Click here to show or hide the menubar.
  • November 5, 2017 (Tony Cartalucci - NEO) - There are approximately 1.8 billion Muslims on Earth. That is approximately 24% of the world population. They live in regions spanning North Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia, and reaching as far as Southeast Asia. There are Muslim communities in virtually every nation - and in many - they have played a pivotal, constructive, and welcomed role in national development.

    If even 1% of the world's Muslims were violent terrorists bent on conquering the world, that would constitute an army 18 million strong - or in other words - larger than the next 20 largest armies on Earth combined. Most critics of Islam infer that the number is actually much higher than 1% - many suggesting that the majority of Muslims either are engaged in or support terrorism. It is logical to conclude that if even 1% were dedicated to terrorism and the "conquest of infidels," the war would have ended in their favor long ago.

    It is clear that there is not even 1% across Islam engaged in or supporting terrorism. Across the Arab World, the vast majority of Muslims, Christians, other sects, and the secular, stand united against terrorism. It is clear that a mountain of lies stands between many and the truth - a mountain built so tall that it leaves entire segments of targeted populations in the perpetual darkness of ignorance.

    From Whence Terror Flows

    The source of terrorism is not the Qu'ran - a book that few critics of Islam have even picked up let alone genuinely read - but rather a very easily traced money trail that leads to Washington and London.

    It is indeed the Western World that has created, branded, and marketed "radical Islam," which is for all intents and purposes a strictly political tool designed to provoke direct Western military interventions where possible, and fight conflicts by proxy whenever direct military intervention is not possible.

    In Syria and Iraq, the US has used its terrorist proxies to do both - first to fight the government of Damascus and its allies by proxy, and when that failed, to set a pretext for direct US military intervention.

    It has also been used domestically, as one former analyst once put it, "to enlist our obedience for the construction of the prison planet." Indeed, under the pretext of "fighting terrorism," the United States and much of Europe has been transformed into an invasive police state and despite stripping away the freedom and liberty of the Western World for the promise of security - the peoples of the West find themselves with neither.

    For those that have been sucked up into "radical Islam," it seems very real. Just as the US uses patriotism to convince young men and women to devote their lives to foreign invasions, wars, and occupations against scores of sovereign nations around the world - predicated on "freedom, democracy, and self-determination" even as US militarism strips all of the above away from the planet - that fraction of a fraction of 1% engaged in "radical Islam" truly believe in their cause - no matter how nonexistent and contradictory it is in reality.

    And "radical Islam" does not exist in a vacuum. It requires a medium to interact with. That includes a equally extreme, but opposite "radical ignorance" and fear sown across the Western population. Together, the two feed each other creating a perpetual pretext for foreign war, a perpetual sense of injustice against Muslims to which US-armed and funded terrorists can rally around, and perpetual fear and hatred spread across the Western World.

    It is the age-old political tool of empires - divide and conquer - honed to perfection and supercharged through information technology - particularly social media.

    Wahhabism - The Key to Arab Conquest

    Part of "radical ignorance" includes a deep and profound ignorance of history. Understanding the actual inception of "radical Islam," more accurately known as Wahhabism, dispels many of the most virulent lies spread about Islam - that is has always been a barbaric, warlike ideology. Militant Islam is a relatively new phenomenon, invented by the House of Saud, then cultivated and exploited to its full potential by the British Empire and its American heirs.

    Image: T. E. Lawrence played a pivotal role in building up, then betraying various Arab independence movements vis-a-vis the Ottoman Empire. It was during this period of time that the West began to co-opt and exploit Saudi Arabia's already well-developed political tool of Wahhabism.
    The Ottoman Empire and mastery over the Arab World was coveted and contested by the British Empire. The promise of Arab independence was dangled over the heads of the founders of many of the dynasties now ruling Arabia - dynasties that were carved out through cults of personality and a violent misinterpretation of Islam known as Wahhabism. The British, after betraying the Arabs, would harness this political tool to do what all empires do best - divide and conquer - and specifically so regarding the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).

    Image: US-backed militants of the extremist Muslim Brotherhood attempted to overthrow Syrian President Bashar Al Assad's father, Hafex Al Assad in 1982 and failed. They would try again in beginning in 2011 using the Muslim Brotherhood again, as well as Al Qaeda, Al Nusra, and eventually the Islamic State (ISIS).

    As the British Empire unraveled, the Americans picked up where London left off. The Saudis and their neighboring Persian Gulf kingdoms have been propped up by the West since the end of World War 1. Since World War 2, many of the same dynasties have sat in power, armed, funded, protected, and invited into some of the most lucrative business deals and economic activity in human history.

    It was with members of the Muslim Brotherhood that the US attempted to overthrow current Syrian President Bashar Al Assad's father, Hafez al-Assad with. It was the US with the Saudis and factions within Pakistan's military and government who oversaw the very creation of militant groups like Al Qaeda to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan.

    Image: US National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski with Pakistani military personnel during the US-backed proxy war in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union. The militant groups created, armed, and funded by the US in the 1980's would eventually evolve into Al Qaeda and ISIS today.

    And it is to this very day still very much a US-European enterprise perpetuating the Saudi regime in Riyadh, arming it to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars in weapons and military support, and using Riyadh admittedly as an intermediary through which Washington, London, and Brussels arm and fund the worst, most virulent terrorist organizations on Earth.

    Even current US President Donald Trump - who regularly cites "radical Islam" as an enduring threat to America's national security, has signed off on immense weapon deals to the very nations the US uses to cultivate and perpetuate global terrorism.

    The US and Europe Drive Terrorism, Not Islam

    Each and every terrorist attack that unfolds across North America or Europe is followed by a tidal wave of propaganda aimed at further bolstering a "clash of civilizations." The fearful public either cowers or lashes out against Muslims - led by establishment voices including the newly christened "alt-right."

    Image: A wrecked Home Depot rental truck, used in the recent terror attack in Manhattan, New York. The attacker apparently pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (ISIS). But who in turn created and perpetuates ISIS?

    Muslims and Islam are blamed and the same collection of elementary talking points are rolled out to fan the flames of hatred and hysteria. Points of logic including the number of Muslims on Earth versus the actual number of terrorists are never discussed.

    Also never discussed is the fact that terrorists - particularly those either members of the self-titled "Islamic State" (ISIS) and Al Qaeda, or those inspired by such groups - are indoctrinated, radicalized, armed, funded, and supported by Washington, London, Brussels, and a collection of the West's closest allies in the Middle East - namely Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, Jordan, and Israel.

    It was in a leaked 2012 US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) memo that revealed the US and its allies' intent to create what it called a "Salafist principality" in eastern Syria. The memo would explicitly state that (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).
    On clarifying who these supporting powers were, the DIA memo would state:
    The West, Gulf countries, and Turkey support the opposition; while Russia, China, and Iran support the regime.
    The "Salafist" (Islamic) "principality" (State) would indeed be created precisely in eastern Syria as US policymakers and their allies had set out to do. It would be branded as the "Islamic State" and be used first to wage a more muscular proxy war against Damascus, and when that failed, to invite US military forces to intervene in the conflict directly.

    In 2014, in an e-mail between US Counselor to the President John Podesta and former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, it would be admitted that two of America's closest regional allies - Saudi Arabia and Qatar - were providing financial and logistical support to ISIS.

    Image: It doesn't matter who your favorite US President is or who their staff were - Republican or Democrat - they all took turns coddling and using the Saudi regime.

    The e-mail, leaked to the public through Wikileaks, stated:

    ...we need to use our diplomatic and more traditional intelligence assets to bring pressure on the governments of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, which are providing clandestine financial and logistic support to [ISIS] and other radical Sunni groups in the region.
    Despite admissions from the United States military and high-level politicians that ISIS was literally a creation of its own intentional foreign policy and perpetuated through state-sponsorship by America's closest regional allies, both the administrations of President Barack Obama and President Trump would continue signing weapon deals, maintaining diplomatic ties, and strengthening military and economic cooperation with these state-sponsors of terror.

    Simultaneously, the US and Europe also continue encouraging and protecting Saudi Arabia's global network of faux-madrases - centers of indoctrination often under the watch and even co-management of Western intelligence agencies ensuring a constant, fresh supply of potential patsies for local terrorist attacks and recruits for the West's proxy armies fighting abroad.

    Image: The Syrian Arab Army and its Iranian, Russian, and Hezbollah allies are fighting the true "War on Terror," not alongside the West, but against terrorist proxies sponsored by the West.
    In other words, the problem of "radical Islam" is manufactured and perpetuated by the West. Without the money, weapons, and support provided by the US and Europe to nations like Saudi Arabia, their toxic political tools would quickly dull and be swept into the dustbin of human history. As seen in Syria itself, where hundreds of trucks per day from NATO territory are no longer able to supply ISIS positions within the country, ISIS is unable to sustain itself. It lacks genuine popular support in a region where the vast majority of Muslims, Christians, and the secular remain united against it and has no means of sustaining itself without immense and constant state sponsorship.

    "Radical Islam," or Wahhabism is no different. Both continue to exist through the intentional and malicious foreign and domestic policy of Western governments and the special interests that influence them.

    Know Yourself and Know Your (Real) Enemy

    For those that believe that "radical Islam" is real and an enduring threat to "Western civilization," they would be wise to heed the words of ancient warlord Sun Tzu who said, "know yourself, and know your enemy and you will never be defeated."

    This means identifying the true source of "radical Islam's" power by tracing weapons, money, and leadership to their sources. For those that believe "Islam" is the fundamental problem, indulging in cherry picked Qu'ran verses is monumentally irresponsible. A true enemy must be honestly studied which means cherry-picked versus must be put into context, the Qu'ran as a whole, must be read, and deep and objective study must be undertaken to truly "know one's enemy."

    Meeting and talking with Muslims, observing their communities, and learning their ways - if one truly believes Islam is a threat - is also fundamental in order to "know one's enemy."

    Yet it is likely that many who blindly hate Islam do so as a spectator sport. They are disinterested in the truth because picking a side and rooting is the extent of their intellectual, physical, and moral depth. For others, it is a means of profiting. Finding a niche in the West's massive propaganda machine and picking up crumbs for one's bank account and ego has become a viable business model for many.

    But for those with the moral integrity to do so, a genuine look into "radical Islam" will reveal a much more troubling and real enemy. One that does not menace us with a foreign culture, religion, or ideology from abroad, but one that lies right in our midst, cloaked in patriotism, humanitarianism, and all that passes for "Western civilization" today.

    Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine"New Eastern Outlook".
  • November 10, 2017 (Joseph Thomas - NEO) - Nations like Russia and China make billions of dollars a year in the arms industry. Their arming of other nations with the latest in defence technology is not only a means of supporting their respective economies, it also fits into a diplomatic and national defence strategy of their own.

    As information technology increasingly shapes the future of economics, society, politics and even warfare, the export of "information arms" appears to be an emerging opportunity not only for a nation's economy, but also in enhancing a global balance of power that may help guard against rogue global super powers.

    Defending Information Space

    Russia and China also have begun developing infrastructure, platforms and indeed, entire strategies for defending their information space as well as their physical territory and their economic interests. These include information technology alternatives to large, predominately United States-based technology corporations and the products and services they provide.

    In Russia, VKontakte, or VK, is the Russian version of America's Facebook. Among Russian speakers, VK is by far more popular. With some 450 million users worldwide, it is one of the most popular social media networks on the planet.

    In addition to the economic benefits of a large, popular social media platform being based in Russia, VK allows the Russian government and the Russian people to decide how social media is used within their borders rather than such decisions being made in California, or less desirably still, in Washington.

    Yandex is Russia's answer to Google. An Internet search engine, e-mail host, cloud service and engaged in research and develop regarding cutting-edge technology like artificial intelligence, Yandex gives Russia a means of closing the technology gap between itself and the United States, not only in economic terms, but in terms of national security as well.

    China also has a large and growing number of information technology companies, keeping the profits made off of China's growing online population within China as well as giving China the ability to also decide how this technology is used within its own sociocultural, economic and political context.

    Sina Weibo, considered a combination of US-based tech companies Twitter and Facebook, has over 500 million registered users. Decisions about appropriate content are made by China, for its primarily Chinese user base, not by California or Washington.

    Platforms like Baidu are not only engaged in traditional IT goods and services, but also engages in research and development in regards to artificial intelligence and other breakthroughs that may serve China's economic growth by exploiting future opportunities and guarding against future threats.

    News Media

    Additionally, both Russia and China have developed their own media organisations capable of competing directly against US and European platforms that had until recently, dominated global media for decades.

    Russia Today (RT), China Global Television Network (CGTN) and other networks have helped offset the monopolistic power and influence of the Western media.

    Together, through traditional media and IT, the media and technology strategies employed by Moscow and Beijing create a template other nations have been attempting to follow in order to better represent their own respective, independent interests.

    And just as a nation's military exists to protect more traditional concepts of physical territory, airspace and waterways, these new strategies regarding media and information space seek to protect this emerging world of information and communication.

    Just as Russia and China make battle-tested arms available to other nations to protect these more traditional concepts of physical territory, both nations can also profit economically and in terms of national security by exporting "information arms."

    How and Why

    By creating a geopolitical and military balance of power across the globe, particularly against nations seen as competitors or even threats to Moscow and Beijing, both nations are better able to weather the power and influence of Washington, London and Brussels collectively than by themselves.

    As information warfare becomes increasingly important, Moscow and Beijing find themselves with the same requirements regarding a collective concept of tying down and countering Western power and influence in information space.

    Alone, Moscow and Beijing have managed to protect their respective interests within information space. Should they produce and successfully export "information arms" to other nations, the number of nations able to confront and roll back US and Europe's monopoly over information technology and media platforms will increase.

    While Moscow and Beijing will not enjoy the sort of direct influence over these nations the US and Europe does when co-opting and and directly controlling a targeted nation's information space or media, they will benefit from a more equitable and sustainable multipolar arrangement where nations are better able to represent themselves and their interests rather than serving as an amplifier and proxy for Washington, London or Brussels.

    A greater global balance in which each nation is able to successfully defend its respective information space from foreign influence means that no single nation will be able to co-opt another and unduly increase its influence, and thus unable to menace others upon the global stage.

    Russian and Chinese technology and media experts, therefore, could devise training and packages that enable foreign governments to create their own independent and competent alternatives to the American and European-based systems they currently depend on.

    In Thailand, for example, the largest social media and IT platforms used include Facebook, YouTube and Google. Its media is deeply infected with Western influenced, and in some cases, Western trained and directed editors. While some of its domestic media may support primarily Thai interests, it has no significant independent international media platform.When political conflict erupts in Thailand, the outside world can only view it through the lens of US and European media organisations. Even Russian and Chinese media sources find themselves referring to Western media sources in their own articles, or citing US and European-funded media organisations operating inside of Thailand itself.

    Should Moscow or Beijing equip nations like Thailand with a fully functional, international media platform as well as its own IT enterprises, not only would Thailand be better able to represent itself and its own interests rather than fall prey to those of the West, nations like Thailand would be one less source repeating narratives about Russia or China that served Western interests.

    It is a mutually beneficial arrangement between nations that already understand the many benefits of selling and buying arms for defence against more traditionally understood threats within a more traditionally defined world paradigm, updated to reflect the increasingly important role information technology plays in terms of economics and national security.

    Joseph Thomas is chief editor of Thailand-based geopolitical journal, The New Atlas and contributor to the online magazine "New Eastern Outlook".
  • November 13, 2017 (Joseph Thomas - NEO) - In 1983 the British government created Chevening as an international award scheme aimed at developing what it calls "global leaders." It is funded and directed by the United Kingdom's Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and includes both scholarships and fellowships for individuals selected by British embassies around the world.

    The Chevening website itself states:
    Chevening offers a unique opportunity for future leaders, influencers, and decision-makers from all over the world to develop professionally and academically, network extensively, experience UK culture, and build lasting positive relationships with the UK.
    The website also states that (our emphasis):
    Chevening Awards are an important element in Britain's public diplomacy effort and bring professionals, who have already displayed outstanding leadership talents, to study in the UK. The objective of Chevening is to support foreign policy priorities and achieve FCO objectives by creating lasting positive relationships with future leaders, influencers, and decision-makers.
    In other, simpler and more frank terms, Chevening is a means of producing agents of British influence through the indoctrination of foreigners involved in their respective nation's media, politics, policy making and analysis.

    And while Chevening has only been around since 1983, the tool of imperialism it represents is quite ancient.

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

    Far from simple military conquest, the Romans engaged in sophisticated cultural colonisation.

    In chapter 21 of his book Agricola, named so after his father-in-law whose methods of conquest were the subject of the text, Tacitus would explain:
    His object was to accustom them to a life of peace and quiet by the provision of amenities. He therefore gave official assistance to the building of temples, public squares and good houses. He educated the sons of the chiefs in the liberal arts, and expressed a preference for British ability as compared to the trained skills of the Gauls. The result was that instead of loathing the Latin language they became eager to speak it effectively. In the same way, our national dress came into favour and the toga was everywhere to be seen. And so the population was gradually led into the demoralizing temptation of arcades, baths and sumptuous banquets.
    And perhaps the most striking observation of all made by Tacitus was as follows:
    The unsuspecting Britons spoke of such novelties as 'civilization', when in fact they were only a feature of their enslavement.
    Centuries later, Chevening alumni boast openly about their scholarships and fellowships. It is included in their bios on social media and prominently featured in biographies and résumés that accompany editorials and job applications.

    They believe it to be a high rung upon the ladder of civilisation that they have reached, when in reality, it is nothing more than a modern-day feature of indoctrination, manipulation and exploitation.

    Chevening Alumni's Busy Hands

    Chevening and programmes like it have built cadres for British, European and American influence around the world. Many alumni of these programmes head US-European funded fronts posing as nongovernmental organisations (NGOs). They also lead or support opposition movements and political parties aimed at commandeering the political and media machinery of foreign nations across the developing world.

    In Thailand, a particularly acute example of this is Khoasod English commentator Pravit Rojanaphruk, who eagerly boasts of his various foreign fellowships and scholarships, including his status as a 2001-2002 Chevening scholar.

    While he claims to be a journalist, his work consists entirely of political commentary and bias couched behind activism coupled with overtly pro-American and European editorials expounding notions of Western democracy and human rights.

    Image: Pravit Rojanaphruk (right of centre with striped tie) stands shoulder-to-shoulder with foreign embassy staff as he faces sedition charges in Bangkok, Thailand.

    He regularly agitates against the current Thai government which ousted the US-European backed political party of Thaksin Shinawatra in 2014. When his agitation attracts legal prosecution, he is regularly accompanied by staff from the British and American embassies as well as representatives from the European Union and Canadian diplomatic missions in Thailand.

    It is loyal and persistent agents of British influence like Pravit Rojanaphruk that Chevening was created to produce.

    Of course, those who have gone through Chevening's indoctrination process are not necessarily confined for life by this modern-day feature of "enslavement."

    The Roman Empire brought many young people to Rome for their indoctrination. While the majority of them would certainly and dutifully pursue Roman cultural colonisation upon returning home, some simply used the opportunity to understand the inner workings of this foreign oppressor on a deeper level.

    Their intimate knowledge of the Roman Empire gave rise to some of the most disruptive and persistent rebellions Rome faced and would eventually contribute to Rome's ultimate collapse.

    While Chevening and programmes like it including Reuters fellowships and the US State Department's Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) are likely to turn out agents of Western influence wielded against the developing world, it may also help sow the seeds to the collapse of the very special interests behind these invasive and manipulative programmes.

    For people across the developing world, such "opportunities" seem like a ladder to heaven and strong cognitive dissonance insulates them from ever seeing the truth about these programmes truly represent. A better informed society in general, however, may help insure those targeted by this form of modern-day imperialism stand a better chance of using it rather than being used by it.

    Joseph Thomas is chief editor of Thailand-based geopolitical journal, The New Atlas and contributor to the online magazine "New Eastern Outlook".
  • November 15, 2017 (Tony Cartalucci - NEO) - In an article by Thai PBS titled, "US cuts 2018 funding for demining operations in Cambodia," it's revealed that next year's meager $2 million in US government funding for demining operations of US unexploded ordnance (UXO) in eastern Cambodia leftover from the Vietnam War has been discontinued without warning or explanation.

    The move caused confusion across Cambodia's government, as well as across partner nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in Cambodia participating in the US program.

    Speculation over the move revolves around growing tensions between Washington and Phnom Penh as the United States desperately attempts to reassert itself in Asia Pacific, while Asian states - including Cambodia - continue to build closer and more constructive ties with Beijing at the expense of Washington's waning influence.

    Cambodia has recently exposed and ousted a myriad of US-funded fronts posing as NGOs and independent media platforms executing a campaign of US-backed political subversion. This includes the disbanding of the Cambodia National Rescue opposition party and the arrest of its leader, Kem Sokha, who bragged of his role in a US conspiracy to overthrow the Cambodian government and install him into power.

    Tensions in Cambodia represent a wider, regional trend where US footholds face increasing scrutiny and resistance as Washington's abuse of "NGOs," "rights advocacy," and "democracy promotion" is systematically exposed and rolled back.

    Cut or Renewed, US UXO Assistance is Meaningless

    The US embassy in Cambodia would claim after receiving backlash for the move that the US had unilaterally decided to shut down funding in order to open up bidding for a new and "world-class removal program" - the details of which have yet to be confirmed or released.

    The US boasts that it has spent "more than 114 million dollars" over the past 20 years to clear explosives it itself helped drop on Cambodia as part of its nearly two decades-long war in Vietnam and wider intervention in Southeast Asia - or in other words - the US has spent over 5,000 times less in 20 years on removing UXO in Cambodia than it does annually on its current military operations around the globe. In fact, a single F-35 Joint Strike Fighter warplane costs roughly the same amount of money the US has spent on demining Cambodia over the last 20 years.

    There are an estimated 6 million pieces of UXO still littering Cambodia, which since the end of the Vietnam War and the rule of the Khmer Rouge have cost nearly 20,000 Cambodians their lives - with casualties still reported monthly.

    Efforts that last 20 years, cost as little as a single warplane in Washington's current arsenal, and still leave people dead or maimed monthly indicate efforts that are halfhearted - a diplomatic stunt more than sincere reparations or humanitarian concern.

    Doubling Nothing is Still Nothing

    In neighboring Laos, the United States left an estimated 80 million submunitions littering the country, or about 11 for each man, woman, and child that lives there. 20,000 people have also been killed by UXO in Laos and many more have been maimed.

