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  • November 17, 2019 (Joseph Thomas - NEO) - Beginning in 2011, the Kingdom of Thailand began replacing aging US helicopters not with newer US-built models, but with Russian and Italian systems instead.

    This includes Russian Mi-17 medium twin-turbine transport helicopters and several AgustaWestland AW149's and AW139's (for transporting VIPs).

    According to a January 2019 article in Jane's 360:
    The RTA [Royal Thai Army] already operates five Mi-17V-5 platforms. In March 2008 the service ordered the first three such rotorcraft from Russia, which were delivered in March 2011, followed by the remaining two in November 2015 under a contract signed in July 2014.

    The article also noted that 2 more have recently arrived in Thailand, bringing the total number up to 7:
    The Royal Thai Army (RTA) has received two more Russian-made Mil Mi-17V-5 'Hip-H' medium transport helicopters, an RTA source told Jane's on 8 January.
    Russia's embassy in Bangkok would note during the delivery of several Mi-17's in 2015 that:
    This model of the famous Russian MI-17 helicopter can be used not only for transportation purposes but also in combat circumstances as well as for civil needs, in particular for rescue operations and forest fire extinguishing.
    Indeed, far from just new toys resulting from a military spending spree as US-backed opposition figures in Thailand claim, Russian-built Mi-17s have already been seen in action, most notably during the spectacular cave rescue incident last year where 12 children and their football coach made it out of flooded caves alive.

    Mi-17's could be seen bringing in heavy equipment and other supplies to aid in search and rescue operations, just as Russian representatives had promised they could. The rescued children were also in fact flown to safety on Thailand's Mi-17's.

    While these initial 7 Mi-17's sound insignificant, it should be noted that Thailand operates only 12 US-built UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters. While it has a much larger number of much older US-built UH-1 and UH-212 Huey helicopters (78 and 51 respectively) only 20 UH-1's are being modernised along with 48 UH-212's.

    Interestingly enough, the resources needed to upgrade Thailand's aging US helicopter fleet was so extensive it prompted Thai policymakers to look into and eventually decide to begin transitioning over to Russia's Mi-17, using funds from the upgrade programme to do so.

    Defense Industry Daily would report in its January 2019 article, "Thais Go Russian, Buy Mi-17 Helicopters -- Now to Pay with Rubber," that (my emphasis):
    The Bangkok Post reports that Russia had offered to sell Mi-17s to Thailand at 168 million baht each in 2006, but the price has gone up. The first 3 helicopters will now cost 950 million baht, with another 50 million baht for pilot training and ground equipment (1 billion baht currently = $29.1 million). The other 3 helicopters will reportedly be paid for by funds diverted from the Huey upgrade program.
    The article would also quote Thai representatives regarding cost and performance considerations over buying more US helicopters versus new Russian alternatives:
    "We are buying three Mi-17 helicopters for the price of one Black Hawk. The Mi-17 can also carry more than 30 troops, while the Black Hawk could carry only 13 soldiers. These were the key factors behind the decision."
    This should hardly come as a surprise and is about more than just shifting geopolitics.

    Even the US Agrees: Russian Helicopters are Better

    The US itself in the midst of its now 2 decade-long occupation of Afghanistan even at one point began buying Russian Mi-17's to equip the Afghan military to save money both in initial purchases and maintenance as well as in terms of training mechanics and pilots.

    The Washington Post in a 2013 article titled, "Congress fuming over U.S. purchase of Russian helicopters for Afghanistan," would claim:

    By the end of 2016, Afghanistan's air force is due to have 86 Russian-made Mi-17 helicopters. Most of them will have been purchased by the United States from Rosoboronexport, the same state weapons exporter that continues to arm the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad.
    The article also admits:
    The Pentagon says that there is no better, cheaper helicopter than the Mi-17 to operate in Afghanistan's desert expanses and high altitudes, and that it is the aircraft the Afghans know best.
    Later, a purely politically-motivated transition toward US-built UH-60 Blackhawks precipitated predictable problems, as Defense News would report in its 2018 article, "Afghans are switching from Russian to US helicopters, but senators are concerned over the approach," noting:
    As the Afghans transition from the Mi-17 to the UH-60, several operational challenges have cropped up regarding the Black Hawk's capability related to the Mi-17.

    The IG report said that the Black Hawk does not have the lift capacity comparable to Mi-17s and is unable to take on some of the larger cargo an Mi-17 carries, which requires two UH-60s to carry the load of one Mi-17.

    Additionally, the Black Hawks can't fly at the same high elevations as an Mi-17. As a result, the former cannot operate in remote areas of the country.
    UH-60 Blackhawks cost 2-3 times as much as Mi-17's, with less lift and a much smaller passenger and cargo capacity while being unable to perform across the same extensive environments as Mi-17's.

    For any policymaker, cost and performance considerations alone are enough to make a case for "going Russian."

    While political considerations in Washington have directed policy toward wasting money on inferior technology, in capitals elsewhere around the globe chaffing under US interference in their internal affairs and the US' disruptive foreign policy in general, bolstering Russian industry (or China's for that matter) at Washington's expense can only help tip the balance of global power further in favour of a more equitable multipolar world.

    Considering the success of Russia's Mi-17, with even Washington itself having at one point bought them in great quantities, it should be no surprise that nations particularly in Asia are receptive to greater collaboration with Russian helicopter manufacturers.

    Early in 2019, Russian Helicopters carried out a demonstration in Thailand and other Southeast Asian states to showcase their rotary-wing aircraft for civilian uses. The Bangkok Post in its article, "Russian Helicopters begins Asian offensive," would note:
    The demonstration is part of Russian Helicopter's business strategy to break into the civil aviation market in Southeast Asia and China. The company already has many military contracts in the region, but would like to expand into civilian uses like medical emergencies, policing and VIP transport.
    The article also notes that the company is already in the process of delivering several Ka-32A11BC helicopters (used for search and rescue) to Thailand.

    Also earlier this year, it was reported that Russian Helicopters was interested in building a factory in Thailand. The Bangkok Post in its article, "Russian Helicopters keen on setting up Thai plant," would report:
    Russian Helicopters is seeking to form a joint venture with a Thai company to enter the country's flagship Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC), aiming to establish production of helicopter parts for aviation companies.
    All of this is just one part of Russia's wider interest in investing in and partnering with Thailand and other nations in the region.

    Not Just Selling Helicopters, But Building Enduring Relations

    It should be noted that the purchase of complex systems like aircraft or naval vessels entails more than just the transfer of money and equipment.

    It also requires closer ties between the two nations involved, with Russia now committed to training Thai pilots and mechanics in how to operate and maintain their growing collection of Russian aircraft. With such collaboration comes closer ties in general and helps further reduce Thailand's dependence on and vulnerability to US interests, influence and interference. It also aids in doing so, however incrementally, for the rest of Southeast Asia.

    A similar process is taking place between Thailand and China where Thailand is replacing the vast majority of its aging US armoured vehicles with modern Chinese alternatives as well as the purchase of several significant naval vessels including the Kingdom's first modern submarine.

    Because Russia and China create superior technology at a fraction of the cost of US alternatives, nations are faced with an easy, commonsense decision to make. While US pressure in the past was often able to coerce nations into making decisions contra to their best interests, this is no longer the case. Thus we are witnessing the tipping off of irreversible momentum against Washington's favour.

    It is not as if American engineers are incapable of creating comparable technology at competitive costs, it is a concentrated collection of special interests who monopolise the required physical and political resource, preventing them from doing so, all in pursuit of unrealistic ambitions of global hegemony. The desire to rule over the world's nations rather than fairly do business among them appears to be costing America the ability to do either.

    Until this part of the equation is solved in the United States, Russian helicopters and likely a wider range of technology and services across other industries, hold a bright future across Eurasia, including Southeast Asia and particularly in Thailand.

    Joseph Thomas is chief editor of Thailand-based geopolitical journal, The New Atlas and contributor to the online magazine "New Eastern Outlook".
  • November 21, 2019 (Tony Cartlaucci - NEO) - The New York Times has once again exposed itself as an organ of US special interests operating under the guise of journalism - contributing to Wall Street and Washington's ongoing and escalating hybrid war with China with a particularly underhanded piece of war propaganda.

    Its article, "'Absolutely No Mercy': Leaked Files Expose How China Organized Mass Detentions of Muslims," at face value attempts to bolster allegations made primarily by the United States that China is organizing unwarranted and oppressive "mass detentions" of "Muslims" in China's western region of Xinjiang.

    But just by investigating the quote in the headline alone reveals both the truth behind what is really happening in Xinjiang, why Beijing has reacted the way it has, and that the United States, including its mass media - is deliberately lying about it.

    Ten paragraphs into the NYT article, the quote "absolutely no mercy" appears again - only this time it is placed within proper context. It was the response Beijing vowed in the aftermath of a coordinated terrorist attack in 2014 that left 31 people dead at China's Kunming rail station.

    The NYT would write (emphasis added):
    President Xi Jinping, the party chief, laid the groundwork for the crackdown in a series of speeches delivered in private to officials during and after a visit to Xinjiang in April 2014, just weeks after Uighur militants stabbed more than 150 people at a train station, killing 31. Mr. Xi called for an all-out "struggle against terrorism, infiltration and separatism" using the "organs of dictatorship," and showing "absolutely no mercy."
    The NYT - which has actively and eagerly promoted every US war in living memory - would unlikely flinch at the notion of the US showing "absolutely no mercy" against "terrorism, infiltration, and separatist," yet it demonstrates a particular adversion to it in regards to Beijing just as the prominent newspaper has done regarding Syria and its now 8 year struggle against foreign-funded terrorism.

    Despite claiming to have "400 pages of internal Chinese documents" - the most damning allegations made by Washington and indeed the NYT itself - are still left unsubstantiated.

    This includes claims that "authorities have corralled as many as a million ethnic Uighurs, Kazakhs and others into internment camps and prisons over the past three years." No where in the NYT article is evidence derived from these documents to substantiate that claim.

    Dubious Origins

    Like much of what the US media holds up as "evidence" to bolster establishment narratives - the "leaked files" come with it doubts over their provenance, translation, and the context and manner in which they are being presented to the public. There are also the lies of omission deliberately presented by the NYT and others covering this recent "leak" that need to be considered.

    The NYT itself admits (emphasis added):
    Though it is unclear how the documents were gathered and selected, the leak suggests greater discontent inside the party apparatus over the crackdown than previously known. The papers were brought to light by a member of the Chinese political establishment who requested anonymity and expressed hope that their disclosure would prevent party leaders, including Mr. Xi, from escaping culpability for the mass detentions.
    Regardless - nothing appearing in the NYT article is actually a revelation of any kind. China has made its policies clear regarding terrorism and separatism in Xinjiang. Like every other nation on Earth - China refuses to tolerate violent terrorism and the extremist ideology used to drive it. These policies - when presented out of context as the NYT has deliberately done - appear heavy-handed, oppressive, unwarranted, and authoritarian.

    If presented together with the very real violence, terrorism, and foreign-sponsored separatism emanating from Xinjiang - the polices take on an entirely different and understanble light.

    Terrorism in Xinjiang is Real, But Omitted When Reporting Beijing's Counter-terrorism Efforts

    The Western corporate media itself has even repeatedly covered deadly terrorism carried out by a minority of extremists among China's Uyghur population. However - they do so in the most ambiguous way possible - and refuse to mention it when subsequently covering Beijing's attempts to counter it.

    For example, CNN in a 2014 article titled, "China train station killings described as a terrorist attack," would report:
    A day after men armed with long knives stormed a railway station in the southwest Chinese city of Kunming, killing dozens of people and wounding more than 100, authorities described what happened as a premeditated terrorist attack.
    The article also admits that Xinjiang is beset with "frequent outbreaks of violence," in reference to waves of violent terrorism carried out by Uyghur separatists, but falls far short of qualifying just how bad this violence has been.

    The BBC would extensively elaborate on what CNN meant by "frequent outbreaks of violence" in a 2014 article titled, "Why is there tension between China and the Uighurs?," reporting that (emphasis added):
    In June 2012, six Uighurs reportedly tried to hijack a plane from Hotan to Urumqi before they were overpowered by passengers and crew.

    There was bloodshed in April 2013 and in June that year, 27 people died in Shanshan county after police opened fire on what state media described as a mob armed with knives attacking local government buildings

    At least 31 people were killed and more than 90 suffered injuries in May 2014 when two cars crashed through an Urumqi market and explosives were tossed into the crowd. China called it a "violent terrorist incident".

    It followed a bomb and knife attack at Urumqi's south railway station in April, which killed three and injured 79 others.

    In July, authorities said a knife-wielding gang attacked a police station and government offices in Yarkant, leaving 96 dead. The imam of China's largest mosque, Jume Tahir, was stabbed to death days later.

    In September about 50 died in blasts in Luntai county outside police stations, a market and a shop. Details of both incidents are unclear and activists have contested some accounts of incidents in state media.

    Some violence has also spilled out of Xinjiang. A March stabbing spree in Kunming in Yunnan province that killed 29 people was blamed on Xinjiang separatists, as was an October 2013 incident where a car ploughed into a crowd and burst into flames in Beijing's Tiananmen Square.
    While the NYT also references deadly terrorism in Xinjiang - it does so in a muted, secondary fashion, attempting to decouple it from Beijing's motivations for pursuing polices with "absolutely no mercy" in response.

    One need not imagine what would follow if such violence took place on US or European soil or the polices demonstrating "absolutely no mercy" that would undoubtedly follow not only domestically, but across the globe against nations perceived - or claimed - to have been involved.

    The September 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington D.C. precipitated a now 20 year long "War on Terror" which has evolved into multiple ongoing wars, military occupations, and covert operations across scores of nations. The US Department of Defense's own newspaper, Stars and Stripes, in a recent article titled, "Post 9/11 wars have cost American taxpayers $6.4 trillion, study finds," would admit (emphasis added):
    American taxpayers have spent some $6.4 trillion in nearly two decades of post-9/11 wars, which have killed some 800,000 people worldwide, the Cost of Wars Project announced Wednesday.

    The numbers reflect the toll of American combat and other military operations across some 80 nations since al-Qaida operatives attacked the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington in 2001, launching the United States into its longest-ever wars aimed at stamping out terrorism worldwide.
    By comparison, China's attempts to rehabilitate extremists through education and employment is a far cry from America's global war - in which as many have died, as the US claims China is "detaining."

    This is before even considering that out of the 80 nations the US is waging war and killing people in - the one nation from which the majority of the 9/11 hijackers came from - Saudi Arabia - has not only been spared, but is sold record-breaking amounts of US weapons and hosts US troops to protect it from regional states it openly attacks with legions of armed extremists espousing the same toxic ideology that motivated the 9/11 hijackers.

    The US Sponsors Xinjiang Unrest

    Worse still, the US has been repeatedly caught jointly-sponsoring the very strain of extremism allegedly behind the 9/11 attacks in its various proxy and regime-change wars beforehand and ever since.

    Not surprisingly, there is also evidence that the US is fueling the violence in Xinjiang itself as well as recruiting extremists from the region to fight in US proxy wars abroad - most notably in Syria. These militants are then returned to China with extensive experience in terrorism.

    US State Department-funded and directed Voice of America (VOA) in an article titled, "Analysts: Uighur Jihadis in Syria Could Pose Threat," would admit (emphasis added):
    Analysts are warning that the jihadi group Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP) in northwestern Syria could pose a danger to Syria's volatile Idlib province, where efforts continue to keep a fragile Turkey-Russia-brokered cease-fire between Syrian regime forces and the various rebel groups.

    The TIP declared an Islamic emirate in Idlib in late November and has largely remained off the radar of authorities and the media thanks to its low profile. Founded in 2008 in the northwestern Chinese region of Xinjiang, the TIP has been one of the major extremist groups in Syria since the outbreak of the civil war in the country in 2011.

    The TIP is primarily made up of Uighur Muslims from China, but in recent years it also has included other jihadi fighters within its ranks.
    Uyghur recruits have been trafficked through Southeast Asia where - when discovered, detained, and deported back to China - are followed by protests from the US State Department.

    When Thailand refused to heed US demands that Uyghur recruits be allowed to move onward to Turkey - where they would be armed, trained, and sent into Syria - a deadly bomb would detonate in Bangkok killing 20. The bombing was linked to the Turkish terrorist organization, the Grey Wolves, co-sponsored by the US for decades to augment NATO's unconventional warfare capabilities.

    The US government's own National Endowment for Democracy (NED) openly funds fronts operating out of Washington D.C. espousing separatism with the NED's webpage detailing its funding of these groups even including the fictional name of "East Turkestan" used by separatists who reject the official designation of Xinjiang which resides within China's internationally-recognized borders.

    The inclusion of the term "East Turkestan" implies US support for separatism as well as the very real, ongoing deadly terrorism demonstratably used to pursue it.

    And more than just implicitly supporting separatism, US government support in the form of NED money is admittedly provided to the World Uyghur Congress (WUC) which exclusively refers to China's Xinjiang province as "East Turkistan" and refers to China's administration of Xinjiang as the "Chinese occupation of East Turkistan." On WUC's own website, articles like, "Op-ed: A Profile of Rebiya Kadeer, Fearless Uyghur Independence Activist," admits that WUC leader Rebiya Kadeer seeks "Uyghur independence" from China.
    WUC and its various US-funded affiliates often serve as the sole "source" of allegations being made against the Chinese government regarding Xinjiang. As the US does elsewhere it lies to fuel unrest in pursuit of its geopolitical agenda, allegations regarding Xinjiang often come from "anonymous" sources based on hearsay and lacking any actual physical evidence.

    The US State Department's "Radio Free Asia" network even maintains a "Uyghur Service" which pumps out daily accusations aimed at stirring domestic tension within China, and smearing China's image internationally. RFA allegations are uncritically repeated by other Western corporate media networks in an attempt to bolster the impact of this propaganda.

    US Gaslighting on a Global Scale

    The US through its policies and propaganda - including this most recent NYT article - accuse Beijing of "repression" for responding to very real, admitted, and extensively documented deadly terrorism plaguing China.

    At the same time, the US pursues a global war spanning 80 nations and resulting in the death of hundreds of thousands, destroying entire countries, and displacing or otherwise destroying the lives of millions.

    While citing "terrorism" as a pretext for its global aggression, it is simultaneously fueling the very armed extremism it claims it is fighting against. This includes the very real terrorism the NYT attempted to downplay to maximize the propaganda value of its "leaked files" story - despite other Western media networks covering this terrorism for years.

    Not only is this US policy disjointed, deceitful, and deadly - it is incredibly dangerous. It is essentially a low-intensity version of what the US has been doing in Syria and had previously done in Libya leading to the North Africa nation's destruction.

    It is all but a declaration of war against China - not through direct military intervention - but through armed proxies, propaganda, and a deliberate, concerted effort to sow instability, division, and strife across Chinese society.

    Coupled with economic warfare aimed at crippling China's economy - Beijing finds itself a nation under siege. The fact that it has not responded to this very real, demonstratable existential threat with a fraction of the violence and global-spanning destruction the US has employed to fight its fictional "War on Terror," is the best proof of all that the dystopian authoritarian regime the NYT tries to portray Beijing as - is as fictional and nonexistent as journalism is at the NYT's office.

    Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine"New Eastern Outlook".
  • November 26, 2019 (Gunnar Ulson - NEO) - The battle between fading US tech giants and their Chinese rivals spans the globe. China's Huawei appears to have won the battle in its own backyard of Asia, but what about in Europe where the US still holds a large amount of leverage it is not afraid to use?

    A self-described "non-profit independent journalism center in Hungary" has recently published an article titled, "Hungary's government is quietly neck-deep in the U.S.-Huawei war."

