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf states well beyond the Middle East - including in Europe and Asia - serve as indoctrination and recruitment centers for the US and its allies' various proxy wars and destabilization efforts around the globe.

    How Wahhabism is Honed

    Foreign fighters recruited from around the globe to fight in Syria's ongoing conflict have been drawn primarily from this Saudi-funded and directed Wahhabi network.

    "Mosques" and "madrases" operating in North America and Europe do so with the full knowledge and cooperation of Western security and intelligence services. The recruitment, deployment, and homecoming of Wahhabi-indoctrinated mercenaries across the West has been admitted even across the Western media.

    Danish media organization, The Local DK, would expose one such center in Denmark. The report in an article titled, "Danish mosque doubles down on Isis support," would describe what is open support for designated terrorist organizations, specifically the so-called "Islamic State" (ISIS).

    The article would state:

    "We want the Islamic State to come out on top. We want an Islamic state in the world," the mosque's chairman, Oussama El-Saadi, said in the DR programme.

    El-Saadi also said that he views Denmark's participation in the US-led battle against Syria as a direct affront not only to his mosque but to all Muslims.

    "The war is against Islam," he said.
    This same supposed "mosque," based in Denmark, despite openly admitting its support of terrorism, would not be immediately shut down and its leadership arrested as one would expect. Instead, the Danish government admittedly worked with he "mosque" to merely manage the process.

    Der Spiegel's article, "Community Response: A Danish Answer to Radical Jihad," would report:
    Commissioner Aarslev says he is proud of what they have thus far achieved, though he never forgets to praise his people and the others involved in the program. He is particularly effusive when speaking of one man: a bearded Salafist who is head of the Grimhøjvej Mosque in Aarhus, where many of the young men who left Aarhus to join the war in Syria were regulars. It's leader is a man named Oussama El Saadi....

    ...these two men have joined forces in a project that is seeking to find answers to questions that are plaguing the entire continent of Europe: What can be done about radical returnees from Syria? What measures are available to counter the terror which once again seems to be threatening the West closer to home?
    Astonishingly, the Western media has admitted to a multitude of such "mosques" openly recruiting men across the West to fight as mercenaries in Syria under the banner of Al Qaeda and its various subsidiaries and spin-offs before returning home and posing a security threat to Western populations.

    Rather than dismantling the network and eliminating the threat, the West has intentionally left it to grow, creating sociopolitical divisions within Western nations. Increasing racism, bigotry, and xenophobia helps continue justifying the West's wars abroad while justifying a growing police state at home.

    The Cover Up

    The UK Independent in its article, "Saudi Arabia boosting extremism in Europe, says former ambassador," would admit:
    Saudi Arabia has been funding mosques throughout Europe that have become hotbeds of extremism, the former British ambassador to Saudi Arabia Sir William Patey has said.
    However, the article and many like it, intentionally deflects away from the larger implications of Saudi-funding and the use of these so-called "mosques" as indoctrination and recruitment centers feeding militants funded and armed by the US, Europe, Saudi Arabia, and its Arab partners into conflicts around the globe.

    The Western media and politicians, as well as Saudi representatives themselves, have attempted to claim Riyadh either doesn't fully control this network, or does not realize this network's central role in driving global terrorism. Such excuses are - however - even at face value absurd.

    The US and Saudi Arabia's use of Wahhabi networks to fill the rank and file of militant groups fighting around the globe is blatant. The fighters "accidentally" being recruited in Saudi-funded "mosques" across Europe, the Middle East, and Asia form militant groups armed, funded, trained, and otherwise supported by the US, Europe, and their Middle Eastern allies including Saudi Arabia.

    In relation to Syria in particular, veteran journalist Seymour Hersh even as early as 2007 in his article, "The Redirection Is the Administration's new policy benefitting our enemies in the war on terrorism?" would expose this process in action - as the lead up to the 2011 war in Syria was already underway.

    The article would state (emphasis added):
    To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has coöperated with Saudi Arabia's government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.
    The article would also point out:
    This time, the U.S. government consultant told me, Bandar and other Saudis have assured the White House that "they will keep a very close eye on the religious fundamentalists. Their message to us was 'We've created this movement, and we can control it.' It's not that we don't want the Salafis to throw bombs; it's who they throw them at—Hezbollah, Moqtada al-Sadr, Iran, and at the Syrians, if they continue to work with Hezbollah and Iran."
    Thus, there is nothing at all accidental or unintended about Washington and Riyadh's creation and use of these networks.

    Other tactics have been used as well to prevent directly addressing this decades-long effort. The use of "multiculturalism" versus virulent racism, bigotry, and xenophobia have created a false debate that transforms what is essentially joint Western-Arab multinational sponsorship of terrorism into petty and highly divisive wedge issues.

    Controlled opposition on both sides of the resulting "debate" intentionally direct public discourse away from questions surrounding the inception and utilization of Wahhabism by both Saudi Arabia and its Arab allies, as well as the West itself.

    The US-Saudi Global Terror Pipeline

    From Saudi-funded "mosques" indoctrinating, radicalizing, and recruiting militants, prospective fighters are then moved toward theaters of operation. US-Saudi sponsored extremists drawn from China's Uyghur population in China's western province of Xinjiang, have been moving across Southeast Asia before reaching Turkey where they stage, are trained and armed before being sent to fight Damascus' troops in Syria.

    And while currently the primary task of the US-Saudi terror pipeline has been to feed the proxy war with Syria, US-Saudi sponsored Wahhabi indoctrination, radicalization, and recruitment is also localized. While Uyghur extremists are being sent to Syria, others are recruited and arrayed within China itself.

    Across Southeast Asia, Saudi-funding has found its way into militants fighting under the banner of ISIS in the Philippines. There are legitimate concerns that this US-Saudi funded network has tried to work its way into Thailand and exploit separatist fighting in the deep south.

    In neighboring Myanmar, the US helped place the current regime headed by "State Counsellor" Aung San Suu Kyi into power. Her ultra-nationalist and viciously racist supporters have waged years of genocidal violence against the nation's Rohingya minority. Simultaneously, the US and Saudi Arabia have created a "Rohingya" militant group led by Ata Ullah - raised and educated in Saudi Arabia.

    Ata Ullah's backstory is nebulous. His "leadership" may be similar to ISIS' Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi - a figure head of an organization ultimately run by and for Riyadh and Washington.

    The use of terrorists has served a variety of objectives. For Syria, it is regime change, in China, agitation and possible Balkanization along the nation's frontiers, in Southeast Asia - attempts to divide and weaken nations Washington is attempting to install client regimes in or in nations like Myanmar in which the US requires a client regime to remain obedient, and for the Philippines in particular - a means to retain a US military presence on Philippine soil.

    Exposing and Ending Washington and Riyadh's Terror Enterprise

    The US sees Wahhabism as a useful geopolitical tool it has honed and used for decades already. While it and its Western allies feign ignorance to its inception, and feign impotence to stop it, they continue to invest in both its continued operation and its continual reinvention.

    And while Wahhabism may have assisted Saudi Arabia in its founding and expansion as a powerful regional player, its sponsorship of these networks today is unsustainable and quickly becoming a liability. The US - as it has proven with many other former allies and proxies - will continue to use Saudi Arabia's Wahhabi construct until both Wahhabism and Saudi Arabia itself are no more.

    While it is still too early to tell, Saudi Arabia has plenty of incentives to transform its long-feigned interest in exposing and dismantling these networks into real action.

    For the public, shattering the petty political wedge issues used by the West to protect this multinational sponsored network of indoctrination, radicalization, and recruitment is essential to enlisting the public in exposing both Saudi Arabia and the West's role in constructing and perpetuating it.

    Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine "New Eastern Outlook".
  • April 8, 2018 (Tony Cartalucci - LD) - The US media is now priming the global public for US intervention in Syria following alleged "chemical attacks" carried out in the remaining pocket of US-backed militants in Douma, just northeast of Damascus.

    Image: Trump isn't going to "withdraw" from Syria when the special interests he represents still fully plan on waging war - proxy or otherwise - on Syria's ally Iran. The recent appointment of John Bolton and Mike Pompeo to key positions within his administration signal expanded war, not withdrawal.

    This follows comments made by US President Donald Trump just 3 days ago in which he claimed he had instructed the US military to prepare for a withdrawal from Syria.

    US forces had illegally invaded and have since occupied Syrian territory for years, with the Washington Post in its April 4, 2018 article titled, "Trump instructs military to begin planning for withdrawal from Syria," placing the current number of US troops at approximately 2,000.