    According to the Lao National Unexploded Ordnance Programme (UXO LAO), 444,711 submunitions (about 0.55%) have been destroyed between 1996 and 2010. Despite the dangerous and exhausting work, eliminating 0.55% of the 80 million submunitions still littering the country amounts to virtually nothing.

    Despite this, the US insists that it is "dramatically" increasing its efforts. US Ambassador to ASEAN Nina Hachigian would claim upon the US being criticized for its current meddling in Laos in light of the horrific UXO legacy it has left there, that:

    We've been spending hundreds of millions of [dollars] to clean them up and [President] Obama just doubled [our] annual [contribution].
    Western establishment journal, The Diplomat, in an article titled, "Obama in Laos: Cleaning up After the Secret War," would try and explain this increased "contribution," claiming (emphasis added):
    In recent years, U.S. support for UXO clearance and victim assistance in Laos has dramatically increased. In response to steady pressure from NGOs like Legacies of War and their allies in Congress, U.S. funding for this work increased from $5 million in 2010 to a record $19.5 million this year. These resources, disbursed by the State Department's Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement, are used to support clearance efforts that destroy up to 100,000 pieces of lethal ordnance in Laos annually, employing 3,000 workers in the commercial and humanitarian sectors.
    While the US repeatedly boasts of the "millions" that it spends to clean up a mess it itself intentionally created, at the current rate of UXO disposal in Laos alone, the country should be safe in approximately 1,000 years - or effectively - never.

    When Washington's remaining points of leverage in Asia Pacific include the threat of continued political subversion and destabilization and the cutting of already meaningless levels of aid to deal with a decades-spanning UXO threat - versus China's offer of economic, infrastructural, and military partnerships - it finds itself in a self-feeding cycle of decline in Asia that will - in turn - further feed its decline as a global hegemon.

    The cruel irony of America's clumsy, inadequate, and embarrassing UXO policy in Southeast Asia is that the annual military budget that dwarfs its UXO annual removal efforts in Asia by a factor of tens of thousands, is being used to fuel conflict elsewhere around the globe - from the Middle East to North Africa, and Central Asia to Eastern Europe - that is littering the planet with not only additional UXO dangers, but new and more horrifying threats including depleted uranium munitions and chemical weapons proliferation.

    While the US could potentially play a constructive, positive role in Asia Pacific, the same mentality that underpinned US foreign policy that drove the Vietnam War and resulted in the current UXO threat is the same mentality that still prevails today on Wall Street and in Washington. If that mentality and those possessing it are not rooted out, America's current state of decline will be terminal.

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

  • November 17, 2017 (Tony Cartalucci - NEO) - In 1928 when the US-based United Fruit Company - now known as Chiquita Brands International - faced labor issues in Columbia, it had at its disposal Colombian troops which gunned down hundreds of strikers to maintain production and profits.

    Ensuring that Columbia protected "American interests" was the US State Department who hosted company representatives at the US embassy in Bogotá, which in turn was in contact with Washington.

    The United Fruit Company's actions in Columbia was far from an isolated incident. US Marine Corps General Smedley Butler would write a book regarding his personal, first-hand experience in fighting wars on multiple continents for oil companies, bankers, and fruit companies.

    Nearly a century ago large corporate interests already possessed full control over the mechanisms of American governance, determining its domestic and foreign policy, and readily using the nation's military might for their own personal gain across the globe.

    The arrangement has not disappeared over time. It has simply evolved.

    The US Chamber of Commerce and USAID

    The US Chamber of Commerce on its own website admits it is a lobbying organization and while it claims it represents millions of businesses big and small - it is an organization dominated by, and existing solely for it largest members.

    These include Chevron, Citi, Coco-Cola, Chevrolet, McDonald's, Ford, Dow, Exxon, Honeywell, Proctor & Gamble, Visa, Yum, Monsanto, and many more.

    And while there is nothing inherently wrong with a lobbying organization, or US companies doing business abroad, it is what this particular lobbying organization does with its immense, concentrated, and unwarranted influence.

    Representing not only the largest corporations in the United States, but also some of the largest corporations on Earth, the US Chamber of Commerce today - just as United Fruit did nearly a century ago - has direct access to the levers of US governance.

    The US State Department today - just as it did in Bogotá in 1928 - represents "American interests," understood as being synonymous with corporate interests. It is through the US State Department that organizations like the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) receive their funding and directives.

    These organizations are either chaired by or partnered directly with representatives not from humanitarian aid or democracy promotion circles, but from the very corporations they truly serve merely under the guise of "development" and "democracy."

    USAID - for instance - openly boasts of its joint partnership with US Chamber of Commerce member and agricultural giant Monsanto. With US State Department resources and tax money, Monsanto has used the cloak of development aid to spread into developing nations around the world from Africa and Asia to South America.

    NED - on the other hand - is directly chaired by representatives from some of Wall Street's largest corporations including, Exxon, Goldman Sachs, Boeing, Ford, Citigroup, and Visa. While many of NED's grantees pose as left-liberal activists fighting against corrupt and abusive special interests in their respective nations, they are in fact enabling the most corrupt and abusive special interests on Earth to simply remove obstacles so that they can dominate the markets, resources, and peoples of any given targeted nation.

    And together, openly - as discussed by USAID's administrator at a recent US Chamber of Commerce Foundation conference - that is what USAID and NED and their many subsidiaries do.

    Conflicts, Coups, and Conquest

    Doing business overseas is not in and of itself necessarily a bad thing. However, US corporations through USAID, NED, and their subsidiaries do more than just business.

    Ordinarily nations send representatives abroad to find common ground, mutual interests, and to negotiate prospective deals. The United States - instead - coerces nations through "soft power" and different degrees of covert and more overt military force.

    Through their "development" and "democracy" programs, they systematically take over the infrastructure, media, and political order of targeted nations, eventually installing obedient client regimes into power - either through compromised elections, color revolutions, or US military-led regime change operations. These client regimes then serve "American interests" just as the Colombian government did in 1928 when "American interests" required strikers to be shot en mass.

    It was USAID and NED-funded groups that helped fill the streets of Arab nations in 2011, tipping off years of war, the destruction of whole nations, and the edging of the entire region toward an even wider conflict in pursuit of long-standing, openly declared US foreign policy objectives. In the Middle East Wall Street seeks to eliminate its competitors, fuel its immense arms industry, and grant its energy firms, financiers, and the petrodollar they are both built upon a reprieve from an otherwise inevitable collapse.

    Today, nations like Thailand face an "opposition" created and perpetuated entirely out of the US and European embassies and from the coffers of USAID and NED. So-called "activists" find their social media timelines filled exclusively with content produced by US State Department grantees. For decades US special interests have sought to dominate Thailand economically and geopolitically. With China's rise, Wall Street sees a closing window of opportunity to use Thailand and other nations along China's peripheries to box in this growing competitor and potential usurper of US hegemony in Asia Pacific.

    While many imagine great conspiracies toward world domination driven by complex political ideologies - in reality American hegemony is driven by the same tropism of collective human greed that has fueled empire throughout human history.

    USAID and NED often are used to provoke conflicts and even wars - including the current conflicts the US is waging in the Middle East and North Africa. Both organizations also play roles in the aftermath of conflicts and wars such as in Afghanistan, where they help overwrite destroyed industries, institutions, and infrastructures with a system that locks and pays directly into Wall Street and Washington's.

    Understanding why and on behalf of whom US foreign policy is directed helps policymakers and individuals alike look past the many political distractions offered to occupy the world's attention while the US expands its grip. Understanding that US foreign policy is driven by corporate interests and a desire to dominate resources, markets, and people allows nations to focus on building resilient economies, institutions, and national security to deal with and defend against the many methods the US uses.

    Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine"New Eastern Outlook".
  • November 21, 2017 (Joseph Thomas - NEO) - Nineteenth century French military and political leader Napoléon Bonaparte once said, "a soldier will fight long and hard for a bit of coloured ribbon," recognising a fundamental aspect of human nature he readily exploited to bolster his now famous campaigns of European conquest.

    Human beings value recognition. Today, it drives the addictive nature of social media platforms. Facebook co-founder Sean Parker recently admitted that the ubiquitous social network platform was designed intentionally to exploit this and become "addictive."

    In the Guardian's report titled, "Ex-Facebook president Sean Parker: site made to exploit human 'vulnerability'," Sean Parker would describe what he called a "social-validation feedback loop," explaining that:
    "How do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?" It was this mindset that led to the creation of features such as the "like" button that would give users "a little dopamine hit" to encourage them to upload more content.

    "It's a social-validation feedback loop ... exactly the kind of thing that a hacker like myself would come up with, because you're exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology."

    This social-validation feedback loop utilising the "like" button is merely the most recent innovation in social engineering, and the latest iteration of Bonaparte's "bit of coloured ribbon."

    Keeping Servants Eager and Loyal

    Combining traditional methods and modern innovations in social engineering, modern day empires extend their influence through media, activist, political and business circles around the globe. In addition to boosting modern social media accounts of their handpicked proxies, facilitators and agents, they also maintain an impressive network of organisations that both manage and direct "soft power" efforts as well as reward eager and loyal functionaries.

    A relevant and recent example of this was provided by the New York City-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). The seemingly progressive organisation is in fact funded and directed by large US and European corporate-financier interests including banks, big-industry and convicted financial criminal George Soros' Open Society Foundation (see CPJ's 2015 annual report here).

    In addition to maintaining a global network of media organisations that promote pro-US-European narratives and using human rights advocacy to protect their functionaries from local governments exposing and disrupting what is essentially lobbying dressed as journalism, CPJ also offers its annual CPJ International Press Freedom Awards.

    It serves the duel purpose of lending the illusion of legitimacy to awardees, as well as fuelling the awardee's ego to continue serving the interests CPJ represents.

    A Profile in Eager Loyalty

    CPJ's 2017 awardees included Pravit Rojanaphruk from Thailand, a Chevening scholar and an eager member of Thailand's opposition who uses his journalist credentials as cover for politically-motivated attacks against Thailand's independent institutions in concert with foreign embassies as well as media organisations like CNN, the BBC, Qatar's Al Jazeera, Reuters and many more.

    The CPJ claims in their profile of Rojanaphruk:
    Pravit Rojanaphruk is one of Thailand's most prominent critical reporters and a long-time advocate for press freedom. He is currently a columnist and senior staff writer for Khaosod English (Fresh News), a website established in 2013 that publishes critical coverage of Thailand's junta. Before that, he worked for more than 20 years with the local English-language newspaper The Nation.
    CPJ and Rojanaphruk himself intentionally and repeatedly omit that his opposition to Thailand's current government under the guise of promoting democracy and freedom of expression is entirely one-sided and dishonest.

    Image: Shinawatra supporters walks off with weapons seized from the Thai military in 2010 after ambushing and killing dozens of soldiers and bystanders. Rojanaphruk often condemns the Thai military for ousting the regime of Thaksin Shinawatra claiming it is an attack on democracy and human rights, but intentionally omits the violations of human rights the Shinawatra regime is guilty of that prompted the 2006 and 2014 coups respectively.

    Rojanaphruk often decries the Thai military which came to power after a 2014 coup. He neglects to mention the government it ousted from power was openly and illegally run by convicted criminal and fugitive Thaksin Shinawatra who remotely ran the country from a hotel suite in Dubai through his sister, Yingluck Shinawatra who help office in his absence.

    He also neglects to mention that up until the day of the coup, Shinawatra had deployed armed terrorists who were mass murdering anti-Shinawatra protesters in the streets with grenades and assault rifles.

    Rojanaphruk also repeatedly neglects to mention the violence and abuse of human rights Thailand faced under Shinatrawatra's regime whom he seeks to return to power, including curbs on the media, assassinations and a campaign of mass murder spanning just 90 days in 2003 that left nearly 3,000 dead or the violence and terrorism still being carried out by Shinawatra's supporters.

    While Rojanaphruk decries the Thai government for its "crackdown" on "democracy," he sidesteps violations of human rights carried out by the opposition of which he belongs. In other words, Rojanaphruk is merely bias, lobbying for Shinawatra's opposition and the foreign interests that back it, including the very same interests that sponsor the CPJ.

    Giving Functionaries their "Dopamine Hit"

    The CPJ International Press Freedom Award presented to Rojanaphruk is meant partly to grant him further legitimacy in front of Western audiences unaware of the true nature of Thailand's political crisis, but also partly to feed the ego of Rojanaphruk himself, to keep him eager and loyal to what is otherwise modern day imperialism and the embodiment of the very sort of injustice he himself claims to stand against.

    Empires in particular seek out the most self-absorbed and egotistical, because it is among this segment of the population that a "bit of coloured ribbon" works best.

    Rojanaphruk boasts of his various awards, scholarships, fellowships and even awards he merely was a finalist for in his various self-authored profiles. Despite claiming to be a journalist, his social media accounts are flooded with stories and images of himself at the centre of attention, performing political stunts aimed at protesting the Thai government, making news rather than reporting on it.

    There are tens of thousands of Pravit Rojanaphruks scattered not only across Thailand and Southeast Asia, but across the entire globe posing as activists, journalists, politicians and leaders in various industries, but ultimately serving as functionaries for interests on Wall Street and in London and Brussels. For the recognition that many so eagerly crave, awards and "achievements" are carefully designed to give functionaries their "dopamine hit" encouraging them to achieve yet more still.

    Perhaps the most ironic aspect of Rojanaphruk himself, though, is that he comes from a nation with a widely known saying, ผู้ปิดทองหลังพระ (po bit tong lang pra) which roughly means doing good deeds without seeking attention. Strong, independent and just societies are built by those who do good deeds for the sake of doing them and for the betterment of society as a whole, while empires are built on the back of those who do deeds merely to obtain attention, ribbons, medals and awards for themselves.

    It is worth considering, the next time an award event is organised, who funds those organising it, who they are offering the awards to, and what behaviour they are trying to encourage. For better or worse, such events represent social engineering and understanding what is being "engineered" is essential. It is also worth considering for nations infected with circles of sycophants eagerly destabilising order for foreign awards to find a means of encouraging more constructive behaviour.

    Joseph Thomas is chief editor of Thailand-based geopolitical journal, The New Atlas and contributor to the online magazine "New Eastern Outlook".
  • November 24, 2017 (Joseph Thomas - NEO) - The so-called Foreign Correspondents' Club of Thailand (FCCT) is located in downtown Bangkok and includes the regional offices of many of the United States' and Europe's largest media organizations. It also includes a large, swank clubhouse complete with a restaurant and bar, where events are held.

    The FCCT on its website offers a lengthy, self-aggrandising and somewhat incoherent explanation as to what function it actually serves, claiming:

    The FCCT moved into a penthouse floor with access from a corridor already filling up with foreign media offices. The Maneeya today houses AsiaWorks, the BBC, ABC, ITN Channel 4, NBC, InFocus, Al Jazeera and the Financial Times, among others. This guarantees the FCCT constant journalist traffic, imbuing it with the feel of a genuine press club. It has a good bar and decent enough kitchen but makes no pretensions to emulating the grandeur of its counterparts in Hong Kong or Tokyo - nor the fakeness of the "FCC" in Cambodia, a bar and restaurant with one of the best views in Asia but no hacks.
    In reality, it is a regional hub where US and European lobbyists and agitators, posing a journalists, coordinate events, programmes and propaganda campaigns targeting not only Thailand itself, but Thailand's Southeast Asian neighbours.

    Image: FCCT aiding in political stunt on behalf of ousted regime.
    It was at the FCCT, the club proudly boasted, that former education minister and political lieutenant of ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, Chaturon Chaisaeng held a press conference to grandstand while turning himself into the military after the 2014 coup. It was organised specifically to have the cameras of the West's biased media machine capture the moment soldiers arrested him, depicting Thailand as a state overwhelmed by a brutal military dictatorship.

    The FCCT claims that by hosting the army's spokesman the next week, the FCCT is "doing something right" by playing an impartial and unbiased role. Those familiar with Thai politics and the absolutely biased nature both events were spun in favour of the ousted Shinawatra regime and the interests in Washington, London and Brussels sponsoring him, and at the cost of the new government's credibility, know otherwise.

    A Hub for Agitation

    The FCCT had recently scheduled an event with the US State Department-funded Virginia-based Boat People SOS organisation. The FCCT admits in its announcement that the event was intended to:
    ...discuss the overall human rights situation in Vietnam, the imprisonment of at least 165 prisoners of conscience with heavy sentences, and the recent launch of the NOW! Campaign, an initiative by 15 human rights organisations around the world, calling for the immediate and unconditional release of these men and women.
    The FCCT claims that the event was cancelled after several meetings with the police and military.

    No explanation was given by the FCCT as to what grounds the event were cancelled on, but at a period when Asian states are meeting at the APEC summit in Vietnam, Bangkok likely believed it was inappropriate to host foreign-funded agitators attempting to undermine Vietnam's credibility while Thai representatives were in Da Nang negotiating over and discussing the collective future of the region.

    Image: Boat People SOS is based in the US, funded by the US government, and serves the single purpose of pressuring the Vietnamese to heed to US interests.

    Curiously after the FCCT's announcement, a ripple of stories moved through other US-funded organisations in Thailand, including the US National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and George Soros Open Society-funded media front, Prachatai.

    Supposedly-independent Thai nongovernmental organisations and media platforms, foreign media organisations and US-based organisations focused on Vietnam seem to have very little in common at first glance. That is until it is understood that they all form aspects of US and European "soft power" in Asia and beyond.

    Who is Behind Organisations like the FCCT and Why?

    The FCCT itself has also received funding from and has served a role in supporting US, European and corporate foundation foreign policy objectives in Southeast Asia.

    After revelations emerged that the FCCT received funds from convicted financial criminal George Soros' Open Society Foundation, FCCT president Dominic Faulder and BBC correspondent Jonathan Head would at first attempt to categorically deny it.

    A bizarre story soon appeared in the English-language Thai newspaper, The Nation, in which the above-mentioned NED-funded front Prachatai denied its foreign funding influenced its news coverage, along with a categorical denial by Faulder, claiming, "no financial support from outside at all. We have no financiers, none."

    Before long, however, Jonathan Head, who also initially and categorically denied the accusations, admitted to a "one-off" media seminar Open Society and the FCCT conducted in Myanmar. And while Head's admission undermined Faulder's categorical denial, it turns out that Head was still lying.

    Located at the same address as the FCCT and headed by the FCCT's own president, is the Indochina Media Memorial Foundation (IMMF). On its own official website, it clearly and definitively lists George Soros' Open Society as one of several "outside" supporters.

    The IMMF is a training programme used to stand up entire media organisations that help amplify and advocate US and European narratives on behalf of US and European special interests. In fact, it was precisely at the IMMF that Myanmar's current minister of information was trained.

    Thus, in addition to agitating the region, hubs like the FCCT work together to compromise and co-opt the region's media circles as well as influence entire government ministries.

    Hiding Behind, Not Upholding Journalism

    It is clear than that "journalism" has little to do with the FCCT's real mission statement, going far in explaining the FCCT's "about us" page and its inability to explain what it actually does.

    What the FCCT actually does is use "journalism" as a façade to pursue the political interests of foreign nations in a host country and region while conducting training to create local "echo chambers" to manipulate and control public perception.

    The FCCT is not alone. Similar "clubs" and organisations exist all over the globe. The "superstar" effect of local journalists and "activists" being invited into the "clubhouse" comes at the cost of echoing US and European talking points and advocating for US and European interests. Articles like those appearing in The Nation and opinions and editorials that frequently appear in both English and Thai are owed one part due to this, and another part due to the training and indoctrination "clubs" like the FCCT and other recipients of US and European government money are conducting.

    The large "human rights" industrial complex Washington, London and Brussels have constructed as a firewall between overt subversion and political meddling and a targeted nation's ability to curb their activities prevents Bangkok or any other nation in the region from moving against organisations like the FCCT and its many collaborators.

    However, with the US recently forcing Russia's RT news network to register as foreign agents, it may have inadvertently given targets of its own, and very real political meddling the precedent and tools needed to expose and uproot hubs like the FCCT.

    By diminishing the "superstar" effect the FCCT uses to recruit local collaborators, and creating alternative media platforms with the same or greater appeal is already successfully being done in nations like Russia and China. Nations like Russia and China could even help nations like Thailand transform their media to truly and more effectively reflect their own national interests.

    Joseph Thomas is chief editor of Thailand-based geopolitical journal, The New Atlas and contributor to the online magazine "New Eastern Outlook".
  • November 26, 2017 (Tony Cartalucci - NEO) - Western think tanks have been increasingly busy cultivating a narrative to explain the sudden and spreading presence of militants linked or fighting under the banner of the self-proclaimed "Islamic State" (ISIS) across Southeast Asia.

    This narrative - these think tanks would have audiences believe - entails militants fleeing Syria and Iraq, and entrenching themselves amid supposedly sectarian conflicts in Southeast Asia. The think tanks conveniently never mention how tens of thousands of militants are funding the logistical feat required to move them to Southeast Asia or sustain their militant operations in the region once they arrive.

    Among these think tanks is the so-called International Crisis Group (ICG). In its report, "Jihadism in southern Thailand -- A phantom menace," it claims:
    The decline of the Islamic State (ISIS) and the advent of ISIS-linked violence in South East Asia evince the possibility of a new era of transnational jihadist terrorism in the region.

    Recurring, albeit unsubstantiated, reports about ISIS activity in Thailand have prompted questions about the vulnerability of the country's Muslim-majority deep south and, in particular, its longstanding Malay-Muslim insurgency to jihadist influence.
    While ICG claims that "to date" there is no evidence that ISIS has made inroads in southern Thailand, it warns:
    But the conflict and a series of ISIS scares in Thailand are fanning fears of a new terrorist threat. Such fears are not irrational, though they are largely misplaced and should not obscure the calamity of the insurgency and the need to end it.

    Direct talks between insurgent leaders and the government are a priority; a decentralised political system could help address the principal grievances in the south while preserving the unitary Thai state.
    In essence, ICG is warning of a crisis it itself admits is unlikely, then recommends that Bangkok pursue a course of action it already is taking - talking with militant leaders in its southern most provinces.

    The lengthy ICG report - in reality - is just one of many reoccurring and premeditated attempts to place the notion of ISIS militancy taking root in Thailand into the realm of possibility. Just as the US and its allies have used ISIS as a geopolitical tool elsewhere in the world, and more recently, in Southeast Asia itself - particularly in the Philippines - a longstanding US goal in Thailand is to find and exploit sociopolitical and sectarian fault lines across which to divide, destroy, and control the Thai state.

    It was in a 2012 leaded memo drafted by the US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) that admitted the US and its allies sought the creation of what it called at the time a "Salafist" (Islamic) "principality" (State), specifically in eastern Syria where eventually ISIS would base itself before joint Russian-Iranian-Syrian operations uprooted and expelled them.