    In it, the "non-profit" Direkt36 claims:
    Viktor Orban's government has found itself in the middle of a great power conflict in 2019. Last year, a new battleground emerged in the trade war between the United States and China. Washington accused Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei of espionage on behalf of the Chinese state and of corporate espionage.
    It also claims (emphasis added):
    Although Hungary's significance is relatively small in NATO and EU decision-making because of the size of the country, it still plays an important role in the European debate on Huawei. Hungary's government regularly vetoes or blocks European decisions unfavorable to China's political leadership, and one of Huawei's most important European hubs is in Hungary.
    Direkt36 went as far as quoting the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo:
    U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sent a clear message to the Hungarian government during his February 2019 visit. "Russia is not the only power that wants to erode freedom in this region. I raised with Peter [Szijjarto] today the dangers of allowing China to gain a bridgehead in Hungary," Pompeo said, standing next to the Hungarian Foreign Minister at a press conference after their talks. "Beijing's handshake sometimes comes with strings, strings that will leave Hungary indebted both economically and politically," the Secretary of State said, promising that, from now on, the United States would play an active role in stopping China in the Central European region.

    For the US, getting Hungary to reverse its habit of vetoing EU decisions unfavorable to China is and pressuring it to divest from companies like Huawei why it funds centers like Direkt36 to decry Hungary-China relations and Huawei's gains there.

    Despite Direkt36 claiming to be some sort of independent Hungarian center for journalism, its article reads like a paid promotion for the US State Department. Virtually the entire issue of Hungarian-Chinese relations was presented through the filter of US interests, a nation located an ocean away from Europe.

    Upon examining Direkt36's funding and affiliations it becomes clear why this is.

    Direkt36 is not "Independent," Not "Journalists"

    On Direkt36's website alone it admits it is funded by convicted financial criminal George Soros' Open Society Foundation and run by a collection of former-BBC staff, US State Department Fulbright scholars and other products of US-EU education and indoctrination.

    Direkt36 also admits it is funded by the New York-based Rockefeller Foundation and Internews.

    Internews is in turn funded by Western IT and media corporations (Facebook, Google, Channel 4 and SkyNews) as well as the US government itself through the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and USAID.

    Huawei is Outcompeting Western Rivals For Good Reason

    Despite Direkt36's attempts to launder US State Department talking points through its "independent journalism center," even its own article admits that across the rest of Europe Huawei is gaining ground.

    Even in nations known for their expertise in telecommunications like Finland and Norway, many projects have used Huawei technology instead.

    Despite Direkt36 alluding to "European intelligence services" issuing "multiple warnings that the company's equipments pose security risks," the article is forced to admit that nations as big and as influential within the European Union as Germany trust Huawei enough to contribute "to the German 5G network buildout."

    Consider the amount of money the US alone has spent funding fronts like Direkt36 or on its ongoing trade war with China including attempts to strongarm nations around the world to ban or boycott Chinese companies including (or even especially) Huawei.

    Imagine if that money was instead invested in research and development toward creating and implementing telecommunication infrastructure at levels of quality and pricing that could simply compete with Huawei.

    The successful products of such investments would speak for themselves both within the realm of public opinion and within policymaking circles around the globe charged with evaluating and investing in partners for infrastructure development.

    How do we know this strategy would work? Chinese companies are already using it, and using it successfully. Despite heavy US pressure on nations across Southeast Asia and America's still powerful grip on global media, nearly all nations have signed agreements with Huawei save for Vietnam which is barring Huawei for its own political reasons independent of US pressure.

    Despite US tech companies barring Huawei from access to essential components and even from the otherwise ubiquitous Android operating system used on smartphones around the globe, Huawei continues to adapt and gain ground.

    Short of the US adopting a new strategy to deal with China's rise or its acceptance as a nation among nations rather than presiding above them, Huawei and other businesses sprouting across the developing world will continue to whittle away at US unipolarism until nothing is left.

    The definition of insanity is often claimed to be doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. For the US, how else should we describe a foreign policy based on coercion that clearly doesn't work but is still being used regardless?

    For US businesses who are interested in a constructive role in the multipolar future that is emerging, they should resist the temptation to be drawn into the US trade war and instead look for ways to circumvent and undermine it. From the basic premises underlining the current US position to the dubious means it uses to advance it, it fails to add up and offers no future to those who invest in it.

    Gunnar Ulson, a New York-based geopolitical analyst and writer especially for the online magazine "New Eastern Outlook".

  • Facebook - backed by some of the largest banks and corporations on Earth - seek to create a global digital currency and reassert Western dominion over the global economy.

    November 30, 2019 (Tony Cartalucci - NEO) - Many are probably already familiar with US-based social media giants like Facebook and Twitter carrying out sweeping campaigns of censorship executed in line with US foreign policy objectives.

    New Eastern Outlook itself was deleted off of both networks - just one among many thousands of accounts wiped out in a virtual information war.

    Many are also probably aware of how Facebook in particular has trampled the privacy of its users, manipulated users unwittingly through involuntary experiments and controls what many people around the globe see while online - most of the time without users even realizing it.

    But imagine instead of just silencing and marginalizing opponents or controlling the information the public has access to and thus manipulating the public itself, Facebook was also able to control the very currency people use in their day to day lives. Its control over the public, both within the US and beyond, would be unprecedented.

    The ability to control both information and money would be a potent tool, enhancing Facebook's already deeply disruptive and abusive behavior as well as the much larger corporate-financier interests Facebook works with and for.

    Enter Libra
    Earlier this year Facebook announced its own currency called Libra. It is based on blockchain technology, billed as a "cryptocurrency," and aims at dominating banking and commerce in much the same way Facebook already dominates social media, messaging and in general, the flow of information.

    There is no doubt that the same cooperation Facebook has provided the US government and the interests that dominate its domestic and foreign policy in controlling and manipulating public opinion around the globe, stifling alternative news, and even overthrowing governments will translate directly into a similar pattern of abuse through its desired control over a global currency.

    Unlike hard currency which does not know in whose hands it resides and thus is unable to discriminate against its holder - Libra not only allows Facebook to know whose hands its currency is in, but how much of it is there, what it is being used for - in addition to all other personal information Facebook has access to. This not only allows for an obvious extension of Facebook's already well-known politically-motivated abuses - but also gives Facebook the ability to target users who may pose as competition to Facebook or one of the many larger corporations Facebook works with or for.

    Imagine Facebook carrying out a similar campaign to their current one of political censorship, but with an added monetary component - not only removing the West's political opponents from their social media network and effectively silencing them, but crippling them financially by freezing their accounts and denying them access to the massive digital global economy they hope to create and control through Libra.

    While US politicians and regulators appear to be obstructing Libra's rollout, the truth is that many of the very interests these politicians and regulators work for are directly involved in Libra's creation.

    Not Just Facebook: What is the "Libra Association?"

    The initial white paper laying out Libra's premise included in its introduction:
    Libra's mission is to enable a simple global currency and financial infrastructure that empowers billions of people.
    Such noble intentions are betrayed not only by Facebook's involvement, but also by the partners included in Libra's creation.

    While Facebook serves as the face of Libra, it and its subsidiary Calibra are only two among many members of the Geneva-based "Libra Association."

    Other partners include Mastercard, Visa, Lyft, Uber, Vodafone, and eBay along with a handful of venture capital firms and nonprofits.

    These nonprofits include Women's World Banking funded by Visa, Credit Suisse, MetLife, Citi Bank, Exxon, Bloomberg, Mastercard, Goldman Sachs and many other large corporations and banking interests.

    There is also MercyCorps whose website is particularly opaque in regards to its funding, but includes inveterate Neo-Conservative, former World Bank president, and US Deputy Secretary of State under George Bush Jr. Robert Zoellick upon its "Global Leadership Council."

    Kiva - like MercyCorps - is another Libra Association "nonprofit" partnered with a collection of banks and corporations including Google, HP, Mastercard, PayPal, Capital One, Deutsche Bank, MetLife, PepsiCo, Citi Bank, eBay, BlackRock, Bank of America, JP Morgan, and Chevron.

    It would be difficult to construct a more dubious list of partners, donors, and associates in fiction than the one standing behind Libra in reality.

    Judging by the composition of those driving Libra forward, we can make two assumptions:

    1. Libra's founders are among the same special interests that drive US policy, legislation, and regulations. The prospect of the US government legitimately evaluating and regulating Libra in line with the best interests of the American and global public is nonexistent;
    2. Despite Libra's stated mission of "empowering billions," its rollout looks more like the restructuring of America's financial hegemony over billions. Libra seeks to circumvent alternatives created to work around the already abusive and coercive global financial networks the US dominates and weaponizes to its own advantage.
    F. William Engdahl in his article, "Is the Fed Preparing to Topple US Dollar?," aptly noted that Bank of England governor Mark Carney at a US Federal Reserve sponsored symposium proposed a global digital currency citing Libra specifically as a model.

    Considering the very interests that constitute Western banking and finance are involved in Libra's creation - it is obvious that Libra is more than just a model being cited - it is the global digital currency insiders like Carney proposed coming to life.

    Remembering Facebook's Long History of Abuses

    While many of the corporations and financial institutions involved in Libra's creation are systematically corrupt all on their own, the conduct of Facebook past and present most aptly illustrates the abuse to be expected should Libra be adopted globally.

    While Facebook poses as an independent corporation monopolizing and abusing its social media network and subsidiaries - in reality Facebook has carried out these abuses in tandem with the US government and the collection of special interests that monopolize US domestic and foreign policy.

    US government oversight - including past hearing and regulatory inquiries into Libra itself - is often done for public consumption only - with Facebook otherwise continuing onward with absolute impunity.

    Abusing Privacy: A summary of these abuses best begins with quoting Mark Zuckerberg himself. Elle magazine in an article titled, "Quick Reminder: Zuckerberg Once Called People Who Trust Him With Their Data 'Dumb F*Cks'," summarizes Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's view of the public and their entrusting of personal information to Zuckerberg and his social media network.

    While Zuckerberg would apologize for this, it is clear he was only sorry that it became public. Facebook continues to this day abusing the trust of those using its services by involuntarily providing the personal information of tens of millions of Facebook users to third parties.

    Business Insider in its article, "The Cambridge Analytica whistleblower explains how the firm used Facebook data to sway elections," notes how Facebook not only provided personal information to the British firm Cambridge Analytica, but how that information was used to meddle in US elections.

    Political Meddling: The Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal was mild compared to other episodes of political meddling Facebook has been involved in. Perhaps the largest most destructive episode was before and during the so-called "Arab Spring."

    While the Western media portrayed it as a spontaneous uprising across North Africa and the Middle East - documented evidence reveals the US government along with its corporate partners including Facebook began training and equipping agitators years before the unrest began.

    Facebook was one of the primary partners of which organized annual training seminars for opposition leaders who then returned home and attempted to overthrow their respective governments in 2011.

    Even the New York Times in an April 2011 article titled, "U.S. Groups Helped Nurture Arab Uprisings," would eventually admit:

    Some Egyptian youth leaders attended a 2008 technology meeting in New York, where they were taught to use social networking and mobile technologies to promote democracy. Among those sponsoring the meeting were Facebook, Google, MTV, Columbia Law School and the State Department.
    Censorship: Building armies of pro-Western agitators is not the limit of Facebook's involvement in politics. It also carries out systematic campaigns of censorship aimed at critics of Western foreign policy.

    It recently banned New Eastern Outlook and several of its authors including this author from its network. More recently still, it has systematically removed accounts attempting to counter US-funded propaganda regarding unrest Washington is sponsoring in Hong Kong, China.

    Facebook's own statement over its selective censorship regarding China is ironically titled, "Removing Coordinated Inauthentic Behavior From China." It provides no evidence of its claims and deliberately includes a political context to demonize the users and pages it removed. Its statement is ironic because the protests in Hong Kong themselves are most certainly coordinated inauthentic behavior - funded out of Washington D.C. and actively using Facebook to advance their agenda.

    Manipulating Public Perception: In 2013, Facebook was caught manipulating the news feeds of unwitting users to influence them psychologically. A report published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) titled, "Experimental evidence of massive-scale emotional contagion through social networks," stated in its abstract that:
    We show, via a massive (N = 689,003) experiment on Facebook, that emotional states can be transferred to others via emotional contagion, leading people to experience the same emotions without their awareness. We provide experimental evidence that emotional contagion occurs without direct interaction between people (exposure to a friend expressing an emotion is sufficient), and in the complete absence of nonverbal cues.Not only are the findings troubling - illustrating that Facebook possesses the ability to influence the emotions of its users unwittingly through careful manipulation of their news feeds - but the invasive, unethical methods by which Facebook conducted the experiment are troubling as well.
    Facebook also regularly manipulates its users' news feeds through its algorithm which sidesteps the preferences of users and shows them whatever Facebook itself decides they should see. This usually includes sponsored news content from accounts users aren't even following and usually at the expense of seeing content from accounts users do follow.

    Uprooting the Facebook Threat

    Facebook's ability to bait hundreds of millions of users to adopt their platform, then switch the nature of its network into a malign tool of manipulation, censorship, surveillance, and propaganda is already a global menace nations around the globe are finally starting to recognize and respond to.

    The notion of Facebook coupling its already disturbing hold over information with control over a global currency backed by some of the West's largest and most corrupt corporations and financial institutions is a larger problem still.

    It takes no great leap of imagination to see how abusive and destructive to individuals, organizations, and even entire nations Facebook's dominion over global currency would be.

    Imagine how America's trade war with China would play out if Facebook was able to hook hundreds of millions of users around the globe onto its Libra currency. Corporations like Huawei or retailers offering Huawei products might see their online stores shuttered, their accounts frozen, and otherwise sanctioned and economically strangled out of existence by Facebook.

    It's clear that the promise of decentralized, democratized money cryptocurrencies offered has been co-opted and leveraged by the very interests that stood the most to lose from such a future.

    Nations would be wise to respond to Facebook's Libra by responding to Facebook itself. Nations like Russia and China have already largely displaced Facebook from within their own borders by creating alternatives. Nations like Vietnam have recently begun creating alternatives as well.

    While media organizations like Bloomberg in articles like, "Facebook's Latest Competition? Authoritarian Governments.," try to frame Vietnam's efforts as a struggling dictatorship trying to stifle the free flow of information - it is clear by looking at Facebook's past and present that Facebook itself represents a dictatorship.

    Nothing about its policies are "democratic." The execution of its policies is unilateral, lacking any genuine appeal process or any sort of independent oversight. It is in every way a monopoly and dictatorship over information and the growing variety of services linked to its social media network that Bloomberg claims Vietnam's government is.

    The important difference is that the Vietnamese government is located in Vietnam while Facebook is located in Silicon Valley thousands of miles away. The people of Vietnam have a much better chance at reforming, checking, and balancing their own government than keeping in check a malign foreign corporation. And ultimately - it is an issue for Vietnam and Vietnam alone to resolve.

    Nations are beginning to understand the importance of defending their respective information space - it becoming as important as a nation's physical territory. It is obvious that the same vigor must be dedicated to defending a nation's monetary policy and the economy it glues together.

    Uprooting the conduit through which highly disruptive schemes like Libra will flow by replacing them with domestic alternatives controlled by and for domestic interests is the only way to fully confront the looming threat Facebook and the interests working with it on Libra represent.

    Nations that believe they can work with Facebook on ensuring regulations and policies align with local laws need only look back at the "Arab Spring." When a large move is made by Washington against a targeted nation, this token cooperation Facebook normally provides evaporates. Nations lack the time and resources to respond and are often overwhelmed by the large influence Facebook and other foreign firms are able to exert during episodes of concentrated, sponsored unrest.

    The only way to be certain of ensuring national security and monetary stability is to eliminate Facebook and other foreign firms like it from a nation's information space. A nation's defense would never be outsourced to a foreign corporation. Neither should a nation's flow of information - and now - the flow of money.

    Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine"New Eastern Outlook".
  • December 6, 2019 (Joseph Thomas - NEO) - The nations of Southeast Asia have united in efforts to prevent a US-backed coup aimed at fellow-Southeast Asian state Cambodia.

    Through a combination of travel bans and detentions across the region in late October and early November, Southeast Asia may have thwarted attempts by Washington-backed opposition front, the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), from "returning" from its US and European exile to Cambodia where it sought to stir up unrest and sow instability.

    The US seeks to disrupt, divide and even destroy the growing list of nations in Asia building ties with Beijing at the expense of Washington's fading primacy over the Asia-Pacific region.

    Cambodia is among the staunchest of Beijing's allies in Southeast Asia.

    Under the Radar

    With multiple US wars raging across the globe, Washington's ongoing trade war with China and Russophobic hysteria paralysing America's domestic political landscape, the rarely-mentioned nation of Cambodia and its political affairs couldn't be further from the global public's attention.

    Using this obscurity as cover, the US began low-key preparations ahead of what the US had hoped would end in much more widely reported protests, instability and, if other nations suffering US regime change efforts is anything to go by, extensive violence.

    Cambodia's ambassador (left) confronts CNRP deputy leader Mu Sochua (right) during a press conference organised by the Western media in Indonesia shortly before Sochua's detainment in neighbouring Malaysia. US-EU backed Indonesian "activist" Darmawan who hosted the conference, sits centre looking on.
    While these preparations were promoted by Western media organisations operating in Southeast Asia, they collectively omitted mention of US involvement or the much wider implications of the US organising what was essentially a coup attempt in Cambodia.

    Preparations included moving CNRP members from their US and European homes-in-exile to neighbouring Southeast Asian states. There, Western media organisations and US-European funded fronts posing as rights organisations conducted conferences and published articles promoting their planned "return" to Cambodia.

    Had the US succeeded in triggering chaos in Cambodia, it would have fed synergistically into ongoing US-fomented instability in Hong Kong, China as well as opened the door to other US-funded groups across Southeast Asia eager to engage in political unrest.

    Thai political opposition party "Future Forward," for example, appears to have been planning unrest timed to coincide with CNRP's return to Cambodia.

    Asia Unites Against US Coup Attempt

    However, these preparations appear to have been in vain.

    In late October Thailand had denied CNRP deputy leader Mu Sochua entry into their territory where she had sought to then travel onward into Cambodia.

    Al Jazeera would report in their article, "Questions over Rainsy's Cambodia return after deputy turned back," that:
    The deputy leader of Cambodia's opposition party has been denied entry to Thailand, casting doubt on party leader Sam Rainsy's pledge to return from exile in Paris in early November.

    Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) Vice-President Mu Sochua was denied entry in Bangkok on October 20 and sent back to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. From there, she headed to the United States, where she is also a citizen.
    The article also notes that:
    CNRP President Kem Sokha was arrested for treason in September 2017, and Sochua fled the country the following month. By November the party was dissolved entirely, allowing long-time Prime Minister Hun Sen to claim all 125 parliament seats in last year's election.
    Souchua would eventually be detained in Malaysia as she attempted to proceed onward to Cambodia.

    Thailand would next bar CNRP leader Sam Rainsy from his attempted return to Cambodia via Thai territory. Both Thailand and Malaysia cited the principles of non-interference and an unwillingness to abet the political destabilisation of a fellow ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) member state.

    Associated Press and Reuters in their article, "Prayut bars Sam Rainsy as Asean spat spreads," would claim:
    Thailand would not allow entry to Cambodian opposition founder Sam Rainsy, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said on Wednesday, after the self-exiled dissident said he planned to return to Cambodia via Bangkok.
    The article would also claim:
    Hun Sen has accused the opposition of fomenting a coup, and his government has arrested at least 48 activists with Sam Rainsy's banned opposition party this year. The party's last leader remains under house arrest on treason charges.
    Missing from Al Jazeera, AP and Reuters' reports and that of every other report from the Western media regarding Cambodia's opposition CNRP is the fact that "the party's last leader," Kem Sokha, himself had openly admitted that he was conspiring with the US government to overthrow the current Cambodian government making him an obvious traitor by any and every definition of the word.

    Cambodia's Opposition Serves Washington's War on China

    The Phnom Penh Post in a 2017 article titled, "Kem Sokha video producer closes Phnom Penh office in fear," would go over the many admissions made by Kem Sokha.