    The Washington Post also claimed that:
    President Trump has instructed military leaders to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria as soon as possible and told them he wants Arab allies to take over and pay for stabilizing and reconstructing areas liberated from the Islamic State, according to senior U.S. officials.
    However, just days after President Trump expressed a supposed desire to leave Syria, allegations of Syrian government chemical attacks on Douma have provided not only the prefect pretext to delay any withdrawal, but to in fact justify a US-led military intervention directly against the Syrian government.

    While some have attempted to portray this as "Trump vs. the Deep State," it is in fact a textbook example of US deception described in US policy papers - a deception President Trump played a central role in creating.

    Feigning Withdrawal Before Greater Conflict is Documented US Policy

    In the 2009 Brookings Institution policy paper titled, "Which Path to Persia? Options for a New American Strategy Toward Iran" (PDF), everything from supporting terrorists in a proxy war to staged provocations and full-scale war were planned in excruciating detail.

    Included among the US policy think-tank's schemes was the description of a deception similar to the one now playing out in Syria.

    The paper would state (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 offer—one 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.
    For Syria, the "offer" was a US withdrawal and Damascus and its neighbors "given" the responsibility to humanely end the conflict and stabilize the region. The "rejection" inviting the US to intervene is the staged chemical attacks in Douma the US is now citing.

    Regarding staged provocations, the Brookings paper mentions them as well, claiming (emphasis added): would be far more preferable if the United States could cite an Iranian provocation as justification for the airstrikes before launching them. Clearly, the more outrageous, the more deadly, and the more unprovoked the Iranian action, the better off the United States would be. Of course, it would be very difficult for the United States to goad Iran into such a provocation without the rest of the world recognizing this game, which would then undermine it. (One method that would have some possibility of success would be to ratchet up covert regime change efforts in the hope that Tehran would retaliate overtly, or even semi-overtly, which could then be portrayed as an unprovoked act of Iranian aggression.)
    Nothing could be more "outrageous" or "deadly" than using chemical weapons on civilians.

    That such allegations of a chemical attack already served as a successful pretext for US military aggression in the form of cruise missile strikes across Syria under President Trump before, is precisely why the Syrian government wouldn't have carried out such chemical attacks then, and most certainly would not carry them out now - especially if the US was allegedly seeking to exit Syrian territory.

    Chemical Weapons Good For Only One Thing: A Pretext for US Aggression

    The Syrian military with the support of Russia and Iran, have soundly defeated US-backed militants across Syria with conventional weapons. The only significant territory Syria has yet to retake is that being occupied by the US and NATO-member Turkey.

    As it has been mentioned before, the extensive use of chemical weapons during the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq War - by the US military's own assessment - proved such weapons to be highly ineffective and inferior to conventional weapons.

    Added to the fact that the US has sought to use the deployment of chemical weapons as a pretext for direct military intervention in Syria toward long-sought after regime change in Damascus makes the likelihood that Damascus is using chemical weapons all the more impossible.

    There is also the fact that Syria has already turned its chemical weapon stockpiles over under a Russian-brokered deal which was overseen by the United Nations itself.

    Reading through the 2009 Brookings document, the US has gone through all possible options prepared for Iran - but against Syria - several times over, but to no avail. Even the prospect of Balkanizing Syria appears tenuous. An attempt to revisit accusations of "WMDs" yet again, signals desperation across Western policy circles.

    For those who have invested hope into President Trump - his role in a documented scheme to deceive the global public and make US military aggression appear as a last resort after apparently withdrawing from confrontation - is sufficient evidence that it is not "Trump vs. the Deep State," but that "Trump is the Deep State."

    It should be remembered that recent appointments to President Trump's administration included prominent pro-war advocates including John Bolton and Mike Pompeo - both eager for a US-led military intervention in Iran which makes President Trump's recent calls for a withdrawal from Syria all the more questionable.

    Terrorists are Gassing People to Advance Washington's Agenda

    It is also worth noting that US-backed militants in Douma are essentially gassing people to advance the West's political agenda. This comes as the UK's case against Russia regarding the alleged assassination attempt on Sergei Skripal and his daughter unravels.

    Considering Washington and London's history regarding false accusations surrounding chemical weapons - as well as policy papers plotting to stage provocations, the US and UK emerge as the prime suspects in serial crimes against humanity involving so-called "weapons of mass destruction."

    It is becoming abundantly clear that in addition to the West fueling the very terrorism it claims to be fighting globally, it is also the West that poses the primary threat to the globe regarding the use of chemical weapons.
  • April 9, 2018 (Tony Cartalucci - LD) - After failing utterly to produce public support for a US-led attack on Syria following an alleged chemical weapons attack in Douma, northeast of the capital Damascus, the US appears to have immediately circumvented the United Nations and international law, apparently tasking its proxies in Tel Aviv with carrying out initial attacks on Syria's T-4 airbase.

    Image: Aftermath of a similar US attack last year in Syria.

    The Western media has reported missile attacks on the airbase in Syria.

    CBS in its article, "U.S. denies missile strike in Syria, Russia says Israel did it," claims:
    Missiles struck an air base in central Syria early Monday, but the Pentagon quickly denied claims from Syrian state media that the strikes were "an American aggression." As a war monitoring group said Iranian-backed militia members were killed in the strikes, Russia accused Israeli jets of firing the missiles.
    An Israeli Strike is Still a US Strike

    However, regardless of who carried out the strike, it was still ordered by the US.

    US policymakers - who have sought regime change in Syria and its ally Iran for decades - have meticulously laid out their plans for covert terrorism, staged provocations, feigned peace offers, and even the use of Israel as an intermediary for carrying out attacks the US itself could not initially justify or rally public support behind.

    In the 2009 Brookings Instittution paper, "Which Path to Persia? Options for a New American Strategy Toward Iran" (PDF), US policymakers would state under a section titled "Allowing or encouraging an Israeli Military Strike," that (emphasis added):

    ...the most salient advantage this option has over that of an American air campaign is the possibility that Israel alone would be blamed for the attack. If this proves true, then the United States might not have to deal with Iranian retaliation or the diplomatic backlash that would accompany an American military operation against Iran. It could allow Washington to have its cake (delay Iran's acquisition of a nuclear weapon) and eat it, too (avoid undermining many other U.S. regional diplomatic initiatives).
    The report also states (emphasis added):

    It would presumably be easier to convince Israel to mount the attack than it would be to generate domestic political support for another war in the Middle East (let alone the diplomatic support from a region that is extremely wary of new American military adventures).
    The same report would also state (emphasis added):
    However, as noted in the previous chapter, the airstrikes themselves are really just the start of this policy. Again, the Iranians would doubtless rebuild their nuclear sites. They would probably retaliate against Israel, and they might retaliate against the United States, too (which might create a pretext for American airstrikes or even an invasion).
    Clearly these options laid out for Iran in 2009 have been repeatedly used instead against Syria. The fact that US regional aggression has stalled in Syria and has yet to fully manifest itself against Iran indicates a tipping balance of power against Washington.

    The response by Syria and its allies to these staged chemical attacks, provocations, and strikes will determine whether or not Washington's failed attempts at regime change ebb into an indignant withdrawal, or provide a vector toward greater and more destructive war.

    A US failure in Syria will likely permanently derail its attempts to reassert is global preeminence as a multipolar world order emerges. How far the US and the special interests driving its policy - regardless of America's elected representatives - is willing to go to preserve global hegemony remains to be seen. The task of Syrian, Iranian, and Russian intelligence would be to ascertain this - providing significant deterrence toward engaging in a wider war, and pushing the US back behind its borders as international law, the global public, and even the American people demand.
  • April 10, 2018 (Ron Paul Liberty Report) Rebel-allied organizations in Syria have claimed that the government has released chlorine gas near Ghouta, killing dozens. The Syrians and Russians deny the charges. Neocons are all demanding that Trump launch a bigger attack or America will "lose face." Will the Russians sit back and allow another US attack on the Syrian government? And if they don't?

    The Ron Paul Liberty Report was launched in 2015 by the former 12-term US Congressman from Texas.
  • April 11, 2018 (Joseph Thomas - NEO) - Vietnam has tried and imprisoned several members of a US-funded network engaged in sedition across the country. The move follows trials and prison terms handed out earlier this year for other US-funded operatives meddling in Vietnam's internal political affairs.