    The 2012 report (.pdf) states specifically (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).
    Thus, if ISIS is a geopolitical tool first designed and deployed by the US and its allies to subvert, isolate, and overthrow the government of Syria, it follows that ISIS' expansion into other regions of the world US foreign policy is facing increasingly insurmountable challenges is also very much planned and fueled by US policymakers and the special interests that sponsor them.

    Who is the ICG and Why are They Promoting ISIS Fear?

    ICG is a corporate-funded and directed policy think tank and network that creates and leverages conflicts under the guise of "preventing" them.

    It claims on its website that:
    Crisis Group aspires to be the preeminent organisation providing independent analysis and advice on how to prevent, resolve or better manage deadly conflict. We combine expert field research, analysis and engagement with policymakers across the world in order to effect change in the crisis situations on which we work. We endeavour to talk to all sides and in doing so to build on our role as a trusted source of field-centred information, fresh perspectives and advice for conflict parties and external actors.
    Yet a look at its sponsors and membership reveals a Westerners-only club of corporate-financier special interests, lobbying groups, lawyers, and politicians linked directly to the US State Department, the UK Foreign Office, or governments beholden to either or both.

    These sponsors include oil giants Chevron, Eni, Noble Energy, Shell, Statoil, and British Petroleum (BP). It also includes financiers such as HSBC Holdings, MetLife, and RBC Capital Markets.

    There is also the matter of law firms and lobbyists which fund and are directly involved in ICG's agenda including Sherman & Sterling, White & Chase, APCO Worldwide, and Edelman.

    APCO Worldwide is notorious for fabricating news articles to manipulate inner corporate governance, while Edelman is notorious specifically regarding Thailand for providing lobbying services (PDF) to ousted dictator Thaksin Shinawatra, removed from power in 2006 via a military coup ICG itself vehemently opposed, condemned, and to this day protests.

    Edelman's lobbying for Thaksin Shinawatra was headed by Kenneth Adelman, who joined Edelman as a senior adviser in 2001. Not only is Edelman a corporate sponsor of ICG, but Kenneth Adelman himself is listed in the appendixes of ICG's Thailand report as a senior ICG adviser. Adelman also chairs the US State Department's National Endowment for Democracy (NED) subsidiary, Freedom House - another front alongside Washington and London-based lobbyists that have pressured Thailand since the ousting of Shinawatra in 2006.

    Listed along with Adelman is George Soros who sits on ICG's board of trustees. Soros' Open Society Foundation is listed by ICG as one of its sponsors.

    Soros and his Open Society Foundation's involvement is essential to note. Virtually all of Thailand's "opposition" groups - from supposed student and academic fronts to media platforms and activists - are funded by both NED and George Soros' Open Society Foundation. These include Prachatai, Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR), Thai Netizens, the New Democracy Movement (NDM), Human Rights Watch Thailand, Amnesty International Thailand, iLaw, the Isaan Record, and many more.

    The concerted efforts by ICG, its corporate sponsors through lobbying, and among its memberships various other associations like Freedom House and Open Society to attack and undermine Thailand in favor of the West's proxy of choice - Thaksin Shinawatra and the large and growing opposition front the West is building inside Thailand - already raises suspicions about ICG's motivation in publishing its most recent report regarding ISIS in Thailand.

    Observing Western efforts against Thailand's Southeast Asian neighbors, particularly Myanmar and the Philippines, raises suspicions even further.

    The United States has expertly cultivated a deadly sectarian divide in Myanmar - turning nationalist extremists against the nation's Rohingya minority and using the resulting violence to undermine the nation's military while propelling Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy (NLD) into power. The violence also compromises constructive economic and diplomatic ties between Myanmar and China.

    In the Philippines, ISIS-linked militants managed to seize an entire city in the nation's southern region. The money, weapons, and militants required for this feat clearly required state sponsorship. Just as in Syria, ISIS in the Philippines is linked to Saudi Arabia which serves as an intermediary for US money, weapons, supplies, and directives.

    The conflicts in both Myanmar and the Philippines has given the US the initiative in serving as "mediator" in Myanmar, and providing "military assistance" in the Philippines. Both moves serve to give Washington a tighter grip over both nations at a time when the whole of Southeast Asia moves further out from under the shadow of US hegemony and into a more constructive and mutually beneficial embrace with Beijing.

    Thailand - because of its large economy, population, and geostrategic location at the center of continental Southeast Asia - would serve US interests well in reasserting hegemony over Asia Pacific and creating a untied front against Beijing. However, Thailand - because of its independent institutions, particularly its military and monarchy - enjoys a level of unity its neighbors do not.

    Under Thaksin Shinawatra, the US sought to exploit sociopolitical and class fault lines. As this fails, it appears the US is trying to use the very same networks of "reds" to stoke the same sort of nationalist fervor that has consumed neighboring Myanmar. "Reds," referring to Shinawatra's ultra-violent United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) street front, have already begun shifting activity toward temples to cultivate a previously nonexistent Buddhist-Muslim divide.

    Image: Networks linked to US-backed ousted dictator Thaksin Shinawatra have switched from class warfare to Islamophobia in a bid to divide, destroy, and co-opt the Thai state.

    Soros-funded fronts like Prachatai posing as "rights advocates" have decried swift and decisive moves by the Thai military to detain and defrock "monks" attempting to promote sectarian violence.

    To bookend US efforts to engineer a sectarian divide in Thailand, it appears that organizations like ICG are creating a narrative to explain soon-to-be ISIS activity in Thailand. The abhorrent nature of ISIS operations will play well into the anti-Islam propaganda promoted by US-backed networks in Thailand's northeast. Somewhere in the middle - US policymakers hope - a self-sustaining "clash of civilizations" can be sparked, and consume Thailand's historically impressive national unity.

    Once divided, Thailand will be more easily coerced toward US objectives in Thailand and across the wider region.

    What Thailand Should Really Do

    The militancy in southern Thailand is contained. The Thai government must continue existing efforts to bring socioeconomic progress to the region to drain the swamps of poverty and perceived injustice that drives recruitment into militant organizations. But beyond that, Bangkok must identify and deal with the logistical nature of the conflict, particularly those involved in arming, training, and funding the militancy.

    Image: Thai-Muslims have constructively contributed to the Thai state both in past and in the present and lived, worked, and played side-by-side Buddhists and the secular without incident for generations.

    To preemptively stop efforts by the US to expand the conflict, the government would benefit from Singapore-style hate speech legislation which makes attempts by groups to promote sectarian violence impossible without receiving immediate and severe jail sentences.

    Simultaneously, efforts to further promote interfaith understanding, mutual respect, and activism would enhance Thailand's already renowned values of tolerance and diversity. Many Thais are already aware of the constructive role members of the Thai Muslim community have played in Thailand's history. There is already positive cross-cultural exchanges that happen accidentally everyday in Thailand's markets and among its many street vendors. Highlighting and enhancing this will help further inoculate the public from attempts to divide and destroy the nation along sectarian lines.

    Also, the government must expose and hinder efforts by US NED and Open Society-funded fronts. Citing the US' own precedent in forcing Russia's RT to register as "foreign agents," the Thai government could legislate mandatory disclosures in all social media profiles and at the beginning and end of every publication in print or online - including social media posts - by fronts like Prachatai indicating who funds them and why.

    Finally, understanding that ISIS' source of strength came from networks propped up by the US and its allies means that fighting an ISIS militancy in Thailand begins with understanding that the US Embassy represents the very source of the militancy's strength. Rather than fostering a direct confrontation with the United States, alternative Thai media could link ISIS activity directly and repeatedly with the US embassy - ensuring any terrorist act is immediately linked to suspicion of the US Embassy.

    The more covert US-sponsored terrorism that unfolds, the more US credibility in Thailand and in the region will suffer.

    Finally, when seeking allies in a true "War on Terror," Bangkok should cultivate ties with nations that are truly waging war on terror. This includes China, Russia, and Iran.

    When the US begins losing and being excluded permanently everywhere it brings its "War on Terror," policymakers in Washington will either be held accountable and the tactic abandoned, or the US itself will find itself as isolated and irrelevant as it has tried to make nations like Syria and Iraq upon which it first unleashed its ISIS menace.

    Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine"New Eastern Outlook".
  • November 30, 2017 (Tony Cartalucci - NEO) - The United States Air Force's 59th Medical Wing's molecular biology branch recently was revealed to have been collecting specifically Russian RNA and synovial (connective) tissue samples, prompting fears in Russia of a possible US directed ethnic-specific bioweapons program.

    TeleSUR's article, "'Ethnic Bomb' Feared as US Air Force Confirms Collection of Russian DNA," would report:
    Russia has raised its concerns over attempts by the U.S. military to collect DNA samples from Russian nationals, noting the potential use of such biological samples for the purpose of creating new genetic warfare weaponry.

    The U.S. Air Force has sought to calm the Kremlin's concerns, noting that the samples would only be used for so-called "research" purposes rather than for bioterrorism.

    Addressing Russian reports, U.S. Air Education and Training Command spokesperson Captain Beau Downey said that his center randomly selected the Russian people as a source of genetic material in its ongoing research of the musculoskeletal system.
    The report would also state that:
    However, the usage of Russian tissue samples in the USAF study fed the long-brewing suspicion that the Pentagon is continuing in its hopes to develop an alleged "biological weapon" targeting specifically Russians.
    Russian President Vladimir Putin would be quoted as stating:
    Do you know that biological material is being collected all over the country, from different ethnic groups and people living in different geographical regions of the Russian Federation? The question is -- why is it being done? It's being done purposefully and professionally.
    And while the US military attempted to brush off the notion that any sort of ethnic-specific bioweapon was being researched, the notion of such a weapon is not far fetched at all.

    US policy papers have included them in America's overall long-term geopolitical and military planning for nearly two decades, and the US Air Force itself has produced papers regarding the various combinations such weapons could manifest themselves as.

    There is also the disturbing history of Western-aligned nations having pursued ethnic-specific bioweapons in the past, including the Apartheid regime in South Africa which sought to use its national vaccination program as cover to covertly sterilize its black population.

    US Policy Papers Have Discussed Ethnic-Specific Bioweapons

    In the Neo-Conservative Project for a New American Century's (PNAC) 2000 report titled, "Rebuilding America's Defenses" (.pdf) it states (emphasis added):
    The proliferation of ballistic and cruise missiles and long-range unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) will make it much easier to project military power around the globe. Munitions themselves will become increasingly accurate, while new methods of attack -- electronic, "non-lethal," biological -- will be more widely available. (p.71 of .pdf)

    It also stated:
    Although it may take several decade for the process of transformation to unfold, in time, the art of warfare on air, land, and sea will be vastly different than it is today, and "combat" likely will take place in new dimensions: in space, "cyber-space," and perhaps the world of microbes. (p.72 of .pdf)
    And finally:
    And advanced forms of biological warfare that can "target" specific genotypes may transform biological warfare from the realm of terror to a politically useful tool. (p.72 of .pdf)
    More recently - in 2010 - the US Air Force in a counterproliferation paper titled, "Biotechnology: Genetically Engineered Pathogens" (PDF), would list multiple ways such weapons could be deployed (emphasis added):
    The JASON group, composed of academic scientists, served as technical advisers to the U. S. government. Their study generated six broad classes of genetically engineered pathogens that could pose serious threats to society. These include but are not limited to binary biological weapons, designer genes, gene therapy as a weapon, stealth viruses, host-swapping diseases, and designer diseases.
    The paper discusses the possibility of a "disease that could wipe out the whole population or a certain ethnic group." While the paper claims its purpose is to study such weapons as a means of developing defenses against them, America's history as a global military aggressor and the sole nation on Earth to have ever wielded nuclear weapons against another nation-state suggests a high likelihood that if such weapons can be produced, the US has already stockpiled them - if not already deployed them.

    South Africa's Project Coast Then and Biotech Now

    The notion of the West using such weapons already has an alarming precedent. Regarding South Africa's Apartheid regime - the United Nations' report titled Project Coast: Apartheid's Chemical and Biological Warfare Programme would explain (emphasis added):
    There was some interaction between Roodeplaat Research Laboratories (RRL) and Delta G [biological and chemical weapon laboratories respectively], with Delta G taking on some of RRL's biochemistry projects and RRL doing animal testing of some Delta G products. One example of this interaction involved anti-fertility work. According to documents from RRL [Roodeplaat Research Laboratories], the facility had a number of registered projects aimed at developing an anti-fertility vaccine. This was a personal project of the first managing director of RRL, Dr Daniel Goosen. Goosen, who had done research into embryo transplants, told the TRC that he and Basson had discussed the possibility of developing an anti-fertility vaccine which could be selectively administered—without the knowledge of the recipient. The intention, he said, was to administer it to black South African women without their knowledge.
    At the time, the technology appears not to have been sufficiently mature enough to realize the Apartheid regime's ambitions. However, the technology not only exists today, there are examples of it being used to spectacular effect - so far for good - but could just as easily be used for bad.

    The above mentioned US Air Force paper would go into detail regarding each weapon it listed, including one called gene therapy:
    Gene therapy might just be the silver bullet for the treatment of human genetic diseases. This process involves replacing a bad gene with a good gene to normalize the condition of the recipient. Transfer of the "healthy" gene requires a vector to reach its target. Vectors commonly used are "viruses that have been genetically altered to carry normal human DNA" such as "retroviruses, adenoviruses, adeno-associated viruses, and herpes simplex viruses."

    Gene therapy has already been used during clinical trials to permanently cure everything from blood cancers to rare genetic disorders. The New York Times, in an article titled, "Gene Therapy Creates Replacement Skin to Save a Dying Boy," would report on one of the latest breakthroughs using the technology, stating:
    Doctors in Europe used gene therapy to grow sheets of healthy skin that saved the life of a boy with a genetic disease that had destroyed most of his skin, the team reported on Wednesday in the journal Nature. This was not the first use of the treatment, which adds gene therapy to a technique developed to grow skin grafts for burn victims. But it was by far the most body surface ever covered in a patient with a genetic disorder: nine square feet.
    One could imagine a malicious weapon used in reverse to knock out the genes that maintain healthy skin, causing a victim's skin to blister and fall off.

    In utilizing gene therapy as a weapon, the US Air Force report would note:
    Gene therapy is expected to gain in popularity. It will continue to be improved upon and could unquestionably be chosen as a bioweapon. The rapid growth in biotechnology could trigger more opportunities to find new ways to fight diseases or create new ones. Nations who are equipped to handle biotechnology are likely to consider gene therapy a viable bioweapon. Groups or individuals without the resources or funding will find it difficult to produce this bioweapon.
    Regarding "stealth viruses," a variation of the weaponized gene therapy technique, the report states:
    The basic concept of this potential bioweapon is to "produce a tightly regulated, cryptic viral infection that can enter and spread in human cells using vectors" (similar to the gene therapy) and then stay dormant for a period of time until triggered by an internal or external signal. The signal then could stimulate the virus to cause severe damage to the system. Stealth viruses could also be tailored to secretly infect a targeted population for an extended period using the threat of activation to blackmail the target.
    With gene therapies already approved for sale in the European Union and the United States, and with more on the way, it is not beyond the realm of possibility that covert, weaponized gene therapies are also either already developed and waiting, or already deployed as "stealth viruses."

    Developing and Deploying

    The US maintains a global network of military medical laboratories and research centers.

    In addition to the 59th Medical Wing involved in collecting Russian genetic material, the US covers the entire Southeast Asian region from Bangkok, Thailand with its Armed Forces Research Institute of Medical Sciences (AFIRMS).

    While it publicly claims it exists to, "to conduct state of the art medical research and disease surveillance to develop and evaluate medical products, vaccines, and diagnostics to protect DOD personnel from infectious disease threats," its personnel, equipment, and research could easily be used for dual purposes in creating any of the above stated, so-far "theoretical" ethnic-specific bioweapons.

    The US Embassy in Thailand website states that AFIRMS is the largest of a global network of military medical laboratories, claiming:
    AFRIMS is the largest of a global network of US Defense Department Overseas Medical Research Laboratories—with sister laboratories in Peru, Kenya, Egypt, and the Republics of Georgia and Singapore. USAMD-AFRIMS has nearly 460 staff members (predominantly Thai and US) and an annual research budget of approximately $30-35 million.
    With labs in South America, Europe, Africa, and Asia - and through the use of subcontractors - the US military has access to a variety of genetic materials and facilities to conduct research and develop all of the weapons its own policy papers have described.

    Through US State Department-funded programs, the US could easily create "vaccine" campaigns and "clinics" to deliver the above described bioweapons in a variety of ways.

    Fighting in the Dark and Shedding Some Light

    The US Air Force's paper would also point out:
    Biological warfare attacks may resemble a natural disease outbreak phenomenon and it would be very difficult to trace back to the source, thereby discounting the perpetrator's actions.
    And indeed, nations without the ability to independently sequence, detect, and react to ethnic-specific genetic bioweapons could already have been targeted, or could be targeted at any moment without any means of even knowing, let alone reacting.

    On the other hand, nations with not only a well-developed biotech industry, but also with military labs focused on both detecting and launching biological warfare with such weapons - it would be like fighting a war against a blindfolded enemy.

    To remove the blindfold, governments and military institutions around the world, as well as communities and local institutions, would need to develop and have access to a quick and efficient means to sequence DNA, spot abnormalities, and develop possible corrective gene therapies to repair or "patch" malicious weaponized DNA introduced into a population.

    Biological warfare surveillance would need to be done not only across a nation's population, but also across its food and water supply as well as its livestock, wildlife, and insect populations. Genetically modified crops have been designed to target and turn off genes in insects and could just as easily be used to target human genes.

    In Science Daily's article, "Crops that kill pests by shutting off their genes," it states:
    Plants are among many eukaryotes that can 'turn off' one or more of their genes by using a process called RNA interference to block protein translation. Researchers are now weaponizing this by engineering crops to produce specific RNA fragments that, upon ingestion by insects, initiate RNA interference to shut down a target gene essential for life or reproduction, killing or sterilizing the insects.
    Studies are still ongoing to determine what harm genetically modified organisms (GMOs) - in their current state - are doing to human health. Spotting and reacting to subtle, weaponized GMOs will be even harder.

    The use of genetically engineered mosquitoes to deliver "vaccines" presents another possible vector for weaponized biotech. The increasingly "global" nature of many vaccination programs is also a looming danger - particularly since these programs are directed by primarily Western powers - many of whom protected, cooperated with, and even aided and abetted the South African Apartheid regime, including with its various weapons programs.

    Biotech is not merely a matter of economics. It is a matter of national security. Allowing foreign corporations representing compromised or nebulous foreign interests to produce vaccines for human or veterinary uses or to alter the genomes of a nation's agricultural crops for whatever perceived benefits cannot outweigh the possible and actualized threats.

    In a world where warfare extends into cyber and genetic space, nations that lack independent human healthcare systems capable of producing their own vaccines or managing their own biodiversity find themselves as defenseless as nations without armies, navies, or air forces. However impressive a nation's conventional military capabilities are, lacking proper planning and defenses regarding this new and expanding biotech threat mitigates all possible advantages and maximizes this fatal weakness.

    If genetics is a form of living information, then concepts familiar to IT security experts may prove useful in explaining how to safeguard against malicious "code" introduced into our living systems. The ability to "scan" our DNA and spot malicious code, to remove or patch it, and to develop safeguards against it, including "backing up" individual genomes biologically and digitally will not entirely prevent biological weapons from creating damage, but will mitigate their impact - transforming a possible extermination of an entire ethnicity or race to a containable, relatively minor outbreak.

    Unlike nuclear weapons, research and development of these biotech tools is accessible to virtually any national government and even to many private institutions. Integrating biotech into a nation's national security planning and implementation is no longer optional or speculative. If the tools to manipulate and target genes for good already exist, then the tools to abuse them also exist.

    Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine"New Eastern Outlook".
  • December 4, 2017 (Ulson Gunnar - NEO) - Artificial intelligence (AI) is already widely used by tech firms worldwide for everything from search engines to social media. It is also increasingly being developed for other applications including monitoring systems and decision making. Experimental platforms are already being tested that can review medical records and images to diagnose patients. There are also autonomous AI agents being developed and tested that carry out and defend against cyberattacks.

    While the US is perceived to hold a large advantage in this crucial and ever-emerging technological field, Russian and Chinese leadership have publicly recognized the importance of AI and the need to prevent any one nation from monopolizing it.

    Russian media would report regarding Russian President Vladimir Putin's regarding the future of AI that:
    Vladimir Putin spoke with students about science in an open lesson on September 1, the start of the school year in Russia. He told them that "the future belongs to artificial intelligence," and whoever masters it first will rule the world.

    "Artificial intelligence is the future, not only for Russia, but for all humankind. It comes with colossal opportunities, but also threats that are difficult to predict. Whoever becomes the leader in this sphere will become the ruler of the world," Russian President Vladimir Putin said.
    Regarding Beijing's view on AI, Chinese media would report that:
    China unveiled a national artificial intelligence (AI) development plan on Thursday, aiming to build an AI technologically world-leading domestic industry by 2030.

    Released by the State Council, the plan formulates the key strategy for the development of China's AI industry.
    Russia and China's recognition of the importance of AI in both economic and national defense terms has been noted by US policymakers and industry leaders who seek to maintain what is, for now, a primarily American dominated industry.

    US Plans and Vision for AI

    The Washington DC-based Center for a New American Security (CNAS) has recently rolled out its Artificial Intelligence and Global Security Initiative.

    The initiative seeks to bring together technology experts, policymakers and the media to explore the impact AI will have on all aspects of security from more indirect threats to infrastructure, the flow of information and economics, to AI deployed directly on the battlefield in the form of autonomous weapon systems.

    CNAS' early November 2017 Artificial Intelligence and Global Security Summit included Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Alphabet Inc. (Google), Andrew Moore of Carnegie Mellon University, Dr. Dario Amodei of OpenAI and Dr. Kathleen Fisher of Tufts University's computer science department.

    Together in a series of talks and sessions, the summit discussed the current state of AI, the potential benefits and threats the technology presents and the best way to remain competitive as other nations adopt and develop the technology further.

    Developing the US Military's "Third Offset"

    Andrew Moore's talk focused on the technical aspects of AI and made note of what security experts are calling a third potential "offset."

    The first offset was the United States military's use of nuclear weapons to counter Soviet numerical superiority during the Cold War. The second offset involved the use of long-range guided weapons, stealth and new intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance technology as demonstrated during the Gulf War.