    He is quoted as admitting:

    "...the USA that has assisted me, they asked me to take the model from Yugoslavia, Serbia, where they can changed the dictator Slobodan Milosevic," he continues, referring to the former Serbian and Yugoslavian leader who resigned amid popular protests following disputed elections, and died while on trial for war crimes.
    "You know Milosevic had a huge numbers of tanks. But they changed things by using this strategy, and they take this experience for me to implement in Cambodia. But no one knew about this."

    "However, since we are now reaching at this stage, today I must tell you about this strategy. We will have more to continue and we will succeed."
    Kem Sokha would elaborate further, claiming:
    "I do not do anything at my own will. Their experts, professors at universities in Washington, DC, Montreal, Canada, hired by the Americans in order to advise me on the strategy to change the dictator leader in Cambodia."
    As previously reported, Kem Sokha's daughter, Kem Monovithya, has also openly worked with the US for years seeking the overthrow of the Cambodian government.

    When Cambodia began its crackdown on both CNRP and the US-funded organisations supporting it, the US threatened sanctions and other punitive measures. Kem Monovithya would play a central role in promoting these punitive measures in Washington.

    The Phonom Post in a December 2017 article titled, "US says more sanctions on table in response to political crackdown," would claim: Washington, a panel of "witnesses" convened by the House Foreign Affairs Committee -- including Kem Sokha's daughter, Kem Monovithya -- called for additional action in response to the political crackdown. In a statement, Monovithya urged targeted financial sanctions against government officials responsible for undermining democracy. She also called on the US to suspend "any and all assistance for the central Cambodian Government", while "continuing democracy assistance programs for civil society, particularly those engaged in election-related matters".
    Like her farther, Kem Monovithya's collaboration with the US government goes back much further. The Washington Post in a 2006 article titled, "While in U.S., Cambodians Get a Lesson on Rights From Home," would first admit:
    Kem Sokha, a former Cambodian senator and official, heads the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, which is supported by U.S. government funds. The center has held public forums to hear complaints about conditions in Cambodia.
    Regarding Kem Monovithya herself, the Washington Post would note:
    Monovitha Kem, a business school graduate and aspiring lawyer, said she would lobby U.S. and international institutions to fight Hun Sen's decision.

    "I would like to see the charges dropped not just for my father, but for all other activists," she said in an interview Monday. "I hope they will amend the defamation law."

    Monovitha Kem has met with officials at the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, the International Republican Institute, the U.S. Agency for International Development and major human rights groups.
    The National Democratic Institute (NDI) and International Republican Institute (IRI) are both subsidiaries of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) which, together with the US government itself, have supported myriad organisations engaged in subversive activities within Cambodia for years.

    This includes Licadho, which is funded by both the UK government and the US via USAID. It also includes Radio Free Asia and Voice of America, both of which are funded by the US government and overseen by the Broadcasting Board of Governors chaired by US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo himself.

    There is also the Cambodian Center for Independent Media, funded by NED subsidiaries Freedom House and IRI as well as the British Embassy and convicted financial criminal George Soros' Open Society Foundation.

    Decades of US Meddling Coming to an End?

    Decades of US meddling in Cambodia's politics, including the creation of Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha's opposition CNRP and organisations created and funded by the US government to support it, along with plans to overthrow the current Cambodian government to install CNRP into power, represents in reality political meddling many times worse than even the most imaginative accusations made against Russia or China in regards to their supposed meddling in US and European politics.

    However, with Southeast Asia's recent and united stand against US designs against Cambodia, we may be witnessing the beginning of the end of US meddling in Southeast Asia all together. But US meddling worldwide, including across Asia, is so extensive, embedded in local media, academia and politics, that it will take years more to fully uproot it from the region.

    While the malign influence of Wall Street, Washington, London and Brussels persists well beyond its borders continuing a legacy of colonialism that exploited and suppressed Southeast Asia for centuries, the foiling of an attempted US-backed coup in Cambodia owed to a united stand by regional nations offers promising hope that this malign influence is now finally in terminal decline.

    Joseph Thomas is chief editor of Thailand-based geopolitical journal, The New Atlas and contributor to the online magazine "New Eastern Outlook".
  • December 8, 2019 (Tony Cartalucci - NEO) - At first glance the human rights and environmental issues surrounding a proposed dam seem like serious objections to their construction. In some cases they may be.

    In other cases - these concerns are manufactured, promoted, and cynically exploited by foreign special interests who seek to impede dam construction and likewise impede the march forward of the developing nations seeking to build them.

    The key to knowing the difference is following the money behind groups opposing construction - and in many cases - the same handful of opposition groups can be found protesting the construction of dams across the entire developing world.

    "International Rivers" Seeks Western Control of "Rivers Internationally"

    Much of what is claimed and promoted in the West to be "international" often merely means Western fronts seeking to impose themselves and their interests "internationally."

    "International Rivers" is no different. As a supposed nongovernmental organization (NGO) - it claims to be "at the heart of the global struggle to protect rivers and the rights of communities that depend on them."

    In reality, International Rivers is a Western corporate-funded foundation dedicated to imposing control over the use of rivers worldwide through a network of likewise Western-funded "local" NGOs.

    International Rivers' opposition to dam construction in the developing world is not predicated on any genuine concern for human rights or environmental issues surrounding rivers - or "the rights of communities that depend on them" - but instead is dictated by who is constructing the dam.

    Dams financed by the likewise deceptively named World Bank receive only token attention from International Rivers - which was only created toward the end of the World Bank's own dam building spree - while those financed and constructed jointly with China are now the target of years-long protest campaigns promoted endlessly across the Western corporate media.

    International Rivers - over the years - has been funded by the following; The Sigrid Rausing Trust, Tides Foundation, Google, Open Society, the Ford Foundation, and many others.

    Many of those contributing to International Rivers are in turn creations of corporate-financier interests themselves.

    Direct sponsors, such as the Sigrid Rausing Trust, Ford Foundation, and Open Society, are also involved in funding policy think tanks such as the Brookings Institution - a pro-war, pro-corporate conglomeration that features alongside the Sigrid Rausing Trust as donors (.pdf), banking empires including JP Morgan, Bank of America, and Barclays Bank, big-oil interests including Exxon, Chevron, Shell, and Statoil, as well as big-defense corporations Boeing, Northrop Grumman, and Raytheon.

    It is clear that these special interests are not concerned with the human or environmental impact of hydroelectric energy production - considering many are directly overseeing the global petroleum racket and the many much more serious human and environmental abuses that stem from it.

    Instead, this objection to dam construction represents a desire to eliminate both potential competitors, as well as any semblance of independence in regions of the planet the West seeks to project its power into.

    With think tanks like Brookings drawing up plans for literal wars as a means of projecting Western power across the globe, it is not difficult to understand lesser forms of projecting power - through co-opted NGOs operating under the guise of "human rights" and "environmentalism" - are also very much amongst their tools.

    Not What is Being Built or Where, But Who is Building it and Why That is the "Problem"

    In fact, the notion that International Rivers and the Western media promoting their work are politically motivated - merely hiding behind human rights and environmentalism rather than upholding either - is buttressed by International Rivers itself in a post titled, "Banks and Dam Builders." It admits:

    Traditionally, the World Bank Group has been the most important financier of large dams. For decades, the World Bank funded the construction of mega-dams across the world.
    In recent years, however, Chinese financial institutions have taken over this role, and have triggered a new boom in global dam building. Other public sector national banks, including Brazilian banks, Thai banks, and Indian banks, have also financed an increasingly important share.
    Here, International Rivers admits the real problem is not dams in and of themselves, but dams being financed and built independently of Western involvement and benefit. The recent surge in dam projects is taking place in a region of the world the West openly seek to influence, manipulate, exploit, and even use as a collective proxy against China. It cannot do so if the region is working together on massive multinational infrastructure projects with China and each other.

    Fake News to the Rescue

    The Foreign Correspondents' Club of Thailand (FCCT) has already repeatedly been exposed taking money from the very same corporate-funded foundations underwriting International Rivers - and lying about it.

    The FCCT - a front of Western corporate media organizations including the BBC, AFP, AP, Reuters, and others - poses as a journalist network but in reality functions as a public relations front promoting Western interests in both Thailand and wider Southeast Asia, merely under the guise of journalism.

    That the FCCT recently hosted International Rivers and a panel discussion on, "
    Silencing the Mekong The making of Xayaburi dam," targeting the joint Thai-Laotian project should come as no surprise. The idea of either nation let alone both cooperating in the construction of essential infrastructure independently of the West and its interests sets a precedent for both nations to continue doing so in the future and for other nations in the region to follow suit.

    Many of the supposed concerns revolve around protecting remote impoverished villages whose inhabitants are actually the cause of overfishing and placing several species on the endangered list - rather than allowing the project to move forward, providing energy, flood control, and economic development that could provide better and more sustainable occupations for local communities.

    The FCCT's various individual media members have taken turns writing favorable articles promoting protesters opposed to this dam and others. The FCCT panel discussion itself includes several of these supposedly local "NGOs" including Salforest which is in fact also funded by Western corporate and government foundations.

    Nothing about the funding of those opposed to the dams is mentioned, nor any critical questions regarding possible motivations of foreign-funded opposition groups beyond "human rights" and "environmental" concerns.

    While there are obvious issues surrounding a dam's construction that demand debate - it is a debate that must be had by the people and governments of the nation or nations to be impacted by a dam's construction. The West - separated by oceans and continents - has no say in the dam's construction anymore than Thailand or Laos has a say in construction projects built in the West.

    If the US and Western Europe believe Facebook ads allegedly funded by foreign interests and targeting their elections constitutes an "attack" on their sovereignty - what does an entire protest movement funded and directed from the other side of the planet constitute when it attempts to block massive and beneficial infrastructure projects tied to national and regional development in Southeast Asia?

    Let the nations along the Mekong River decide themselves on whether or not to build dams - free of foreign interference and money tied to interests already guilty of serial offenses against both human rights and the environment - and offenses many times worse than the construction of any dam could possibly pose.

    Since the FCCT represents Western media organizations guilty of aiding and abetting special interests in those serial abuses - no one is less qualified than the FCCT to host a panel discussion on affairs that are ultimately those of Thailand and Laos. And once again, the FCCT is caught meddling under the guise of journalism rather than just reporting the news.

    Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine"New Eastern Outlook".
  • December 12, 2019 (Gunnar Ulson - NEO) - The collapse of an entire nation is as spectacular as it is rare. For a nation to simply cease to exist it must suffer such absolute defeat across the entire spectrum of what constitutes a nation; economically, militarily, culturally, socially and politically.

    What is much more common is a transition from existing, prevailing socioeconomic, political and military orders to new ones driven by new, emerging special interests. It can happen quickly and violently, or take place as a long-term process with ups and downs and both constructive and destructive processes intertwining.

    For the United States, a massive nation with the third largest population on the planet, the largest military and still currently the largest economy, for it to suffer such full-spectrum defeat is impossible.

    What is not impossible is for the small handful of special interests currently directing US policy foreign and domestic, to find itself displaced by a new order consisting of entirely different kinds of special interests and, hopefully, special interests that better reflect the best interests of the United States as a whole and function more sustainably among the nations of the world rather than hovering above them.

    It is a process that is already ongoing.

    America's Prevailing Order is Fading

    The current special interests driving US foreign and domestic policy are centered around Wall Street and Washington and represent an increasingly unrealistic, unsustainable, archaic network based on traditional banking, energy and manufacturing monopolies.

    Many of the tools used by these special interests to maintain and expand their power and influence including mass media, extensive lobbying, networks dedicated to political subversion abroad and political distractions at home find themselves increasingly ineffective as both the American people and nations around the globe become increasingly familiar with them and as they begin developing effective countermeasures.

    While US special interests dedicate a seemingly immense amount of time countering "Russian" or "Chinese" "propaganda," it is primarily alternative media from the United States and its partner nations that have done the most to expose and diminish the unwarranted influence wielded from Wall Street and Washington. Wikileaks is a prime example of this.

    As America's elite and their networks weaken, alternatives continue to grow stronger.

    An unsustainable socioeconomic and political model, coupled with equally unsustainable military campaigns abroad along with a political and media strategy that is no longer even remotely convincing even to casual observers demarks what is an irreversible decline of America's current, prevailing order.

    America's Elite Face Challenges from Within as Well as From Abroad

    The topic of Chinese corporations out-competing long-established US monopolies has become an increasingly common topic across global media. It is indeed this process that has precipitated the seemingly pointless and futile US-led trade war against China, a futile exercise that seems to only highlight the decline of America's established elite rather than address it.

    Corporations like Huawei, despite facing serious setbacks owed to US sanctions and efforts to undermine them, still move forward, while their US competitors continue to struggle. This is because despite setbacks, Huawei is built upon a solid foundation of business and economic fundamentals, while its American counterparts, despite their initial advantages owed to a lack of competition, have neglected and continue to neglect such fundamentals.

    But Chinese corporations aren't the only challengers America's established elite face.

    Within the US itself some of the most innovative and disruptive companies in the world are cropping up, challenging not only foreign competition but also long-established monopolies based in the US.

    Electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla is a perfect example of this. Its breakneck pace of innovation, high-profile successes and the disruptive impact it is having on traditional car manufacturing is setting back the American car industry first and foremost. It also poses a serious threat to the petroleum-centric energy model the US has adopted and propagated globally for over a century.

    American car manufacturing monopolies have spent decades developing a model of planned obsolescence and marketing gimmicks as a stand-in for genuine consumer value and innovation. The industry has become a means of simply making as much money as possible and to increase profits each year, with "making cars" merely the means through which this money and the influence it buys is being accumulated.

    Tesla has for years now been growing both in terms of business and in terms of sociopolitical influence. US car manufacturing monopolies have attempted to ape the most superficial aspects of Tesla's appeal, but have entirely failed to examine or replicate the substance that drives the new company's success.

    Just as the US elite have attempted to use what could be described as "dirty tricks" rather than direct competition to deal with competitors like Huawei abroad, similar "dirty tricks" have been employed against disruptive companies within the US itself like Tesla. Attempts by faux-unions to complicate Tesla's US-based factories are one example of this.

    US-based aerospace manufacturer SpaceX is another example of an American-bred competitor directly challenging (and threatening) long-established US monopolies, in this case aerospace monopolies like Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Northrop Grumman.

    SpaceX is not only driving aerospace innovation forward at breakneck speeds, it is driving down the overall cost of access to space at the same time. It is doing this at such impressive rates that established aerospace monopolies like Lockheed, Boeing and Northrop, even with their immense lobbying networks, are unable to dissuade SpaceX customers (including the US government itself) from purchasing rides on its rockets.

    Bloated monopolies who have become overly reliant on maintaining profits through lobbying and political games have little means to overhaul their massive organizations in the face of real competition as it emerges. Because of this, the prevailing order driving US policy faces an insurmountable obstacle that already appears to have resulted in terminal decline and displacement.

    Those doing the displacing stand to assume the position at the levers of American power and influence, with an opportunity to set an entirely new course into the future that will have a fundamental impact on both the American nation and its people, and the nations of the world it will interact with.

    America's New Order May Seek Genuine Competition and Collaboration

    Tesla and SpaceX are prominent examples, but by no means the only examples of the ongoing transition that is increasingly evident within America. There are emerging innovations and companies threatening virtually every area America's current elite dominate. From the alternative media targeting the deeply rooted corporate media of America, to a growing movement of local organic farmers chipping away at America's massive agricultural monopolies, there are already many tangible examples of a transition taking place; a positive transition that those interested in truly addressing the negative aspects of America's current role globally can invest in or contribute toward.

    In what is perhaps a hopeful sign of the new America that might emerge as this process continues forward is the fact that emerging disruptors like Tesla are not afraid of collaborating with other nations, seeking to simply do business rather than construct a global spanning network aimed at dominating others. Tesla's massive Gigafactory going into operation in Shanghai, China takes place as the US attempts to sever China's access to the economic benefits of doing business with the US for purely political and hegemonic purposes.

    Despite the apparent hostilities between the US and nations like Russia and China, the consensus in nations targeted by America's current prevailing order is one of simply wanting to do business on equal terms. Whatever hostility may exist is reserved not for America as a nation or as a people, but toward the handful of special interests obstructing constructive competition and collaboration between these nations and the US.

    In the near to intermediate future, this process will continue to resemble a bitter struggle as US special interests attempt to maintain their grip on power, fighting against inevitable decline and displacement, and against competitors both abroad and within the US itself.

    Beyond that, there is a hopeful future where the US finds itself a constructive member of a multipolar world, constructively competing against and collaborating with nations rather than attempting to assert itself over them.

    Because of this, it is important for nations and peoples to refrain from unnecessary, broad hostilities and to instead patiently weather current efforts emanating from Wall Street and Washington. It is important to establish ties and relations with US interests genuinely interested in true competition and collaboration and who represent America's future, and to distinguish them from deeply rooted US interests that represent America's abusive past and and are responsible for America's current decline.

    The foreign policies of Moscow, Beijing and even of many emerging and developing nations may seem overly passive or appeasing, but around the capitals of the world many are aware of the transition taking place in America and are attempting to position themselves advantageously for the fall of the American Empire so they can do business with those who assume the levers of power in America once it does.

    Gunnar Ulson, a New York-based geopolitical analyst and writer especially for the online magazine "New Eastern Outlook".
  • Why is the US talking "democracy, human rights and justice" with an opposition who lost recent elections, abuses human rights and works daily to undermine and evade justice?

    November 2, 2019 (Joseph Thomas - NEO) - Time was precious at the 35th ASEAN Summit. Leaders from across Southeast Asia converged on Bangkok, Thailand to discuss economics, diplomacy, defence and a whole host of other issues.

    With so much to discuss and do, it was particularly surprising to see the US spend much of its time coercing local leaders to take up its flagship regional crisis centred on stirring up trouble in the South China Sea as well as meet with and promote unpopular opposition parties.

    One meeting in particularly, headed by US Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs (EAP) David Stilwell, was held with members of Thailand's opposition party, Future Forward.

    The EAP in a social media post would claim:
    Assistant Secretary Stilwell appreciated the opportunity to meet with Members of Parliament in [Thailand] to learn more about their efforts to promote democracy, justice, and human rights.
    No mention was made of who these Members of Parliament (MPs) were, what party they came from or anything at all about why they were chosen for the meeting from among Thailand's 500 MPs.

    First, Does the US Even Stand for "Democracy, Justice and Human Rights?"

    At face value the US would appear to be upholding noble values; democracy, justice and human rights. That is until even the most rudimentary observation skills are employed in considering Washington's own contempt and abuse of all three of these principles not only domestically, but worldwide.

    The US regularly interferes in the democratic processes of nations around the globe, with entire organisations like the US National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and its many subsidiaries dedicated solely to the purpose of manipulating the internal political affairs of targeted nations, including elections.

    The notion of the US standing for or upholding "justice" is also dubious at best, with the US the world leader in both its incarceration rate and the total number of people imprisoned in jails. The US, guilty of serial wars of aggression and all abuses generally related to war, has escaped justice both from within its own justice system and from the so-called "international community."

    Of course, both the US' industrialised prison system and its global wars of aggression bury any notion at all that the US stands for human rights, rather than merely hides behind them.

    With even average people around the globe aware of these facts and the hypocrisy the US would bring to any meeting discussing "democracy, justice and human rights," why would any member of Thailand's parliament meet in good faith with the US regarding these matters? What business of Washington's in the first place is "democracy, justice and human rights" in Thailand?

    Why did Future Forward eagerly attend this meeting?

    US and Future Forward: Birds of a Feather

    Future Forward, like the US, merely hides behind principles like democracy, justice and human rights.

    The party is also the eager recipient of US backing in order to do so. Several of the party's founding members belong to US NED-funded fronts including Prachatai whose director is literally an NED fellow.

    When members of the party are summoned by Thai police for their various criminal activities, US embassy staff often accompany them.

    In the 2019 general election, the party came in distant third, with it and its political allies losing the popular vote to the military-aligned Palang Pracharath Party. Despite having no mandate, it continues seeking the rewriting of Thailand's constitution and justifies its disruptive activities under the pretext of representing the Thai people despite being rejected by them at the polls.