    Image: Nguyen Van Dai, recently sentenced to 15 years in prison, is pictured with US Senator and chairman of the International Republican Institute (IRI) John McCain in the US Embassy in Hanoi, Vietnam. The IRI provides money to foreign agents of US influence and is a subsidiary of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED).
    The prison terms for agents of US-funded political meddling in Vietnam come as the US and its European allies continue pushing accusations of Russian meddling. However, unlike the US and Europe's accusations against Russia, agents of US-funded sedition in Vietnam are exposed by extensive evidence, much of which comes from the US government itself.

    The BBC in its April 6, 2018 article, "Nguyen Van Dai: Vietnam jails activist lawyer and five others," would claim:
    Six prominent Vietnamese activists have received heavy prison sentences on charges of "attempting to overthrow" the country's communist government.

    Lawyer Nguyen Van Dai was sentenced to 15 years, while the other defendants were jailed for between seven and 12 years, relatives said on Thursday.
    The article mentions Nguyen Van Dai and his fellow defendants' role in founding the so-called "Brotherhood for Democracy."

    Deutsche Welle in its article, "Vietnamese human rights lawyer Nguyen Van Dai among six given jail terms," adds that:
    Dai founded the Committee for Human Rights in Vietnam in 2006 and was sentenced to five years in jail in 2007 for spreading propaganda against the government. While his term was reduced to four years on appeal, his lawyer's license was revoked.

    After his release in 2011, Dai co-founded the Brotherhood for Democracy network in 2013. It included other, formerly jailed dissidents advocating via social media for human rights throughout Vietnam.
    DW would also report (our emphasis):
    They were all accused of "activities aimed at overthrowing the people's government," according to the indictment issued by the Supreme People's Procuracy in Hanoi last December. The charges included carrying out human rights training, calling for multi-party democracy and receiving funding from foreign groups.

    The BBC, DW and other US and European media organisations went through extensive efforts to avoid mentioning US training, funding and other forms of support provided to Nguyen Van Dai and other recently arrested and jailed "activists." The defendants' various website also fail to directly and openly disclose their funding.

    However, admissions have been inadvertently made.

    Covering Up US-Funding of Sedition in Vietnam

    While the US National Endowment for Democracy (NED) website lists 11 programmes being funded in Vietnam as of 2017, descriptions are left intentionally ambiguous, failing to disclose any organisation or individual actually receiving the funds. Disclosures for previous years have since been deleted from the NED website.

    Opposition website "The 88 Project" in a post titled, "Vietnam Free Expression Newsletter No. 5/2018 -- Week of January 29-February 4" would report on the imprisonment of Tran Hoang Phuc, Nguyen Van Dien and Vu Quang Thuan earlier in 2018.

    Phuc is admitted to have been a participant in the US State Department's Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI). YSEALI indoctrinates young people across Southeast Asia, often helping them organise and fund subversive operations posing as "nongovernmental organisations" (NGOs).

    Radio Free Asia (RFA), a US State Department-funded media front producing propaganda aimed at the Asia-Pacific region, would describe the Brotherhood for Democracy as a successor to another prominent opposition group in Vietnam, Bloc 8406.

    In a 2013 article titled, "Vietnamese Activists Form 'Brotherhood for Democracy'," Radio Free Asia would claim:
    A group of mostly former jailed dissidents in Vietnam have set up a new online group to coordinate efforts to bring democracy to the country, now under one party communist rule.
    The movement, known as the "Brotherhood for Democracy," was established about 10 days ago and the membership has grown to 70 so far.

    The article would also claim:
    The biggest online Vietnamese group pushing for democratic reforms is Bloc 8406. It was organized across the country in 2006, but many of its leaders, including co-founder Roman Catholic priest and dissident Nguyen Van Ly are languishing in prison.
    However, Radio Free Asia, like other US and European media organisations, failed to disclose the group's funding.

    US diplomatic cables disclosed by Wikileaks would reveal that many involved in Bloc 8406 were recipients of US government training and funding.

    A cable titled, "Blogging and Political Dissent in Vietnam," would claim (our emphasis):
    Dissident attorney Le Quoc Quan, who was detained for 3 months in 2007 after completing a fellowship with the National Endowment for Democracy in Washington, DC, has his own blog ( Over the past year, Lawyer Quan has posted many articles critical of the government's handling of last year's Catholic protests at the Thai Ha parish and the September-October arrests of at least 13 activists associated with the dissident political movement Bloc 8406 (reftel).
    And while NED had deleted past financial disclosures regarding Vietnam, NED's e-bulletin, "Democracy Digest," has several archived articles that offer clues.

    In one 2016 article titled, "Obama must raise Vietnam's rights abuses, civil society crackdown," an interview with the aforementioned Nguyen Van Dai's wife conducted in the US was published. The interview includes a question regarding Dai's involvement with the National Endowment for Democracy. When asked if he attended a "workshop on Democracy in the US," Dai's wife replied:
    Oh yes, that was back in 2006. Dai got invited by the NED (National Endowment for Democracy).
    "Democracy Digest" would also admit in a 2009 post entitled, "Vietnam stifles dissent in advance of party congress," that the Vietnam Committee on Human Rights or "Que Me" is a grantee of the US National Endowment for Democracy. Despite the similar names, this latter organisation does not appear to be the same one founded by Dai in 2006. It does, however, directly support and defend the activities of Dai and his organisation, including a recent article decrying his lengthy prison sentence.

    Nguyen Van Dai Worked for US State Department Propaganda Front, Radio Free Asia

    A 2015 Radio Free Asia article published in Vietnamese titled, "Nguyen Van Dai was arrested before the meeting with the EU representative" (when translated), features an image of Dai with US Senator John McCain in the US Embassy in Hanoi. The article also admits (translated):
    It is also recalled that Lawyer Nguyen Van Dai is a human rights lawyer who regularly defends the victims and those who are oppressed in Vietnam. He is also a blogger of the RFA Asia Free Press.
    Thus, while the US and European press reported Vietnam's accusations that Dai and his collaborators were recipients of foreign funding and served as agents of foreign interests, they failed to include known information of Dai's role working on behalf of the US government.

    However, as mentioned before, Radio Free Asia is funded and directed by the US State Department with the US Secretary of State serving as a board member. RFA's own article admits that Dai is a "blogger" working for RFA, and thus serving under the direction RFA's board of directors, including the US Secretary of State.

    It should also be noted that McCain sits on the board of directors of the International Republican Institute, a subsidiary of the National Endowment for Democracy. It is unlikely McCain would have met with Dai in the US Embassy in Hanoi if Dai was not a recipient of US funding and an agent for US interests.

    Vietnam Spends Political Capital US Granted Versus Beijing to Jail US Agitators
    The irony is that the lengthy prison terms come at a time when the US needs Vietnam the most. The US has faced growing indifference across Southeast Asia regarding its attempts to recruit the region into encircling and containing China. Vietnam has emerged as one of the few nations willing to engage with Washington in an overt gesture to check Beijing's growing influence.

    Image: The US finished grandstanding after the USS Carl Vinson docked in Vietnam in a historic visit hailed as a move putting "China on notice." The political capital this granted Vietnam appears to have been immediately used to liquidate key figures in US-funded networks aimed at compromising and pressuring Vietnamese policymakers.

    However, Vietnam has done so cynically. The political capital granted to Vietnam by the US in its efforts to court Hanoi appears to have been spent to eliminate highly symbolic figures among US-funded networks aimed at compromising Vietnamese sovereignty and pressure Vietnamese policy making.

    It remains to be seen how far Washington will push Hanoi regarding the jailing of US-funded agitators. Other members of US NED-funded fronts across Southeast Asia, including YSEALI alumni will likely suffer a crisis of confidence over US indifference to their jailed counterparts in Vietnam if the US fails to act. However, if the US does act, it will lose one of the last nations in the region willing to work with Washington regarding Beijing.

    Perhaps then a pan-Asian effort to finally uproot and expel permanently aspects of US and European "soft power" can begin.

    Joseph Thomas is chief editor of Thailand-based geopolitical journal, The New Atlas and contributor to the online magazine "New Eastern Outlook".

  • April 12, 2018 (Tony Cartalucci - LD) - To date, all supposed evidence regarding recent allegations of a chemical weapons attack in Douma, Syria, northeast of the capital Damascus, comes from Western-funded militants and their auxiliaries including the US-European government-funded front, the so-called "Syria Civil Defense," better known at the "White Helmets."