    The third offset, then, as described in 2014 by then US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, would focus on, "the fields of robotics, autonomous systems, miniaturization, big data, and advanced manufacturing, including 3D printing."

    AI is included among the list of potential technologies that may offer the US military its third offset.

    Maintaining US Lead in AI

    Eric Schmidt would note that China's national policy laid out regarding AI and Beijing's ambitions to become a world leader in the field by 2030 presented a problem for the US who lacks any sort of comparable, unified policy. Schmidt noted the sluggish nature of American bureaucracy and the military's current system of contracting that would likely prevent the US from keeping up.

    He would also make a series of recommendations including:
    • Creating a national AI institute comparable to US government nuclear labs created during the Cold War;
    • recruiting foreign coders to build AI systems in and for American instead of in and for their respective native nations and;
    • the cultivation of tech firms with an affinity for the military to displace the current distrust of and disinterest in the US military shared by many in America's existing tech community.

    Schmidt would also note the futility of attempting to replicate nuclear non-proliferation efforts in regards to AI, pointing out that unlike nuclear weapons, there is no "fissile material" that can be controlled regarding AI.

    Schmidt's recommendations have also been formally made to the US government as part of his role in the Defense Innovation Advisory Board, enumerated in the US Defense Department's news article titled, "Advisory Board Approves 11 DoD Innovation Recommendations."

    Unintended Consequences of AI "Problem Solving"

    OpenAI's Dr. Dario Amodei would point out that research conducted into machine learning often resulted in unintended solutions developed by AI. He and other researchers noted that often the decision making process of AI systems is not entirely understood and many results are often difficult to predict.

    The danger lies not necessarily in first training AI platforms in labs and then releasing a trained system onto a factory floor, on public roads or even into combat with predetermined and predictable capabilities, but in autonomous AI systems being released with the capacity to continue learning and adapting in unpredictable, undesirable and potentially dangerous ways.

    Dr. Kathleen Fisher would reiterate this concern, noting that autonomous, self-adapting cyber weapons could potentially create unpredictable collateral damage.

    Dr. Fisher would also point out that humans would be unable to defend against AI agents.

    The AI Arms Race

    Reoccurring themes throughout the summit included the notion that if a certain AI capability could be developed and deployed and would benefit a state or non-state actor, it likely would be even if there were serious ethical, safety and security concerns associated with it.

    The idea that no nation could afford not considering cyberwarfare and AI's role in it also emerged. Beyond cyberwarfare enhanced with AI agents, there is also the potential threat of AI being used across a wide variety of unmanned vehicle platforms (i.e. unmanned aerial, surface, underwater and ground vehicles). The use of such vehicles en mass is considered a potential means of creating a 3rd offset for US military superiority.

    AI agents used to compromise "cognitive security" in terms of mass manipulating the public through information technology like social media were also mentioned.

    The summit highlighted many points national security circles around the world will by necessity need to begin addressing. The acquisition of conventional weapons mitigated entirely by a non-nuclear and thus more readily employed "third offset" by the United States would up-end global security and stability and pose a threat to all nations big and small.

    But unlike nuclear weapons, the tools and human resources needed to develop AI systems are more easily available, particularly for nations with even modest defense budgets. For Russia and China, the ability to pour larger amounts of resources into preventing any "third offset," AI or otherwise, will result in novel defense systems and create a new defense industry that could potentially boost their respective economies.

    A successful arms race is one in which no player truly ever wins. Parity, or relative parity, coupled with the fear of significant retaliation will be key in preventing any player, Washington or otherwise, from deploying any weapon system, nuclear, biological, chemical or artificially intelligent.

    Ulson Gunnar, a New York-based geopolitical analyst and writer especially for the online magazine "New Eastern Outlook".
  • December 7, 2017 (Joseph Thomas - NEO) - Current US ambassador to the Philippines, Sung Kim, recently congratulated the Philippines' armed forces and the US military for their successful completion of KAMANDAG, a joint military exercise held for the first time this year.

    The US embassy in the Philippines on its website noted that:
    KAMANDAG, which will run until October 11, is an acronym for the Filipino phrase "Kaagapay Ng Mga Mandirigma Ng Dagat," or "Cooperation of Warriors of the Sea," emphasizing the close partnership between the Philippine and United States militaries. KAMANDAG will increase overall U.S. and Philippine readiness, improve bilateral responsiveness to crises in the region, and further reinforce our illustrious decades-long alliance. Leading up to the commencement of KAMANDAG, AFP and U.S. forces completed bilateral humanitarian and civic assistance projects at schools earlier this month in Casiguran, Aurora.
    The embassy also made particular note that the exercise would "increase counterterrorism capabilities," which is particularly convenient considering the current crisis Manila faces on its southern island of Mindanao, where parts of the city of Marawi are still being held by militants linked to the Islamic State.

    News outlets including across the United States and Europe, have noted that fighting in Marawi is backed by foreign interests and includes foreign fighters. Reuters in an article titled, "ISIS-Linked Mmilitants Fighting in Marawi City are 'Paralysed': Philippine Army," would report:
    The battle for Marawi has raised concern that ISIS, on a back foot in Syria and Iraq, is building a regional base on the Philippine island of Mindanao that could pose a threat to neighboring Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore too.

    Officials have said that, among the several hundred militants who seized the town, there were about 40 foreigners from Indonesia and Malaysia but also fighters from India, Saudi Arabia, Morocco and Chechnya.

    The strike on Marawi City suggested to many that pro-Islamic State factions wanted to establish it as a Southeast Asian "wilayat" -- or governorate - for the radical group, a view reinforced by video footage the military found last week showing the fighters plotting to cut the town off completely.
    With militants in Syria and Iraq clearly the recipients of extensive state sponsorship, particularly from the United States and its closest regional allies, it stands to reason that their ambitions thousands of miles away in the Philippines are likewise state-sponsored.

    As to why the US and its allies would sponsor terrorism in the Philippines, the answer is surprisingly simple and straight forward.

    US Seeks to Keep Its Foot in the Door

    With the election of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, US-Philippine relations became increasingly strained. Beyond the political leadership in Manila, overall pragmatic considerations regarding Washington's waning influence in Asia Pacific and Beijing's rise have put increasing distance between the United States and its former colonial holdings in the Philippines.

    Manila's unwillingness to help Washington leverage tensions in the South China Sea against Beijing have become a particular point of contention, hindering Washington's attempts to use the Philippine armed forces as a proxy to hem in Chinese interests across the region.

    Increasing political pressure to end America's military presence in the Southeast Asian state has left Washington searching for reasons to remain.

    In 2014, the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) was signed between the Philippines and the US. Reuters would describe the defence pact in its January 2017 article, "Philippines says U.S. military to upgrade bases, defense deal intact," which claimed:
    EDCA allows the expansion of rotational deployment of U.S. ships, aircraft and troops at five bases in the Philippines as well as the storage of equipment for humanitarian and maritime security operations.

    Lorenzana said Washington had committed to build warehouses, barracks and runways in the five agreed locations and Duterte was aware of projects and had promised to honor all existing agreements with the United States.
    The article also made mention of strained relations between Washington and Manila as well as the inroads Beijing was making in terms of defence cooperation with the Philippines.

    Barring any crisis, it would have appeared that geopolitical momentum was working in Bejing's favour, while irreversibly eroding US influence both in the Philippines and across the region.

    Then, in May of 2017, Islamic State-linked militants stormed the city of Marawi, tipping off full-scale military operations including airstrikes conducted by Philippine warplanes.

    The BBC would quickly summarise the US problem, its reaction and an all-too-convenient solution in its article, "Marawi siege: US special forces aiding Philippine army," which stated:

    US special forces are helping the Philippine military retake the southern city of Marawi from IS-linked militants, the Philippine army says.

    The forces are providing technical help and are not fighting, it said.

    President Rodrigo Duterte had earlier threatened to throw out US troops amid strained relations since taking office.
    The US military was threatened with eviction, US-allied state sponsored terrorism appeared suddenly on the Philippines' shores and now the US finds itself with a new purpose for its otherwise unwelcome, unwarranted military presence within the Southeast Asian archipelago nation state.

    Why Might KAMANDAG be Significant?

    President Duterte had cancelled other joint US-Philippine military exercises in an overall process of downgrading US-Philippine defence relations, according to The Diplomat in its article, "How Much Will Duterte Wreck the US-Philippines Military Alliance?"

    The article also seems to suggest that while the US military may not be able to enjoy wider access and use of the Philippines to forward-deploy vis-à-vis Beijing during President Duterte's term in office, in the future this might change.

    And while this would have seemed unlikely as Beijing moved closer regarding economic and military cooperation with Manila, with the sudden and overwhelming presence of the Islamic State in the Philippines, the US finds itself already in position to "assist" and with a new justification to propose an expanded military presence there, including reinstating or implementing new joint-military exercises like KAMANDAG.

    It is unlikely that this has gone completely unnoticed by policymakers in Manila, and whatever short-term achievements Washington may have gained by this disturbing and intentional use of terrorism as a tool of geopolitical coercion, it will likely lose in the long-term not only in regards to Manila, but regarding Washington's relations with other capitals across Southeast Asia.

    Attempts to use terrorism sponsored by Washington's closest Persian Gulf allies in Myanmar also appear to be a means of introducing a US military presence there, a nation that borders China directly. Just as in the Philippines, the US will propose a military presence predicated on counterterrorism. It has also tried to utilise this pretext in neighbouring Thailand, but with little success.

    And while the Islamic State claims it intends to build a global caliphate built on a foundation of Saudi-centred Wahhabism, it appears to be doing more in helping the United States build a global order built on a foundation of perpetually "fighting terrorism" its own allies are underwriting with impunity. How long this rouse can sustain US influence globally and within Southeast Asia regionally versus the more constructive alternatives offered by Beijing, including infrastructure and economic opportunities remains to be seen.

    Joseph Thomas is chief editor of Thailand-based geopolitical journal, The New Atlas and contributor to the online magazine "New Eastern Outlook".
  • December 10, 2017 (Tony Cartalucci - NEO) - US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson released a press statement regarding Thailand's National Day. In it he expressed diplomatic greetings and well-wishing to the Thai people, but failed to resist also expressing American exceptionalism - stating, "we look forward to Thailand holding elections next year."

    While the statement may seem rather innocuous at first glance, it is anything but.

    Returning a Murderous Proxy to Power

    Thailand's elections have been put on hold, following a 2014 military coup ousting the US-backed regime of Yingluck Shinawtra who served openly as her brother Thaksin Shinawatra's proxy.

    Thaksin Shinawatra resides abroad in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, a convicted criminal evading a 2-year jail sentence for abuse of power. He too was ousted from power in a military coup in 2006.

    Before being removed from power, he oversaw a brutal "war on drugs" in 2003 that left nearly 3,000 extrajudicially killed in the streets over the course of just 90 days. He also attempted to unilaterally sign a US-Thai free trade deal without parliamentary approval, sent Thai troops to participate in the US invasion of Iraq, and allowed Thai territory to be used as part of the US CIA's extraordinary rendition program.

    Since being deposed from power in 2006, Shinawatra has organized street mobs, militants, and terrorists, killing scores of people, conducting campaigns of mass arson, bombings, and assassinations as part of his bid to seize back power.

    He regularly meets members of his Pheua Thai Party (PTP) in Hong Kong, and has been allowed to travel across Europe, to the UK, and even to the US to conduct business despite being a fugitive and despite his human rights record.

    When Shinawatra's sister contested elections in 2011 as head PTP, the campaign slogan was literally, "Thaksin Thinks, Pheua Thai Does," an open admission that Thaksin Shinawatra, not his sister, would be running Thailand upon taking office. Despite the obvious illegality of a convicted criminal remotely running Thailand from a hotel room in Dubai, the immense impunity Shinawatra enjoys thanks to his foreign sponsors made it more than possible. The 2011 election results were heavily defended by the Western media and the legitimacy of Shinawatra's proxy government never questioned.

    Image: The campaign sign reads in Thai: Thaksin Kit, Pheua Thai Tom" which translates to Thaksin Thinks, Pheua Thai [Party] Does - an open admission that a convicted criminal hiding abroad runs Thailand's largest opposition party and contested the 2011 elections.
    The military removed his sister from power in 2014 after Shinawatra's militants began killing protesters in the streets.

    Elections have been pushed back repeatedly ever since. The reason is relatively simple - as long as the largest opposition party contesting Thailand's next election is openly led by a mass murderer and convicted criminal waging a campaign of terror against the Thai state from abroad, elections are untenable.

    US Directly Interfering in Thailand's Elections

    A process is well underway to uproot Shinawatra's criminal influence over Thailand's political landscape before elections are held, but this process is continuously hampered by pressure from Western governments and the myriad of NGOs they fund. Shinawatra's networks of agitators, propagandists, lobbyists, and functionaries are being protected under the guise of "human rights" advocacy. Overt criminals and even terrorists are being labelled "political prisoners" by familiar names in the West's regime change machinery like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.
    The US State Department itself is first and foremost in eagerly funding media fronts, agitators, and faux-rights advocates in Thailand who work in concert to excuse Shinawatra and his followers for their serial abuses and in support of returning Shinawatra to power.

    US-funded fronts like Prachatai, Thai Netizen, the Cross Cultural Foundation, Forty Rights, Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, and many more, repetitively demand expediency in holding Thai elections, knowing full well the likely victor at the polls will be Thaksin Shinawatra's PTP. They decry any legislative move that would make it more difficult for Shinawatra's proxies to return to power, or limit their power should they take office.

    Absent from these demands for expedient elections to "restore democracy" is any explanation as to how a government openly run by a convicted criminal and mass murderer from a hotel room in Dubai is in any sense "legal" or "democratic." Nor has any explanation been provided as to how removing Shinawatra's sister from power - who openly served as his proxy - was "illegal" or "undemocratic."

    It is yet another example of American exceptionalism and the tools of "rights advocacy" and "democracy promotion" it wields to advance it.

    At a time when US ties with Russia are strained by repetitive accusations of "Russian interference" in Western politics - specifically elections - the US Secretary of State obliquely demanding expedient elections in Thailand knowing full well who will take power and whose money and influence is responsible for such an outcome -illustrates just how one-sided America views respecting national sovereignty and staying out of foreign elections.

    For Thailand, preventing Thaksin Shinawatra from returning to power in any form is certainly a priority, but if the network of money, power, and foreign sponsorship that has maintained Shinawatra's staying power is not dealt with, another "Shinawatra" will simply take his place. A process of forging ties with other nations to reduce the amount of dependence on and influence form the West is already well underway in Bangkok. It must continue and expand.

    The frustrating hypocrisy of the US and its real-world implications is owed to its unwarranted power and wealth. Nations collectively taking steps to minimize that power and wealth in the form of a multipolar world order is key to confronting and dealing with those implications.

    Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine"New Eastern Outlook".
  • December 13, 2017 (Joseph Thomas - NEO) - In late November, the US, Canadian and British embassies along with several other European partners as well as the US National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and Amnesty International, organised what they called the "Isaan Human Rights Festival" in northeast Thailand.

    Foreign embassies have funded and directed a number of events to breath new life into the political proxies of ousted former prime minister, Thaksin Shianwatra in pursuit of regime change in Thailand.

    US National Endowment for Democracy (NED) funded media front, the "Isaan Record" in its article, "Rare human rights event gathers Isaan communities and foreign diplomats," claims (our emphasis):
    The 8th Annual Isaan Human Rights Festival brought together 17 communities from across the region, activists, scholars, and international and Thai students. Ambassadors from Finland, Sweden, and the United Kingdom were in attendance, as well as political officers from Canada, the European Union and the United States. National Human Rights Commissioner Angkhana Neelapaijit also attend the event.

    Hosted by Mahasarakham University's College of Politics and Governance, the festival opened a rare space to discuss the human rights situation in the Northeast.
    While the US-funded media outfit mentioned funding provided by the Germany-based Heinrich Böll Foundation, it failed to mention other sponsors whose logos were clearly visible in media used throughout the event.

    Creating Space for Destabilisation and Conflict

    The foreign-sponsored "festival" takes place against the backdrop of a currently dormant Thai political crisis. In 2014, the Thai military ousted then Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, sister and publicly admitted proxy of Thaksin Shinawatra, a convicted criminal hiding abroad to evade a jail sentence and who was himself ousted in 2006 in a similar coup.

    Since Thaksin Shinawatra's ouster in 2006, he has led a campaign of terrorism, street violence, armed insurrection and assassinations. This includes riots in 2009 that saw sections of Bangkok lit ablaze and at least two shopkeepers gunned down by looting Shinawatra supporters. The following year, Shinawatra organised up to 300 heavily armed militants who fought for weeks in the streets of Bangkok against the military, leaving nearly 100 dead and culminating in citywide arson.

    Shinawatra supporters have been banned from gathering in Thailand for good reason. They are used by Shinawatra's political proxies to incite unrest, violence and substantial bloodshed in pursuit of regime change.

    The most recent coup was precipitated when Shinawatra's militants began murdering anti-Shinawatra protesters in the street. Armed with assault rifles and grenade launchers, hit-and-run attacks targeted protest camps across Bangkok and even those that sprung up in other provinces. Over 20 would die, including women and children.

    Such violence is backed by complicit foreign governments, the Anglo-American and European media, and an army of foreign-funded fronts posing as nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) who help cover up, spin and excuse the violence and the military's reaction to it, portraying Thailand's armed forces as heavy-handed and oppressive.

    Shinawatra supporters engaged in armed violence in 2010. Nearly 100 would perish in gun battles over several weeks, ending in citywide arson.

    The November 2017 festival itself had many of the NGOs lobbying for Shinawatra and his supporters in attendance and was eagerly promoted across social media by those unable to attend.

    The US-funded "Isaan Record" would go on to report:
    The festival kicked off with a panel on human rights in the Northeast. Representatives of five regional non-governmental organizations voiced their concerns about the shrinking space for popular representation and the military regime's repression of community voices.
    It also claims:
    After taking power in a coup in May 2014, the military junta had banned gatherings of more than five people. Violation of the ban a maximum penalty of six months in prison or a fine of 10,000 baht (about $300 US). Several northeastern activists have been prosecuted for exercising their right to freedom of assembly and freedom of speech between May 2014 and September 2015, according to a report from Thai Lawyers For Human Rights.

    Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) is another US State Department-funded front, created with direct assistance from the US Embassy in Bangkok the day after the 2014 coup.

    Foreign diplomats quite literally hold the hands of political agitators they fund in Thailand. Pictured centre is Sirikan Choroensiri of the US State Department created and funded front, Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, flanked by European and Canadian diplomats and staff.

    The "activists" arrested were likewise from foreign-backed fronts opposing the coup, many of whom enjoy direct ties to diplomats from the US, British and EU missions. And while the "Isaan Record" claims gatherings of more than five people have been banned, this is not entirely true. Gatherings that have been banned are those sponsored by foreign interests on behalf of the ousted government of Thaksin Shinawatra and his proxies.

    Other events and gatherings, including those petitioning the government on a wide variety of practical issues have gone forward, including gatherings by groups that have opposed government decisions, but who constructively proposed solutions to specific problems and were willing to work with the government to achieve them.

    In other words, the "space" the US embassy and its European partners seek to create in Thailand's political landscape is for supporters of the ousted government merely under the guise of addressing "human rights."

    The US Condemns "Russian Interference" as it Interferes Globally

    Even at first glance, the notion of foreign embassies "opening space" to discuss the internal politics of a foreign nation is a blatant violation of that nation's sovereignty. That the event was held in Thailand's northeast region, known as "Isaan," the former political stronghold of Shinawatra, is no coincidence.

    The "festival" was organized to breath life into what has been an otherwise dormant opposition since Shinawatra and his sister were both removed from power.

    Without a constant torrent of monetary and material support, this "opposition" would atrophy and perish.

    By providing this "space" with Shinawatra's supporters condemning the Thai government from behind a line of foreign ambassadors, the lifespan of Shinawatra's opposition is artificially extended until some time in the future when it can be once again funded, rearmed and unleashed in the cities and villages of Thailand to sow another decade of political crisis, destabilisation and bloodshed.

    One could imagine the reaction from Washington should the Russian ambassador and a front of Russian-friendly nations organise a similar event in America's Midwest and how quickly it would be condemned as foreign interference, all in attendance arrested and tried for sedition and diplomatic ties with Russia severed entirely.

    The unfortunate reality for Thailand and nations like it is the prevailing geopolitical maxim of "might makes right." Thailand lacks the ability to move against overt foreign-funded subversion conducted directly on its own soil by still powerful and influential nations like the US and the UK. Barring the event, arresting its attendees, expelling diplomats or cutting ties with those nations sponsoring such activities are not realistic options for Thailand.

    Instead, patience and asymmetrical responses are required, including the reformation of Thailand's media which is currently overrun by foreign-trained Thai journalists, many of whom serve merely as scribes for US and European talking points. Filling Thailand's political space with genuine Thai NGOs, thus displacing foreign-funded fronts posing as NGOs, and addressing legitimate concerns regarding everything from the environment to human rights concerns, working with the government on these issues rather than exploiting them to subvert political stability, is also a viable and constructive option.

    What is perhaps most ironic of all about those involved in this brand of foreign interference in another nation's internal affairs is that their personal social media accounts are awash with headlines about "Russian interference" in American and European politics. It is ironic because what the US accuses Russia of without evidence, is something each and every one of these diplomats and NGO workers are demonstrably guilty of on a daily basis.

    US and European pressure on Thailand stems from an ongoing long-term effort to encircle and contain China with a united front of nations along its geopolitical peripheries. By replacing Thailand's sovereign government with a reliable client state or a divided, failed state, would deprive Beijing of an economic and political partner in the region.

    The current government of Thailand has forged strong ties with China, including through the acquisition of weapons to replace its ageing US-made arsenal and mega-infrastructure projects including a high-speed rail network.

    Joseph Thomas is chief editor of Thailand-based geopolitical journal, The New Atlas and contributor to the online magazine "New Eastern Outlook".
  • December 15, 2017 (Joseph Thomas - NEO) - US President Donald Trump's announcement to move the US embassy in Israel from the city of Tel Aviv to Jerusalem has ignited protests, tensions and fears of future conflict across the Middle East. Protests and posturing have followed the announcement from a wide variety of demographics.

    Predictably, Muslim communities across the Middle East have voiced their opposition. This includes both Sunnis and Shia'a who have even united at rallies organised by Hezbollah in Lebanon. Middle Eastern Christians have also attended such events as well as having staged their own protests.

    Other nations, such as Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, have predictably condemned the United States and Israel, while simultaneously continuing their collaboration with both in terms of undermining Syria.