    More recent by-elections have suggest the party is even more unpopular now than when it lost the general elections earlier in the year.

    The party is led by nepotist billionaire Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, who before entering politics, busted unions at his family's Thai Summit autoparts factory. The abuses involved even attracted the attention of international rights watchdogs, including IndustriALL Global Union who reported in 2007 that:
    Thai Summit Eastern Seaboard Auto Parts Company, owned and controlled by Thai Summit Group has drawn fire from the International Metalworkers' Federation, IMF affiliates, and the National Human Rights Commission in Thailand for committing trade union and human rights violations at their Rayong auto parts plant.
    Thanathorn and his Future Forward Party are currently partners with Pheu Thai Party (PTP), another opposition party, run by another corrupt billionaire and also fugitive, Thaksin Shinawatra. PTP would even nominate Thanathorn as their candidate for prime minister following the 2019 general elections.

    Thaksin himself possess the worst human rights record in Thai history. His 2003 "war on drugs" alone left over 2,500 innocent people dead in just 90 days. The following year, his instigation of tensions in the nation's troubled deep south led to protests in which over 80 would die in a single day.

    His violent targeting of critics and opponents while in power and since being ousted has left over 100 dead and has even resulted in terrorism, armed violence and city-wide arson. Justice has been slow, owed at least in part to opposition parties like Future Forward failing to call for accountability and even at times defending rights abusers either by omitting their crimes, or spinning them.

    Not only does Future Forward omit mentioning any of this as it cites "democracy, justice and human rights" in its own daily condemnation of the current Thai government, its US backers do likewise.

    Thus, it makes perfect sense to see two abusive circles of power who share a mutual strategy of hiding behind otherwise genuine principles and rights while trampling them in actuality, meeting on the sidelines of the 35th ASEAN Summit.

    But to what end?

    Rolling Back Thai-Chinese Relations

    The current Thai government has spent years cementing Thai-Chinese relations. This includes replacing Thailand's aging inventory of US military hardware with modern Chinese alternatives. Among recent acquisitions are Chinese main battle tanks, armoured personnel carriers, infantry fighting vehicles as well as naval vessels including the Kingdom's first modern submarine.

    Thailand and China are jointly developing a growing number of weapon systems including mobile rocket launcher platforms.

    Thailand is also working with China on its ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

    Key BRI components running through Thailand involve high-speed rail connecting together a China-Laos-Thailand-Malaysia-Singapore network. Highways and bridges to improve connectivity between Thailand and its neighbours including Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos also contribute to the BRI's overarching goal of stitching together the region through transportation infrastructure and the trade it facilitates.

    It should come as no surprise then that an opposition party supported by the US has come out against much of these developments.

    Thanathorn himself openly and directly opposed Thai-Chinese high-speed rail lines (already under construction) and proposed Thailand work with the West to build lines using still-nonexistent "hyperloop" technology.

    Bloomberg in an article titled, "Thailand needs hyperloop, not China-built high-speed rail: Thanathorn," would report:
    A tycoon turned politician who opposes Thailand's military government has criticised its US$5.6 billion high-speed rail project with China because hyperloop technology offers a more modern alternative.

    An option such as Richard Branson's Virgin Hyperloop One -- which is working on building networks of pods traveling at airplane-like speeds -- is better for Thailand as it would help the nation to be a technological leader, according to Future Forward Party head Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit.
    Thanathorn has also come out heavily against Thailand's defence budget in an oblique attempt to stem growing Thai-Chinese military relations.

    Far from merely buying tanks, ships and submarines, Thailand's recent purchases and collaborations with China involve growing levels of cooperation to train Thai personnel on the use and maintainence of its expanding inventory of Chinese hardware both on a tactical level and through joint exercises, on a strategic level.

    Thailand's defence spending will only increasingly shift from buying US weapon systems to those bought from or developed with nearby China. While Future Forward's motives in undercutting Thailand's national defence would seem unclear, Washington's motives to do so in order to slow down or reverse growing Thai-Chinese military relations is obvious.

    With Washington supporting Future Forward, manifesting itself in this most recent meeting, Future Forward's otherwise inexplicable campaign to undermine Thailand's development comes into clearer focus.

    It should be noted that David Stilwel, before taking up his current position and according to his official US State Department biography, served as the Director of the China Strategic Focus Group.

    In one document regarding the Group's activities under a section titled, "Alliances," it claims:
    Alliances. This homeland area, coupled with our treaty alliances with Australia, Japan, Republic of Korea, Philippines, and Thailand are the cornerstone of U.S. engagement in the region. We will modernize and strengthen these alliances by enhancing our ability to train and operate together, jointly developing high-tech capabilities, expanding information sharing, and exploring new areas of cooperation.
    These "alliances," many of which including with Thailand are in irreversible decline, are aimed at what the US claims is its responsibility to ensure China's military and economic rise is "peaceful."

    Thus, Stilwel meeting eager collaborators in undermining Thai-Chinese relations fits in perfectly with much of what he has spent his career doing; preserving US primacy over Asia and attempting to shape China's neighbours into a united front to contain and control its rise regionally and globally.

    Again, nothing could be less "democratic" or less conducive to notions of self-determination for Thailand, China or Asia as a whole regarding US influence, interference and intents.

    The real danger lies not in Washington's isolated support for an increasingly unpopular political party in Thailand, but in the synergies the US is attempting to create among multiple campaigns of subversion it is sponsoring across the region; in Hong Kong and neighbouring Cambodia for example, all of it ultimately aimed at shifting the dynamics of China's rise.

    While the US State Department intended to boost the credibility of Future Forward by organising a special meeting with them at the 35th ASEAN Summit, it should instead serve as an ominous warning that among America's few remaining exports, meddling and chaos are still on the offering.

    Joseph Thomas is chief editor of Thailand-based geopolitical journal, The New Atlas and contributor to the online magazine "New Eastern Outlook".
  • December 23, 2019 (Tony Cartalucci - NEO) - Nord Stream 2 is a pipeline project extending from Russia to Germany that - when completed - will provide a secure means of exporting Russian natural gas to Western Europe - circumventing a now volatile Ukraine all while tying Russia and Europe together further through mutually beneficial economic activity.

    Of course, for special interests residing across the Atlantic in Washington and on Wall Street, Russia and Europe building closer ties through constructive economic activity undermines a long-standing strategy of coercing Europe via the constant threat of a supposedly hostile Kremlin Washington claims undermines a free and united Europe.

    Ironically, in order to preserve Europe's "freedom" the US has now resorted to punishing interests in Europe - and in Germany specifically - for freely choosing to do business with Russia. It not only fully illustrates the supreme hypocrisy that lies at the very root of Washington's current foreign policy, but also threatens to undermine legitimate US business interests seeking - just as Russia does - to build constructive economic ties with companies and nations around the globe.

    Sanctions Approved

    The BBC in its article, "Nord Stream 2: Trump approves sanctions on Russia gas pipeline," would report:
    President Donald Trump has signed a law that will impose sanctions on any firm that helps Russia's state-owned gas company, Gazprom, finish a pipeline into the European Union.

    The sanctions target firms building Nord Stream 2, an undersea pipeline that will allow Russia to increase gas exports to Germany.

    The US considers the project a security risk to Europe.

    Both Russia and the EU have strongly condemned the US sanctions.
    It may or may not confound objective observers to see the US unilaterally leveling sanctions against foreign companies because of what Washington claims are security threats to the nations these companies reside in.

    It is clearly the business of Germany and Germany alone to determine what may or may not be a security risk. The US deciding not only unilaterally that the Nord Stream 2 project is a security risk - but in contradiction to Berlin's own assessments of these supposed risks - exposes what is a US foreign policy rooted in singular self-interests poorly hidden behind notions of global peace, stability, and progress.

    Were Russia the "threat" that Washington claims it is, clearly Germany would not have invested the immense amount of time, energy, and resources required merely to approve of the Nord Stream 2 project - let alone all the time, energy, and resources required to build and operate it.

    Stated Motives. Admitted "Hidden" Motives. Larger, Unspoken Motives

    The BBC article gives a glimpse of what is truly motivating Washington's current posture regarding Nord Stream 2. In its article, it notes that:
    The Trump administration fears the pipeline will tighten Russia's grip over Europe's energy supply and reduce its own share of the lucrative European market for American liquefied natural gas.
    And indeed, US energy interests do stand to lose against Russian natural gas - but only because US energy interests are unable to fairly compete against Russia's ability to deliver cheaper energy through much more practical means.

    There is also another motivation driving Washington's current foreign policy - unmentioned by the BBC - but one that eclipses the interests of American big-energy - no matter how large these interests may be.

    The alleged spectre of a malign Russia preying on Europe serves as - and has served for decades as the foundation of the US-led NATO alliance, the US military presence in Europe and the billions upon billions of dollars of weapon sales, contracts, and all the political influence that constitutes both.

    Europe and Russia building a significant pipeline and cooperating over something as key to Europe's economic security and survival as energy demand obviously and completely undermines NATO's pretense to exist - and thus threatens the immense racket that constitutes NATO's continued existence. This not only threatens Washington's grip on Europe, but all the other wars NATO is used as a vehicle to carry both the American nation and its Western allies into across the globe.

    The Western intervention in Serbia in the 1990s, the Afghan war stretching from 2001 to present day, and more recently the Western intervention in Libya beginning in 2011 are all examples of US belligerence made possible by NATO - and belligerence that would be exponentially more difficult to continue onward with if NATO was weakened or rendered entirely unnecessary and disbanded.

    Not Serving European Interests, or even US Interests

    One must be careful when saying "the US is imposing sanctions on Germany." The US is not. A small handful of special interests in Washington, directed by an even smaller handful of interests on Wall Street are imposing sanctions on Europe over the Nord Stream 2 project.

    They are doing so clearly to the detriment of Russia. But also obviously to the detriment of Germany and the European companies involved in completing, operating, and receiving benefits from the pipeline when it opens.

    They are also imposing sanctions on Europe to the detriment of the American people, American businesses at large, and the American nation itself both as it stands internationally today and to the detriment of how it will stand internationally in the future.

    While the US arms and energy industries certainly stand to gain from a status quo in Europe which includes the perpetuation of the artificial wedge driven between Europe and Russia, it benefits nearly no one else.

    And while these two industries do certainly employ a lot of Americans, they are unsustainable businesses demonstrably unable to compete fairly - and now - not even effectively able to cheat. The future is bleak for those employed or otherwise dependent on these two industries as they currently exist. Washington's policies pushed forward on behalf of big-energy and arms manufacturers are pushed forward at the cost of nearly everyone else.

    For a world eager to do business with the United States - a nation still populated by talented people capable of contributing to the global economy - policies like sanctions aimed at Germany and other nation's involved with Nord Stream 2 give pause for thought and force potential business partners of the US to reevaluate future joint-ventures.

    Thus, despite the short-term self-serving nature of US sanctions regarding Nord Stream 2, the sanctions only serve to accelerate America's overall decline. A Washington fixated on such methods to "compete" with Russia and to maintain influence over Europe is not able to focus on or invest in truly needed strategies to improve genuine American competitiveness - competitiveness that serves as the only true and sustainable means of creating and maintaining influence globally.

    For the American people and American business owners, divesting away from Washington's current policies and finding ways to circumvent them just as the rest of the world is finding ways to circumvent US sanctions will hopefully help build bridges, or at least prepare the ground to do so - so when the current circle of special interests misleading the US into further decline fade away, something better can be put in their place.

    Nord Stream 2 is just one sign of the shape of things to come. The US will only face more "Nord Stream 2's" in the future not only in the form of Russian-European cooperation, but also in Asia centered around China and its own rise upon the international stage. Washington doubling down on a losing strategy will only accelerate America's current woes - not fix them. Until Washington understands this, or until the American people find a way to work around Washington's agenda - these woes will only multiply and to everyone's detriment.

    Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine"New Eastern Outlook".
  • December 26, 2019 (Gunnar Ulson - NEO) - By establishing facilities in Europe to produce components, Chinese telecom giant Huawei is continuing the process of circumventing US sanctions amid a wider US-led trade war aimed at artificially quelling the growing trend of foreign companies outcompeting long-entrenched US monopolies.

    US State Department-funded media platform, Voice of America, in an article titled, "Sanctions-Hit Huawei Plans Components Plant in Europe," would claim:
    Chinese telecommunications group Huawei is working on a plan to build its own components at a site in Europe, its chairman told AFP, after it was hit by U.S. sanctions.
    Huawei chairman Liang Hua would be quoted in the article as claiming:
    "We are planning to manufacture our own components at a production site in Europe in the future," he said in an interview at AFP's headquarters. "We are conducting a feasibility study to open a factory in Europe for this. The choice of country will depend on that study."
    Finally, the VOA article would quote Liang Hua as noting:
    "In the area of 5G technology, we are already no longer dependent on the supply of chips and other components from American companies."
    The VOA article would also admit that despite full-spectrum pressure from the US, Huawei continues to break records in terms of sales while it continues investing in both growing its market share and moving around US sanctions.

    The US-led trade war aimed at firms like Huawei who have recently begun to pull ahead of their US counterparts was meant to hinder, setback or entirely overturn the competition with minimum effort on the part of US firms. Instead, it seems to have only compounded the troubles of American firms unable to compete against Chinese alternatives, while hurting US companies providing parts for or receiving final products from Chinese companies like Huawei.

    Too Little, Too Late

    Huawei is already a massive enterprise with a global-spanning business coupling together it with other businesses and even other nations around the world. It possesses a momentum of its own that even in the face of immense setbacks, is able to continue moving forward.

    US efforts to curtail or even cripple the firm appear to only be providing temporary setbacks while providing the Chinese firm with impetus to create a more self-sufficient and resilient business model in the intermediate to long-term.

    The fact that US sanctions have led to Huawei circumventing any need to deal with US firms to acquire components for its 5G telecom network technology is one example of this.

    The US forcing Huawei to move on without Google appears to only have set back the company temporarily while in the long-term illustrating that Google may not be as indispensable as it and the US government attempted to portray it as.

    It is likely that this process will only continue, as the necessity for the US to invest in a genuine strategy to compete in terms of developing better business models and through technological innovation over cheap and unsustainable (not to mention ineffective) political tricks seems lost on Washington and the special interests lobbying it to pursue the current regime of sanctions and smears.

    While US tactics have set back Huawei in certain terms, they have also set back the interests of US businesses themselves; both businesses that had until recently supplied Huawei with components and thus were rising alongside Huawei throughout its continued success, but also for companies that sold Huawei products or, like Google, placed their products and services within Huawei's final products (smartphones).

    Stitching China and Europe Closer Together

    While Washington has attempted to portray Huawei and other Chinese firms as global pariahs as well as threats to security, the fact is that many nations prefer to do business with Huawei, having conducted their own assessments of the company regarding any potential security threats it might pose to their respective nations and telecom infrastructure.

    Nations acquiescing to US pressure do so for political rather than practical reasons, with many fully understanding the high cost of their acquiescence. The nations of Europe, who find themselves under constant pressure from Washington regarding a wide spectrum of issues, has begun taking steps to likewise move out from under Washington's shadow and to conduct business freely with whomever it desires and with whomever offers them the greatest benefit.

    Huawei's plans to produce components in Europe will be one step further in helping both the Chinese firm and its European partners step out together from under US coercion.

    For Washington, policymakers must begin to understand that in the process of trying to isolate and precipitate the decline of companies like Huawei and entire nations like China, they are only bringing about America's further isolation and decline. This is done not only to the detriment of US-based companies more than happy to collaborate with and share mutual benefits with Chinese firms, but for foreign firms including those in China who have benefited from doing business with their US counterparts and would continue doing so had it not been for the current trade war and sanctions leveled amid it.

    A similar process of US sanctions and pressure backfiring against Washington is taking place in Southeast Asia where nations told by the US to abandon Huawei have decided to disregard US demands and move forward in earnest.

    Only through genuine competition can the US reverse its current fortunes. At one point in the past, coercion, threats and punitive actions were able to ensure US hegemony militarily and economically across the globe but no longer.

    For US interests lobbying Washington to continue to pursue its current, unsustainable and clearly ineffective policies, they have demonstrated that they no longer deserve the power and influence they possess, lacking the ability to upkeep it and laying down the gauntlet for more responsible and constructive US enterprises to take the reins of American policy while there is still something left to steer into the future.

    Gunnar Ulson, a New York-based geopolitical analyst and writer especially for the online magazine "New Eastern Outlook".

  • December 31, 2019 (Tony Cartalucci - NEO) - Syria's Foreign Minister Walid Muallem recently described the US as using the so-called "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) as "a scarecrow" the US uses to menace targeted nations all while secretly encouraging, protecting, and helping them "move from one area to another."

    Maullum's comments perfectly encapsulate the twenty-plus year so-called "War on Terror" the US has used to expand itself across the globe militarily and to serve as a stand-in for legitimate economic and political development both within the United States and between the United States and the international community.

    Maullum's comments come at a time when - despite Washington's collapsing machinations in Syria - the US is still working to undermine, divide, and destroy the Syrian nation by aiding its enemies while using all political, economic, and military options available to pressure Syria itself.

    Muallem was also quoted as saying:
    All nations that were victimized by this system need to join forces and resist those sanctions.
    In many ways, this is already happening. Russia's intervention in Syria from 2015 onward is part of growing international momentum working against US special interests, their collective hegemony, and the toxic impact it has had not only on international relations and development, but also on the US itself.

    From Convincing Pretext to Obvious State-Sponsored Terrorism

    Following the events of September 11, 2001 the United States embarked on a multi-decade "War on Terror." Its invasion of Afghanistan was seen and supported by many nations and their respective populations as a necessary and justified means of combating the scourge that allegedly carried out the deadly attacks on 9/11.

    By 2003 - after a time of reflection and in the face of an America eager to spread its "War on Terror" across the globe - it became clear that this "War on Terror" was merely a stand-in to continue America's hegemonic designs pursued during the now concluded Cold War. This included a pretext for NATO's continued existence and the alliance's use by Washington as a means of exerting control over Europe as well as using Europe, its people, and resources to exert influence and control across Africa and Eurasia.

    By 2011 and the US interventions in Libya and Syria - it was abundantly clear that not only was the "War on Terror" a false pretext, but it was one artificially created and deliberately perpetuated by Washington itself.

    This included revelations that the US had been arming and directing the very Al Qaeda terror network and its affiliates allegedly responsible for the 9/11 attacks - using them as a virtual mercenary force to target nations the US sought regime change within.

    The so-called "rebels" in Libya were little more than Al Qaeda affiliates - poorly dressed as freedom fighters seeking "democracy." These same literal terrorists the US armed and aided in overthrowing the Libyan government in 2011 would be shipped to Syria where the US sought to replicate its "success" in Libya against Damascus.

    The war in Syria however failed to produce Washington's desired results - and as the conflict dragged on - through the growth and influence of alternative media - the true nature of America's "War on Terror" emerged.

    It is now common knowledge that the United States and its Saudi, Turkish, and Qatari allies deliberately armed Al Qaeda militants and their affiliates in a bid to destabilize and overthrow the Syrian government. It is now also common knowledge that when this bid failed - the US and its allies created ISIS to serve as both an additional pressure point against Damascus as well as a pretext for direct US military intervention.

    Today, the US "War on Terror" exists as a mostly empty narrative long-since exposed. Washington's continued efforts against Syria have resulted in even its own allies during the early stages of the war abandoning them - including Turkey - a key NATO member - which now is working closer with Russia and increasingly pursuing a foreign policy independently of Washington.

    What Lies in the Future

    For Washington - a lack of of a better alternative and its insistence on doubling down on a now exposed and impotent narrative reveals to the world a circle of special interests that are desperately and dangerously spiraling out of control.

    Nations eager to do business with the United States as a nation are increasingly frustrated by the handful of special interests occupying Wall Street and Washington - preferring to create an alternative global order that either excludes the US or at the very least - leaves it behind as the rest of the world moves on without it.