    Unverified photographs and video of apparent victims have been the sole sources cited by the US.

    WHO "Authority" Used to Bolster Original Unverified Reports, Not Add New Evidence

    The World Health Organization, in a recent statement attempting to bolster these accusations, claims that up to 500 patients appear to have been exposed to chemical poisoning, but would cite its "Health Cluster partners," the Daily Beast would report.

    The Guardian in its article, "Syria: 500 Douma patients had chemical attack symptoms, reports say," would attempt to claim:
    The report from the WHO's partners in Syria adds to mounting evidence of the use of toxic gas in the attack, which killed at least 42 people and has raised the prospect of American airstrikes against forces loyal to the regime of Bashar al-Assad.

    However, according to WHO's own website, these partners include Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), which in turn, according to MSF's own website trains and supports the White Helmets. MSF has repeatedly admitted throughout the Syrian conflict that it does not have a presence on the ground in conflict areas and merely provides material support to groups that do.

    Thus, contrary to the Guardian's claims, the report from WHO's partners in Syria does not "add to mounting evidence," it is simply repeating the same, initial and still unverified claims made by the White Helmets.

    The White Helmets have been repeatedly caught in the past fabricating evidence and staging scenes for propaganda value. In fact, all evidence suggests the entire purpose of the White Helmets is the production of propaganda.

    This culminated in 2016 when the organization inadvertently revealed their theatrical methods during a protest in multiple European cities. They applied red paint and flour to their bodies and posed as victims for European media outlets and local bystanders. The scenes were indistinguishable from daily clips uploaded by White Helmet members allegedly carrying out emergency services in militant-held territory in Syria.

    Absent from virtually all of their videos are scenes of actual injuries - open wounds, crushed or severed limbs, burns etc. Videos also lack any context, and are often heavily edited.

    Real Evidence Requires a Real, Onsite Investigation

    Readers should recall that accusations of chemical weapon attacks last year that led to a US cruise missile barrage against Syrian government targets, were also never confirmed.

    The investigation carried out by the The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons-United Nations Joint Investigative Mechanism (OPCW-UN JIM) report on the alleged attack would admit that no investigators even visited the scene of the attack.

    The UN in a news article regarding the report would even claim (emphasis added):
    Although it was too dangerous to visit Umm Hawh and Khan Shaykum, the panel considered that sufficient information had been gathered to come to a solid conclusion.
    The report - while assigning blame to the Syrian government - admits it could not confirm a Syrian aircraft dropped the supposed munition allegedly used in the attack - and that munition fragments passed to investigators lacked a chain of custody, negating its probative value.

    As for Western media claims regarding "mounting evidence" regarding the most recent attempt to accuse the Syrian government of using "chemical weapons," no additional - or credible - evidence can "mount" until investigators arrive on the ground.
  • April 12, 2018 (Tony Cartalucci - NEO) - The US threatened war within hours of an alleged chemical weapons attack taking place in Douma, northeast of Damascus.

    The US rush to conflict attempts to sidestep any meaningful investigation into the attack, fitting a larger pattern of Washington and its allies using baseless chemical weapon allegations for wars of aggression stretching back to the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

    US accusations and threats of war come at a pivotal moment in Syria's now 7 year conflict in which the Syrian government has finally liberated all territory around the capital from foreign-sponsored militants.

    Zero Evidence

    To date, all supposed evidence comes from Western-funded militants and their auxiliaries including the US-European government-funded front, the so-called "Syria Civil Defense," better known at the "White Helmets." Unverified photographs and video of apparent victims have been the sole sources cited by the US.

    The World Health Organization, in a recent statement attempting to bolster these accusations, claims that up to 500 patients appear to have been exposed to chemical poisoning, but would cite its "Health Cluster partners," the Daily Beast would report.

    However, according to WHO's own website, these partners include Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), which in turn, according to MSF's own website trains and supports the White Helmets. MSF has repeatedly admitted throughout the Syrian conflict that it does not have a presence on the ground in conflict areas and merely provides material support to groups that do.

    The White Helmets have been repeatedly caught in the past fabricating evidence and staging scenes for propaganda value. In fact, all evidence suggests the entire purpose of the White Helmets is the production of propaganda.

    This culminated in 2016 when the organization inadvertently revealed their theatrical methods during a protest in multiple European cities. They applied red paint and flour to their bodies and posed as victims for European media outlets and local bystanders. The scenes were indistinguishable from daily clips uploaded by White Helmet members allegedly carrying out emergency services in militant-held territory in Syria.

    Absent from virtually all of their videos are scenes of actual injuries - open wounds, crushed or severed limbs, burns etc. Videos also lack any context, and are often heavily edited.

    One Year Ago - Similar Lies

    Previous allegations of the Khan Shaykhun chemical weapon attack the US cited in 2017 ahead of cruise missile strikes on Syria's Shayrat Airbase, were also baseless.

    The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons-United Nations Joint Investigative Mechanism (OPCW-UN JIM) report on the alleged attack would admit that no investigators even visited the scene of the attack.

    The UN in a news article regarding the report would even claim (emphasis added):
    Although it was too dangerous to visit Umm Hawh and Khan Shaykum, the panel considered that sufficient information had been gathered to come to a solid conclusion.
    Evidence instead consisted of interviews with alleged witnesses and physical evidence passed to investigators from possible suspects - since even the report itself admitted the possibility of the incident being staged to implicate the Syrian government. The report itself would also cite an absence of a chain of custody for evidence it received, diminishing their probative value.

    Normalizing military aggression based on allegations of chemical attacks in which onsite investigations are not conducted produces the perfect conditions to stage incidents and rush to war.

    The US rush to war without even awaiting an incomplete and questionable investigation as carried out by the OPCW-UN JIM in 2017 - indicates that the United States is not interested in, and possibly even attempting to obstruct the truth.

    Zero Motivation

    Syria and Russia have been conducting security operations around Damascus with particular care, fully acknowledging the level of international scrutiny the Syrian conflict is under, including the conduct of the Syrian government and its allies.

    Humanitarian corridors were opened to allow civilians to flee areas where fighting was taking place. Once defeated, remaining militants were even allowed to board buses and escape north to the Syrian-Turkish border.

    Not only are the chemical weapons cited by the US ineffective relative to the conventional weapons Syria and its allies have in their possession, the use of chemical weapons in military operations against an all but defeated enemy - considering the political costs of doing so - would be inexplicable.

    The US government and the Western media have resorted to assigning essentially cartoon villain motivations to the Syrian government in an effort to explain why - on the verge of victory in Syria - the Syrian government would risk justifying a long sought after US military intervention against Damascus itself.

    The US is already illegally operating in and around Syrian territory. This includes the occupation of Syrian territory by US troops east of the Euphrates River. The US has already conducted multiple air strikes on Syrian government targets. In addition to the strike on Shayrat Airbase in 2017, US airpower has repeatedly attacked Syrian troops operating near US positions.

    The Grand Finale

    Making it even more inexplicable for Syria's government to have deployed chemical weapons at this of all junctures - was the recent announcement by US President Donald Trump of interest in withdrawing US troops from Syria.

    While some interpreted his announcement as genuine, and suggest the likely staged chemical attack in Douma, Syria was an attempt to draw the US back in, a much more likely scenario is that President Trump simply lied to provide the US with plausible deniability ahead of a premeditated chemical weapons incident the US itself planned.

    US policy papers have provided the framework for just such a scheme.

    In the 2009 Brookings Institution policy paper titled, "Which Path to Persia? Options for a New American Strategy Toward Iran" (PDF), everything from supporting terrorists in a proxy war to staged provocations and full-scale war were planned in excruciating detail.

    Included among the US policy think-tank's schemes was the description of a deception similar to the one likely playing out in Syria.

    The paper would state (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 offer—one 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.
    For Syria, the "offer" was a US withdrawal and Damascus and its neighbors "given" the responsibility to humanely end the conflict and stabilize the region. The "rejection" inviting the US to intervene is the staged chemical attacks in Douma the US is now citing.

    Regarding staged provocations, the Brookings paper mentions them as well, claiming (emphasis added): would be far more preferable if the United States could cite an Iranian provocation as justification for the airstrikes before launching them. Clearly, the more outrageous, the more deadly, and the more unprovoked the Iranian action, the better off the United States would be. Of course, it would be very difficult for the United States to goad Iran into such a provocation without the rest of the world recognizing this game, which would then undermine it. (One method that would have some possibility of success would be to ratchet up covert regime change efforts in the hope that Tehran would retaliate overtly, or even semi-overtly, which could then be portrayed as an unprovoked act of Iranian aggression.)
    Nothing could be more "outrageous" or "deadly" than using chemical weapons on civilians.