    While it is tempting to see the ongoing conflict through a primarily religious lens, however, geopolitics appears to be a much more relevant target and motivation driving US foreign policy and the very predictable reaction it has provoked.

    This is especially so, considering how large Muslim communities beyond the Middle East have reacted, particularly in Southeast Asia.

    Southeast Asia's Muslims Muted Over Move

    Southeast Asia is home to an estimated 240 million Muslims. They compose a majority of the populations in Indonesia (the most populous Muslim nation on the planet), Malaysia and Brunei. Muslims also make up a sizeable minority in nations including Singapore, the Philippines, Thailand and Myanmar.

    Despite the significant number of Muslims in Southeast Asia, the fervour over America's announcement was relatively muted.

    There were indeed protests held in Malaysia and Indonesia including by parties with past or present affiliations with the regimes of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and organisations such as the Muslim Brotherhood, but beyond these symbolic protests, little more has unfolded.

    ABC News in its article, "Muslims in Asia rally against Trump's Jerusalem move," would report:
    In Kuala Lumpur, more than 1,000 protesters led by Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin marched from a nearby mosque after Friday prayers to the U.S. Embassy, halting traffic as they chanted "Long live Islam" and "Destroy Zionists." Many carried banners, some of which said "Free Palestine" and "Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine."

    It would also claim:
    In Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, more than 300 protesters shouted "Go to hell Israel!" and called on Trump to stop "blind support" for the Jewish state. Neither Malaysia nor Indonesia has diplomatic ties with Israel and both are strong supporters of Palestinians.
    No protests of significance were organised elsewhere in the region.

    Persian Gulf states and their US and European allies have attempted to politicise Southeast Asia's Muslim populations, radicalise them and divide them against Buddhists, Christians and the secular, but with very limited success.

    The ongoing violence targeting the Rohingya in Myanmar and militants associated with the so-called Islamic State (IS) seizing the Philippine city of Marawi represent the extent of Persian Gulf, US and European success in shaping Islam into and wielding it as a geopolitical weapon.

    US efforts to expand an ongoing but so-far-contained separatist movement in Thailand's deep south into a direct confrontation between Thai Buddhists and Muslims has gained little traction. Isolated IS attacks in Malaysia and Indonesia have also been carried with timing suspiciously in-sync with positive developments in both countries' relations with China, but to little effect.

    Moulding Public Perception

    More than anything else, Israel's intentionally provocative foreign and domestic policy coupled with the most recent US move is likely an attempt to condition public perception ahead of further regional conflict in the Middle East, and particularly against Syria and Iran.

    Noting that many protesters in Southeast Asia cited America's "blind support" for Israel, the notion that Israel persuaded the US to move its embassy, rather than the US deciding for itself helps perpetuate the idea that Israel not only pursues a very independent agenda, but one the US is beholden to.

    According to US policy papers, however, US efforts to overthrow the governments of nations like Syria and Iran depend on proxies including Israel, Turkey and the Persian Gulf states to place pressure on both. In one US policy paper produced by the Brookings Institution, it is even suggested that Israel pose as undertaking a unilateral first strike on Iran's nuclear facilities in the hopes that Iran retaliates and offers the US an opportunity to involve itself directly in military intervention and regime change.

    Nowhere in the Brookings document is it suggested that Israel would actually unilaterally undertake an attack, nor does any sound geopolitical analysis suggest such a thing would even be possible. Israel's military forces depend on US weapons and intelligence as well as logistical support. The September 2017 announcement that the US opened its first permanent military base on Israeli soil also complicates the maintaining of this illusion.

    The recent US embassy move, from the Middle East to Southeast Asia's substantial Muslim populations, has helped layer over the reality of years of policy papers and the tangible realities of Israeli dependence on US military might both directly and indirectly regarding any future aggression against Syria or Iran.

    The move, intentionally provocative and designed to maximise emotional outrage, has achieved its goal. If and when Israel carries out a significant military strike against either Syria or Iran, current efforts to shape public perception around the idea that Israel is leading Washington along will afford Washington with a degree of plausible deniability.

    While the embassy move will likely have no impact on Southeast Asia itself, moulding public perception of tens of millions of Muslims in Southeast Asia will help prepare global public perception ahead of the next round of hostilities launched by the United States and its united front against Syria, Iran and by extension, Russia and eventually China.

    Joseph Thomas is chief editor of Thailand-based geopolitical journal, The New Atlas and contributor to the online magazine "New Eastern Outlook".
  • December 18, 2017 (Tony Cartalucci - NEO) - The US is attempting to sell to the public the next phase of its continued occupation and military operations across the Middle East. Predicated on claims of "rebuilding" Iraq and "fighting terrorists" in Syria, it is in actuality a plan to perpetuate for as long as possible the upheaval currently consuming the region in hopes of overextending and exhausting Iran - and by extension - Russia.

    Iranian Roadblock to Western Hegemony

    The United States in its pursuit of global hegemony has placed particular focus on encircling, containing, undermining, and if possible, overthrowing the socioeconomic and political order of Iran as a means to secure for itself primacy over the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

    Since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, the British followed by the Americans have pursued a multi-generational policy of divide and conquer across MENA.

    Nations Ango-American influence could not outright conquer and co-opt such as the Persian Gulf monarchies - or create in the case of Israel - have been either picked apart and left in ruins through direct or indirect military interventions, or have spent decades staving off open and concerted efforts to divide and destroy their respective nations. These nations include Yemen, Libya, Iraq, and Syria most recently, as well as Egypt, Lebanon, Algeria on and off throughout the 20th and 21st centuries.

    Iran - above all other nations in the region - reserves a special place for Western attention. Its large population, geography, economy, and military might has provided it space and time to incrementally grow its power and influence throughout the region and the world to dimensions difficult for the West to overcome and dominate.

    With 80 million people, a GDP of nearly $400 billion, and an army over half a million strong, Iran is not Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, nor Libya. And as the technological disparity among nations in regards to conventional military capabilities closes, the West finds itself in an increasingly disadvantageous position in regards to coercing Iran directly through force.

    Because of this emerging reality, US policy versus Tehran is shifting from attempting to justify a military confrontation it is no longer certain it can win, to a policy of containment and limited conflict similar to America's maneuvering in Asia Pacific regarding Beijing.

    US Plans to "Minimize" Iran's Influence in the Middle East

    A piece in The Nation Interest penned by Brookings policymakers titled, "A blueprint for minimizing Iran's influence in the Middle East," attempts to summarize America's current plans regarding the containment or "minimization" of Iranian influence.

    In Iraq, the US appears poised to extend its military presence under the pretext of aiding and rebuilding the country. It even suggests proposed aid levels comparable to those given to Afghanistan - a nation where, despite immense aid and a continuous US military presence since 2001 - still has seen and suffered the arrival and spread of the so-called "Islamic State" (ISIS).

    The paper claims:
    A stronger, more stable Iraq will be much better positioned to resist domination by Iran. Given the stakes, and America's previous investment, aid levels comparable to those given Afghanistan or Egypt are in order. Engaging in this way can also enable the United States to help Baghdad keep an eye on the Iran-backed Shia militias as they are partially disbanded and partially worked into Iraqi Security Forces in coming months.
    In reality, the US is neither capable of creating a "stronger, more stable Iraq," nor does it genuinely seek to do so. It will use its continued presence in Iraq to undermine and roll back progress made by Baghdad and its Iranian allies against militant groups including ISIS and Al Qaeda as well as US-backed Kurds in the nation's north.

    In particular, the US has invested an inordinate amount of time and resources to secure highways leading from Baghdad to Iraq's borders with Jordan and Saudi Arabia - two nations that have played a pivotal role in arming, funding, and harboring militants engaged in militant operations from Lebanon and Syria to Iraq and Yemen. With a US presence along these highways, any torrent of logistical support for sectarian violence within Iraq would be difficult to target and eliminate by the Iraqi military or any of its allies - ensuring perpetual conflict.

    A stronger, more stable Iraq, considering the nation's Shia'a majority, would be more inclined to seek stronger ties with neighboring Iran than occupying Western forces and fits nowhere into Washington's real plans for the nation. Instead, dividing Iraq into further sectarian conflict and drawing in Iranian support would seek to overextend and exhaust Iranian military power in the region.

    In essence, the actual US plan for Iraq is to organize and implement the next round of deadly sectarian fighting.

    Regarding Syria, US plans to occupy and administer seized Syrian territory were reiterated - plans that have been openly pursued since outright US-backed regime change stalled in 2011.

    The paper claims:
    Still, the United States and like-minded states—as well as global-aid agencies—need to help provide security and economic assistance to regions free of Assad's rule as well as the Islamic State. Some of these regions should be treated as temporary autonomous zones and help govern themselves as well. Additionally, more western and GCC military strength and support for moderate insurgents is needed in northwest parts of the country, such as in and around Idlib, where the Al Qaeda affiliate, formerly known as Jabhat al-Nusra, is still active. Otherwise, either the latter group or Assad's forces backed by Russia and Iran will be the likely victor.
    Essentially, the US seeks to Balkanize Syria and continue its proxy war against Damascus.

    The article sidesteps intentionally around the fact that Idlib's Al Qaeda occupants were armed, funded, trained, and sent there by the United States and its allies in the first place. It also intentionally sidesteps the reality that there are no "moderate insurgents" in Syria, and there never were.

    The paper tips America's hand, revealing that ongoing Western operations in Syria are aimed not at fighting and defeating ISIS or Al Qaeda, but using the presence of both groups as a pretext to prevent the Syrian government from restoring order to the country, preserving its territorial integrity, and rebuilding its economy. Both terrorist organizations serve as placeholders, denying Damascus access to its own territory until US military assets can take and hold it.

    In other words, in regards to minimizing Iranian influence in Iraq and Syria, the US is determined to divide and destroy both nations and their people, plunder their resources, and maintain their collective territory as a breeding ground for sectarianism and extremism. Iranian attempts to assist each nation - or both - comes at the cost of extending itself militarily and economically.

    Admitting this would be unfeasible in the pages of The National Interest. But claiming that the US must remain in Iraq to "rebuild" the country and continue operations in Syria to "fight terrorism" allows Washington to continue sowing chaos in both nations, chalking up any noticeable inconsistencies between its alleged policy and its actual plans to tenacious terrorists or even Iran itself.

    Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine"New Eastern Outlook".
  • December 21, 2017 (Joseph Thomas - NEO) - A mid-December announcement by the European Union was made stating that the EU had agreed to restore ties with the Southeast Asian Kingdom of Thailand "at all levels" after suspending them in 2014 in the wake of a military coup which ousted the government of Yingluck Shinawatra.

    AFP reported in its article, "EU resumes official contacts with Thai junta," that:
    The bloc said developments in Thailand this year, including the adoption of a new constitution and a pledge by junta chief Prayut Chan-O-Cha to hold elections in November 2018, meant it was "appropriate" to resume ties.
    The announcement however, was conditional. AFP also reports:
    But the European Union repeated its call for the restoration of full democracy and said it was still concerned about harassment of human rights activists and the curtailing of free speech in Thailand.
    What the AFP article and the EU statement both fail to mention was the context of the 2014 coup, the nature of the government it ousted from power and precisely which groups have been subjected to the so-called "curtailing of free speech."

    The EU's move, which was immediately supported by the US embassy in Bangkok, is likely an attempt to pressure the current interim government from further delaying elections and holding them prematurely, thus likely returning political proxies associated with Yingluck Shinawatra to power.

    Returning a US-European Proxy to Power

    Yingluck Shinawatra was sister to ousted former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra. Thaksin Shinawatra held office from 2001-2006, committed serial human rights abuses including the extrajudicial killing of nearly 3,000 in a "war on drugs" in just under 90 days in 2003. He also eagerly censored his political opponents and critics in the media either through courts or through physical intimidation and violence. Several of his critics were either assassinated or disappeared over the course of this time in office.

    In 2006, the Royal Thai Army swiftly and without bloodshed, ousted Thaksin Shinawatra from power. Since Shinawatra's removal from power in 2006, he and his supporters have conducted an on-and-off campaign of terrorism, violence, arson, political assassinations together with a concerted propaganda campaign attacking Thailand's independent institutions including the nation's courts, its military and its constitutional monarchy. Together, these institutions represent insurmountable roadblocks to Shinawatra's return to power. They also, by no coincidence, impede foreign interests from entering and fully exploiting Thailand, its population and its natural resources.

    It has been groups associated with Shinawatra's efforts to attack and undermine Thailand's institutions that have been targeted by the "curtailing of free speech." These groups also so happen to enjoy extensive funding, political and material support from the embassies of the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and the EU.

    US-EU diplomats regularly organise events to foment opposition to Thailand's government, right in the heart of Shinawatra's former political stronghold of "Isaan," or northeastern Thailand. The EU has demonstrated zero respect for Thai sovereignty and its offer to "restore ties" to the nation are loaded with preconditions undermining Thailand's national interests.

    The aforementioned AFP article also characterised the ousted government of Yingluck Shinawatra as representing a certain level of "democracy." However, Yingluck Shinawatra openly campaigned in 2011 as her brother's admitted proxy. Thaksin Shinawatra currently resides abroad evading jail after a criminal conviction for abuse of power was handed down by Thai courts in 2008. In other words, the "democracy" AFP claims Yingluck Shinawatra's government represented in reality amounted to a convicted criminal running the government remotely through a nepotist-appointed proxy. In truth, it represented neither "democracy" nor adhered to even the most elementary underpinnings of rule of law.

    As to why the EU seeks elections in Thailand prematurely before reforms can be fully implemented and Shinawatra's return to power blocked indefinitely, it is necessary to examine Shinawatra's utility to US and European interests both in Thailand and in a wider context, in Asia Pacific vis-à-vis China.

    During Shinawatra's time in office, he eagerly supported US-European foreign policy both in Asia and globally. He committed Thai troops to the invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003 and hosted the US Central Intelligence Agency's extraordinary rendition and secret detention programme on Thai territory. He also attempted to pass a US-Thai free trade agreement by sidestepping both public opposition to it and any form of Thai parliamentary review and approval.

    The most recent EU statement also included mention of "free trade."

    With years of US-European support for Shinawatra's efforts to return to power accumulating a substantial political debt, any possibility of his actual return would be accompanied by an even more zealous commitment to US-European interests at Thailand's and the region's expense.

    Containing China, Maintaining US-Euro Primacy in the Pacific

    In a wider context, the time period Shinawatra held power saw the US and Europe cultivating other client regimes in the region including Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy party in Myanmar, Anwar Ibrahim in Malaysia and before a very recent falling out, Hun Sen in Cambodia. Together, this collection of client regimes was to constitute a united front against the growing influence of Beijing.

    From the turn of the century to present day, it is clear that US and European plans have suffered immeasurable setbacks. In Thailand, Shinawatra's ouster in 2006 followed by his sister's ouster in 2014 represent a downward trend in both Shinawatra's political staying power and the influence of US-European-funded organisations, media platforms, institutions and opposition fronts.

    And as US-European influence via clients like Shinawatra wanes, ties between China and Thailand have grown substantially. While Washington offers "free trade" and ambiguous "military ties" to Thailand, Beijing offers nationwide infrastructure projects including high speed rail, new rolling stock for Thailand's existing mass transportation networks, military hardware to replace Thailand's ageing US-made inventory and above all, a partnership absent of preconditions regarding Thailand's internal political affairs.

    These deals have been sealed by the political order opposed to Shinawatra and currently holding power in Thailand.

    Despite hopes fading of ever reestablishing primacy in the Pacific, it is clear that the US and its European partners have not abandoned efforts to try. And while their primary objectives may never be achieved, slowing Beijing's ascent enough to integrate it into the existing Washington-London-Brussels dominated international order rather than having Beijing find itself at the head of an alternative model of international relations, in their minds, may still be possible.

    If US-EU Cannot Have Thailand, No One Will...

    While any sort of substantial and enduring return to power for Shinawatra or a US-European proxy like him is highly unlikely, as the United States and the European Union have done elsewhere, particularly in the Middle East in regards to Iran's rising influence and its enemies' inability to contain it, where client states cannot be created, chaos is created instead to deny opponents economic and military partners, or any semblance of peace and stability along their peripheries.

    A variety of gambits have been put into play simultaneously alongside efforts to return Shinawatra to power aimed at sowing discord within Thailand and producing synergies with similar destabilisation efforts in neighbouring Myanmar and Cambodia. These include efforts pursued by the US and EU member embassies in Thailand itself to prop up and perpetuate protests against the current Thai government. They also include efforts to expand conflict in Thailand's troubled southern provinces and foster inter-religious conflict between Thai Buddhists and Muslims who have coexisted for centuries.

    In other words, if the US and Europe cannot have Thailand, they have cultivated multiple options to ensure the nation can provide no one else, particularly Beijing, constructive ties or contribute to wider regional peace and prosperity.

    Growing Thai-Chinese ties include the signing of extensive infrastructure projects including those surrounding mass transportation.
    This explanation goes far in illustrating why media organisations like AFP and the European Union in its recent statement so disingenuously portray Thailand's current political crisis as a battle between "democracy" and a "junta." The truth is far more illuminating as to who, what and more precisely why Thailand is unable to enjoy political stability and move forward together with the rest of the region into economic prosperity Europe and its partners across the Atlantic see disappearing into the distance as the global balance of power shifts.

    The EU "restoring ties" with Thailand is mostly symbolic. Bangkok is unlikely to receive any benefit from these "ties," and regardless of the current government's timetable for elections or any signal from Bangkok in appeasement to Brussels, EU member embassies have every intention to continue creating and sustaining opposition fronts aimed both at fostering short-term instability and the long-term undermining of Thailand's sovereign institutions.

    For Thailand, continuing to foster real partnerships and ties beyond the US and EU while building up its own independent capacity to ensure economic prosperity and national defence is essential to overcoming the challenges EU "ties" really represent. Anglo-American and European foreign policy for centuries has been predicated on dictating terms from a position of uncontested strength. As the global balance of power shifts, this position of strength has eroded. Whatever Thailand agrees to, it must be done in the wider context of further eroding US-European primacy in regions thousands of miles from their respective capitals and striking a more equitable and mutually beneficial balance in international relations.

    The EU's offer to "restore ties" with Thailand is empty and will only serve as a thin veil over continued efforts to coerce Bangkok into rushing ahead with elections the EU and its partners in Washington hope to influence.

    Joseph Thomas is chief editor of Thailand-based geopolitical journal, The New Atlas and contributor to the online magazine "New Eastern Outlook".
  • December 23, 2017 (Tony Cartalucci - NEO) - Years ago, those confronting and questioning the Western media's "pro-democracy" narrative regarding Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, her National League for Democracy (NLD) political party and her supporters including saffron-clad supposed "Buddhist monks," were ridiculed and dismissed.

    Warnings that Suu Kyi's political movement was nothing more than a foreign-funded attempt to co-opt the people and resources of the Southeast Asian state of Myanmar - a former colony of the British Empire still referred to widely in the West by its colonial nomenclature, "Burma" - were dismissed as mere conspiracy theories.

    Meanwhile, concerns that violence targeting Myanmar's Rohingya minority was in fact being bolstered by Suu Kyi's rise to power were intentionally and concertedly sidestepped by the Western media who attempted to conceal the true nature of Suu Kyi's political party and the core "values" of her support base and shift blame onto the ruling military-led government.

    It was inevitable that upon taking power, Suu Kyi and the NLD - enabled by decades of US-UK-EU financial, political, and material support - the progressive veneer applied to this "democracy icon" would begin to peel, and the true nature of her and her followers would reveal itself.

    Consumed by a Monster of Their Own Creation

    In an immense amount of irony, prominent Western media organizations like Reuters now find themselves decrying the very government they themselves spent decades helping into power, as the government cracks down on reporting over the ongoing Rohingya crisis.

    Two Reuters employees - Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo - were reportedly arrested after illegally obtaining documents from Myanmar police. Reuters and the myriad of faux-human rights advocates that conspired with the US, British, and European governments to put Suu Kyi into power are now calling on the Myanmar government - though not Suu Kyi by name - to release their colleagues.

    Reuters employee Andrew Marshall has recently flooded his social media accounts with desperate pleas for his colleagues' release, citing US "demands" that Myanmar release them, and alluding to the debt Suu Kyi and the NLD owed the foreign press for their role in bringing them to power.

    Yet even now, as Reuters finds two of its own rendered as collateral damage in the wake of Suu Kyi and the NLD's ascent into power, both this most recent row regarding Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo and the ongoing Rohingya crisis are only obliquely linked to Suu Kyi by the Western media. Marshall - for example - continuously cites "Myanmar's president - Suu Kyi's ally" as supporting the prosecution of his colleagues - either unaware or unwilling to admit that Suu Kyi herself created and currently occupies the highest office - State Counsellor - referred even by the Western press as the "de facto" head of the Myanmar government.

    Suu Kyi has both the political power - and since her office itself is an exercise of extralegal power - the legal power to act on a number of issues Reuters and other within the Western media continuously attempt to raise in regards to Myanmar. Yet despite this, the lack of responsibility assigned to her stands in stark contrast to other crises around the globe, particularly in Syria where the nation's leader, President Bashar al-Assad is wholly blamed for all regardless of the logic, legality, or legitimacy of Western accusations.

    The Making of a Monster

    Marshall also repeatedly referred to Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo as "truth seekers" and "real journalists," yet one wonders just how accurate such labels are.

    Real truth seeking journalists would have noted and reported years ago of the compromised nature of Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy and the contradiction in terms a "democracy icon" was when Suu Kyi's entire movement - from her party to supposed "nongovernmental organizations" (NGOs), academics, and media platforms - were created, funded, and directed by and solely for foreign interests.

    Indeed, in what sense is Suu Kyi's political movement a representation of Myanmar's self-determination - the foundation of any genuine democracy - if that political movement is a product of Washington and its interests, not Myanmar's and its people's?

    It was in a 36 page 2006 Burma Campaign UK document titled, "FAILING THE PEOPLE OF BURMA? A call for a review of DFID policy on Burma (PDF)," that it was revealed how virtually every aspect of Myanmar's opposition was funded and directed by foreign governments, the US via USAID, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), and convicted financial criminal George Soros' Open Society and the UK via the Department for International Development (DFID) being chief among them.