    For nations like Syria - their decision to stand by their allies - including Russia and Iran - has paid off. And because it has - other nations facing similar threats from Washington's belligerent foreign policy are faced with the easy choice of likewise building ties with reemerging powers like Russia or rising powers like China rather than continuing to capitulate to US pressure.

    Growing global momentum means that not only will current US foreign policy continue to fail to produce positive results for the interests directing it - it will fail at an increasingly expotential rate.

    For nations like Russia and China who serve as alternative focal points of global power - their success owed to a different forumla of creating and brokering a global balance of power should serve as encouragement to continue in a multipolar direction rather than cave in to the temptation of seizing a hegemonic position as the US did both after the conclusion of World War 2 and again at the end of the Cold War.

    The world finds itself at yet another critical juncture where the very face of global relations and international order stand to be redefined. This time it is not Washington who gets to decide - but rather those who have long suffered under US hegemony.

    Only time will tell if this alternative global order will learn from America's mistakes - or merely repeat them.

    The collapse of America's "War on Terror" is a microcosm within the greater collapse of American global hegemony in general. It is a collapse that will cost the US as a nation dearly. It should serve as a stark warning and example driving emerging global powers to learn from America's mistakes rather than repeat them.

    Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine"New Eastern Outlook".
  • January 7, 2020 (Joseph Thomas - NEO) - At face value, the Financial Times' article, "Laos's Belt and Road project sparks questions over China ambitions," reads like a politically-motivated attack on infrastructure development in Asia. Because it is.

    The article's subheading, "High-speed train line in one of Asia's poorest countries may benefit Beijing more than locals," alone contradicts the correlation between the development of infrastructure and the alleviation of poverty. It also reveals the article as indeed, a politically-motivated attack on China and Asian development couched behind flimsy concerns over the nation of Laos and its people.

    The article reports:
    Near Bom Or, a village of dirt streets and shacks in northern Laos, Chinese construction crews have cut a tunnel through a mountainside to carry high-speed trains along a 400km rail line across the country, a section of a planned route from Kunming in south-west China to Singapore.
    The tunnel is part of a $6.7bn project through the rugged countryside around Luang Prabang, the ancient capital of Laos, one of the highest profile being built under China's Belt and Road Initiative.
    The article also claims:
    Beijing has used the programme to build roads, ports and power stations in some of the world's poorest countries. But critics have raised concerns about the social and environmental impact of the projects, saying that many of them are white elephants that have left states heavily indebted to Beijing.

    The project in Laos, one of Asia's poorest countries which has no independent media and limited civil society groups, has been carried out with little public consultation.
    Of course, by "independent media" and "civil society groups," Financial Times means fronts funded by and for US and European interests.

    The construction of massive infrastructure projects always incurs debt. The construction of nation-spanning or region-spanning mass transportation systems always displace locals living in their proposed paths and locals will always protest having to move from their homes. These are problems that mega-projects throughout history have always faced and are not unique to China's Belt and Road Initiative.

    While these issues are noteworthy, the fact that the Financial Times (and other Western media outlets) omit the obvious benefits for Laos exposes the lopsided narrative of political propaganda dressed up as journalism.

    Landlocked Laos is Finally Being Unlocked

    Anyone who has previously set foot in Laos would have immediately seen and felt its isolation from the rest of the world and the impact it had on Laos' economic prospects.

    A little more than a decade ago, those travelling through Laos would have noticed a severe lack of modern highways and a complete lack of rail.

    To move from one part of the country to another, tourists, cargo and business people would have to travel through narrow, winding mountain roads. To travel from Laos' northern border with China to its capital near Laos' border with Thailand required around 3 days of travel only if team driving was used and no stops were taken for sleep.

    The isolation of Laos because of its geographical location, mountainous terrain and lack of transportation infrastructure was an obvious obstacle for economic progress. The obvious solution was developing transportation infrastructure.

    Now that China is working with Laos to do just that, it has been met by concerted and constant condemnation from the West.

    With the completion of Chinese-built highways alone, an influx of business and tourism has predictably followed. The movement of tourists and products is expected to expand even more with the completion of high-speed rail (expected to be completed in 2021).

    The Financial Times even admits:
    One likely source of business will be Chinese tourists visiting Laos, whose numbers have roughly doubled from 400,000 in 2014 to 800,000 last year.

    "It is Chinese tourists and products in, and raw materials out," said Nadège Rolland, an expert on BRI with the National Bureau of Asian Research, a US think-tank. "But eventually the BRI is about much more than infrastructure — it is policy co-ordination that will align the claimed needs of the region with those of Beijing."
    Not only will transportation infrastructure in Laos connect it with China, Chinese as well as Thai projects seek to extend road and rail projects being built in Laos into Thailand and onward to Malaysia and Singapore.

    Laos will go from a mostly isolated, underdeveloped nation, to a key corridor linking China to 3 of the top 5 largest economies in Southeast Asia. Its location will go from hindering its development to being central to its future development, wealth and trade.

    China is indeed benefiting by transforming Laos into a corridor it can reach the rest of Southeast Asia through. But it is connecting Laos, its people and economy with the rest of Southeast Asia as well.

    Villagers in the path of these projects may or may not be receiving adequate compensation. Laos may be taking on additional debt. Environmental issues may or may not be receiving adequate attention. But there is no doubt that unlocking Laos as a terminally landlocked and isolated nation will improve the net wealth of it and its people.

    "Humanitarian Concerns" Mask Hegemonic Ambitions: Bombs vs. Bridges

    The concept of cities and nations strategically located to facilitate transportation and trade being key to their historical wealth and success are concepts we are taught in elementary history and social studies classes. Why then are these same basic concepts escaping the attention of Western journalists while writing article after article condemning Beijing and Vientiane's determination to link the country with its neighbours through modern, high-speed transportation links?

    The notion that high-speed rail is something only developed nations need, rather than a means to drive development is a baseless argument presented and promoted not by the people of Laos or supported by the facts surrounding ongoing development there, but by the editorial boards of Western publications like the Financial Times.

    Attempts by the West to feign concern over "human rights" or "environmental" concerns in regards to infrastructure projects in Laos also fall far short of credibility. The US and other Western powers are not in any way genuinely concerned with the nation of Laos or its people.

    To prove it, the US alone left more than 80 million unexploded bomblets (10 each for every man, woman and child living in Laos) littering Laos during the Vietnam War. Since then, some 20,000 people have died and many more maimed by them.

    Washington's token support to clean up its unexploded weapons is, for all intents and purposes, meaningless. The current rate of disposal the US funds means that Laos' countryside will finally be safe not in the next several years or decades, but several centuries from now. Rather than protesting desperately needed transportation infrastructure, if the US was genuinely concerned about Laos it would start by removing its own unexploded ordnance still killing and maiming Laotians to this day.

    Not only does Washington fail to invest in actual areas of concern for the people of Laos (including fulfilling obligations regarding its own unexploded ordnance littering the nation), it is hiding behind disingenuous concerns to impede projects essential for addressing their best interests, including infrastructure and economic development.

    Supposed "concerns" expressed by the Western media and the interests in Washington, London and Brussels they represent, are not about helping the people of Laos or protecting the environment, they are about preventing Laos from forever finally and fully escaping out from under the spectre of American and European colonialism past and present.

    These "concerns" also mask what is in reality an attempt by the West to impede competitors like China from displacing what the US itself claims is its own "primacy" over Asia. China's drive to develop infrastructure and economic progress in neighbouring nations will also directly undermine US "primacy" over Asia.

    Thus, Western "humanitarian" and "environmental" concerns are merely hiding a genuine desire to eliminate competition and maintain regional hegemony.

    An independent Asia built on healthy competition, collaboration and the primacy of national sovereignty is an Asia where Washington's and its partners' current approach to international relations cannot exist.

    Luckily for Asia, it appears it is moving forward with an approach toward development that has displaced the West's divisive and disruptive presence in the region. Meanwhile, the West, instead of attempting to compete with China on equally constructive terms, is doubling down on the very approach that has precipitated its regional and global decline to begin with.

    Joseph Thomas is chief editor of Thailand-based geopolitical journal, The New Atlas and contributor to the online magazine "New Eastern Outlook".
  • January 9, 2020 (Gunnar Ulson - NEO) - There are very few who have yet to come to the realization that Western pharmaceutical corporations and the health care systems they have created, control, manipulate and exploit represent not only a particular pinnacle of corruption, but also threaten rather than preserve the health of the many millions who fall within their reach.

    They not only threaten the West by undermining what should be otherwise healthy and thriving populations, but their tentacles reach deep into Eurasia, South America, Africa and beyond.

    At Face Value...

    Pharmaceutical corporations, or big-pharma, have been embroiled in one scandal after another from everything including rigging research trials and efficacy studies, to peddling dangerous medications to children.

    Some of the largest Western pharma corporations on the planet have been caught in multinational multi-billion dollar bribery rackets.

    The US' own Justice Department in a statement titled, "Justice Department Announces Largest Health Care Fraud Settlement in Its History," would admit:
    American pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc. and its subsidiary Pharmacia & Upjohn Company Inc. (hereinafter together "Pfizer") have agreed to pay $2.3 billion, the largest health care fraud settlement in the history of the Department of Justice, to resolve criminal and civil liability arising from the illegal promotion of certain pharmaceutical products, the Justice Department announced today.
    Pfizer would be caught up in similar criminal proceedings around the planet, with the Washington Post in its article, "Pfizer agrees to pay $60M to settle foreign bribery case," admitting:
    Pfizer Inc. agreed Tuesday to pay $60 million to settle charges alleging that some of its foreign subsidiaries bribed doctors and health-care officials in order to gain regulatory approval for the company's drugs and boost sales in those countries.
    Countries mentioned in the article included Bulgaria, Croatia, Kazakhstan and Russia.

    British pharmaceutical giant GSK would also be caught in a massive bribery racket. The New York Times in its article, "Drug Giant Faced a Reckoning as China Took Aim at Bribery," would claim:
    The Glaxo case, which resulted in record penalties of nearly $500 million and a string of guilty pleas by executives, upended the power dynamic in China, unveiling an increasingly assertive government determined to tighten its grip over multinationals. In the three years since the arrests, the Chinese government, under President Xi Jinping, has unleashed the full force of the country's authoritarian system, as part of a broader agenda of economic nationalism.
    GSK's bribery racket in China wasn't merely an isolated incident for the company. It has been engaged in rampant and dangerous corruption for years and across various continents.

    The London Guardian would report in its article GlaxoSmithKline fined $3bn after bribing doctors to increase drugs sales that:
    The pharmaceutical group GlaxoSmithKline has been fined $3bn (£1.9bn) after admitting bribing doctors and encouraging the prescription of unsuitable antidepressants to children. Glaxo is also expected to admit failing to report safety problems with the diabetes drug Avandia in a district court in Boston on Thursday.

    The company encouraged sales reps in the US to mis-sell three drugs to doctors and lavished hospitality and kickbacks on those who agreed to write extra prescriptions, including trips to resorts in Bermuda, Jamaica and California.
    In early 2014, the London Telegraph would report in its article, "GlaxoSmithKline 'bribed' doctors to promote drugs in Europe, former worker claims," that:
    GlaxoSmithKline, Britain's largest drug company, has been accused of bribing doctors to prescribe their medicines in Europe.

    Doctors in Poland were allegedly paid to promote its asthma drug, Seretide, under the guise of funding for education programme, a former sales rep has claimed.

    Medics were also said to have been paid for lectures in the country which did not take place.
    The Pfizer and GSK cases tell us that massive corruption isn't isolated to a single incident or even a single pharmaceutical corporation but is a norm across the entirety of Western big-pharma.

    In many ways, Western big-pharma represents drug dealers in lab coats armed with massive lobbying resources, public relations and marketing departments to create the illusion of legitimacy where in reality, and as revealed by a trail of massive scandals, no legitimacy actually exists.

    But as bad as bribing doctors and pushing dangerous drugs onto children may seem, Western big-pharma is so much worse.

    Dangling Life Over the Dying

    Headline-grabbing scandals emanating from big-pharma happen so often and on such a scale that the general population seems desensitized to them. The fact is the very corporations for some reason charged with the research, development, manufacturing and distribution of life-saving medications are apparently run by criminals who enjoy near impunity hasn't registered as the human healthcare crisis that it truly is.

    But there are other, far worse rackets big-pharma is working on that illustrate the true depravity of not only the pharmaceutical industry itself, but of Western academia, Western healthcare professionals and of course the Western mainstream media, all of whom play a role in perpetuating or excusing well-known scandals as well as well-hidden scandals.

    Gene therapy represents a paradigm shift in human healthcare. Rather than using pharmaceuticals to treat a condition, gene therapy alters the very DNA of a patient and cures them permanently at the very source of the disease or condition a patient suffers from.

    For example, the deadly blood cancer leukemia has been cured by adjusting the DNA of human immune system cells. The newly programmed cells can detect and destroy leukemia and place a patient into permanent remission. The initial trials were carried out on patients who had failed to respond to approved forms of therapy and who would have otherwise died had the gene therapy not worked.

    What's more incredible about gene therapy is that it is administered once and continues to work throughout a patient's life. This is because as the reprogrammed cells copy and divide themselves, they also copy the new DNA code included in them to find, fight and eliminate leukemia.

    For a patient suffering from a deadly disease, the notion of a single infusion curing their condition permanently is a miracle of modern medicine.

    For a profit-driven pharmaceutical industry, the notion of permanently curing a disease with a single infusion that is cheaper than conventional and less-effective therapies is a nightmare.

    This is why gene therapy developed by charity and a medical team from Pennsylvania University led by Dr. Carl June that literally cured leukemia was bought up Norvartis and a massive price tag slapped on it to ensure the breakthrough remained unrealistic and out of reach to most patients.

    Denying Cures, Ensuring Profitability

    The New York Times in a 2012 article titled, "In Girl's Last Hope, Altered Immune Cells Beat Leukemia," reported on this impressive breakthrough made by charity-funded research and development, claiming (my emphasis):
    Dr. June said that producing engineered T-cells costs about $20,000 per patient — far less than the cost of a bone-marrow transplant. Scaling up the procedure should make it even less expensive, he said, but he added, "Our costs do not include any profit margin, facility depreciation costs or other clinical care costs, and other research costs."
    Yet by July 2017, the Washington Post in its article, "First gene therapy — 'a true living drug' — on the cusp of FDA approval," would note Novartis buying out the gene therapy and reported on its pricing that:
    Novartis has not disclosed the price for its therapy, but analysts are predicting $300,000 to $600,000 for a one-time infusion. Brad Loncar, whose investment fund focuses on companies that develop immunotherapy treatments, hopes the cost does not prompt a backlash. "CAR-T is not the EpiPen," he said. "This is truly pushing the envelope and at the cutting edge of science."
    This pattern of big-pharma buying-out and jacking up prices has impacted gene therapies of every kind. Big-pharma has snatched up one government or charity-funded project after another, raising prices to ensure they remain out of reach of dying and desperate patients, and their other, much more profitable products, remain the only "viable" choice for the vast majority of the population.

    This is an illustration of everything right and wrong about the West at the moment.

    There is an incredible capacity in the West for innovation and improving life on this planet, yet it is so walled-in by corrupt, deeply entrenched and apparently unopposed monopolies that it has no means of ever doing so.

    Newspapers like the NYT and Washington Post are complicit, having previously reported on the true costs of these breakthroughs and then presenting their buy-out and mark-ups as reasonable and "commonsense" to unsuspecting readers.

    Universities, academics and healthcare professionals, likely the benefactors of either coercion or bribery, bribery we know comes as second nature to big-pharma, also impede the alarm being sounded to not only the danger big-pharma is putting current human healthcare in, but what big-pharma is denying people who need treatment and cures the most.

    For the rest of the world, a healthy population is key to economic, political and military success. Keeping an industry as corrupt and as dangerous as Western big-pharma as far away as possible seems like it should be a key pillar in any nation's national defense strategy.

    Gunnar Ulson, a New York-based geopolitical analyst and writer especially for the online magazine "New Eastern Outlook".
  • January 13, 2019 (Tony Cartalucci - NEO) US strikes against targets in Iraq in Syria belonging to Iranian-linked militias operating across the territory of both Middle Eastern nations directly before New Year's marked a new low for US foreign policy in the region.

    The strikes were soon followed by the assassination of senior Iranian military leader General Qasem Soleimani who headed Iran's renowned Quds Forces.

    The combined provocations have led to a proportionate - and so far effective - counterstrike by Iran aimed at US military bases in Iraq.

    The US is Goading Iran, Not Defending Against It

    CNN in its article, "US strikes 5 facilities in Iraq and Syria linked to Iranian-backed militia," it was reported that:
    US forces conducted airstrikes in Iraq and Syria against five facilities the Pentagon says are tied to an Iranian-backed militia blamed for a series of attacks on joint US-Iraq military facilities housing American forces.
    The article would also claim:
    Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman described the strikes against the group as "precision defensive strikes" that "will degrade" the group's ability to conduct future attacks against coalition forces.
    And while the US would describe the strikes as defensive in nature - in reality the US is illegally occupying Syria and is coercing the government of Iraq to accept its open-ended and unwanted occupation there.

    Worse still is that the Iranian-backed militias the US struck constitute one of the most formidable forces operating in the region arrayed against terrorist organizations like Al Qaeda, its various affiliates, and the so-called Islamic State in Syria and Iraq (ISIS).

    The US narrative of protecting its troops - who occupy the region illegally and in direct contravention to international law - attempts to paper over continued efforts to cling to US hegemony in the Middle East and reverse its flagging fortunes - particularly in Syria where its regime war has unraveled.

    Strikes on Iranian-backed militias and their senior leadership are a vain attempt to redraw the quickly changing geopolitical landscape in the Levant where Syria and its allies - particularly Russia and Iran - have come out on top.

    Stabbing Iraq in the Back...

    All while the US attempts to portray its actions as underwriting regional or even global security - the very nations it has carried out its attacks in have unequivocally condemned them. In Iraq - where there is at least a semblance of legitimacy to America's ongoing occupation, the Iraqi government has described the attacks as treacherous.

    The assassination of General Qasem Soleimani was likewise condemned widely across the region.

    Thus - the US has carried unilateral actions inside a nation it attempts to portray as an ally and partner - actions condemned by the Iraqi government itself.

    Finally, the CNN article would point out that the recent US strikes represent an escalation between the United States and Iran - amid a wider conflict that spans the region from Syria and Lebanon, to Iraq, to the south in Yemen, and even as far as in Afghanistan where US forces have been waging war for nearly 2 decades along Iran's eastern flank.

    Within Iran itself, the US has organized ongoing efforts to destabilize the nation economically and politically aiming to either coerce Tehran or remove the government of Iran entirely.

    The irony of the US claiming it is striking Iranian-backed militias in self-defense or in an attempt to combat "terrorism" is multifaceted.

    The US which claims to be waging a global war on terror - has just struck the very forces serving as the front line against Al Qaeda and ISIS. Furthermore, when considering the US and its Saudi allies are Al Qaeda and ISIS' primary state sponsors, the irony deepens.

    When the nations the US claims it is protecting protest US unilateral actions - nations who are the primary benefactors of Iranian-back militias and their efforts to combat Al Qaeda and ISIS and their terrorism aimed at dividing and destroying their nations and the wider region - US foreign policy and its most recent belligerence lays fully exposed.

    One must also consider that US actions serve as one of the most disruptive factors driving ongoing regional instability.

    The US continues to isolate itself by doubling down on failed policies - and in the process it is resorting to increasingly dangerous and desperate tactics that threaten regional and global peace and stability. Resorting to high-level assassinations represents a rarely resorted-to measure fully illustrating the growing depths of Washington's desperation.

    For nations enduring US belligerence - the process of slowly exposing and countering US foreign policy must continue in earnest. Iran's pinpoint missile strikes aimed at US bases in Iraq, avoiding casualties represents just such patience - a show of force reminding Washington of what could happen if hostilities widen - and a show of restraint illustrating to the rest of the world that Iran is reasonable even in the face of unreasonable provocations.