    "The Israel Approach"

    In the immediate aftermath of the alleged chemical attack in Douma, Syria, Israel launched missiles into Syrian territory, striking Tiyas (T4) Military Airbase.

    The same Brookings policy paper would also make specific mention of how this tactic would fit into a wider strategy of drawing a nation further into direct war with the United States itself.

    The paper would state that (emphasis added):
    ...the most salient advantage this option has over that of an American air campaign is the possibility that Israel alone would be blamed for the attack. If this proves true, then the United States might not have to deal with Iranian retaliation or the diplomatic backlash that would accompany an American military operation against Iran. It could allow Washington to have its cake (delay Iran's acquisition of a nuclear weapon) and eat it, too (avoid undermining many other U.S. regional diplomatic initiatives).
    The report also states (emphasis added):
    It would presumably be easier to convince Israel to mount the attack than it would be to generate domestic political support for another war in the Middle East (let alone the diplomatic support from a region that is extremely wary of new American military adventures).
    The same report would also state (emphasis added):
    However, as noted in the previous chapter, the airstrikes themselves are really just the start of this policy. Again, the Iranians would doubtless rebuild their nuclear sites. They would probably retaliate against Israel, and they might retaliate against the United States, too (which might create a pretext for American airstrikes or even an invasion).
    Clearly these options laid out for Iran in 2009 have been repeatedly used instead against Syria. Among this most recent and unprecedented juncture, these ploys are being used again, in rapid succession and ultimately toward US-led regime change.

    America's Motivation

    The US - since the end of the Cold War - has established a unipolar international order that serves the interests of US corporations and financial institutions and those of Washington's allies. In a bid to preserve its primacy, the US has pursued a policy of encircling and containing potential competitors - most notably Russia and China. It has done this through economic pressure, covert regime change, overt military invasion and occupation, or usually a combination of all three.
    Reordering Eastern Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, Central and Southeast Asia over the past two decades was meant to provide America with a united front of client states to wield against a reemerging Russia and a rising China before eventually folding both into its international order as well.

    However, these efforts have mostly failed. Technology has bridged gaps in economic and military power the US and Europe had previously exploited to achieve centuries of global hegemony over the global East and South.

    The US now finds itself mired in a protracted conflict - so far unsuccessful in not only toppling the Syrian government, but also floundering on secondary objectives aimed at Balkanizing the country.

    While a US withdrawal from Syria on its own terms will all but admit the end of American hegemony in the Middle East, should it remain and still fail - it will not only accelerate the emergence of a multipolar world order - but one in which the US finds itself an impotent pariah.

    US Options

    The US - clearly having failed to sell its case to the global public - may simply launch a limited strike as it did in 2017. The strikes will do little to change the trajectory of American foreign policy objectives and their ultimate failure in Syria. The operation - likely to kill Syrians and even possibly Russians and Iranians - will tentatively provide the US with an opportunity to save face in the wake of its recent and increasingly reckless bluster.

    Syria and its allies will likely weather the attacks - if limited - as they have before, attempting to avoid the desired, wider confrontation the US seeks and letting the clock run out on Washington's failed proxy war.

    However, US policymakers may believe that the window of opportunity for the US to reassert itself as global hegemon has yet to close. It may calculate that its desire to carry out a direct military intervention in Syria to finally achieve regime change is greater than Russia and Iran's willingness to risk direct war with the US to stop it.

    The US may also be reckless enough to calculate that a limited confrontation directly with Russian assets in Syria would allow Washington to reassert itself in a much more dramatic way - with Russia not willing to escalate the conflict beyond the region. The US may even be willing to sacrifice US warships, aircraft, and ground bases during the ensuing conflict to achieve this goal - believing Russia will limit retaliation to the immediate theater of conflict.

    However the possibility of these incredibly risky options spiraling out of control and quickly involving Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Israel, Lebanon, Iraq, and beyond would hopefully make such opinions all but inconceivable - even for increasingly desperate US policymakers.

    Syria and its allies have attempted to provide the US with multiple, graceful exits from its failed proxy war. However, it is not the need to save face that now drives US persistence in Syria - it is the fact that withdrawing from Syria now will signify to the world an accelerated, irreversible decline of the American Empire.

    Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine "New Eastern Outlook".
  • April 14, 2018 (Tony Cartalucci - LD) - The US, UK, and France announced strikes on what they call, "Syria's chemical weapons program."

    The use of stand-off weapons such as cruise missiles and air-to-ground missiles reflects the US and its allies' fear of Syrian and Russia anti-aircraft defense systems.

    The Syrian and Russian governments announced that 71 of over 100 missiles fired were intercepted, according to Russian media. Targets struck had already been evacuated or were not currently in use.

    CNN in its article, "US, UK and France launch Syria strikes targeting Assad's chemical weapons," would claim:
    The US, UK and France launched strikes against targets at three sites in Syria in the early hours of Saturday morning, following a week of threats of retaliation for an alleged chemical weapons attack on civilians in the Damascus enclave of Douma.

    "I ordered the United States armed forces to launch precision strikes on targets associated with the chemical weapon capabilities of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad," Trump said late Friday at the White House.
    Of course, the phrase, "associated with the chemical weapon capabilities" of Syria is intentionally ambiguous.

    Considering that any attack on actual, currently active chemical weapon facilities in Syria would risk the spread of toxic chemicals over civilian areas - attacking such sites would contravene the entire supposed purpose of the US-led attack - protecting Syrian civilians from "chemical weapons."

    Considering that any attack on actual, currently active chemical weapon facilities in Syria would risk the spread of toxic chemicals over civilian areas - attacking such sites would contravene the entire supposed purpose of the US-led attack - protecting Syrian civilians from "chemical weapons."
    The fear of even industrial chemical facilities being targeted by terrorists to spread clouds of deadly toxins over civilian populations has been a familiar theme throughout America's supposed "War on Terror."

    The Washington Post in a December 2001 article titled, "Chemical Plants Are Feared as Targets," would describe the possible impact of an explosion at a chemical plant in Tennessee, claiming:
    If those chemicals had been released, as many as 60,000 people who live within reach of the ensuing vapor cloud could have faced death or serious injury, according to the plant's worst-case estimate.
    Obviously, US-led strikes on chemical facilities in Syria - had they existed - would have led to similarly catastrophic threats to the civilian population of Syria, calling into question both Washington's credibility, and the alleged purpose behind this recent act of military aggression.

    Popular Mechanics, a publication that eagerly promotes Pentagon endeavors around the globe, published an article on the eve of the US-led missile strikes titled, "These Are Syria's Chemical Weapons. Here's How To Destroy Them," admitting:
    Due to the very nature of chemical weapons, an explosive attack would spread lethal agents over a wide area, meaning more civilian casualties.

    Racing to Beat OPCW Investigation

    The US-led attack came just before the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) investigation into the Douma incident could begin. Just before the attack, Russia openly and directly accused the United Kingdom specifically of staging the Douma incident.

    This has added further suspicion surrounding US-UK claims regarding Douma. Both the US and the UK notoriously lied to the world ahead of the disastrous 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq. It would later turn out that claims of Iraq having "weapons of mass destruction," including chemical weapons, were intentional, fabricated lies.

    Washington's Possible Options

    Attempts to frame the Syrian government for using chemical weapons has become increasingly desperate and transparent. Future attempts are likely to result in even greater global diplomatic and public backlash, suspicion, and the further undermining of Western credibility.

    It was clear that the supposed poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia Skripal in Salisbury, UK was engineered as an attempt to undermine Russia's credibility within the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) ahead of a vote on action against Syria regarding the yet-to-be staged chemical weapons attack in Douma, northeast of Damascus.

    Although the likelihood of Russia being removed from the UNSC was remote, the West calculated that the political and diplomatic fallout they engineered would be enough to pressure Russia in Syria in the wake of the second staged chemical attack in Douma.

    With this elaborate, but transparently baseless string of accusations being aimed at Syria and Russia now falling apart - falling short of simply withdrawing from Syria - the US and its allies have a limited number of options remaining for provoking a war it hopes can remove the Syrian government from power and reassert US hegemony over the Middle East.