    The report openly admitted:

    The National Endowment for Democracy (NED -- see Appendix 1, page 27) has been at the forefront of our program efforts to promote democracy and improved human rights in Burma since 1996. We are providing $2,500,000 in FY 2003 funding from the Burma earmark in the Foreign Operations legislation. The NED will use these funds to support Burmese and ethnic minority democracy-promoting organizations through a sub-grant program. The projects funded are designed to disseminate information inside Burma supportive of Burma's democratic development, to create democratic infrastructures and institutions, to improve the collection of information on human rights abuses by the Burmese military and to build capacity to support the restoration of democracy when the appropriate political openings occur and the exiles/refugees return.
    The document also admits that all prominent opposition media in Myanmar is funded by the US government, stating:
    The NED sub-grant program also has fostered the development of three well-known Burmese media organizations. The New Era Journal, the Irrawaddy, and the Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB) radio have become critical sources of independent news and information on the struggle for democracy in Burma. These organizations also serve as training ground for the development of professional Burmese journalists.
    Illustrating the emphasis on placing Suu Kyi into power rather than merely "promoting democracy" and allowing the people decide themselves, the report blatantly admits (emphasis added):
    Voice of America (VOA) and Radio Free Asia (RFA) have Burmese services. VOA broadcasts a 30-minute mix of international news and information three times a day. RFA broadcasts news and information about Burma two hours a day. VOA and RFA websites also contain audio and text material in Burmese and English. For example, VOA's October 10, 2003 editorial, "Release Aung San Suu Kyi" is prominently featured in the Burmese section of RFA's website makes available audio versions of 16 Aung San Suu Kyi's speeches from May 27 and 29, 2003. U.S. international broadcasting provides crucial information to a population denied the benefits of freedom of information by its government. Broadcasts reach a broad spectrum of society and a broad swathe of the country, influencing Burmese decision-makers and offering support to future democratic leaders. Anecdotal evidence indicates that government officials listen to these broadcasts frequently.

    In addition to simply funding and running the existing opposition, the US and UK actively sought to expand it through "scholarships" in which citizens of Myanmar would be indoctrinated abroad before being sent back to help sow subversion on behalf of "Western values."

    This included dumping US tax dollars into programs linked directly to Suu Kyi herself:
    The State Department provided $150,000 in FY 2001/02 funds to provide scholarships to young Burmese through Prospect Burma, a partner organization with close ties to Aung San Suu Kyi.

    Many of those lining Suu Kyi's regime have literally been built up professionally and politically by the US and UK government. The current Minister of Information was trained by US NED and Soros money and is heading the very ministry that is pursuing Reuters' employees now, along with anyone else impeding the current government's objectives.

    It is clear that for years, the US and UK meddled directly and deeply in the internal political affairs of Myanmar - a crime the US is now accusing and condemning Russia of. Unlike in the case of accusations against Moscow where no evidence has been provided, Reuters' "truth seekers" had only but to click on the Burma Campaign UK's website and read the document still publicly available there detailing US-UK meddling in Myanmar's political affairs. Yet they did not.

    While Reuters and others went through great lengths to promote Suu Kyi as a "democracy icon" above criticism, she represented precisely the opposite of democracy - particularly self-determination. She was a creation of, by, and for foreign interests - and despite this obvious fact - Reuters and others never reported this to the public.

    Evidence of Suu Kyi and her followers' animosity toward the nation's Rohingya minority was also intentionally concealed for years by these "truth seekers" and "real journalists." The "Saffron Revolution" of 2007 was depicted by the Western media as a peaceful pro-democracy uprising crushed by a brutish military junta. Yet in reality, these "saffron" supporters were engaged then in violence, as well as the chief protagonists driving hatred and violence against the Rohingya.

    It was warned as early as 2012 that Suu Kyi's support base was comprised of violent extremists, used intentionally by the US and UK as proxies to undermine Myanmar's military-led government, to protest specific joint China-Myanmar projects including mines and dams, as well as ignite conflict that would drive Chinese interests out of Rakhine state - the epicenter of the current Rohingya crisis. It was also warned long before Suu Kyi came to power, that should she lead the nation, the Rohingya would suffer first and foremost.

    Again, the West's "truth seekers" failed to properly assign responsibility for the violence to Suu Kyi and her supporters - instead - reporting violence as ambiguously as possible, insinuating that it was the military carrying it out when in reality it was often the military serving as the only line of defense between Rohingya communities and their entire annihilation.

    It was lies and intentional disinformation that created the monster that is now Suu Kyi and her NLD. The extensive full-spectrum support provided by the US and British governments along with the Western media's role in spinning and covering up the truth led directly to the current Rohingya crisis in Myanmar and to the arrest and disappearance of two Reuters employees.

    While Andrew Marshall of Reuters seeks to obliquely blame anyone but Suu Kyi, he and others may eventually summon the courage to do so one day. Whether or not they can look in the mirror and rightfully find blame and answer for their own role in Suu Kyi's rise to and abuse of power is another matter entirely. But until they do so, the monster of Myanmar will continue to grow, and many others just like it will grow with it.

    Ironically - while Marshall, the rest of Reuters, and the Western media wring their hands over Suu Kyi's "sudden" change of heart, in neighboring Thailand these same people are attempting to return Thaksin Shinawatra and his political allies to power in the name of "democracy" - a scenario that will turn out equally as bad for Thailand as Suu Kyi has for Myanmar.

    Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine"New Eastern Outlook".
  • December 26, 2017 (Ulson Gunnar - NEO) - NATO members including the US, UK, Germany, Norway, Spain, Denmark and the Netherlands have begun taking public steps in defining guidelines regarding the deployment of offensive cyberweapons.

    Reuters in its article, "NATO mulls 'offensive defense' with cyber warfare rules," would state:
    A group of NATO allies are considering a more muscular response to state-sponsored computer hackers that could involve using cyber attacks to bring down enemy networks, officials said.
    Reuters would also report:
    The doctrine could shift NATO's approach from being defensive to confronting hackers that officials say Russia, China and North Korea use to try to undermine Western governments and steal technology.
    The article also noted that the United States and its allies already possess and have threatened to use cyberweapons offensively, citing the 2010 Sutxnet virus deployed against Iranian nuclear infrastructure as a possible example. Other examples cited of possible applications included shutting down power plants with malware rather than bombing them.

    Reuters also reported that NATO was setting up "cyber commands" including one in Estonia apparently intended to launch cyber attacks into Russia.

    Extending NATO Aggression into Cyberspace

    At face value, a nation developing the ability to defend itself and carry out counterattacks against foreign aggressors, including in cyberspace, appears as legitimate policy.

    For NATO, however, its track record of serial aggression and expansion beyond its borders predicated on intentionally false pretexts indicate that the military alliance will simply carry its aggression into cyberspace as well.

    The NATO invasion and occupation of Afghanistan followed the attacks on September 11, 2001 on Washington D.C. and New York City. Despite none of the alleged suspects involved in the attack actually coming from Afghanistan, and the government of Afghanistan having played no role in the attacks, NATO would invade and has since occupied the nation for the past 16 years.

    The 2003 invasion of Iraq led by the US and other prominent NATO members was predicated entirely on falsehoods. Claims that the Iraqi government at the time possessed chemical and biological weapons later turned out to have been intentionally fabricated to justify an invasion that, by some estimates, cost the lives of over a million Iraqis and thousands of US and European soldiers. The invasion and occupation resulted in regional conflict that continues to this day.

    In 2011 when terrorists affiliated with Al Qaeda moved against the government of Libya, NATO portrayed the resulting conflict as a crackdown on what it and Western media called "freedom fighters." NATO armed militants and eventually intervened in an air campaign that toppled the government, leaving Libya in ruins since.

    Between 2013-2014 the US and its NATO partners openly fomented protests against the elected government of Ukraine. Supporting Neo-Nazi militias and their affiliated political parties, NATO succeeded in overthrowing the government and placing into power organizations and parties involved in the protests. NATO has since intervened on various levels, short of military intervention, to protect the regime in Kiev from both political challengers and a possible counter-coup.

    In many ways, since the Arab Spring in 2011, the US and its NATO partners have already used cyberweapons of sorts to destabilize and attack targeted nations. Social media was manipulated in the opening weeks of protests, false information transmitted, technology and software distributed among US-NATO funded opposition groups, all in an effort to stampede targeted governments out of power.

    Today, NATO members are involved in the bombing, invasion, occupation and drone warfare from Africa to Asia. They employ the tools of modern disinformation and propaganda to interfere and manipulate in the political processes of nations worldwide.

    The notion that NATO will develop and deploy cyberweapons in an offensive capacity will not only enhance ongoing aggression, but because of the nature of cyberweapons and the possibility of attacks concealing their point of origin, might see it expand into areas where currently, conventional military means cannot be justified.

    Considering the extensive experience NATO possesses in fabricating pretexts for aggression, and the perceived benignity of cyberwarfare versus conventional weapons, we can expect to see NATO use this new concept of "offensive defense" to further menace the nations and peoples of this planet with a degree and frequency far above and beyond its conventional military operations.

    While Reuters cites Russia, China and North Korea as likely targets of NATO cyberattacks, it is likely that any and all actors, both state and non-state, will find themselves targets of NATO aggression should their interests conflict with those that underwrite the NATO alliance.

    Developing the means to put these capabilities in check and prevent NATO from developing any sort of advantage in cyberspace will be a prerequisite for future peace and stability, online and off.

    Ulson Gunnar, a New York-based geopolitical analyst and writer especially for the online magazine "New Eastern Outlook".
  • December 28, 2017 (Tony Cartalucci - NEO) - There has been a recent buzz promoted around the so-called Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) - a coalition of sorts counting the United States, India, Australia, and Japan as members. Promoted by familiar corporate-financier funded policy think thanks, the Quad is being portrayed as a step past Washington's ill-fated "pivot to Asia" to address its waning power in the region.

    Understanding that the US "pivot" was meant to co-opt and coerce Southeast Asia into forming a united front aimed at containing China's economic, diplomatic, and military rise in the region in order to preserve and perhaps even expand US primacy in Asia Pacific, helps explain why it ultimately failed, and goes far in explaining what the Quad is and why it is being so eagerly promoted.

    The Pivot's Failure and Declining American Power

    Southeast Asia, through the supranational Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) resisted attempts by Washington to realign regional policy to suit US interests at the cost of ASEAN's growing ties with Beijing.

    There were various components to the pivot including US efforts to undermine, overthrow, and replace with obedient client regimes the governments of several ASEAN states including Myanmar, Thailand, and Malaysia.

    The expansion of US "soft power" across ASEAN was a part of this component, particularly through the US State Department's ongoing long-term efforts via the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and its "Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative" (YSEALI) launched in 2013.

    These efforts have so-far failed, with only limited success in placing a US client regime in power in Myanmar in the form of Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy (NLD) party.

    Image: Thailand's Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has sealed several pivotal economic, infrastructure, and military deals with China since ousting the US-backed government of Yingluck Shinawatra from power in 2014.

    Elsewhere - in 2014 - the US-backed government of Yingluck Shinawatra, sister of long-time US ally Thaksin Shinawatra, was ousted in a military coup. Protests in Malaysia led by the US-funded and directed "Bersih" front have yet to materialize substantial results. And in Cambodia, the government under Prime Minister Hun Sen has begun an aggressive campaign to uproot and expel the US State Department's media and opposition fronts including the arrest of opposition leader Kem Sokha and the dissolution of his Cambodia National Rescue Party - a move that may be replicated in some form or another by other ASEAN states if successful.

    Another component was a series of artificial conflicts the US manufactured and then served as mediator in resolving surrounding the ongoing South China Sea territorial dispute. ASEAN collectively refused to become involved, and even supposed claimants in the dispute - Vietnam and the Philippines - have drifted away from the hardline approach proposed by the US to confront Beijing.

    At one point, the Philippines even dismissed a supposedly "international court ruling" in its favor arranged by a team of US lawyers, and instead pursued bilateral negotiations with Beijing.

    The final component of America's pivot to Asia was the proliferation of terrorism sponsored by Washington's closest allies in the Middle East. This included a 2015 bombing in Bangkok allegedly carried out by Turkish militants and the sudden appearance and spread of the so-called "Islamic State" (ISIS) in the Philippines.

    Image: Terrorism sponsored by Washington's closest Middle Eastern allies showed up just in time to justify the United States' military's continued and otherwise unwanted presence in the Philippines.
    ISIS' arrival and occupation of the southern Philippine city of Marawi was particularly "serendipitous" for US foreign policy - coming at a time when the Philippines had rebuked US involvement in the South China Sea dispute, Washington's interference in the Philippines' internal political affairs, and began calling for the complete removal of US military forces from its territory. ISIS' arrival thus provided an all-too-convenient pretext for the US to not only remain in the Philippines, but to expand its footprint there.

    The "Quad" Picks Up Where the Pivot Tripped and Fell

    At the heart of Asia-Pacific, America finds itself increasingly unwelcomed and increasingly resorting to confrontation in a "pivot" that was supposed to unify the region behind Washington's regional agenda rather than against it.

    To address this, Washington has moved to the absolute edges of Asia-Pacific in search of willing allies - resulting in the "Quad." India finds itself at the very western edge, Australia to its very south, and Japan to its very east. The US itself, is in no shape, form, or way located in or adjacent to Asia save for its overseas military presence in Korea, Japan, the Philippines, and Australia - a fact that casts immediate doubts over the legitimacy of the coalition's agenda.

    Western editorials regarding the Quad make no attempt to conceal the true intentions of this US-led initiative - to contain China.

    The South China Morning Post in an op-ed titled, "US, Japan, India, Australia... Is Quad the First Step to an Asian NATO?" would claim:
    The new strategy to confront China head on with a unified front underscored a growing regional competition between Beijing and Washington. The Quad meeting came as the US appeared to be shifting strategic focus. As Trump was visiting East Asia, he too referred to the region as the "Indo-Pacific" rather than the "Asia-Pacific" -- a clear shot at Beijing.
    The Diplomat in its piece titled, "US, Japan, India, and Australia Hold Working-Level Quadrilateral Meeting on Regional Cooperation," would note regarding the statements produced from the dialogue, that:

    The Australian and the U.S. statements touched on all seven of the issues highlighted above under the aegis of a "free and open Indo-Pacific." Japan's statement omitted any mention of enhancing "connectivity," which, for India and the United States, has come to mean offering an alternative vision to China's ambitious Belt and Road Initiative.

    The piece would go on to state:
    Meanwhile, India's statement on Saturday's meeting omitted any explicit reference to freedom of navigation and overflight, respect for international law, and maritime security. Delhi has however, in various bilateral statements and declarations with each of the other quadrilateral participants, voiced support for these principles.

    Both the Indian and Japanese omissions aren't a statement of disinterest, but rather intended to assuage concerns in Beijing that the reconvened quadrilateral will explicitly attempt to contain China.
    The Diplomat would conclude by noting much work would be required to offer the rest of Asia incentives to uphold "the status quo regional architecture and a rules-based order," (read: US primacy in the region) "versus China's competing vision." Considering that fact and that even among the Quad, there is an obvious disconnect between each members' agenda and with reality in regards to containing China, Washington faces a difficult, uphill battle in doing this.

    Image: While Washington seeks to use Australia as a proxy against China's rise, Australian coal exports fuel both Australia's economy and China's energy needs as it grows.
    Convincing India or Australia to refuse cooperating with, benefiting from. and thus enabling China's rise will be an increasingly difficult proposition over time. For Southeast Asia, refusing to engage constructively with China ranges from difficult to impossible. Many states in Southeast Asia have already signed agreements and are beginning construction on portions of China's One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative. This includes Laos and Thailand which are constructing high speed rail lines that will ultimately connect China's southern city of Kunming to Malaysia and Singapore through both nations.

    Southeast Asia's armed forces are also increasingly turning to China both for new hardware and for joint training exercises - two realms once dominated by the United States, but no longer.

    Hammering a Quad Peg into a Round Hole

    It is clear that part of Washington's uphill battle then will consist of destabilizing and removing from power those governments in the region overseeing joint projects with China, and placing into power governments that will either delay or abandon such projects. This goes far in explaining the uptick in overt political interference by the US, including directly through US embassies in nations like Thailand and Cambodia where opposition groups are openly sheltered and shielded by US embassy staff.

    In Thailand, the US along with the EU have been pressuring the interim government to hold premature elections in hopes of returning Shinawatra to power. In Cambodia, the US and EU are threatening sanctions against the government for its moves against US-funded and directed opposition groups. And in Myanmar, the US has engineered violence on both sides of the Rohingya crisis, threatening to upend stability should joint projects with China not be abandoned.
    "The Quad is not an alternative for ASEAN to turn to instead of Beijing, it is an alternative for ASEAN to turn to as a means of escaping US coercion and subversion."
    In essence, the US plans to continue all of the activities it has pursued during its "pivot to Asia" - including political subversion, confrontation with Beijing, and even terrorism. The Quad is not an alternative for ASEAN to turn to instead of Beijing, it is an alternative for ASEAN to turn to as a means of escaping US coercion and subversion.

    The Quad is a Threat to Three out of Four Members

    The success or failure of nations like Cambodia, Thailand, and Myanmar in navigating around Washington's provocations will determine the overall success or failure of Washington's Quad initiative. And even for India, Japan, and Australia, a destabilized Southeast Asia in no way serves their best interests - whether the respective leadership of each Quad member recognizes this or not.

    Genuinely constructive ties between Quad members and a stable Asia would benefit the region as a whole and provide a windfall of benefits to each respective nation. This is a point that has not gone unnoticed in Beijing or by ASEAN members. As much as Washington sees India, Australia, and Japan as a counterbalance to China, these three nations are seen as potential economic and security alternatives to Washington's increasingly unwelcomed role in Asia Pacific.

    Image: One of two British aircraft carries the UK seeks to send to the South China Sea to aid Washington in provoking China off its own shores.
    While Washington seeks to co-opt and dash the other members of the Quad onto the rocks of confrontation with a rising China for the sake of preserving its own regional primacy, China may seek to offer a safe and calm harbor instead. Economic ties between China and Quad-member Australia are already significant with China serving as Australia's largest trade partner. India also does considerable business across Asia and increasingly with China.

    Washington's plans to continue interfering in the region for the sake of its own primacy may well drive the Quad to at the very least transform into a trilateral effort - seeking to cut deals with China on their own terms without compromising or setting back their own interests for the sake of Washington.

    Without the Quad, the US will have to search even further for partners in its quest for Asian primacy. With the UK signaling interest in sending warships around the planet to assist the US in provoking the Chinese off their own shores, perhaps Asia-Pacific will be relabeled once again - from Indo-Pacific to Anglo-Pacific, and the Quad replaced by an Anglo-American Duo.

    Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine"New Eastern Outlook".
  • January 4, 2018 (Tony Cartalucci - NEO) - Protests have been reported across several cities in Iran over the last several days of December 2017. Protesters allegedly decry Iran's economy as well as the nation's involvement in nearby Syria.

    The Western media has attempted to cultivate two narratives - one focused on portraying the protests as widespread, spontaneous, and having focused first on "economic grievances" before becoming political - another narrative openly admitting to US involvement and praising US President Donald Trump for "standing up" to the "Iranian regime."

    Of course, neither narrative is even remotely grounded in reality.

    US Meddling in Iran Stretches Back Decades

    US regime-change operations targeting Iran stretch back decades and have continued within a singular geopolitical strategy, regardless of who has occupied the White House, including under the more recent US administrations of George Bush, Barack Obama, and now Donald Trump.

    While pro-war circles in the US claim the 1979 Iranian Revolution was an instance of Iran drawing first blood, the revolution was in fact a direct response to then already decades of US meddling in Iran stretching back as early as 1953 with the US Central Intelligence Agency's Operation AJAX.

    Regarding Operation AJAX, in an entry on the CIA's own website titled, "All the Shah's Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror," it admits (emphasis added):

    The target was not an oppressive Soviet puppet but a democratically elected government whose populist ideology and nationalist fervor threatened Western economic and geopolitical interests. The CIA's covert intervention—codenamed TPAJAX—preserved the Shah's power and protected Western control of a hugely lucrative oil infrastructure. It also transformed a turbulent constitutional monarchy into an absolutist kingship and induced a succession of unintended consequences at least as far ahead as the Islamic revolution of 1979—and, Kinzer argues in his breezily written, well-researched popular history, perhaps to today.
    The article - a review by the CIA's own history staff of a book regarding Operation AJAX - admits that US policy regarding Iran merely picked up where the British Empire left off in an effort to reassert rapidly-slipping Western control over the globe. In no way was US efforts to undermine and control the government of Iran described in terms of protecting US national security or promoting democracy - and in fact was characterized instead as undermining Iranian self-determination.

    It is this admission that reveals the core truth of today's tensions between Iran and the United States. The West still seeks to reassert itself and its economic interests in the Middle East. Notions of "freedom," "democracy," as well as threats of "terrorism," "nuclear holocaust," and even the ongoing conflict with nearby Israel, Saudi Arabia, and other Persian Gulf States are but facades behind which this self-serving neo-imperial agenda is pursued.

    Today's Protests Openly Plotted by US Policymakers for Years

    The Brookings Institution in its 2009 "Which Path to Persia? Options for a New American Strategy toward Iran," report dedicated an entire chapter to plotting the overthrow of the Iranian government.

    Titled, "THE VELVET REVOLUTION: Supporting a Popular Uprising," the policy paper lays out (emphasis added):
    Because the Iranian regime is widely disliked by many Iranians, the most obvious and palatable method of bringing about its demise would be to help foster a popular revolution along the lines of the "velvet revolutions" that toppled many communist governments in Eastern Europe beginning in 1989. For many proponents of regime change, it seems self-evident that the United States should encourage the Iranian people to take power in their own name, and that this would be the most legitimate method of regime change. After all, what Iranian or foreigner could object to helping the Iranian people fulfill their own desires?
    The paper then admits:
    The true objective of this policy option is to overthrow the clerical regime in Tehran and see it replaced, hopefully, by one whose views would be more compatible with U.S. interests in the region.
    In essence, Brookings quickly admits that its "velvet revolution" would be the fulfillment of Washington's desires, not the Iranian people's - pursued merely under the guise of helping Iranians fulfill their own desires. As the CIA itself admits in its own historical records that US "interests in the region" are based on economic exploitation and the enrichment of Wall Street and Washington, not lifting up, empowering, or enriching the Iranian people.

    It is an open admission regarding US designs for Iran demonstrated on multiple occasions elsewhere from Iraq to Libya to Syria to Ukraine and Yemen - what is promoted as progressive political revolution supported by the "democratic" West is in fact the destruction and subjugation of a nation, its people, and its resources at the cost of global peace and prosperity.