    The US is already increasingly exposed and isolated. For the US which has waged large scale war across the region with diminishing returns - a handful of additional US airstrikes and assassinations will do little to diminish Iranian-backed militias or their ongoing efforts to move the region out from under decades of US hegemony, aggression, terror, division, and destruction.

    For the New Year - the US gifts the Middle East with yet more violence and terror - ensuring the region, its nations, and their people labor under no delusions regarding the source of the region's ongoing instability and violence. During the coming new year and the years to come, the process of slowly and surely uprooting US hegemony and all that it entails will continue.

    Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine"New Eastern Outlook".
  • January 16, 2020 (Tony Cartalucci - NEO) - The US has eagerly taken credit for the killing of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani amid a series of military strikes carried out by US forces across Syria and Iraq. The assassination was shortly followed by Iranian missile strikes aimed at US bases in Iraq.

    The BBC in its article, "Qasem Soleimani: Strike was to 'stop war', says Trump," would claim:
    President Donald Trump said the US killed Iran's top military commander Qasem Soleimani "to stop a war, not to start one".

    He said Soleimani's "reign of terror is over" following the strike at Iraq's Baghdad airport on Friday.
    The strikes also targeted infrastructure supporting a network of Iranian-backed militias known as Popular Mobilization Units or PMUs.

    The US claiming these strikes were meant to end "terror" are particularly surreal.

    The PMUs along with General Soleimani and his special operations Quds Forces have played a key role in fighting and defeating US and Saudi-sponsored terrorism across the Middle East. This includes fighting terrorist organizations like Al Qaeda, its many affiliates, and the so-called "Islamic State in Iraq and Syris" (ISIS) - all of which have been extensively exposed as recipients of US cash, weapons, and other forms of material and political support.

    The War of Terror Continues

    Even the clumsy and often-manipulated Wikipedia lists Iran's Quds Forces as opposed against Al Qaeda, its affiliates, and ISIS alongside nations like the US and its allies. While Wikipedia doesn't overtly connect these terrorist organizations with their Western sponsors it is clear to even the casual observer that both appearing on the Quds Forces' opponents list carries with it many implications.

    Beyond mere implications - however - it was the US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) itself in a 2012 leaked memo that admitted, "the West, Gulf monarchies, and Turkey" were behind the rise of a what at the time was being called a "Salafist principality."

    The leaked 2012 report (.pdf) states (emphasis added):
    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).
    To clarify precisely who these "supporting powers" were that sought the creation of a "Salafist" (Islamic) principality" (State), the DIA report explains:
    The West, Gulf countries, and Turkey support the opposition; while Russia, China, and Iran support the regime.
    In other words, the US, its European allies, and its closest allies in the Middle East, sought the rise of a "Salafist" (Islamic) "principality" (State) in eastern Syria, precisely where ISIS eventually manifested itself.

    The West and its regional allies did so while simultaneously funding, arming, and training so-called "rebels" who in reality lined the ranks of extremist groups up to and including Al Qaeda and its Al Nusra franchise.

    A similar pattern of supporting extremism Lebanon, Iraq, and Yemen has emerged. So extensive is US state-sponsorship of terrorism that even the Western corporate media has been forced repeatedly to admit and attempt to cover up the flow of US weapons into the hands of extremists.

    Thus - from 2011 onward - the world has become increasingly aware of US state-sponsorship of terrorism - specifically in support of terrorist organizations including Al Qaeda, its affiliates, and ISIS. The US has throughout the Syrian conflict directly and indirectly attacked and undermined the forces fighting these terrorist organizations - and with the latest assassination of General Soleimani - has begun to wage open war against Al Qaeda's and ISIS' most effective opponents.

    Too Little, Too Late

    If General Soleimani was such an important target to eliminate - we can only assume the US believes that he was an effective strategist and leader. And if General Soleimani was either or both of these things - it is certain that amid his skilled and effective operations against US state-sponsored terrorism he also included provisions for continuity for his Quds Forces.

    The assassination of General Soleimani will do little to degrade the Quds Forces themselves. Other senior leaders will fill the void and the organization will continue effectively carrying out operations on behalf of Iran and its Syrian and Iraqi allies.

    Instead - the attack was more likely meant to serve as a provocation - a desperate attempt by Washington to provoke Tehran and escalate the regional conflict more toward large-scale total war the US believes it may still hold an advantage in over Iran.

    For Iran - its strategy of patient, incremental victory in Syria, Iraq, and beyond has paid historical dividends. The geopolitical landscape of the Middle East is being redrawn before our very eyes.

    The best way to procure revenge for yet another provocative and toxic display of US foreign policy is for Iran to continue the work General Soleimani had successfully endeavored toward - the continued frustration of US belligerence in the region, the dismantling of US-proxies including terrorist organizations like Al Qaeda and ISIS, and the eventual and total uprooting of US hegemony across the region.

    Iran's missile strikes targeting US military bases rendered no casualties yet demonstrated Iran's capacity to carry out long-range precision strikes at US forces illegally or coercively occupying the region.

    The US was subsequently faced with the choice to fight big and lose, or once again demonstrate its growing impotence by doing little or nothing. The US has its forces spread across the planet, fighting numerous adversaries yet unable to achieve a single decisive victory. Its demonstrated failures in Iraq, Syria, Libya, and Afghanistan mean that mounting full-scale military operations against the much larger and more formidable Iran is particularly unrealistic.

    Iran's pinpoint missile strikes aimed at US bases in Iraq - avoiding casualties - represents a show of force reminding Washington of what could happen if hostilities widen - but also a show of restraint illustrating to the rest of the world that Iran is reasonable even in the face of Washington's unreasonable provocations.

    Just as Russia endured humiliating provocations designed to provoke and distract Moscow from successfully defending Syria - leaving Moscow and its Syrian allies victorious and the US desperate, frustrated, and in some cases, literally running from its positions in Syria - Iran too must endure.

    US provocations come too little and too late.

    They only serve to further illustrate the menace current US foreign policy and the interests driving them pose to the world. They have failed to reverse Washington's flagging fortunes in either Syria or Iraq. And unless Iran gives the US exactly what it wants - a pretext to escalate further - these provocations will likely end up on the long list of failed attempts to reverse Washington's fortunes regarding its weakening grip on Iraq, its failed regime change war in Syria, and its overall unraveling hegemony across the Middle East and North Africa.

    Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine "New Eastern Outlook".
  • January 22, 2020 (Gunnar Ulson - NEO) - A cornered animal is a dangerous animal. For the elite in Washington, with the terminal decline of their "American Century" and the global empire it built during it, they find themselves in a most unaccommodating corner and thus have become increasingly reckless and dangerous in their decision making.

    Compounding matters exponentially is the fact that in that corner and amid Washington's desperation, they are in possession of thousands of nuclear weapons and an increasing disinterest in the treaties that sought to ensure such weapons were neither used nor proliferated.

    The Unspoken Nuclear Threat

    The highly destructive trade wars, real wars and political and/or economic interference the US is engaged in worldwide is creating a negative and very tangible impact on the globe. Despite the high costs of Washington's increasingly disruptive polices and the prominence they assert themselves with across daily headlines, it is perhaps the nuclear threat of an increasingly reckless political order that poses the most danger.

    Yet it is often downplayed, spun or left unspoken entirely.

    Incremental policy decisions spanning the presidential administrations of George Bush Jr., Barrack Obama and Donald Trump have seen the end of two important nuclear arms treaties signed with the Soviet Union and the Russian Federation. Not only have these treaties been unilaterally shredded by the United States, the US immediately took actions these treaties had sought specifically to prevent such as the encircling of Russia with anti-missile systems to prevent Moscow from launching a nuclear retaliation in the wake of a hypothetical US first strike, undermining the entire premise of mutually assured destruction and the keystone of nuclear deterrence.

    The New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) is nearing its expiration in 2021 and policymakers in Washington appear to have little interest in renegotiating its extension or its replacement with a similar or better treaty.

    According to Reuters in its 2017 article, "Exclusive: In call with Putin, Trump denounced Obama-era nuclear arms treaty - sources," it's claimed that:
    In his first call as president with Russian leader Vladimir Putin, Donald Trump denounced a treaty that caps U.S. and Russian deployment of nuclear warheads as a bad deal for the United States, according to two U.S. officials and one former U.S. official with knowledge of the call.
    While many may dismiss Trump's denouncement as an extension of his brash leadership style, it fits in perfectly with an incremental process of unilateral US withdrawal from a series of fundamental nuclear arms treaties, an incremental process almost never mentioned across the US mass media.

    Washington Deliberately Walks Toward a Dangerous Nuclear Threat

    In 2002, US President George Bush Jr. would unilaterally withdraw the US from the The Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM Treaty). This was immediately followed by US efforts to encircle Russia with anti-missile systems designed to stymie any Russian nuclear retaliation.

    Then in August 2019, US President Donald Trump withdrew from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty). Despite Trump's name being associated with the withdrawal, the process of preparing for the withdrawal as well as developing the weapon systems prohibited under it began during the administration of US President Barrack Obama.

    Immediately after the US withdrawal from the treaty, intermediate-range missile systems developed in the US were unveiled; systems that most certainly were under development long before the US withdrawal from the treaty.

    Apparently, regardless of who is president and whatever their supposed policies are regarding foreign policy, there is a singular continuity of agenda aimed at walking the US away from nuclear arms controls and toward a future of reckless nuclear posturing attempting to upturn the concept of nuclear deterrence and breeding a dangerous arms race with newer, faster and more sophisticated weapons that will reduce the reaction time needed to prevent or react to a nuclear first strike.

    While it is still unlikely that the US would ever launch a nuclear first strike, the probability of miscommunications leading to an accidental nuclear exchange is now increased. Why would the US take this risk? Who are the benefactors?

    But it is a Lucrative Nuclear Threat

    To begin with, every new US military weapon system requires research and development funded by US taxpayers, to the obvious benefit of America's massive military industrial complex. The production, deployment and maintenance of these weapon systems are likewise highly lucrative for arms manufacturers like Lockheed Martin and Raytheon who have developed the missile systems hitherto prohibited by the ABM and INF treaties as well as New START.

    Injecting billions upon billions into arms manufacturers who possess the lobbying wherewithal to change US foreign policy including its position on various treaties inhibiting the development and deployment of complex and highly expensive weapon systems is an abundantly obvious motivation for the US' withdrawal from various nuclear arms control treaties. But it is not the only motivation.

    Placing anti-missile systems as well as intermediate-range first strike missiles in nations neighboring Russia is part of a process of further transforming these neighbouring nations into appendages of US military power.

    As such, not only are these missile systems deployed along with US military personnel to maintain and operate them, a deepening network of inter-military cooperation is built around the process of deploying such systems. Peripheral military cooperation will undoubtedly lead to an increased US military footprint in these nations as well as deepening interoperability between the US military and the military of nations hosting US troops and missile system.

    Logically this translates into joint-training, a growing officer corps in host nations amicable to US means and methods as well as the sale of US arms unrelated to the various nuclear treaties the US has withdrawn from and the missile systems it has deployed as a result.

    In other words, citing a non-existent nuclear threat from Russia to sow hysteria and panic and serve as impetus to deploy US missile systems to "meet the threat," allows the US "to get its foot in the door" regarding a much wider military involvement in nations along Russia's peripheries.

    More of the Same That Led to America's Decline in the First Place

    In Washington, this is imagined as a means to help reverse declining US influence in Europe and serve as a template to save its likewise declining presence in Asia-Pacific opposite Beijing.

    In reality, it is simply more of the same sort of non-constructive and unsustainable belligerence that has contributed to America's decline, belligerence that serves as a stand-in for what should be American industrial, economic, financial and sociocultural competition and collaboration among the nations of the world rather than an increasingly futile attempt to assert American military hegemony upon the world.

    America is not going to out-compete the industrial capacity of China or the diplomatic savvy of either Beijing or Moscow by shredding treaties, deploying missiles and using both as an excuse for further military expansion in Europe or East Asia.

    Considering this, describing the US as cornered and desperate seems entirely appropriate. The real hope is that the special interests clinging to and benefiting from this dangerous policy will continue to fade as a force in directing America's future, and other more constructive interests emerging across America's socioeconomic landscape will displace both them and their policies.

    In the meantime, nations like Russia and China targeted by America's increasingly reckless view on nuclear weapons can construct a new policy architecture to create checks and balances regarding new weaponry within the context of nuclear deterrence. Doing so will further undermine and expose the current special interests driving US policy as irresponsible and as international rogues, pressuring either them or those who may replace them to adopt new and effective nuclear arms controls.

    Failure to do so may lead to a cascading effect among nations seeking out nuclear weapons in a desperate bid to create a deterrence against an increasingly alarming US military threat; both nuclear and conventional. Investment in weapons globally redirects resources away from infrastructure and genuine, sustainable socioeconomic progress.

    Thus, even if the actual threat of nuclear war is minimal, Washington's current policy of belligerence is still highly costly to global peace, stability and progress. It is costly not only to Washington's opponents, but also to the American people who will continue subsidizing corporations like Lockheed and Raytheon while civil infrastructure, healthcare and education at home continue to decline.

    Gunnar Ulson, a New York-based geopolitical analyst and writer especially for the online magazine "New Eastern Outlook".
  • January 23, 2020 (Joseph Thomas - NEO) - Thailand's opposition is openly backed by powerful foreign interests, particularly those in Washington. As the opposition attempts to secure power and help serve as a vector for Western special interests, the spectre of a Western-sponsored "colour revolution" increasingly looms over Thailand's future.

    Thailand is a key Southeast Asian nation, with the second largest economy in the ASEAN regional bloc and a key regional partner for China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). By disrupting Thailand's political status quo, Washington hopes to introduce complications to China's regional and global rise.

    Taking to the Streets

    In early December Thai opposition party "Future Forward" took to the streets with several hundred protesters, obstructing pedestrian bridges and sidewalks in downtown Bangkok.

    While Future Forward's defacto leader, billionaire Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, claimed he clogged Bangkok's downtown shopping district with followers to fight for "democracy" and "freedom," it was abundantly clear the mob he assembled was a direct reaction to recent court cases leveled against him and his party for repeated and blatant violations of Thai election laws.

    This included Thanathorn's holding of media shares while campaigning which is illegal under Thai law. It also includes a supposed "loan" Thanathorn made worth tens of millions of Thai baht to his own party, a loan the party itself has no means of ever paying back, meaning that it was in fact a donation and therefore absolutely illegal under Thai election laws.

    Rather than face justice, Thanathorn has assembled a street mob as a means of hanging the threat of eventual violence over the head of Thailand's courts in hopes of either reversing case decisions or reducing the penalties resulting from various court rulings.

    Should nations like the US aid and abet Thanathorn's street politics, the potential for widespread violence may allow Thanathorn and his political machine to exercise further leverage not only to circumvent justice, but to assume the power and influence his party failed to render from general elections earlier this year. Future Forward came in distant 3rd.

    The Spectre of Malign Foreign Interference

    The most troubling aspect of Thanathorn's recent foray into street politics is his open and deep ties to fellow billionaire and now fugitive Thaksin Shinawatra and his own use of violent street politics to divide Thai society and to pressure Thailand's institutions into making concessions.

    Thaksin, like Thanathorn, is likewise backed by large foreign special interests, particularly in Washington. For years he has secured the largest and most powerful lobbying firms in Washington to help shape Western media narratives favourably around his and his foreign sponsors' agenda of tipping Thailand back West and away from its growing ties with Beijing.

    In 2009 Thaksin's street mobs disrupted the annual ASEAN summit held in southern Thailand while rioting across Bangkok, carrying out arson and killing two shopkeepers while looting local businesses.

    In 2010, Thaksin augmented his street mobs with hundreds of heavily armed terrorists. With the use of war weapons, nearly 100 would die with the violence ending in a day of citywide arson causing billions in damages.

    While many have attempted to write Thaksin off as a fading power and introduce Thanathorn as "new blood," the fact is that Thanathorn is little more than a nominee who represents Thaksin and his still dangerous political machine. Thanathorn's Future Forward Party headquarters is next door to Thaksin's Pheu Thai Party headquarters with both parties sharing resources, conducting joint press conferences and adopting a singular political agenda aimed at ousting the current government and assuming power.

    Just as the US has done in other nations around the globe, it has selected and is backing political forces in Thailand it hopes can either one day assume power and serve as a vector for US interests, or at the very least render Thailand divided and weakened and "unavailable" to aid in and benefit from China's regional and global rise.

    Thanathorn has already visibly enjoyed the benefits of US support. The US has marshalled its own embassy and the embassies of Western US allies to come out in displays of support for Thanathorn when summoned to face criminal charges.

    The US also openly funds a small army of supposed "nongovernmental organisations" (NGOs) that not only support Thanathorn and his Future Forward Party, but also have supplied employees to Future Forward as founding members.

    Under the guise of advocating for "human rights" and "democracy," US-funded NGOs use their resources and influence to shield Future Forward from justice by claiming criminal charges are politically-motivated or that Future Forward's conduct is merely "freedom of expression."

    Forward into a Dark Future

    Thanathorn and his Future Forward Party claim they do not seek to replicate the violence of 2009 and 2010, despite openly serving Thaksin who was responsible for that violence. Thanathorn also claims he and his party do not seek to replicate the violence that has rocked Hong Kong recently, despite Thanathorn travelling to Hong Kong and openly supporting the US-funded and backed leaders of that violence.

    It is clear that Thanathorn is merely attempting to hide what is otherwise an obvious agenda with an obvious and lingering conclusion; that of violence once against spilling into the streets as a means for Thanathorn and the interests he represents to pressure the current Thai political order and exact concessions from them.

    It is a dark future Thailand is being led into and one that will have a further negative impact on China as it seeks to compensate for US sanctions and targeted meddling by building ties with nations like Thailand. China cannot build constructive ties with Thailand if Thailand itself is consumed by political conflict and/or violence. Instability in Thailand and in China will produce synergistic benefits for Washington and its foreign policy of meddling, dividing and weakening its opponents, particularly in Asia where the US desperately seeks to reassert itself as a hegemon.

    Understanding, exposing and resisting US foreign policy by denying Washington and its proxies the cover of "pro-democracy" or "pro-human rights" narratives is the first step to not only disrupting attempts to destabilise Thailand politically, but also to deny Washington the use of this tactic anywhere else.

    Joseph Thomas is chief editor of Thailand-based geopolitical journal, The New Atlas and contributor to the online magazine "New Eastern Outlook".
  • January 29, 2020 (Joseph Thomas - NEO) - US State Department-funded and directed Voice of America recently noted that its networks in the Southeast Asian country of Cambodia are reorganising, though no in such straightforward terms.

    VOA's article, "Journalists Form A New Press Association, Plan to Protect At Risk Reporters," claims:
    The development comes amid an ongoing press crackdown by the government that has seen the shuttering of independent news organizations and radio stations in the country.

    The article then obliquely mentions that the "at risk reporters" include Radio Free Asia employees; Radio Free Asia being part of the US State Department's media presence inside Cambodia and across the rest of Asia.

    Only until the very last paragraph of the article does VOA admit who the founding members of the new association, The Cambodian Journalists Alliance (CamboJa), are, admitting:
    CamboJA's fifteen founding members consist of current or former journalists from six news outlets, including Voice of Democracy, The Cambodia Daily, Radio Free Asia and Voice of America, as well as freelance journalists.
    In other words, CamboJa is merely the US State Department reorganising its interference within Cambodia under the pretense of upholding media freedom.

    US-Funded and Directed Media Augments US-Backed Opposition

    Far from impartially and objectively reporting any actual news, the members of CamboJa serve merely as the public relations arm of Cambodia's US-backed opposition party, the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP).

    CNRP's senior leadership includes Kem Sokha who himself openly admitted he served as a proxy for US interests who ran his opposition party practically from top to bottom.