    US-based corporate-funded policy think-tank, the Brookings Institution in its 2009 paper, "Which Path to Persia? Options for a New American Strategy Toward Iran" (PDF), in relation to provoking war with Iran, would note (emphasis added): would be far more preferable if the United States could cite an Iranian provocation as justification for the airstrikes before launching them. Clearly, the more outrageous, the more deadly, and the more unprovoked the Iranian action, the better off the United States would be. Of course, it would be very difficult for the United States to goad Iran into such a provocation without the rest of the world recognizing this game, which would then undermine it. (One method that would have some possibility of success would be to ratchet up covert regime change efforts in the hope that Tehran would retaliate overtly, or even semi-overtly, which could then be portrayed as an unprovoked act of Iranian aggression.)
    As many of Brookings' recommendations for Iran have now been repeatedly used on Syria, this option may manifest itself in several ways.

    Before and after this most recent and impotent strike on Syria, Israel has claimed of an impending Iranian attack on its territory. Such an attack would - again - serve only as a pretext for the US and its allies to intervene in Syria amid a war Syria and its Russian and Iranian allies have already won.

    Israel may stage an attack on its own forces - or an attack on US, British, or French forces in the region may be staged. Unlike an alleged or staged chemical attack on civilians, staging a military attack on Western forces and their regional allies would allow an immediate and much larger military response.

    What America's Impotence Means for Syria and its Allies

    A desperate and declining empire is a dangerous empire. The US missile strikes were careful to avoid any targets near Russian positions. Russia simply expanding those positions and creating an increasingly overt presence between the US and the Syrian government would further diminish the options and impact regarding future US military aggression.

    Russia's ability to communicate clearly to US interests the finality of its commitment in Syria and the consequences of continued US military aggression in the region has already resulted in US hesitation.

    Despite the scale of the recent US attack, it was clearly an attack made out of desperate frustration - an attempt to "fall forward" - tripping over its clumsy pretext while trying to advance its agenda. In the process, it has compromised its agenda further, and further dulled the propaganda tools it has overused in relation to its floundering proxy war in Syria.

    Managing the eviction of the US from the Middle East will be a slow, arduous, and dangerous process that will require maximum patience and persistence. The Syrian government and its allies' weathering of this recent attack once again proves that time is on their side and their collective discipline in the face of America's increasingly reckless foreign policy will continue to confound and complicate US objectives.

    Damascus, Moscow, and Tehran must continue this process, preparing for future provocations including staged attacks on Western forces in the region, while patiently and systematically evicting the US and its proxies from both Syrian territory, and from the region.

    For the rest of the general public appalled by US military aggression and seeking ways to resist it - the continued support of, contribution to, and participation in the alternative media as well as the boycott and permanent replacement of the corporate special interests driving US foreign policy are viable options.
  • April 15, 2018 (Tony Cartalucci - NEO) - In the aftermath of US-led missile strikes on Syria, the Western media has attempted to continue building the case for "US intervention."

    However, before the first agitators took to the streets in Syria in 2011, the US was already involved.

    The New York Times in its 2011 article, "U.S. Groups Helped Nurture Arab Uprisings," would admit (emphasis added):
    A number of the groups and individuals directly involved in the revolts and reforms sweeping the region, including the April 6 Youth Movement in Egypt, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and grass-roots activists like Entsar Qadhi, a youth leader in Yemen, received training and financing from groups like the International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute and Freedom House, a nonprofit human rights organization based in Washington, according to interviews in recent weeks and American diplomatic cables obtained by WikiLeaks.
    The work of these groups often provoked tensions between the United States and many Middle Eastern leaders, who frequently complained that their leadership was being undermined, according to the cables.
    The financing of agitators from across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) before the so-called "Arab Spring" was meant to stampede targeted governments from power - paving the way for US client states to form. Nations that resisted faced - first, US-backed militants - and failing that, direct US military intervention - as seen in Libya in 2011.

    After the US funded initial unrest in 2011 - the US has armed and funded militants fighting in Syria ever since.

    The same NYT would publish a 2013 article titled, "Arms Airlift to Syria Rebels Expands, With Aid From C.I.A.," admitting (emphasis added):
    With help from the C.I.A., Arab governments and Turkey have sharply increased their military aid to Syria's opposition fighters in recent months, expanding a secret airlift of arms and equipment for the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, according to air traffic data, interviews with officials in several countries and the accounts of rebel commanders.

    The airlift, which began on a small scale in early 2012 and continued intermittently through last fall, expanded into a steady and much heavier flow late last year, the data shows. It has grown to include more than 160 military cargo flights by Jordanian, Saudi and Qatari military-style cargo planes landing at Esenboga Airport near Ankara, and, to a lesser degree, at other Turkish and Jordanian airports.
    As the proxy war the US waged against Damascus began to fail, multiple attempts were made to justify direct US military intervention in Syria as the US and its allies did in 2011 against the Libyan government.

    This includes repeated attempts to enforce the "responsibility to protect" doctrine, multiple false-flag chemical attacks beginning with the Ghouta incident in 2013 and the emergence of the so-called "Islamic State" (ISIS) which helped the US justify the deployment of ground troops now currently occupying eastern Syria.

    The notion of the US currently "contemplating intervention" in Syria attempts to sidestep the fact that the Syrian conflict itself - from its inception - has been a US intervention.

    Long Before "Day 1"

    Even before the most recent attempt at US-led regime change in Syria, the US has pursued campaigns of violent subversion aimed at Syria and its allies.

    In 2007, veteran journalist Seymour Hersh would write in his article, "The Redirection: Is the Administration's new policy benefitting our enemies in the war on terrorism?," that (emphasis added):

    To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has coöperated with Saudi Arabia's government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.
    Hersh's words would become prophetic when, in 2011, the US would begin arming and backing militants - many with overt affiliations to Al Qaeda - in a bid to destabilize Syria and overthrow the government in Damascus.

    The article would also lay out preparations that - even in 2007 - were clearly aimed at organizing for and executing a wider conflict.

    Yet, published CIA documents drawn from the US National Archives illustrate how this singular agenda seeking to overthrow the government of Syria stretches back even earlier - by decades.

    A 1983 document signed by former CIA officer Graham Fuller titled, "Bringing Real Muscle to Bear Against Syria" (PDF), states (their emphasis):

    Syria at present has a hammerlock on US interests both in Lebanon and in the Gulf -- through closure of Iraq's pipeline thereby threatening Iraqi internationalization of the [Iran-Iraq] war. The US should consider sharply escalating the pressures against Assad [Sr.] through covertly orchestrating simultaneous military threats against Syria from three border states hostile to Syria: Iraq, Israel and Turkey.
    The report also states:
    If Israel were to increase tensions against Syria simultaneously with an Iraqi initiative, the pressures on Assad would escalate rapidly. A Turkish move would psychologically press him further.
    The document exposes both then and now, the amount of influence the US exerts across the Middle East and North Africa. It also undermines the perceived agency of states including Israel and NATO-member Turkey, revealing their subordination to US interests and that actions taken by these states are often done on behalf of Wall Street and Washington rather than on behalf of their own national interests.

    Also mentioned in the document are a variety of manufactured pretexts listed to justify a unilateral military strike on northern Syria by Turkey. The document explains:

    Turkey has considered undertaking a unilateral military strike against terrorist camps in northern Syria and would not hesitate from using menacing diplomatic language against Syria on these issues.
    Comparing this signed and dated 1983 US CIA document to more recent US policy papers and revelations of US funding of so-called activists prior to 2011, reveals not only continuity of agenda - but that attempts to portray the 2011 "uprising" as spontaneous and as merely exploited by the US are disingenuous.

    Breaking the Cycle

    The current stalemate in Syria is owed to Russia's involvement in the conflict. This began in 2013 when Moscow brokered a political deal preventing US military intervention then - and again in 2015 when the Russian military - upon Damascus' request - built up a presence within the nation. Today, it is the threat of Russian retaliation that has hemmed in US options and plunged American special interests into increasing depths of desperation.

    The recent missile strikes by the US and its tentative holdings in eastern Syria reflect geopolitical atrophy amid a conflict that was initially aimed at quickly stampeding the Syrian government from power back in 2011.

    Washington's inability to achieve its objectives leave it in an increasingly desperate position - attempting to reassert itself in the region or face the irreversible decline of its so-called "international order." However, a desperate hegemon in decline is still dangerous.

    Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine "New Eastern Outlook".
  • April 18, 2018 (Tony Cartalucci - NEO) - The Western media continues to saturate headlines with stories of "Russian meddling," meanwhile Western governments led by Washington openly celebrate their own meddling in foreign political affairs.

    One such example unfolded during the US State Department's annual "Women of Courage Awards" with Thailand-based Sirikan "June" Charoensiri among the recipients.

    Upon the US State Department's website under a post titled, "Biographies of the Finalists for the 2018 International Women of Courage Awards," Charoensiri's alleged work is described:

    In the immediate aftermath of Thailand's May 2014 coup d'etat, lawyer Sirikan Charoensiri (known as June) co-founded Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR), a lawyers' collective set up to provide pro bono legal services in human rights cases and to document human rights issues under the military government. TLHR has represented hundreds of clients since the military coup, often as the only alternative for those facing politically-motivated charges. Because of the political sensitivity of the organization's work, TLHR lawyers and staffers, and June in particular, have been subjected regularly to harassment, intimidation, and criminal charges. As a consequence of her advocacy, June is currently facing three sets of criminal charges for her work as a lawyer, including a charge of sedition -- the first for a lawyer under the military government. Nevertheless, June continues undeterred in her work.
    However, completely omitted from Charoensiri's "biography" is the fact that her organization - Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) - was organized out of the US Embassy in Bangkok following the 2014 coup and has since been funded by the US State Department via the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) since - aimed at US-backed regime change.

    NED's website included TLHR under its 2014 recipients but has since erased this page. Its 2017 listings for Thailand omit TLHR's funding despite its continued sponsorship. Local English newspapers like The Nation have covered TLHR admitting they are funded by "foreign organizations" but failed to list them or press TLHR members regarding their dependence on foreign government funding and potential conflicts of interest.

    The Nation's article, "Legal eagles fight for human rights," would admit (emphasis added):

    Established on May 24, 2014 and funded by foreign organisations, the centre has risen to prominence fast.
    Its rise to "prominence" is owed to the almost constant promotion afforded to it by the Western media - particularly representatives of Western media corporations like Reuters, AFP, the BBC, and others based in Bangkok, Thailand.

    Defending Human Rights? Or US-Funded Regime Change?

    The US State Department's aggrandizement of Charoensiri is aimed at lending what is essentially US political meddling in Thailand's internal affairs a sense of badly needed legitimacy.

    Despite the implications inferred by the award ceremony and a constant barrage of stories claiming TLHR is fighting for "human rights" in Thailand, the clients these "lawyers" represent are exclusively agitators attempting to oppose and overthrow not only the current Thai government, but Thailand's military and constitutional monarchy.

    These goals directly serve those of US-backed political proxy, billionaire Thaksin Shinawatra. A former Carlyle Group adviser, personal friend of the Bush family, and since the 2006 coup that ousted him from power - recipient of lobbying efforts from the largest PR firms in Washington - Shinawatra represents US ambitions towards establishing Thailand as a client state aimed at opposing China's regional and global rise.

    Many of those being represented by TLHR are literally members of Thaksin Shinawatra's street front, the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) also known as "red shirts." Protesters taking to the streets in recent weeks even literally wear their signature red shirts to demonstrations. The Western media has intentionally omitted mention of who the protesters are, what they represent, and who is funding them - just as they have attempted to conceal the source of TLHR's funding.

    The protests themselves are also in fact co-led by another TLHR lawyer, Anon Nampa. George Soros' Open Society-funded Frontline Defenders in a post regarding Nampa would establish him as a lawyer for TLHR:
    Anon Nampa is a human rights lawyer who works with Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR).
    Nampa's leadership role amid recent protests has been established by local media. Bangkok Post in its article, "Nine protest leaders face indictment," would report:
    The leaders are Rangsiman Rome, Sirawith Seritiwat, Nattha Mahatthana, Anon Nampa, Sukrit Piansuwan, Chonticha Jaengrew, Karn Phongpraphan, Netiwit Chotipatpaisal and Ekachai Hongkangwan.

    Nampa can also be clearly seen on stage during protests alongside protest co-leaders. In essence, a US government-funded organization is not only defending members of an anti-government protest in a foreign nation, it is also providing leadership and resources to the protest itself.
    In essence, a US government-funded organization is not only defending members of an anti-government protest in a foreign nation, it is also providing leadership and resources to the protest itself.
    Other "leaders" of the protest, including Chonticha Jaengrew are in regular contact with US Embassy staff, have visited the embassy and embassy-organized events but have so far attempted to deny any ties to US government funding or directives. Nampa's US-funding and his role in leading protests - however - implicates fellow protest leaders in aiding and abetting foreign-funded subversion.

    US Regime Change in Thailand

    Since 2006, US political proxy Thaksin Shinawatra - a convicted criminal and fugitive hiding abroad - has attempted to hold power through a series of nepotist-appointed proxies including his brother-in-law Somchai Wongsawat and his sister Yingluck Shinawatra. Shinawatra's sister was ousted from power in the above-mentioned 2014 coup.

    More recently, he has also invested in multiple alternative opposition fronts and parties in an attempt to re-brand his increasingly embattled political machine.

    Opposition to the 2014 coup has since been depicted by the Western media as a "pro-democracy" movement rather than pro-Shinawatra despite protests being led by overt lobbyists and political organizers working for Shinawatra and his US sponsors. The protests themselves are openly attended by Shinawatra's street front, the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) also known as "red shirts" who can be clearly seen wearing their signature red color during recent events.

    Shinawatra's UDD has taken to the streets before. In 2009 during riots, UDD red shirts murdered two shopkeepers while attempting to loot their property. In 2010, Shinawatra would augment his red shirt mobs with heavily armed militants triggering weeks of gun battles with government troops in the streets of the capital, resulting in nearly 100 deaths.

    In 2014 amid growing protesters against Shinawatra's sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, her corruption, and her overt attempts to amend Thai law to return her brother to power - these same militants using assault rifles and grenades attacked protesters in a bid to push them off the streets. The escalating violence was in fact what finally precipitated the 2014 coup.

    Threats by Shinawatra, his political party and his UDD "red shirt" street front of eventual "civil war" if his return to power remains obstructed have triggered fears of US-backed Syrian-style violence. While it is unlikely Shinawatra and his US sponsors can replicate the scale of violence unfolding in Syria, they could easily sponsor a campaign of terrorism the Western media would eagerly depict as "civil war."

    The US State Department's funding and aggrandizement of agitators like Charoensiri and her "Thai Lawyers for Human Rights" illustrates how US "soft power" is used to set the stage for protests and eventually violence aimed at "hard" regime change.

    Becoming familiar with the names, financial, political, and logistical ties of supposed "opposition" working on behalf of Washington today helps genuine journalists and analysts get ahead of the curve and impeding tomorrow's attempts by Washington to stampede a targeted government out of power and replace it with a client regime of its own choosing - and all the violence, instability, death, and misery that will surely accompany it.

    Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine "New Eastern Outlook".
  • April 21, 2018 (Joseph Thomas - NEO) - The US recently announced possible plans to deploy thousands of addition US Marines to East Asia as part of the recently revealed 2018 National Security Strategy which designates China along with Russia as the US Department of Defence's "principal priorities."

    The Business Insider in its article, "The US is considering sending heavily armed Marines to Asia to counter China," would state:
    The possible MEU [Marine Expeditionary Unit] deployments could reassure Asian allies that the US is not a waning power in the region, something that has become a concern for partners in the Indo-Pacific.

    However, if a nation needs to arrange a token redeployment to convince its allies it isn't a waning power, such gestures seem to only confirm such suspicions.

    China is the New "Threat"

    Within the pages of the 2018 National Security Strategy, the US has justified its increasingly direct, adversarial posture towards China by claiming:
    China is a strategic competitor using predatory economics to intimidate its neighbors while militarizing features in the South China Sea.
    The document continues:
    China is leveraging military modernization, influence operations, and predatory economics to coerce neighboring countries to reorder the Indo-Pacific region to their advantage. As China continues its economic and military ascendance, asserting power through an all-of-nation long-term strategy, it will continue to pursue a military modernization program that seeks Indo-Pacific regional hegemony in the near-term and displacement of the United States to achieve global preeminence in the future.

    The paper also makes mention of what it calls an "international order," a reoccurring theme throughout several decades of US policy papers. While this particular paper claims it is "free and open" and "rules-based," other papers have more candidly described it.