    Creating an Opposition from Whole Cloth

    The Brookings paper openly states (emphasis added):
    The United States could play multiple roles in facilitating a revolution. By funding and helping organize domestic rivals of the regime, the United States could create an alternative leadership to seize power. As Raymond Tanter of the Iran Policy Committee argues, students and other groups "need covert backing for their demonstrations. They need fax machines. They need Internet access, funds to duplicate materials, and funds to keep vigilantes from beating them up." Beyond this, U.S.-backed media outlets could highlight regime shortcomings and make otherwise obscure critics more prominent. The United States already supports Persian language satellite television (Voice of America Persian) and radio (Radio Farda) that bring unfiltered news to Iranians (in recent years, these have taken the lion's share of overt U.S. funding for promoting democracy in Iran). U.S. economic pressure (and perhaps military pressure as well) can discredit the regime, making the population hungry for a rival leadership.
    It should be noted that economic and military pressure were both cited by the BBC and other Western news sources as "grievances" by the so-called "opposition" amid Iran's most recent protests.

    Brookings lists "intellectuals," "students, labor, and civil society organizations" under a subsection of the chapter titled, "Finding the Right Proxies."

    Under a subsection titled, "Military Intervention," Brookings admits:
    ...if the United States ever succeeds in sparking a revolt against the clerical regime, Washington may have to consider whether to provide it with some form of military support to prevent Tehran from crushing it.
    The report continues by stating:
    ...if the United States is to pursue this policy, Washington must take this possibility into consideration. It adds some very important requirements to the list: either the policy must include ways to weaken the Iranian military or weaken the willingness of the regime's leaders to call on the military, or else the United States must be ready to intervene to defeat it.
    Armed with this knowledge, Iranian protests quickly turning violent due to mysterious gunmen and nebulous armed groups that suddenly appear can be viewed instead through the more realistic prism of pre-positioned US-armed gangs rolled out to expand unrest and hinder security operations aimed at pacifying US-organized mobs.

    Step 2: Armed Insurrection

    Considering Brookings' realization that any mob the US stirs up in Iran is likely to be simply swept off the streets - it followed its "Velvet Revolution" chapter with one titled, "INSPIRING AN INSURGENCY: Supporting Iranian Minority and Opposition Groups."

    Here, an important admission is openly made and extensively built upon - the arming and backing of terrorist organizations with American blood on their hands - a causal "option" shamelessly considered by American policymakers in 2009 that would become a matter of fact during the 2011 "Arab Spring" and the subsequent US-fueled wars from Libya and Syria fought via Al Qaeda and the myriad of franchises it inspired.

    Brookings unabashedly admits:
    As much as many Americans might like to help the Iranian people rise up and take their destiny in their own hands, the evidence suggests that its likelihood is low—and that American assistance could well make it less likely rather than more. Consequently, some who favor fomenting regime change in Iran argue that it is utopian to hold out hope for a velvet revolution; instead, they contend that the United States should turn to Iranian opposition groups that already exist, that already have demonstrated a desire to fight the regime, and who appear willing to accept U.S. assistance.
    Among the groups considered, Brookings admits:
    Perhaps the most prominent (and certainly the most controversial) opposition group that has attracted attention as a potential U.S. proxy is the NCRI (National Council of Resistance of Iran), the political movement established by the MEK (Mujahedin-e Khalq).
    Of the MEK, Brookings admits (emphasis added):
    ...the MEK remains on the U.S. government list of foreign terrorist organizations. In the 1970s, the group killed three U.S. officers and three civilian contractors in Iran. During the 1979-1980 hostage crisis, the group praised the decision to take American hostages and Elaine Sciolino reported that while group leaders publicly condemned the 9/11 attacks, within the group celebrations were widespread. Undeniably, the group has conducted terrorist attacks—often excused by the MEK's advocates because they are directed against the Iranian government. For example, in 1981, the group bombed the headquarters of the Islamic Republic Party, which was then the clerical leadership's main political organization, killing an estimated 70 senior officials. More recently, the group has claimed credit for over a dozen mortar attacks, assassinations, and other assaults on Iranian civilian and military targets between 1998 and 2001. At the very least, to work more closely with the group (at least in an overt manner), Washington would need to remove it from the list of foreign terrorist organizations.
    It was no coincidence that while Brookings penned its 2009 report, efforts were already well underway to remove MEK from the US State Department's list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations - and was fully removed from the list by 2012, according to the US State Department itself.

    Image: Many of President Donald Trump's political supporters played a direct role in lobbying to get terrorist organization MEK off the US State Department's FTO list. Their work began under Bush and continued under Obama. It was in fact under Obama's administration when MEK was finally delisted.

    It is telling that MEK only found itself removed from a list of terrorist organizations because the US required it for a terror campaign of its own design against Tehran - the organization itself having reformed itself in no shape, form, or way and intent - by Brookings and other US policymakers' own admissions - to carry on further atrocities - simply in the name of US regime change in Iran.

    MEK is joined by other terrorist organizations the US has cultivated along Iran's peripheries since 2011 and America's multiple proxy wars in the region. These include Al Qaeda, Kurdish militias, and the so-called "Islamic State" (ISIS).

    Brookings lays out under a subsection titled, "Finding a Conduit and Safe Haven," that:
    Of equal importance (and potential difficulty) will be finding a neighboring country willing to serve as the conduit for U.S. aid to the insurgent group, as well as to provide a safe haven where the group can train, plan, organize, heal, and resupply...
    ...without such a partner, it would be far more difficult for the United States to support an insurgency. One thing that the United States would have in its favor when searching for a state to play this role is that many of Iran's neighbors dislike and fear the Islamic Republic.
    Since 2009, the US has secured for itself multiple conduits and safe havens - which has been the primary reason Iran has been involved so deeply in Syria since the 2011 war erupted. Western Syria now hosts multiple US military bases as well as a large proxy contingent made up of Kurdish militias and extremists from Al Qaeda/ISIS being retrained by the US for redeployment in continued proxy wars across the region.

    Had Iran failed to prevent the entire overthrow of the Syrian state, the nation would have been transformed into a single springboard for Al Qaeda, ISIS, and Kurdish militants to invade and decimate Iran before moving on to southern Russia.

    It should be noted that Brookings - among its conclusions regarding the creation of an "insurgency" against Iran - states:
    Properly executed, covert support to an insurgency would provide the United States with "plausible deniability." As a result, the diplomatic and political backlash would likely be much less than if the United States were to mount a direct military action.
    Of course, Brookings' own publicly-published conspiracy coupled together with the US' demonstrated use of proxies in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, and now Iran, lays bare this strategy and mitigates whatever "plausible deniability" Washington hoped to maintain.

    Regardless, the West, through its formidable influence in the media, will attempt to maintain plausible deniability regarding US involvement in Iranian unrest until the last possible moment - not unlike how it hid its role in executing the so-called "Arab Spring" during its opening phases despite plotting and organizing the mayhem years in advance.

    US Hopes to Break Iran, Would Settle for Setting it Back

    Just as the US hoped for speedy regime change in Syria in 2011, but settled for the destruction of the nation, the division of its territory, and the weakening of the Syrian military, the US likewise has primary and secondary goals already laid out for regime change plans versus Iran.

    The Brookings report admits:

    ...even if U.S. support for an insurgency failed to produce the overthrow of the regime, it could still place Tehran under considerable pressure, which might either prevent the regime from making mischief abroad or persuade it to make concessions on issues of importance to the United States (such as its nuclear program and support to Hamas, Hizballah, and the Taliban). Indeed, Washington might decide that this second objective is a more compelling rationale for supporting an insurgency than the (much less likely) goal of actually overthrowing the regime.
    In other words, US regime change again is openly admitted as an act of geopolitical coercion, not self-defense. The strategy laid out by Brookings is more than mere "suggestions." It is an enumerated list of prescribed actions that have demonstrably been executed since in Syria, Libya, and Yemen and are now manifesting themselves in nearby Iran.

    In the world of geopolitical analysis, it is not often that a signed and dated confession can be cited when describing conspiracies against another nation-state. In the case of US meddling in Iran, Brookings provides just such evidence - nearly 200 pages long - detailing everything from fabricated opposition, US sponsorship of terrorism, and even engineered provocations by the US and Israel to trigger a full-scale war.

    As the West probes Iran and stories of "unrest" make headlines, looking past the Western media's diversions, excuses, and outright lies, toward the engineered nature of this conflict helps quickly decipher the truth, assign blame, and reveal deceivers and collaborators in yet another campaign of Western aggression thousands of miles from American shores to be fought with US taxpayers' money and perhaps even the blood of US soldiers.

    Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine"New Eastern Outlook".
  • January 8, 2018 (Ulson Gunnar - NEO) - Artificial Intelligence (AI) is already fundamentally changing information technology and stands poised to permeate and transform technology both online and off ranging from manufacturing and transportation to medicine and military applications. The US, Russia and China have all noted that dominance in this field of technology will be an essential ingredient to holding global primacy in the near future.

    What resembles a sort of arms race has emerged between prominent nations around the globe. Perhaps in an effort to provide the US with an edge, or perhaps in an effort to mitigate the impact of such an arms race, Google has opened an AI center in China.

    CNN in its article, "Google is opening an artificial intelligence center in China," would announce:
    Despite many of its services being blocked in China, Google has chosen Beijing as the location for its first artificial intelligence research center in Asia.
    The purpose of the center, according to CNN, citing China's desire to become a global leader in AI technology, will be to: China pursue its aim to become the global leader. The facility will employ a team of researchers who will be supported by engineers the company already has in China.
    Considering Google's services being banned, blocked and otherwise unwelcomed in China, the question remains as to why exactly Google would seek to aid China in becoming a leader in AI technology Google itself seeks to position itself as a leader in.

    This question may have been at least partially answered in a recent AI summit which included Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google's parent company, Alphabet Inc.

    Poaching Foreign Talent

    The Washington DC-based Center for a New American Security (CNAS), as part of its Artificial Intelligence and Global Security Initiative, held its Artificial intelligence and Global Security Summit (video) in early November 2017. During Schmidt's question and answer session, he remarked that China would likely overcome America's lead in AI technology by 2025.

    While Schmidt offered suggestions on how the US could keep its lead over China, particularly through establishing its own national laboratories for researching and developing AI technology within an enumerated national strategy regarding AI, it would be his comments on US immigration policy that hinted at why Google might open an AI center in China as part of maintaining America's lead.

    Schmidt would remark (emphasis added):
    Let's talk about immigration. Shockingly, some of the very best people are in countries that we won't let in to America. Would you rather have them building AI somewhere else or having them build it here? I'll give you a specific example: Iran produces some of the smartest and top computer scientists in the world. I want them here! And to be clear I want them working for Alphabet and Google. I'm very, very clear on this. It's crazy not to let these people in. So I could go on.
    An alternative to having exceptional computer scientists brought into the United States would be poaching them at centers precisely like the one opened in China. The center not only allows Google, and by extension, the US access to Chinese computer scientists, it also creates a node within China's own research and development network, providing immense insight and intelligence regarding China's progress in this pivotal technological field.

    Google's own announcement regarding the center's opening would offer additional insight, stating:
    Focused on basic AI research, the Center will consist of a team of AI researchers in Beijing, supported by Google China's strong engineering teams. We've already hired some top experts, and will be working to build the team in the months ahead (check our jobs site for open roles!). Along with Dr. Jia Li, Head of Research and Development at Google Cloud AI, I'll be leading and coordinating the research. Besides publishing its own work, the Google AI China Center will also support the AI research community by funding and sponsoring AI conferences and workshops, and working closely with the vibrant Chinese AI research community.

    In other words, Google's center is to serve as a window into China's AI research community, a window through which it can observe China's progress, but also a window it can reach through via funding and sponsoring to directly influence.

    The Center Serves as a Window, Looked Through From Both Sides

    But as with all forms of industrial, corporate and international espionage, the presence of Google's center poses risks for itself and US technological primacy, as much as it may provide opportunities.

    Google, far from merely a technology company, has a long and well-documented history of collusion with the United States government and the powerful special interests that determine its foreign and domestic policy. It is this relationship Google has with Washington and its role in leveraging technology to attack and undermine political stability around the globe (particularly during the Arab Spring) that has many of its services banned in China in the first place.

    It is unlikely that Beijing has not noticed the implications and potential threats of Google's AI center on its own soil.

    Analysts will likely want to pay close attention to the projects and personalities attracted to this center in order to discern who the net benefactor will be of Google's most recent move.

    Mutual Mitigation of Risk

    There also remains the possibility that AI technology may be transparently developed in such a way as to mitigate the most destructive aspects of a what analysts are calling a possible "3rd offset" sought by America's military enabled by AI technology. This possibility could play a role in China's decision to host the center.

    China may also expect a certain degree of access to America's AI research and development networks in return for hosting Google. This arrangement would be not unlike many of the Cold War deals struck between Washington and Moscow to prevent nuclear war and other possible conflicts owed solely on a lack of transparency or through misunderstandings.

    Creating an equitable balance of power regarding the use of AI technology before any sort of disparity can emerge between nations resulting in a "Hiroshima-Nagasaki" style event would most certainly benefit either Washington or Beijing depending on who emerged at the winning and losing ends of such disparity. Since neither Washington nor Beijing can honestly say for sure who will end up on the winning and losing ends, they may both have calculated that preventing the scenario from ever unfolding in the first place may be the wisest course of action to take.

    Ultimately, the old adage of keeping one's friends close, and one's enemies closer, may have contributed to both Google's desire to establish the center, and Beijing's acceptance to host it.

    Ulson Gunnar, a New York-based geopolitical analyst and writer especially for the online magazine "New Eastern Outlook".
  • January 10, 2018 (Joseph Thomas - NEO) - For over a century, the British Empire exerted control over Asia-Pacific, outright colonising India, Burma, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Singapore and Australia while influencing and encroaching upon greater China, Siam and beyond.

    It exploited the people and natural resources of the region, fuelled conflict as it waged war with rival European powers seeking to carve out their own colonies in Asia and left an enduring impact on the region, including ethnic and territorial feuds still unfolding today, e.g. the Rohingya crisis in present-day Myanmar.

    Rather than make restitution for its decades of war, conquest and exploitation, the United Kingdom today eagerly seeks to reassert itself in the region alongside the United States who has also spent over a century in the region pursuing what US policymakers openly admit is American "primacy."

    The Diplomat, a US-European geopolitical publication focused on Asia-Pacific, described this development in its article, "The British Are Coming (to Asia)."

    The article featured a single image, that of the HMS Queen Elizabeth, one of the UK's newest warships and its largest. It is one of two "colossal warships" UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson recently pledged to send across the globe to aid Washington in its growing confrontation with Beijing.

    The author, US Air Force Major John Wright currently serving as Japan Country Director, International Affairs, Headquarters Pacific Air Forces, Honolulu, Hawaii, attempts to construct a positive argument for the UK's involvement thousands of miles from its own shores.

    The article admits that the US has few capable allies in the region willing to "comply with mutual defence needs beyond their own territory." It admits that the US has increasingly looked beyond Asia for partners. The UK then, is about as beyond Asia as any potential partner could be.

    The article notes that the UK has already deployed warplanes to Japan in addition to the aforementioned future deployment of British warships to the region. It also suggests that:
    ...the U.K. could revive the old trick of acting as a "fleet in being;" its ability to steam where and when it pleased while possessing no major territory would throw off regional rivals' military calculus and force them to commit precious reconnaissance assets to monitoring the United Kingdom.
    In other words, a European military would be deployed in and harass "rivals" across Asia alongside US warships already engaged in regional meddling. This, the author concludes, "would be a great benefit to stabilising the security troubles of the region."

    Yet, when considering what actually drives "security troubles of the region," it is evident that the presence of US forces far beyond US territory, for example, stationed in South Korea and conducting military exercises along North Korea's borders in a deliberate attempt to provoke Pyongyang is the problem, not the solution. The addition of British warships and aircraft in the region will only further multiply "security troubles" evident in the author's own comments regarding the need for "regional rivals" to commit to tracking and keeping in check British warships.

    Omitted from Major Wright's nostalgic review of the UK's historic role in Asia-Pacific was the concept of "gunboat diplomacy," where the British Empire coerced Asian states into making lopsided concessions to London or face British naval firepower. Chunks of Siam were carved off under threat of British "gunboat diplomacy," Hong Kong was outright seized by it and other nations likewise were forced by threat of military aggression to make concessions that benefited only the British.

    US "primacy" in Asia-Pacific today closely resembles British "gunboat diplomacy." While literal gunboats training cannons on the capitals of targeted states is no longer feasible, other means of coercion are. These include options categorised under "soft power" including US-European-funded opposition groups which may or may not include armed components. There is also economic warfare. When Thailand ousted US-proxy Thaksin Shinawatra and his political allies from power, the US pursued a campaign of economic sabotage aimed at Thailand's seafood industry and tourism sector.

    The US also employs terrorism as seen in the Philippines where Manila's failure to heed US demands was swiftly followed by the appearance of militants from the Islamic State (IS) armed and funded by Washington's allies in Riyadh. The militant group's sudden appearance pressured Manila to continue accommodating the US military's presence on its territory.

    Of course, just as the British Empire hid naked imperialism behind the fig leaf of "spreading civilisation," modern-day neo-imperialism hides behind the pretext of bringing "stability" as well as fostering "democracy" and "human rights" to the four corners of the globe. In reality, UK warships confronting "regional rivals" thousands of miles from London is a direct attempt to upend stability in Asia-Pacific. The British imposing their will upon Asia through the threat of military might undermines regional and national self-determination, the very opposite of fostering democracy. And a nation imposing its will by threat of force is an obvious affront to human rights.

    Despite these obvious facts, we can expect publications like The Diplomat to continue promoting US-British meddling across Asia-Pacific. We can also expect the many aspects of US-European "soft power" across the region to likewise promote such meddling. However, it should be noted, that Washington's need to find allies in Asia as far beyond Asia as northwest Europe illustrates America's waning influence in Asia to begin with. British involvement in Asia-Pacific will only delay the inevitable removal of US influence from the region. The only question is, for how long and at what cost to both the British taxpayers and the people of Asia who must stave off attempts to disrupt, destabilise and destroy their hard-earned independence and achievements post-British Empire.

    Joseph Thomas is chief editor of Thailand-based geopolitical journal, The New Atlas and contributor to the online magazine "New Eastern Outlook".
  • January 16, 2018 (Tony Cartalucci - NEO) - After a nearly year-long marathon of daily, acrimonious accusations against Moscow for alleged, yet-to-be proven interference in the 2016 US presidential elections, Washington finds itself increasingly mired in its own hypocrisy - openly and eagerly pursing the very sort of interference abroad in multiple nations regarding elections and internal political affairs it has accused Russia of.

    Image: US State Department officials threaten Cambodia with sanctions for uprooting US-funded organizations openly engaged in political interference in Cambodia's upcoming elections.
    A particularly acute example of this is Cambodia where recently, the government has begun uprooting and expelling US State Department-funded fronts and media organizations as well as arresting members of the US-backed opposition party while disbanding the party itself - for interfering in preparations for upcoming elections.

    The New York Times in its August article, "Cambodia Orders Expulsion of Foreign Staff Members With American Nonprofit," would claim:
    Cambodia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Wednesday ordered foreign staff members of an American nonprofit that gets support from the United States government to leave the country within a week, part of an apparent attempt to silence opposition voices before national elections next year.
    The NYT would elaborate, reporting:
    The nonprofit, the National Democratic Institute [a subsidiary of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED)], is loosely affiliated with the Democratic Party in the United States, and has provided training to various Cambodian political parties, including those from the opposition. Local news media organizations with ties to Mr. Hun Sen's party have accused the nonprofit of conspiring against him.
    Unsurprisingly, the NYT attempts to portray Cambodia's uprooting of US government-funded fronts, media, and opposition directly and openly manipulating its political affairs as undemocratic. Such a narrative concurrently takes shape in the NYT's pages side-by-side an entire section titled, "Russian Hacking and Influence in the U.S. Election."

    While Western media like the NYT claims foreign interference in America's affairs constitutes the destruction of American democracy, it simultaneously proposes that extensive US meddling in elections abroad - including in Cambodia - constitutes the promotion of democracy.

    Unfortunately for many, the hypocrisy this glaring double standard represents goes unnoticed - due in part to the notion of American - and to a larger extend - Western exceptionalism.

    Washington's Khmer Marionettes

    The move by Phnom Penh is the culmination of years of US meddling in Cambodia's internal political affairs and political processes including its elections.

    Image: Cambodian opposition leader Kem Sokha being arrested for treason. Kem Sokha has spent over a decade openly conspiring with the United States government to overthrow the Cambodian government and install himself and his political party into power.
    The opposition party - the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) - is led by long-time US proxies Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha. Both have divided their time and activities between politicking in Cambodia and residing in Western capitals, including Washington D.C. openly conspiring with the US government to overthrow Cambodia's current political order, and install themselves into power.

    Kem Sokha in particular has been seen on video and quoted by the Cambodian press on numerous occasions causally discussing his leading role in US-backed sedition.

    The Phnom Penh Post in its article, "Kem Sokha video producer closes Phnom Penh office in fear," would quote Kem Sokha who claimed (emphasis added):
    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."
    Kem Sokha is referring to the openly admitted US-engineered regime change mechanism known as "color revolutions" and in particular the successful use of such "revolutions" in the overthrow of Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic in 2000.

    It is also mentioned in the article that Kem Sokha has traveled to the United States every year since 1993 to "learn about the democratization process."

    The video producer mentioned in the above article, the Australian-based "Cambodia Broadcasting Network" (CBN), had published a video of Kem Sokha with US Senator Ed Royce in Washington DC openly calling for the deposing of the Cambodian government.

    This clear cut evidence was cited by the Cambodian government upon Kem Sokha's arrest on charges of treason. It would be difficult to fathom Washington not likewise responding with swift and severe charges of treason in light of similar, explicit evidence of a US politician collaborating with a foreign power to overthrow the US government - especially considering the current fallout in the US over mere innuendo and outright fabrications.

    Yet Washington's hypocrisy is once again highlighted by its counterstroke to Cambodia's efforts to uproot foreign interference.

    Washington Strikes Back

    In the wake of Cambodia's moves against US government-funded media, opposition fronts, and the nation's main opposition party itself, a quickly escalating confrontation with Washington is unfolding.

    Image: Kem Sokha's daughter, Kem Monovithya, in Washington DC appealing for more US interference in Cambodia's internal affairs as her father resides in jail for treason associated with seeking US interference in Cambodia's internal affairs.
    The Phonom Post in its article, "US says more sanctions on table in response to political crackdown," would report:
    Visiting US State Department official W Patrick Murphy yesterday warned that further punitive action could be forthcoming in response to the government's recent crackdown on the main opposition, while repeatedly pointing to the US's warm relationship with the people of Cambodia -- if not their leaders.