    The Phnom Penh Post in an article titled, "Kem Sokha video producer closes Phnom Penh office in fear," would go over the many admissions made by Kem Sokha:
    Sokha says he has visited the US at the government's request every year since 1993 to learn about the "democratisation process" and that "they decided" he should step aside from politics to create change in Cambodia.

    "They said if we want to change the leadership, we cannot fight the top. Before changing the top level, we need to uproot the lower one. We need to change the lower level first. It is a political strategy in a democratic country," he said.
    Regarding US assistance, Kem Sokha would reveal:
    "And, the USA that has assisted me, they asked me to take the model from Yugoslavia, Serbia, where they can changed the dictator Slobodan Milosevic," he continues, referring to the former Serbian and Yugoslavian leader who resigned amid popular protests following disputed elections, and died while on trial for war crimes.

    "You know Milosevic had a huge numbers of tanks. But they changed things by using this strategy, and they take this experience for me to implement in Cambodia. But no one knew about this."

    "However, since we are now reaching at this stage, today I must tell you about this strategy. We will have more to continue and we will succeed."
    Kem Sokha would elaborate even further, claiming:
    "I do not do anything at my own will. Their experts, professors at universities in Washington, DC, Montreal, Canada, hired by the Americans in order to advise me on the strategy to change the dictator leader in Cambodia."
    Kem Sokha's daughter, Kem Monovithya, has also openly worked with the US to seek the overthrow of the Cambodian government.

    When Cambodia began its crackdown on both CNRP and the US-funded organisations supporting it, the US threatened sanctions and other punitive measures. Kem Monovithya would play a central role in promoting these punitive measures in Washington.

    The Phonom Post in a December 2017 article titled, "US says more sanctions on table in response to political crackdown," would claim: Washington, a panel of "witnesses" convened by the House Foreign Affairs Committee -- including Kem Sokha's daughter, Kem Monovithya -- called for additional action in response to the political crackdown. In a statement, Monovithya urged targeted financial sanctions against government officials responsible for undermining democracy. She also called on the US to suspend "any and all assistance for the central Cambodian Government", while "continuing democracy assistance programs for civil society, particularly those engaged in election-related matters".
    Like her farther, Kem Monovithya's collaboration with the US government goes back much further. The Washington Post in a 2006 article titled, "While in U.S., Cambodians Get a Lesson on Rights From Home," would first admit:
    Kem Sokha, a former Cambodian senator and official, heads the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, which is supported by U.S. government funds. The center has held public forums to hear complaints about conditions in Cambodia.
    Regarding Kem Monovithya herself, the Washington Post would note:
    Monovitha Kem, a business school graduate and aspiring lawyer, said she would lobby U.S. and international institutions to fight Hun Sen's decision.

    "I would like to see the charges dropped not just for my father, but for all other activists," she said in an interview Monday. "I hope they will amend the defamation law."

    Monovitha Kem has met with officials at the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, the International Republican Institute, the U.S. Agency for International Development and major human rights groups.
    The National Democratic Institute (NDI) and International Republican Institute (IRI) are both subsidiaries of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) which, together with the US government itself, have supported myriad subversive activities within Cambodia for years.

    This includes a number of organisations cited in a May 2018 Washington Post article attempting to deny claims of US meddling by citing almost exclusively US-funded fronts operating in Cambodia.

    This includes Licadho, which is funded by both the UK government and the US via USAID. It also includes Radio Free Asia and Voice of America, both of which are funded by the US government and overseen by the Broadcasting Board of Governors chaired by US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo himself. There is also the Cambodian Center for Independent Media, funded by NED subsidiaries Freedom House and IRI as well as the British Embassy and convicted financial criminal George Soros' Open Society Foundation.
    For years the US has interfered in Cambodia's internal political affairs doing so under the guise of promoting democracy and protecting freedom of the press while in actuality undermining the foundations of both.

    A democracy by definition includes the process of self-determination. Cambodia's opposition represents an agenda determined an ocean away in Washington. Nothing the Cambodian opposition or the US-funded media that augments its efforts can be described as "democratic."

    US Interference is Aimed at Cambodia's Ties with China

    Attempts by the US to assist Cambodia's opposition in creating instability in Cambodia is rooted in Cambodia's current government's growing relationship with Beijing and its obstinate refusal to heed US demands regarding Washington's various agendas in Asia including sanctions aimed at Chinese firms and US efforts to create conflict over the South China Sea.

    The US hopes to either remove the current government from power or exert enough pressure on it to exact concessions from it regarding Washington's struggle with Beijing for power and influence across Asia.

    Understanding the true motivations driving Washington's interference in Cambodia and that they are merely hidden behind pretexts such as "democracy promotion" and protecting a "free press," helps disarm Washington of still potent political tools used to menace nations around the globe. Exposing and foiling US interference in Cambodia today will help blunt the effectiveness of similar US tactics when it targets others tomorrow.

    Joseph Thomas is chief editor of Thailand-based geopolitical journal, The New Atlas and contributor to the online magazine "New Eastern Outlook".
  • February 5, 2020 (Tony Cartalucci - NEO) - US policy versus Iran has reached new heights of desperation and new lows in terms of undermining international law and norms.

    In Washington's losing battle to maintain hegemony in the Middle East at the expense of the actual people and nations that exist there - it has resorted to high-level assassinations, unilateral strikes against targets within sovereign nations against the expressed will of the governments presiding over them, all while exposing what appears to be growing American military, political, and economic impotence.

    In sharp contrast, nations like Russia and China have made gains as Washington's flagging fortunes create a power vacuum in the region. Rather than replacing the US as regional hegemons themselves - Moscow and Beijing are extending their multipolar concept into the Middle East - assisting nations in rebuilding themselves after years of US-engineered and led conflict, warding off additional conflict the US is attempting to use to reassert itself in the region, and allowing nations to stand on their own and pursue their own interests independently of the traditional spheres of power established during the age of empires.

    US Think Tanks Out of Ideas

    Corporate-funded US policy think tank - the Brookings Institution - and one of its senior fellows Daniel Byman - recently published an article titled, "Is deterrence restored with Iran?," in which several good points are made - but many more revealing aspects of America's increasingly sick and out of touch foreign policy are exposed particularly in regards to Iran.

    Byman's writings are important to consider since Byman signed his name alongside several other prominent Brookings fellows upon the institution's 2009 paper, "Which Path to Persia? Options for a New American Strategy Toward Iran" (PDF), in which the groundwork for everything that unfolded before and since 2009 regarding US policy toward Iran was laid out in great detail.

    The 2009 paper included US plans to undermine Iranian political and social stability through targeting its economy and funding opposition groups and protests - which the US subsequently did. It included plans to fund and arm militants to carry out violence aimed at coercing or overthrowing the Iranian government - which the US also did. It also included plans to covertly provoke war with Iran to serve as a pretext for US-led regime change - which the US is clearly and repeatedly attempting to do.

    More interesting still is that the paper also included plans to lure Iran into a peace deal specifically for the US to make claims Tehran failed to honor it and to serve as a pretext for war. It is interesting because not only did the subsequent "Iran Nuclear Deal" fulfill the paper's requirements, the machination unfolded over the terms of two US presidents - Barrack Obama and Donald Trump - serving as a reminder that special interests drive US foreign policy, not America's elected leaders, and that the agendas of these special interests transcend US presidential administrations rather than find themselves subjected to them.

    Byman's recent article - one might expect - would be full of revisions and fresh ideas regarding US foreign policy in the Middle East and policy regarding Iran - considering the plans laid out in the 2009 paper have dramatically failed.

    Instead it is filled with tired narratives including unfounded accusations that Iran seeks nuclear weapons or is funding "terrorism" across the region rather than reacting to real US-sponsored terrorism in the form of Al Qaeda, its affiliates and the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

    It is now common knowledge that these terrorist organizations have been openly armed and backed by the US and its allies in their failed bid to overthrow the government of Syria, pressure the government of Iraq, and defeat Houthi fighters in Yemen.

    Other tired narratives laid out by Byman include feigning knowledge of Israel's role as a US proxy and that Israeli aggression is used as an intermediary for Washington's regional designs.

    If US policymakers are this detached from reality - or at least their explanations to unwitting audiences they are attempting to sell policy to are this detached - the policies they are attempting to sell will be entirely unsustainable. The growing public backlash and increasing lack of cooperation from opposing nations, neutral states, and even long-time US allies is testament to this.

    Time is on Iran's Side

    Byman's article attempts to argue that recent US aggression was aimed at restoring "deterrence." Since the US is in the Middle East, oceans and continents away from its own shores, occupying nations surrounding Iran illegally, coercing others to accept perpetually hosting US troops and suffer US interference, the term "deterrence" is entirely inappropriate.

    The recent US aggression was meant instead as an attempt to reassert US primacy in the region by beating back Iranian gains toward uprooting it. But US aggression at this level doesn't signal strength or resovle - it signals recklessness and desperation - recklessness and desperation Tehran most certainly has taken note of.

    Byman does make important admissions. At one point he admits (emphasis added):
    Resolve may also favor the Iranians. Even ignoring President Trump's vacillations on the use of force in the Middle East and on whether or not to negotiate with Iran, Americans are increasingly weary of deploying troops in the Middle East and skeptical of war with Iran. Iran, for its part, sees a friendly regime in Iraq as a vital interest and otherwise is playing a long game in the Middle East. Even more important, the United States has threatened the Iranian regime's survival, its ultimate vital interest.
    And indeed, this is entirely true - time is on Iran's side. It is a nation that resides in the Middle East, neighbors Iraq, is in close proximity to Yemen, Syria, and Lebanon, possesses extensive historical, cultural, religious, economic, and military ties across the region, and seeks self-preservation alongside its allies - all factors that are likely to survive even the most extreme forms of aggression and interference by Washington.

    Washington on the other hand indeed faces growing discontent at home, limits placed on its military adventurism by both improved military technology possessed by nations it is targeting and the reality of a global economy in transformation.

    The US is still capable of inflicting immense damage against Iran and its allies in the region. Iran - while noting US recklessness and desperation - will continue to pursue a policy of patient persistence. Iran's strategy is augmented by support from Russia and China who are likewise patiently waiting out the terminal decline of America's unipolar world order.

    Apex Desperation

    Continuing a policy that is entirely unsustainable is a mixture of desperation and delusion. Byman and others serving US special interests within the halls of America's corporate-funded policy think tanks are unable to openly discuss the need to pivot away from policies predicated on global hegemony and toward the more sustainable multipolar policies pursued by nations like Russia and China now displacing American power and influence around the globle.

    But because of this, US policymakers will continue to sell increasingly unattractive narratives a growing number of people both in policy circles and even in the general public will turn away from.

    Like any enterprise - US hegemony has over the decades attracted many investors and shareholders. And like any enterprise - when times change and the business model used to sustain that enterprise is no longer viable, significant reforms must be made or investors and shareholders should begin to divest and look elsewhere for better fortunes. Considering US policy toward Iran and many other nations appears hopelessly mired and increasingly desperate with no signs of legitimate reforms in the works, investors and shareholders most certainly should begin divesting and looking elsewhere.

    Only time will tell what will take the place of the current interests driving US foreign policy, but what is certain is that US foreign policy in its current form is in terminal decline. Its designs toward Iran in particular will complicate the lives of and inflict suffering upon the Iranian people, but the designs laid out in 2009 by US policymakers and pursued ever since have failed to reap the desired results. Little the US can do now can change this.

    Apex desperation is often followed by calamitous defeat and decline. An example of this in US history was clearly demonstrated throughout the Vietnam War until its conclusion. Very rarely do individuals, enterprises, or nations that reach the desperation US foreign policy versus Iran has reached make their way successfully through it - and nothing being said, written, or done in Washington suggests that the US will fare any differently this time.

    Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine "New Eastern Outlook".
  • The latest incident in London was so entirely preventable that it is difficult to describe it as anything less than deliberate.

    February 13, 2020 (Tony Cartalucci - NEO) - In yet another headline-grabbing terror attack - an armed man in south London left several injured - some seriously - with the suspect himself killed at the scene by police.

    Entirely predictable was the fact that the suspect named as Sudesh Amman - was a known terrorist - having been previously arrested, tried, and imprisoned for terror-related offenses, only to be inexplicably released early.

    The London Telegraph in its article, "Streatham attack knifeman named as Sudesh Amman who had a previous terror conviction," would report regarding his earlier conviction that:
    Alexis Boon, then head of the Metropolitan Police Counter Terrorism Command, said at the time of his conviction that Amman had a "fierce interest in violence and martyrdom".

    He explained: "His fascination with dying in the name of terrorism was clear in a notepad we recovered from his home. Amman had scrawled his 'life goals' in the notepad and top of the list, above family activities, was dying a martyr and going to 'Jannah' - the afterlife.
    Also predictable was the fact that this known terrorist would once again menace the public - being only the most recent example in a string of headline-grabbing terror attacks carried out by similar suspects similarly known to police and intelligence organizations, but otherwise inexplicably allowed to menace the public.

    Major terror attacks in France and Belgium were likewise carried out by suspects entirely known to local police and regional intelligence organizations.

    Not only are these suspects known to Western authorities, but they are also affiliated with Western-sponsored terrorist organizations most notably Al Qaeda, its various franchises, and the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) which have for nearly a decade served as proxies in Western-engineered regime change wars aimed at Libya, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Iran, and beyond.

    The latest incident in London was so entirely preventable that it is difficult to describe it as anything less than deliberate.

    It is only a matter of time before politicians begin spinning and exploiting the incident - using it to shape policy both foreign and domestic - allowing analysts to better understand why such an entirely preventable act of violence was allowed to unfold nonetheless.

    From London to Paris: The West's Self-Perpetuated Terror

    As seen in nearly every terror attack in recent years both in Europe and North America including high-profile incidents like the "Charlie Hebdo shooting" and the Garland, Texas attack, the alleged suspects all have one common thread - they were all already under the watch of security agencies for years, some even imprisoned one or more times for terror-related and/or other violent offenses, some even having traveled overseas to fight alongside Western-backed terrorists in Libya, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and beyond.

    The Guardian in an article titled, "France passes new surveillance law in wake of Charlie Hebdo attack," admitted then that the French government alone had over 1,400 people under watch, including hundreds of terrorists who have recently returned from fighting alongside Western-backed terrorists in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen.

    Among these monitored potential risks were in fact the suspects behind the "Charlie Hebdo shooting."

    Slate Magazine would report in their article, "The Details of Paris Suspect Cherif Kouachi's 2008 Terrorism Conviction," that:

    Kouachi was arrested in January 2005, accused of planning to join jihadists in Iraq. He was said to have fallen under the sway of Farid Benyettou, a young "self-taught preacher" who advocated violence, but had not actually yet traveled to Iraq or committed any acts of terror. Lawyers at the time said he had not received weapons training and "had begun having second thoughts," going so far as to express "relief" that he'd been apprehended.
    Kourachi and his brother would be reported to have traveled to the Middle East to receive training from Al Qaeda, then to have fought in Syria in a war backed in part by France, before returning home and carrying out their grisly terror attack, all while being tracked by French intelligence.

    If Kouachi previously could be arrested for "association with wrongdoers with the intention of committing a terrorist act," why wasn't he arrested immediately upon his return to France for having subsequently received and employed military training by a terrorist organization?

    CNN would report in an article titled, "France tells U.S. Paris suspect trained with al Qaeda in Yemen," that:

    Western intelligence officials are scrambling to learn more about possible travel of the two Paris terror attack suspects, brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi, with new information suggesting one of the brothers recently spent time in Yemen associating with al Qaeda in that country, U.S. officials briefed on the matter told CNN. Additional information from a French source close to the French security services puts one of the brothers in Syria.
    The problem that led up to the "Charlie Hebdo shooting" - or any high-profile attack since - was clearly not a lack of intelligence or surveillance.

    French security agencies then more than adequately identified the "Charlie Hebdo shooting" perpetrators as potential threats and tracked them for years beforehand. More recently, British authorities were more than well aware of the danger Sudesh Amman posed to society.

    The problem is instead what appears to be a deliberate effort to keep these terrorists roaming freely among society. Free to join Western-backed mercenary forces abroad to fight in the West's various proxy wars, and free to commit heinous acts of terror at home, both serving the singular agenda of expanding Western hegemony abroad while preserving the primacy of select special interests at home through divide and conquer politics and the use of fear as a political weapon.

    Whichever side of the political divide the general public finds themselves on regarding terrorism at home and the West's endless wars abroad there should be common ground everyone can meet on regarding what is either unforgivable negligence and incompetence or equally unforgivable, deliberate efforts to perpetuate a deadly terrorist threat.

    In either case, attacks like those in France and Belgium or this more recent event in the UK are exploited - used to paralyze the public with fear and coerce them to accept growing constraints on their freedom at home and growing expenditures in blood and treasure for wars abroad.

    Terrorists are indeed a threat to the peace and stability of society. So are those interests that perpetuate them either by actively supporting them, or passively allowing them to carry out violence. For the British government - it is guilty of both - and in the case of this recent attack in London - it really doesn't matter whether it was police negligence or a deliberate act of violence facilitated covertly by the state - it could have and should have been prevented. Now the public must ask why it was not.

    Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine "New Eastern Outlook".
  • February 16, 2020 (Gunnar Ulson - NEO) - Washington and Wall Street and the collective international order they've built over the decades following the Second World War appear to have run their course.

    To adversaries and allies alike, the US has become more of a liability than the global leader it attempts to present itself as. Yet there are still nations around the globe, including those which find themselves the target of Washington and Wall Street's most aggressive machinations, who still desire to work with and benefit from cooperation with the American people at large.

    There is no doubt that nations like Russia and China which find themselves the subject of sanctions, trade wars, covert subversion and even covert terrorism and proxy war, still benefit greatly from the ties, trade and cooperation they are still able to maintain with the United States. There is no doubt that if the special interests in Washington and on Wall Street were to fade and an alternative, more collaborative circle of political and economic interests took their place, these benefits would grow immensely for the US and the rest of the world.

    But is there any ray of hope that as America's current leadership fades from the global stage, something else (and something better) can take its place?

    It appears that the answer may be, yes.

    Tesla and SpaceX

    Tesla is an American electric vehicle (EV) manufacturer. Founded by Elon Musk who also serves as the company's CEO, the company has accelerated the otherwise stalled US electric vehicle market into unprecedented territory.

    After passing many hurdles, the company has finally broken through into what appears to be sustainable success. In CNN's recent article, "Tesla just proved all its haters wrong. Here's how," it was reported that:
    This week, the company reported its first annual profit in 10 years as a public company.

    Perhaps more significant for Tesla skeptics: the company generated $1.1 billion of free cash flow last year. That means it is no longer in danger of running through its cash or depending on investors to pump more money into its operations.

    The stock has skyrocketed more than 250% over the last eight months, making Tesla the second most valuable automaker in the world by market value, behind only Toyota (TM).
    Tesla's meteoric rise has created a mix of reactions within and beyond America. It has inspired the general public with an entirely fresh approach to car design, manufacturing and sales. Coupled with the attractiveness of Tesla's vehicles being entirely electric, existing automakers have little to offer in terms of competition.

    This has forced incumbent auto monopolies who had previously and deliberately dragged their feet regarding EVs to finally make commitments toward R&D, manufacturing and sales of their own EVs.

    While Tesla's rise has introduced badly needed competition to the existing, stagnant auto industry, it has also provoked attempts by incumbents to sabotage Tesla's success. Shady union protests and dishonest media organizations engaged in campaigns to smear Tesla have attempted to poison the public against the new automaker.

    However, this pressure within the United States will likely do little to stop Tesla. The company has strong public support and has already expanded into China with its new Gigafactory opening in Shanghai which is already producing cars.

    Tesla's eager desire to work with China, putting business, cooperation and mutual benefits ahead of shortsighted monopolistic practices provides a template for other emerging US companies to follow in creating an alternative to the exhausted and fading interests still dominating Washington and Wall Street, including the deeply entrenched incumbent US auto industry.