    Prolific US policymaker and neoconservative pro-war commentator Robert Kagan would claim:
    The present world order serves the needs of the United States and its allies, which constructed it.
    In other words, the "international order" is merely the world as the US sees fit. US policy in Asia, attempting to maintain hegemony in a region a literal ocean away from its own shores validates Kagan's interpretation of what "international order" actually means. It is neither "free and open" nor "rules-based" unless it is understood that the world is considered "free and open" for Washington to do with as it pleases, with "rules" used only to constrain the actions of others in order to prevent competition.

    In reality, the "international order" is predicated on a more timeless geopolitical maxim, "might makes right." Reflected in the pages of the 2018 US National Security Strategy then, is a United States attempting to cope with the fact that very soon it will no longer be the mightiest in the zero-sum world it created.

    Targeting China's "strategic competition" across Asia with a military build-up in East Asia, however, reveals the United States' fundamental weaknesses, its overdependence on military might and its reliance on geopolitical coercion based on outdated administrative institutions similar to those of the bygone British Empire. The US appears to have made its long-term containment policy regarding China based purely on the assumption that it could maintain its military supremacy over China and continue monopolising global economics indefinitely.

    It assumed wrong.

    Building Together Versus Dividing and Destroying

    In contrast, China is building an alternative order upon economic opportunities, binding Asia together through infrastructure, manufacturing, enterprise and trade. Absent from Beijing's methodology is the political coercion, preconditions and interference ubiquitous throughout US foreign policy.

    And while it is logical to assume that should China accrue the same amount of power and influence the US once had, it too would become coercive, the changing nature of technology, military and economic parity as well as leadership across Asia is ensuring a more equitable balance of regional power emerges in the form of the much discussed "multipolar world order."

    The US, as it fades from the region, has simply doubled down on threats, coercion and the creation of conflicts it then poses its continued role in the region as the solution to.

    Rather than competing with China's ambitious regional building spree with its own slew of sponsored projects, the US has opted to attack and undermine China's efforts. It does so by funding groups to impede construction projects under the pretext of protecting the environment, attempting to replace governments with client regimes unwilling to work with Beijing and even resorting to sponsoring violence and terrorism to directly target individual Chinese projects.

    When all else fails, the US seeks to sow sociopolitical division across targeted nations, ensuring that if the US cannot have Asia, no one will.

    It is an unsustainable strategy both politically and technically. As Chinese-driven development continues, more people will be lifted from poverty and less likely to join US-sponsored opposition and militant groups seeking to destabilise and destroy Asia's collective achievements and the stability that underpins them.

    Positioning additional troops in Japan, South Korea or the Philippines will not significantly affect the vector sum of America's regional or global decline. It has bet on and invested too deeply in the wrong course of action in its short history, having apparently learned nothing from the various empires that preceded and collapsed before it. Before American primacy too joins them in the scrapheap of history, it appears that US policymakers refuse to take a course of action now that could maintain a respectable position within this new, emerging multipolar world.

    For Asia, the choice is simple if presented with a declining, coercive "international order" serving the United States "which constructed it," or rising with China in a multipolar geopolitical paradigm where national sovereignty holds primacy, not a distant capital an ocean away.

    Joseph Thomas is chief editor of Thailand-based geopolitical journal, The New Atlas and contributor to the online magazine "New Eastern Outlook".
  • April 24, 2018 (Joseph Thomas - NEO) - China's plans to build high-speed rail connecting Kunming in its Yunnan province with the rest of Southeast Asia are already underway. In the landlocked nation of Laos, tunnels and bridges are already under construction.

    The United States has, in general, condemned China's One Belt, One Road (OBOR) sweeping infrastructure programme, with US and European policy circles accusing Beijing of what they call "debt trap diplomacy."

    Quartz in an article titled, "Eight countries in danger of falling into China's "debt trap"," would claim:
    Beijing "encourages dependency using opaque contracts, predatory loan practices, and corrupt deals that mire nations in debt and undercut their sovereignty, denying them their long-term, self-sustaining growth," said US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on March 6. "Chinese investment does have the potential to address Africa's infrastructure gap, but its approach has led to mounting debt and few, if any, jobs in most countries," he added.
    The report continued, stating:
    Some call this "debt-trap diplomacy": Offer the honey of cheap infrastructure loans, with the sting of default coming if smaller economies can't generate enough free cash to pay their interest down.
    While nations should protect themselves from the dangers of being indebted to foreign interests, the US and supposedly international institutions like the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank are hardly innocent of wielding debt as a geopolitical weapon themselves.

    However, while some of China's projects may be questionable, others offer tangible benefits not only for China, but for the regions they will be interlinking.

    Laos' Escape from Colonial Shadows

    The real concern in Washington, London and Brussels is regarding infrastructure projects that are successful, bringing profit and benefits to both Beijing and partner nations, allowing them to collectively move out from under centuries of Western primacy.

    Before Chinese investment picked up in Laos, the capital of Vientiane was diminutive even compared to nearby Thai provincial capitals. The sports utility vehicles of US and European nongovernmental organisations could be seen driving through the small city's streets, some of which were unpaved. Banners bearing the UN logo encouraged local residents to turn off their lights, making an already eerily dark capital even darker at night.

    Campaigners funded by Western capitals attempted to obstruct earlier projects, including dams that would have created energy, expanded industrialisation, provided jobs and boosted the economy.

    Over the past decade, Chinese investment has seen highways built across Laos connecting its isolated capital with its neighbours. Vientiane has seen not only an uptick in Chinese investment, but from Vietnam and Thailand as well.

    The completion of a high-speed rail network connecting Kunming, China to Singapore, and passing through Vientiane, Laos, will bring even more people, goods and investments into the nation.

    US Offers Only Complaining as Alternative

    The US State Department's Radio Free Asia (RFA) media front in a special titled, "China's Fast Track to Influence: Building a Railway in Laos," attempts to leverage America's favourite soft power tools, namely "human rights" and "environmental issues" along with warnings of debt to cast doubts on the project.

    The article claims:
    The railway -- which will eventually run from Kunming in southwestern China through Laos, Thailand, and Malaysia to Singapore -- is a key component of China's signature global infrastructure plan, the ambitious Belt and Road Initiative.

    China is now the top investor in Laos, and Chinese companies are pouring billions of dollars into Special Economic Zones, dams, mines, and rubber plantations. Beijing hopes the aid and investment will draw the landlocked Southeast Asian nation, a former French colony with close ties to its communist mentor state Vietnam, into Beijing's orbit.

    The article also claims:
    "[Laos was] left with no real alternative but to accept large-scale Chinese investment in infrastructure, even if it meant accepting the economic and political influence that comes with it," researcher Michael Hart wrote in the Dec. 20, 2017 issue of World Politics Review. "The risk of rebuffing Beijing was too great, as sustained growth and faster development are vital to ensure the legitimacy of the ruling party."
    The supposed alternative to Chinese-built infrastructure and real, tangible progress, of course, is for Laos to continue hosting US and European NGOs attempting to create parallel institutions to run the nation with before eventually replacing the ruling political order in Vientiane with a US and European-backed client state.

    Even as Laos begins to irreversibly exit from under the shadow of the West's colonial past, the US and Europe are unable to offer any significant projects that actually provide Laos with an alternative route toward real economic progress.

    RFA's article attempts to scrutinise government compensation for residents displaced by the project and point out supposed environmental issues tied to the railway, two vectors the US has often used to impede development in nations worldwide to prevent economic progress and competition to US preeminence.

    The US media is also attempting to encourage fears of a China it claims in the near future will overstep its bounds and trample its neighbours.

    While China will undoubtedly win significant influence in Laos and reap benefits from its infrastructure projects across the region, other nations across Southeast Asia will as well.

    The sort of primacy achieved by Europe and the US across Asia before the World Wars will be difficult, if not impossible for China to duplicate. While China does possess a powerful economy and is constructing a formidable military, the disparity in economic power and military might in the region today is not comparable to that which existed between Western colonial powers and their subjects in the past.

    The technological divide that had previously granted the industrialised West its advantage over the rest of the underdeveloped world has been bridged. The same technology China is now using to drive its manufacturing and high-tech industries are also being leveraged by other developing nations across Asia offering competition as well as a regional balance of power.

    This exposes the real fears Washington is currently dealing with, not a China transforming into a regional or global hegemon and threat, but a multipolar Asia that is no longer subjected to US hegemony or threats.

    Joseph Thomas is chief editor of Thailand-based geopolitical journal, The New Atlas and contributor to the online magazine "New Eastern Outlook".
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