    In diplomatic but firm remarks made at a press roundtable yesterday, Deputy Assistant Secretary Murphy noted recent "negative developments with regards to democracy", and implied that the US would be unable to recognise the legitimacy of an election that took place without the now-dissolved opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party.
    The article would also report (emphasis added): 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".
    Monovithya also asked America to review "Cambodia's eligibility for the Generalized System of Preferences", a program which gives favourable trade treatment to Cambodia's garment exports.

    In other words, not only has Kem Sokha and the CNRP been accused of treason, but in its response, the Cambodian opposition has doubled down in its open collaboration with the United States to attack and undermine the Cambodian government while working its way - with continued US support - into power.

    Realism Required to Break Free from the Illusion of "Democracy"

    One can only imagine the headlines in the NYT should a US politician passionately plead within the walls of the Kremlin for Russian intervention in American elections - for the enacting of sanctions to target incumbents in power and for additional and open financial support to contest those elections.

    In reality, democracy is - at its core - a process of self-determination. Self-determination is untenable if any "democratic process" is subject to outside interference, particularly the full-spectrum institutional meddling the United States engages in.

    Image: The announcement of anti-color revolution measures by Prime Minister Hun Sen's son, Hun Manith.
    And despite America's immense hypocrisy, the geopolitical maxim of "might makes right" prevails, enabling the US to both accuse and attack other nations for alleged political meddling, while overseeing institutionalized political meddling and electioneering abroad on a global scale.

    Cambodia has taken a risk in directly confronting Washington's "democracy promotion" racket head-on. It risks not only sanctions and additional political subversion underwritten by the United States government, but also covert military aggression, proxy terrorism, and economic warfare - all ushered in under a US-sponsored color revolution. It was a color revolution that Kem Sokha sought US assistance in organizing in Cambodia.

    To confront this, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has publicly warned about a color revolution by name and is making preparations to combat it.

    The Phnom Penh Post in its article, "New spy school announced," would report:
    Prime Minister Hun Sen announced the creation of a school to train spies to combat "colour revolution" and terrorism in Cambodia yesterday, tapping his son and Ministry of Defence Intelligence Director Hun Manith to lead it.

    In front of an audience of hundreds of military and police officials, Manith said the facility will train soldiers and police in intelligence-gathering and maintaining "covert identities".
    The article would also cite Human Rights Watch - a US-European government and corporate-financier-funded front posing as a rights advocate - attempting to dismiss the threat of color revolutions as "non-existent." Human Rights Watch would claim:
    The government has excelled in manufacturing non-existent threats, like a colour revolution, to justify its crackdown on human rights and civil society. And now it's going a couple steps further by creating permanent intelligence training facilities to combat these and other threats, like Islamic terrorism, which has also yet to appear in Cambodia.
    And yet, there is nothing at all "non-existent" about the threat of color revolutions. Kem Sokha himself openly admitted he was conspiring with the US to organize one. The same Western media dismissing Cambodia's concerns as a pretext for an otherwise unwarranted crackdown, has openly admitted that the US organized and executed color revolutions from Eastern Europe to North Africa and the Middle East.

    The New York Times itself would admit regarding the so-called "Arab Spring" in an article titled, "U.S. Groups Helped Nurture Arab Uprisings," that:

    A number of the groups and individuals directly involved in the revolts and reforms sweeping the region, including the April 6 Youth Movement in Egypt, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and grass-roots activists like Entsar Qadhi, a youth leader in Yemen, received training and financing from groups like the International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute and Freedom House, a nonprofit human rights organization based in Washington.
    The article would also add, regarding the US National Endowment for Democracy (NED) - a key component in US subversion in Cambodia, that:
    The Republican and Democratic institutes are loosely affiliated with the Republican and Democratic Parties. They were created by Congress and are financed through the National Endowment for Democracy, which was set up in 1983 to channel grants for promoting democracy in developing nations. The National Endowment receives about $100 million annually from Congress. Freedom House also gets the bulk of its money from the American government, mainly from the State Department.
    In essence, the very same organizations admittedly responsible for plunging the Middle East and North Africa into chaos are the very same organizations Cambodia has targeted and expelled - while arresting and charging their Cambodian accomplices with treason. Considering the toll in human suffering, loss of life, and economic devastation nations targeted by US-sponsored color revolutions have suffered elsewhere, Cambodia's moves are far from unwarranted - and instead constitute measures a responsible nation would take in defending peace and stability.

    Image: The ruins of Aleppo after years of war, shortly before the Syrian government liberated it from US-sponsored terrorists. The threats of US-backed color revolution are real, devastating, and the responsible of every government to protect their nation against by any means necessary.

    Cambodia's efforts must go one step further. Media organizations and genuine, local nongovernmental organizations must fill the space left by expelled foreign fronts. Russia and China have provided a successful example of producing both local and international media and organizations to confront and displace foreign influence within their borders and to have their side of the story told beyond them.

    The notion of "soft power" is as important as a conventional army. While most nations possess conventional armies able to keep foreign powers from outright invading, many are ill-equipped to defend against more subtle intrusions into their information, digital, sociocultural, and economic space. Developing and honing these tools will be essential for Cambodia and many other nations still targeted by US subversion. Noting America's immense hypocrisy is not enough. In a "might makes right" world, developing a defense to face America's might is an absolute necessity.

    Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine"New Eastern Outlook".
  • January 20, 2018 (Tony Cartalucci - NEO) - The Syrian government with support from its Russian, Iranian, and Lebanese allies has embarked on a major military operation to retake parts of Syria's northern governorate of Idlib. As it does so, the US and its regional allies are rushing to position themselves to ensure the permanent partition of Syria is achieved.

    As Syrian forces push deeper into Idlib they have come up against a large amount of foreign-provided weaponry including US anti-tank missiles and even fleets of armored vehicles including Panthera F9 armored personnel carriers - joint-developed by the UAE and Ukraine and manufactured in Turkey.

    Despite the formidable arsenal provided to militants - the majority of which fight under the banner of Al Qaeda and its affiliates - Syria and its allies maintain air superiority. The US tried - and failed - to establish what US policymakers have called a "safe haven" or "buffer zone" in northern Syria where US military might could provide shelter for militants from Syrian and Russian airpower.

    While the US has successfully established such a zone in eastern Syria - the closest it came to doing so in northern Syria is NATO-member Turkey's "Euphrates Shield" occupation zone and the smaller "Idlib Shield" zone which both border territory held by hostile Kurdish militants.

    Recently announced plans by the US to create a 30,000-strong "border defense force" comprised of US-armed and funded Kurdish militants may be intentionally designed to grant Turkey a pretext to begin widening its occupation zones to provide cover for the remnants of militants likely to be evicted from much of southern Idlib.

    Reports that Turkey is preparing an offensive to widen its occupation westward into Idlib are already circulating in the media.

    The BBC in its article, "Syria crisis: Why Turkey is poised to attack Kurdish enclave Afrin," would report:
    Turkish television channels have been reporting from the Syrian border every top of the hour with pictures showing the deployment of troops, tanks and armoured vehicles.

    "The countdown has begun for Turkey's operation against Afrin," said one pro-government channel.

    Its correspondent underlined that the troops on the border were already pointing at what the authorities term terrorist targets within Syria. There were also reports of Turkish artillery shelling the area.

    It should be noted that Afrin is located between territory Turkey is currently occupying. Turkish troops, should they seize Afrin, would effectively have expanded Turkey's "Euphrates Shield" by 30 miles (53 km) and present an opportunity to for its troops to link up with troops of Turkey's "Idlib Shield." This would create a large, singular buffer zone within which US-NATO forces could harbor militants driven back by Syria's most recent offensive.

    Depending on Turkey's success, the zone could be expanded even further, even as far as including Idlib city itself - thus granting the US an opportunity to present it as a second Syrian "capital" much in the way Benghazi was used in Libya during US-led regime change there. There remains, however, the fact that Idlib is openly occupied and administered by Al Qaeda, making the proposal of transforming it into an "opposition capital" particularly dubious.

    Meanwhile, the US itself continues its own uninvited, illegal occupation of Syrian territory east of the Euphrates. Having previously justified the invasion and occupation of Syrian territory under the guise of fighting the so-called "Islamic Sate" (ISIS) - with the terrorist organization's defeat - the US has now claimed it must remain in Syria to "counter Iranian influence."

    The Hill in an article titled, "State official indicates US military role in Syria post-ISIS centered on Iran," would claim:
    A State Department official on Thursday suggested the U.S. military's role in Syria post-Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) will be focused on Iranian activities.
    David Satterfield, acting assistant secretary for Near Eastern affairs, was responding to a question from Senate Foreign Relations Committee member Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) about what function U.S. troops serve in Syria besides fighting ISIS, as Satterfield and other U.S. officials have indicated the military will be staying the country past the terrorist group's defeat.

    The Hill would continue, stating:
    Satterfield then offered: "We are deeply concerned with the activities of Iran, with the ability of Iran to enhance those activities through a greater ability to move materiel into Syria. And I would rather leave the discussion at that point."
    Washington's apparently shape-shifting Syrian policy should come as no surprise. The entire proxy war against Syria the US has waged since 2011 was always intended to eventually involve Iran. The abortive US-backed "protests" in Iran in late December 2017 marked what is likely only the first of many attempts to come in which Iran itself is directly targeted.

    The US occupation of Syrian territory will be difficult for Damascus and its allies to contest without being drawn into a direct military confrontation. Turkey's occupation may be easier to confound, but if sufficient political will exists to maintain it along with US backing, it could effectively result in a Golan Heights-style occupation of Syrian territory that provides a long-term geopolitical pressure point versus Damascus for years to come.
    And while US efforts to destroy Syria have fallen short, the US now permanently occupies territory within one of Iran's closest and most important regional allies. Like a splinter under the skin turning septic, the US occupation will remain a constant potential source of wider infection both for Syria and the rest of the region.

    The successes or failures of both Syria and its allies and Turkey in northern Syria over the following weeks and months will determine just how big a splinter is left as the conflict enters its final phases.

    Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine"New Eastern Outlook".
  • January 20, 2018 (Ulson Gunnar - NEO) - The United States has pursued a decades-long policy of encircling, containing and if possible, undermining China as part of a larger strategy of achieving and maintaining what US policy papers call "primacy" over Asia.

    US policy has led to deeply-rooted networks operating within China's borders and along China's geopolitical peripheries to divide and destabilize the immense and increasingly powerful Asian state. These networks are funded and supported regardless of who occupies the White House. While the rhetoric shifts from president to president regarding "why" the US is providing so-called "activists" and "opposition" fronts aid, the aid and the agenda it serves continues.

    Under current US President Donald Trump's predecessor President Barack Obama, this ongoing policy was marketed to the American and international public as the "Pivot to Asia." It was spun as a means for the US to reengage with Asia but in reality constituted an overt attempt to co-opt the governments of China's neighbors and break up the region's growing ties with Beijing.

    Obama's "Pivot" was a failure, but one within the greater context of a general decline in US primacy both in the Asia Pacific region and around the world.

    Under Trump, this policy of encircling and containing China continues. It is now marketed to the public as an "Indo-Pacific" strategy, with the US forced to court India, Australia and Japan on the fringes of Asia Pacific after failing to make progress within Asia Pacific itself.

    It is important to understand just how long-term these polices are so that when Trump announces them to the public, the public understands that it is not "Trump's" policy, but simply Trump continuing to carry out the agenda of the very special interests (the so-called "Deep State") he vowed to resist upon taking office.

    Understanding that these policies serve special interests and at the cost of the American public helps inoculate the public to rhetoric claiming that confronting China and destabilizing Asia is somehow part of "making America great again."


    Tibet is one of the oldest and most clear-cut examples of a political controversy used by Washington to target and undermine Beijing's credibility.

    The centerpiece of US strategy in Tibet has been an independence movement led by the Dali Lama, the so-called spiritual leader of Tibet and a political figure the US through the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has backed both politically and militarily since at least as early as the 1950s.

    Upon the US State Department's own website under a section titled, "Foreign Relations of the United States, 1964-1968, Volume XXX, China: 341. Memorandum for the 303 Committee," it is admitted that:
    The CIA Tibetan program, parts of which were initiated in 1956 with the cognizance of the Committee, is based on U.S. Government commitments made to the Dalai Lama in 1951 and 1956. The program consists of political action, propaganda, paramilitary and intelligence operations, appropriately coordinated with and supported by [less than 1 line of source text not declassified].
    The report also states that:
    In the political action and propaganda field, Tibetan program objectives are aimed toward lessening the influence and capabilities of the Chinese regime through support, among Tibetans and among foreign nations, of the concept of an autonomous Tibet under the leadership of the Dalai Lama; toward the creation of a capability for resistance against possible political developments inside Tibet; and the containment of Chinese Communist expansion—in pursuance of U.S. policy objectives stated initially in NSC 5913/1.2 [6 lines of source text not declassified].
    It should be noted that the document specifically mentions "the containment of Chinese Communist expansion."

    The policy of creating "autonomous" regions within a sovereign state aimed at "lessening the influence and capabilities" of a targeted central government is a policy that should look familiar to any impartial observer of contemporary US foreign policy. It is not only precisely the same policy the US openly pursues in the occupation and attempted partitioning of the Syrian Arab Republic, but it is also the very same policy the US is pursuing in another region of China, its western Xinjiang province.

    Separatist Terrorism in Xinjiang

    China's western province of Xinjiang is home to some 21 million people. Of those 21 million, less than half are of the Turkic ethnic group known as Uyghurs. Practitioners of Islam, the US has used terrorist networks developed within NATO member Turkey to infiltrate, pervert and radicalize a fringe minority of the Uyghur community while the US itself openly funds and promotes separatism via political opposition fronts and across local and international media.

    Turkey's notorious "Grey Wolves" terrorist organization was wielded by NATO during the Cold War as a tool of political coercion. It is still used today by US-NATO interests both within Turkey and beyond, even as far as Southeast Asia. The Grey Wolves have been implicated in training and arming terrorist cells within Xinjiang.

    Overt US support for separatists in Xinjiang can be easily found on the US State Department-funded National Endowment for Democracy (NED) website. The US is so extensively engaged in political subversion within China that it was necessary to divide its funding of subversive activities into multiple categories: China (Hong Kong), China (Mainland), China (Tibet) and China (Xinjiang/East Turkistan).

    US support for separatism is exposed forthright with the inclusion of the term "East Turkistan," it being the name of the political entity US-backed agitators and militants seek to carve off from Chinese territory. Over a quarter of a million US taxpayer dollars is allotted annually to the World Uyghur Congress (WUC), a Germany-based front with offices in Washington DC headed by Rebiya Kadeer who openly pursues separatism and who also refers to China's Xinjiang province as "East Turkistan."

    The US in its various policy papers regarding regime change elsewhere around the world has repeatedly admitted that "peaceful" movements like the WUC attempts to portray itself as are unlikely to succeed without an armed component to prevent a targeted government from simply uprooting foreign-funded sedition. Thus, just as the US State Department admitted it has done in Tibet, the US is clearly engaged via NATO-proxies and separatist political fronts it openly funds and directs, in efforts to "lessen the influence and capabilities" of Beijing in Xinjiang by attempting to create the "autonomous" region of "East Turkistan."

    Demonstrations in Hong Kong

    Hong Kong was taken by the British Empire from China by force and occupied for over a century. When the British finally departed Hong Kong in 1997, it imposed upon Beijing demands instituting what is known as the "one country, two systems" under the Sino-British Joint Declaration.

    In essence, the British attempted to maintain Hong Kong as a political and economic foothold despite "returning" it to Beijing's control. Beijing has since incrementally dismantled this arrangement and has steadily reasserted its sovereignty over its returned territory.

    To counter this, the US and its European allies have organized, funded and directed "pro-democracy" protests in Hong Kong who focus primarily on coercing Beijing to uphold the UK's parting demands.

    The so-called "Umbrella Revolution" in 2014 was a textbook example of what is now widely known as a "color revolution." The protests consisted of leaders openly funded by the US State Department including Martin Lee who had literally visited Washington DC (NED event including full video here) pleading for aid just months before the protests unfolded.

    Another political figure crafted by America's immense media influence is Joshua Wong, a university student who repeatedly denied his sudden fame and political influence stemmed from ties with Washington, but who eagerly traveled to Washington DC to collect an award from NED subsidiary, Freedom House, upon the protests' conclusion.

    The "pro-democracy" protests in Hong Kong, when put into context of Washington's long-term strategy to contain and encircle China, are transparently illegitimate. While figures like Wong insist they are pursuing "democracy" and "self-determination" for Hong Kong, with their movement entirely propped up by the United States and its European allies it is clear that they represent foreign interests, specifically at the expense of any notion of "democracy" or "self-determination" for Hong Kong.

    Destabilizing Southeast Asia

    It is clear enough that China is being systematically targeted and undermined within its own borders by US foreign policy stretching from the end of World War II and continuing to present day. However, just as important, are US efforts to encircle, contain and undermine China along its peripheries.

    This includes Southeast Asia where the US has spent decades attempting to influence and control the region. This included the outright invasion of Vietnam, proxies wars fought in neighboring Laos and Cambodia and political upheaval the US has sponsored everywhere from Myanmar to Malaysia and Thailand to Indonesia.

    During the administration of US President George Bush Jr., the US had lined up proxy regimes in Thailand under Thaksin Shinawatra, Malaysia under Anwar Ibrahim and Myanmar under Aung San Suu Kyi. To a lesser extent, Cambodia under Hun Sen served US interests until only recently.

    However, of these four nations, only Myanmar represents a partial success. Thailand has ousted Shinawatra and his proxies from power, Anwar Ibrahim resides in prison and Cambodia has increasingly built ties with Beijing at Washington's expense.

    Still, US-funded networks seek to impede Southeast Asian ties with China through a variety of activities including political destabilization and terrorism. The US also funds organizations posing as environmental and human right activists that impede regional development driven by Chinese infrastructure projects under the guise of protecting the environment and the livelihoods of villagers living near the future sites of rail, dam and other major projects.

    In any given nation across Southeast Asia, the US NED along with its various subsidiaries and partners can be found fueling social division, conflict and even attempting to impede security operations against suspiciously convenient terrorism. More recently, the US under Trump has increased subversive activities in Thailand and Cambodia as both nations move to further uproot US-backed opposition groups.

    Upon a map, if China finds itself facing US-backed subversion along the west in Tibet, Xinjiang and its short border with US-occupied Afghanistan and to the east with US troops literally stationed in Korea and Japan, then US subversion in Southeast Asia represents a third front of adversity fueled by Washington and one that now continues under Trump's "Indo-Pacific" strategy.

    US Occupation of Afghanistan

    Of course, there are multiple theories to explain Washington's perpetual occupation of Afghanistan including its proximity to Pakistan, Russia and Iran. But Afghanistan also shares a short border with China. A US military presence on China's far western border helps bookend America's substantial military presence in Korea, Japan and the Philippines to China's far east.

    The Korean Peninsula

    The US continues occupying South Korea following an armistice signed in 1953 marking the effective end of the Korean War. The US has since intentionally and continuously provoked North Korea, creating a strategy of tension and thus perpetually justifying its military presence on the peninsula. The US has openly and repeatedly called for regime change in North Korea. It has published entire policy papers detailing strategies for the invasion, occupation and subjugation of North Korea.

    And while the US insists its presence on the Korean Peninsula is a matter of global peace and security, it is transparently obvious that it remains involved in and in fact fueling the conflict for the sole purpose of maintaining a military presence toward China's east as part of its wider, long-term containment policy.

    Rearming Japan

    After Japan's defeat in World War II, the island nation adopted a pacifist foreign policy. It had refused to involve itself in foreign interventions and maintained what it termed Self-Defense Forces. Its constitution prohibits its rearmament and the use of warfare to resolve disputes. The constitution states specifically:
    1. Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as a means of settling international disputes.
    2. In order to accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized.
    Yet, now as the US finds its influence in Asia Pacific waning, there have been attempts to pressure the Japanese government to amend its constitution and help augment US military aggression across the region.

    Far from a conspiracy theory, prominent Western policy analysts openly acknowledge this in their coverage of Japan's defense policy.

    Defense News in a 2015 article titled, "Japan Pursues Rearmament, Despite Opposition," would report that:
    Efforts by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to normalize Japan's security posture and bolster its US alliance against China hit an obstacle when the Lower House Commission on the Constitution declared Abe's moves unconstitutional. Still, Japan is expected to pass legislation around August to expand the nation's ability to better support the US in the defense of Japan.

    In a minor bombshell, on June 4, Setsu Kobayashi, professor emeritus of Constitutional Law at Keio University and member of the Lower House Commission on the Constitution, said provisions allowing limited rights of collective self defense as promoted by the Abe administration are unconstitutional.

    "Paragraph 2 of Article 9 does not grant any legal standing for military activities abroad," Kobayashi is reported to have said. "Going to war abroad to help a friendly nation is a violation of Article 9," he said.
    Japan possesses the ability to more than adequately defend itself from any aggressor, including China. Furthermore, if free of Washington's coercive influence bending Tokyo toward confrontation with Beijing, China and Japan could forge economic and defense pacts of their own that would make possible confrontations even more remote than they already are.

    US "ties" to Asian states including Japan represent a rather transparent effort to augment US primacy, offering little incentive to those being used. Japan, in other words, is viewed as an expendable buffer between US hegemonic ambitions and the states it is targeting to achieve that hegemony. Japan would then be first to pay the price for Washington's geopolitical miscalculations vis-à-vis Beijing.

    That these policies have been pursued for decades, indifferent to the White House's occupants helps shed light on those special interests that truly drive US policy and use political theater like that provided by the current Trump administration as cover to continue doing so with impunity. In the past when the US held uncontested global hegemony, both after World War II and again shortly after the Cold War, America paid few direct consequences for its actions abroad.

    Today, however, as US hegemony wanes and a multipolar balance of global power emerges, the US will increasingly pay a price for its attempts to cling to its unipolar "international order." It is a price that the American people will pay economically and in terms of blood of their armed forces, a price that American special interests will continue shifting onto the American people themselves for as long as possible.

    Trump's campaign mantra of "make America great again" echoes hallow in the face of this reality, exemplified in Asia in terms of US policy versus Beijing, but a reality that is repeated across the Middle East, North Africa, Eastern Europe and beyond. As long as Trump continues pursuing policies put forth by unelected special interests at the cost of those who voted him into office, America's position internationally will continue to fold and as more resources are poured into futile efforts to reverse this otherwise irreversible trend, America will never be "great" again.

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

Ask not what the Internet can do for you.