    Another example is the US aerospace company SpaceX, also founded and chaired by Elon Musk.

    It has gone from just barely launching its tiny Falcon 1 rocket in 2008 to regularly launching its Falcon 9 rockets which are used for domestic and foreign missions, military and commercial as well as supplying the International Space Station (ISS). SpaceX is also developing a manned spacecraft to send astronauts to the ISS and beyond.

    Not only has SpaceX achieved a launch cadence on par with established US aerospace giants, it regularly recovers and reuses the first stage of its Falcon 9 rockets, a feat no other aerospace enterprise public or private has achieved, meaning SpaceX offers access to space for considerably less than its competitors.

    SpaceX has likewise inspired the public as well as entrepreneurs who are attempting to replicate or improve upon SpaceX's style of business.

    And just like Tesla, SpaceX has spurred ugly reactions from entrenched special interests who, with the aid of those in Washington, sought to bar SpaceX from competing for US Air Force contracts. Just like Tesla, SpaceX has overcome these obstacles through persistence and by simply providing vastly superior alternatives than its competitors.

    Tesla and SpaceX' trials, tribulations and eventual success provide insight into how a wider transition of power from established, entrenched and exhausted special interests to more constructive alternatives may play out in the future as Tesla and SpaceX expand and as the companies they've inspired begin growing and competing against established US monopolies as well.

    The success of Tesla and SpaceX against the odds and the impressive achievements they've both made should not only inspire Americans and demonstrate to the world that the US still has much to offer, it should also serve as an example for other nations to follow, creating industries that are driven by specific purposes rather than purely for profit and power.

    These industries abroad could then meet those popping up in the US somewhere in the middle. Considering the positive impact Tesla and SpaceX alone have had on the auto and aerospace industry, more of a good thing certainly will have a positive impact on the world in the years to come.

    Only time will tell if purpose-driven industry will win out over fading profit-driven models and the fading international orders they've constructed, but the more aware people are that there is an actual alternative to existing circles of special interests, the more likely these alternatives are to succeed.

    Gunnar Ulson, a New York-based geopolitical analyst and writer especially for the online magazine "New Eastern Outlook".
  • February 19, 2020 (Tony Cartalucci - NEO) - A deal that is entirely unacceptable to one of its principal parties isn't a deal at all. In the case of the US-proposed "Middle East peace plan" - unsurprisingly endorsed by the US and Israel and few others - everything about it is designed to sabotage peace and perpetuate conflict - perhaps even expand it.

    The London Guardian in its article, "Palestinians cut ties with Israel and US after rejecting Trump peace plan," would note what are obvious conditions Palestine could not and should not accept:
    The blueprint, endorsed by the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, calls for the creation of a demilitarised Palestinian state that would exclude Jewish settlements built in occupied territory and remain under near-total Israeli security control.
    Demilitarizing Palestine and subjecting it to occupation blatantly illegal under international law and what would undoubtedly be continued Israeli aggression, provocations, and encroachment is akin to unconditional surrender and subjugation - conditions no government could be expected to accept with Palestine being no exception.

    An op-ed published by Al Jazeera titled, Trump's Middle East plan may have a silver lining: Trump's plan will not make the Palestinians' lives better, but it could help dismantle the disastrous Oslo order," would aptly describe the deal as:
    Basically, Trump's plan promises the Israelis an almost full realisation of the Zionist objectives to establish a Jewish state on all of historic Palestine, while offering the Palestinians "prosperous apartheid", ie life under occupation with more money but no dignity and basic rights.
    Of course, promises of money may or may not be fulfilled. A Palestine rendered defenseless and entirely dependent on ill-willed sponsors has no way to ensure such promises are fulfilled.

    Thus the "peace plan" is yet another demonstration of Washington's continued malign presence in the Middle East and its absolute disinterest in changing course. The Guardian would also note that several Arab allies of the US would side with Washington's proposal, prioritizing joint belligerence toward Iran rather than solidarity with Palestine.

    Helping ease Arab allies of Washington out of their pretend concern for Palestine will - Washington hopes - help them focus entirely on US plans to create a united front against Iran as US power and influence in the region slips.

    Politics and Power, Not Religion

    This disingenuous and counterproductive "peace plan" does however help illustrate that the current, ongoing conflict in the Middle East is not driven by religion, neither Zionist nor Islamic extremism, but rather by politics and in particular - designs to maintain Western hegemony in the region that has existed since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. Religion and its perversion through extremism is simply used to augment and propel these designs.

    Were the conflict purely a matter of religion - Sunni and Shia'a soldiers wouldn't be fighting side-by-side in Syria against US-sponsored terrorists. Arab nations would not be abandoning Palestine in favor of joining the US and Israel in their collective belligerence against Iran. And no nation in the region - save for Israel - would accept the most recent "peace plan" proposed by the US.

    Seeing through a "peace plan" intentionally designed to further inflame emotions and deepen divides and understanding the true interests driving regional conflict will help establish common ground rather than erode it. The actual people living in Israel have more in common with ordinary people living in Palestine than with the current circle of special interests dominating the Israeli government.

    Ordinary people seek peace and stability - to live out their lives and provide for their families. Tensions and the conflicts they lead to only disrupt ordinary people from achieving this basic desire - whether they are Israelis or Palestinians.

    The US proposal illustrates to people on either side of the divide that the US is not an honest broker and that the current process posing as pursuing peace should be dismantled.

    Because of this, and just as the US has faded from other areas of the world and even from other areas within the Middle East - the US will fade from prominence regarding the Israeli-Palestinian question - hopefully opening the way for more honest brokers to move in and propose a genuine peace deal that will right injustices and provide for the best interests of ordinary people rather than merely pose as doing so while serving the interests of a malign few.

    Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine "New Eastern Outlook".
  • February 21, 2020 (Joseph Thomas - NEO) -Biology has done what malicious US foreign policy aimed at China has failed to do for years; complicate China's relations along its peripheries (and the rest of the world for that matter), particularly in Southeast Asia.

    In Thailand, contrary to popular belief, Chinese tourists make up the vast majority of those visiting the Kingdom. Approximately ten times more Chinese tourists arrive in Thailand each year than tourists from all other Western nations combined. With China's government putting travel bans in place to curb the spread of the recent coronavirus outbreak, Thai resort areas have seen a marked decrease in business.

    The Bangkok Post in an article, "Chinese tourists desert Phuket as virus spreads," would note the impact on the southern resort island of Phuket, with locals describing about a 70% decrease in business and the Tourism and Sports Ministry estimating "50 billion baht of lost tourism revenue."

    With the first Thai victim of the virus being a taxi driver who likely contracted it from picking up a Chinese tourist, many taxi drivers are now attempting to avoid Chinese fares; which may have a negative impact on Chinese-Thai tourism in the near and intermediate future.

    A Weakpoint

    While this disruption is likely to be temporary with tourism, business, and other Chinese-Thai relations bouncing back - the coronavirus outbreak illustrates a weakpoint in China's rise and one that most likely will be exploited by China's adversaries; particularly the United States.

    Chinese state media, CGTN, in an article titled, "China says U.S. raising travel advisory 'not a gesture of goodwill'," would report:
    Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying Friday criticized certain U.S. officials' words and actions amid the ongoing novel coronavirus outbreak, noting that their behavior is certainly not a gesture of goodwill as they are neither factual nor appropriate.

    U.S. State Department Thursday announced a highest-level warning not to travel to China due to the recent coronavirus outbreak. On the same day, U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said the spreading coronavirus will accelerate the return of jobs from China to the U.S.
    Thus, the US is cynically using the outbreak to enhance its anti-China policies at a time when other nations are extending aid to the Chinese government and the Chinese people.

    While the outbreak is most likely an accident prompted by China's breakneck development, industrial-scale agriculture, immense population and the millions of Chinese people who travel within and beyond China's borders, the fact that certain US policy circles have contemplated the use of biological weapons to achieve exactly the same results the coronavirus outbreak is having should be a stark reminder to China and all other nations about the importance of being able to quickly and effectively combat such outbreaks.

    Even without the US being behind the outbreak, the US is openly taking advantage of it; yet another illustration of how important it is to first prevent such outbreaks, as well quickly react to them should they happen.

    The outbreak will continue into the near future, but in the intermediate future it will subside just like previous outbreaks of similar respiratory viruses (SARS, MERS). Once the outbreak subsides, China and its partners must carefully consider how to avoid a repeat of this event.

    China will also have to consider future measures to protect itself from nations like the United States who seek to exploit China at a moment of weakness such as now.

    Outbreaks are a part of modern civilization, resulting from overcrowding and the ease of travel allowing an infected person to carry a disease from one part of the world to another in just hours. Past outbreaks of have proven that nations can adapt and overcome them and then bounce back. Improving prevention and refining responses after this recent outbreak will define China and its international relations into the foreseeable future.

    Complacency will only invite future accidents and even tempt malicious state actors to spur such accidents when all other methods of confounding their adversaries fail. China has already demonstrated significant resolve, but only time will tell how this most recent outbreak will play out in its entirety, both in terms of a human health crisis and in terms of short and long-term geopolitics.

    Joseph Thomas is chief editor of Thailand-based geopolitical journal, The New Atlas and contributor to the online magazine "New Eastern Outlook".
  • February 28, 2020 (Tony Cartalucci - NEO) - Turkey has allegedly lost another 33 troops in Syria this week amid its refusal to withdraw from Syrian territory amid Syrian government gains in the northern governorate of Idlib.

    The BBC in its article, "Syria war: 33 Turkish troops killed in air strike in Idlib," would report:
    At least 33 Turkish soldiers have been killed in an air strike by Syrian "regime forces" in north-western Syria, a senior Turkish official has said.

    More were hurt in Idlib province, said Rahmi Dogan, the governor of Turkey's Hatay province. Other reports put the death toll higher.

    Turkey later retaliated against Syrian troops government targets.
    The US-led proxy war against Syria is all but over. It is just a matter of time before Damascus and its allies restore control over the entire nation and begin rebuilding.

    The US-armed and funded terrorists that have ravaged the country since 2011 have been exposed, depleted, and cornered. So desperate is the state of this proxy war that in recent years the US and its allies including Turkey and Israel have resorted increasingly to direct military action against Damascus itself as their proxies are no longer capable of carrying out sustained military operations themselves.

    And despite brazen aggression against Damascus and its forces - the combined military might of the US, Turkey, and Israel have failed to produce any noteworthy or sustainable gains in contrast to Damascus' imminent victory.

    Giving Up a Graceful Exit

    Turkey has been a NATO member since the 1950's and was an eager participant in Washington's proxy war on Syria allowing its territory and resources to be used to flood Syria with terrorists, weapons, equipment, and money to fuel the destructive 9 year conflict.

    Despite Turkey's integral role in facilitating Washington's malice and destructive proxy war, Syria's allies - seeing the conflict as ending in Damascus' favor - attempted to create a graceful exit for Turkey and the possibility of playing a more constructive role in the region they - not Washington - would now be shaping.

    This included economic and military ties with Russia and Iran to help ease pressure from Washington who was attempting to cut both to punish and increasingly uncompliant Ankara.

    However, recent events appear to indicate that Turkey has rejected this graceful exit. Turkish forces find themselves increasingly escalating directly against Syrian forces and now even their nuclear-armed Russian allies.

    Nothing Turkey can do short of total war in northern Syria will reverse their flagging fortunes.

    The occupation of northern Syria through the use of depleted proxies is no longer sustainable. The invasion and occupation of northern Syria by Turkish forces capable of repelling Syrian government forces backed by nuclear-armed Russia is also not a viable policy.

    Discovering whatever Ankara is still being promised - or threatened with - by Washington to continue its policy of belligerence and disruption in northern Syria will be key to dissuading Turkish cooperation with the US - or formulating a strategy to frustrate and defeat the lingering machinations of Washington and its two chief partners - Turkey and Israel.

    Turkey now finds itself in the unenviable position of having all but abandoned promising ties with the winners of the Syrian conflict and a constructive role in reorganizing the region in the conflict's aftermath - and now also doubling down on a clearly lost war that will cost Turkey not only blood and treasure, but also its standing in the region in the near to intermediate future.
  • US attempts to destabilize Thailand aim to weaken Thai-Chinese relations at Beijing's expense.

    February 28, 2020 (Tony Cartalucci - NEO) - "Long Live Democracy!" cried "student" protesters at Thailand's Thammasat University as local and Western media organizations reported "hundreds" gathered to decry the disbanding of Thai political party, Future Forward.

    However, the Western media's eager support for the small mob complete with quotes of support from the US Embassy in Bangkok should be the first clue that it has little to do with actual democracy or Thailand's best interests and more to do with bolstering Western proxies in Thailand and boosting waning Western influence in Thailand, and across wider Asia vis-a-vis China.

    The recent ruling by Thailand's Constitutional Court regarding Future Forward and its dissolution is indeed not an attack on "democracy" but rather the confronting of an overtly corrupt party led by an equally corrupt billionaire, Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit.

    Thanathorn has in the past openly received the support of the US and other Western embassies amid his multiplying and increasingly overt legal transgressions. His Future Forward political party is comprised of members drawn from US and European-funded fronts posing as nongovernmental organizations (NGOs).

    In his latest legal transgression - Thanathorn "loaned" his own party millions of dollars. Of course, Future Forward has no means or intention of ever paying back this "loan," meaning that it was instead in all actuality a donation - one made in direct and complete violation of Thai election laws.

    The BBC would note in its article, "Future Forward: Thai pro-democracy party dissolved over loan," that:
    The constitutional court ruled a loan of around $6m (£4.6m) to Future Forward from Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit was a donation, and therefore illegal.
    The BBC would - however - attempt to present the party's dissolution as a setback for "democracy," claiming that the party had garnered "more than six million votes." Of course the BBC conveniently omits that it came in distant third, with its political allies from Thailand's Pheu Thai Party (PTP) led by exiled and likewise corrupt billionaire Thaksin Shinawatra coming in second and Thailand's Palang Pracharat Party coming in first regarding popular vote.

    Thus Future Forward not only represents a minority (16%) of Thai voters - it represents the interests of a corrupt billionaire who openly violated Thai laws in his bid to seize political power. If this is the case, what are these "student" protesters at Thammasat University actually fighting for?

    More Western "Pro-Democracy" Chaos

    The protests of course have nothing to do with "students" and are instead led by openly foreign-funded fronts merely posing as "students" and "pro-democracy activists." Many of them are directly tied to Thanathorn's corrupt and now disbanded Future Forward political party - while others literally donned the red shirts of Pheu Thai's violent street mobs, the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) - notorious for widespread arson and armed terrorism which paralyzed Bangkok in 2009 and 2010.

    The Western media and local media funded-by and eagerly reflecting foreign interests attempted to portray Future Forward's dissolution as a clear bid by the ruling government to eliminate the "pro-democracy" opposition.

    Articles like the Bangkok Post's "Hundreds rally for justice at Thammasat," would quote protesters from the minuscule mob, claiming:
    "It doesn't matter who the people elect — Thai Rak Thai, People Power Party or Future Forward — they all ended up being disbanded. Maybe we should try electing Palang Pracharath so it too is dissolved," a speaker said, referring to the main party in the governing coalition.
    Again - omitted is the fact that Palang Pracharath not only won the popular vote - far outperforming Future Forward at the polls by several million votes - it also formed the largest functional political coalition with smaller parties than Future Forward and its Pheu Thai allies did.

    Thus "students" at Thammasat are not rallying for "democracy" or "justice," they are rallying against justice served to an overtly corrupt and unpopular political party in an attempt to undermine the ruling government voted into power by the majority of Thai voters.

    In other words - Western and pro-Western local media articles spun an anti-democratic mob organized by a corrupt billionaire and his foreign sponsors as a "pro-democracy" rally.

    No Future for Future Forward's Mobs

    Despite the optimistic delusions of protesters who believe the Thammasat mob is the beginning of a larger scale anti-government movement in Thailand - it should be remembered that Future Forward is less popular than its Pheu Thai allies were at the height of their political power in 2009-2010 where even massive and extremely violent mobs were unable to reverse their declining political fortunes, leading to their eventual dislodging from power and even the flight of senior leaders overseas where they remain in exile.

    Pheu Thai had in the past easily manipulated the Thai electoral system and delivered victory at the polls. In 2019 it failed to do so and Future Forward performed even worse. Their combined political power after the 2019 Thai general election was still unable to match that won at the polls by the military-linked Palang Pracharath Party and its political allies.

    A political movement led by corrupt, exposed, and unpopular billionaires with waning power and influence does not a revolution make.

    There is no doubt that Future Forward and the mobs it has funded and organized with the help of foreign interlopers will nonetheless attempt to portray street chaos as a popular uprising despite having openly failed at the polls in 2019 and having nothing even close to resembling popular public backing.

    With the help of a dishonest Western media, US and European-funded local media fronts, and an army of US and European-funded meddlers posing as NGOs headlines will continue to present Thanathorn and Thaksin's struggle for relevance and leverage as a "pro-democracy struggle."

    As these so-called "pro-democracy" forces fade further from power and popularity inside Thailand - the wider influence of the West whom sponsors them wanes across wider Asia. It overall reflects the decline of the West's so-called "soft power" - a geopolitical tool blunted by a lack of alternatives to those used by the West's competitors - namely Beijing - who offer political, economic, and military ties whose tangible benefits far exceed those - if any - offered by Washington, London, or Brussels.

    As the US continues to focus on building dishonest and disruptive political movements led by corrupt billionaires, China is laying down physical infrastructure and contributing to regional trade producing mutually beneficial economic progress for the region.

    Fake "Progressives" Threaten Real Regional Progress

    Future Forward will no doubt manage to move bodies into the streets - just as its Pheu Thai allies did in 2009-2010. With many of the so-called "students" literally wearing Pheu Thai's UDD "red" shirts - it is clear that recent rallies are little more than a repeat of the 2009-2010 protests - led by the same circles of political agitators as in 2009-2010 - minus the somewhat wider support Pheu Thai once had at the time.

    They do so at the risk of upsetting not only political and economic stability in Thailand, but all the benefits derived from both - including monetary incentives by various shareholders foreign and domestic who will undoubtedly counter-rally any gains made by Thanathorn and his Future Forward political party in the streets.

    The capacity for Future Forward to disrupt political and economic stability in Thailand exists - but to a lesser extent than past foreign-backed chaos. The hopelessness of Future Forward's self-made political crisis and its insistence on still hiding behind "democracy" and "human rights" nonetheless will only help further expose both as the facades they truly are within the construct of Western-backed political meddling both within Thailand and across the wider Asian region.

    Thanathorn and others like him in Thailand and across Asia will have one less rock to hide under as the sun of multipolarism and national sovereignty chases away the remaining shadows of Western colonialism cast across Asia.

    The so-called opposition in Thailand represents the West's bid to counter growing Thai-Chinese relations that are further eroding Western primacy across Asia and the globe.

    The BBC, other Western media organizations, and local media fronts mindlessly echoing their sentiments will continue to howl about "injustice" against billionaire Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit and his Future Forward political party in a bid to bolster the opposition - but fewer and fewer are listening with fewer still, believing.

    Continuous lies buttressed by increasingly feeble "pro-democracy" narratives are unsustainable in and of themselves - but when compared to efforts by China and others to actually drive local, regional, and global development through tangible means - the West's "pro-democracy" game appears to have fully run its course.

    For Thailand and the Thai people - it can only be hoped that these "flash mobs" fail to gain traction and those paying into Thanathorn, Future Forward, and the wider "pro-democracy" movement the West has created as a vector to project power and influence across Thailand see it as the poor investment it truly is.

    The continued carrot and stick method used by the ruling government luring local and foreign shareholders seeking to stir up street chaos away their machinations and toward a more constructive role regarding national and regional development must continue while security forces and government media remain vigilant and prepared for the sort of disinformation, provocations, and violence that almost always accompany the sort of Western-sponsored political unrest this recent mob in Thailand represents.

    Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine "New Eastern Outlook".
Stats & Atts.

What a long strange trip it's been.