Thai Political Crisis: What the Western Media Omits

August 13, 2018 (Joseph Thomas - NEO) - Political pressure is mounting in the Southeast Asian Kingdom of Thailand ahead of anticipated elections early next year. However, political analysts across the West have consistently portrayed Thailand's political crisis as if existing in a vacuum divorced from geopolitics.

Shawn Crispin provides an example of this with his Asia Times piece titled, "Thai junta dreams of a ‘Thaksin-free’ election." Crispin's analysis does indeed offer many important and accurate insights into Thailand's ongoing political crisis and the pressure that is building ahead of upcoming polls in 2019.

Crispin has, in the past, correctly noted that Thailand's political crisis is the result of two powerful factions facing off against one another. One consists of nouveau riche led by billionaire ex-prime minister and now fugitive Thaksin Shinawatra. It features strong ties to foreign interests, particularly in Washington, London and Brussels. The other faction consists of Thailand's independent institutions including the military and the monarchy.

It is not a "class struggle" as some pundits have attempted to portray it, particularly those bias toward Shinawatra in an attempt to give moral and ideological mooring to what is otherwise simply a billionaire and his political allies seeking to seize and consolidate absolute power in Thailand.

Mention of US and European Meddling  

Yet nowhere in Crispin's analysis is mention of significant foreign influence underpinning Shinawatra's staying power. He mentions protests last month by Shinawatra's supporters demanding Thailand's current government step down and hold polls this year. The protests ended when police detained protest leaders, which Crispin claims was "widely condemned." 

However, this "wide condemnation" was primarily voiced through US and European media and Western-funded organisations posing as rights advocacy groups, along with still very well-funded Shinawatra-controlled media within Thailand.

The protests themselves have received support from a number of US State Department-funded fronts posing as nongovernmental organisations including Prachatai, iLaw, Fortify Rights and Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR).

TLHR not only provides free legal services for protesters repeatedly detained, its own staff, most notably Anon Nampa, help organise and lead the protests directly.

TLHR co-founder Sirikan “June” Charoensiri was even presented with the US State Department's 2018 International Women of Courage Award by the First Lady of the United States Melania Trump.

The award ceremony was an exercise aimed at lending the US government-funded front a greater sense of legitimacy and thus greater influence politically and socially.

US and European embassy staff have also routinely met with protest leaders, providing them open public support in a similar vein to US embassy support during the opening phases of US-backed regime change in Syria and Ukraine.

It should be noted that without US funding, these organisations would not exist. Over 90% of their annual budget is provided by foreign governments and foreign corporate-funded foundations. If the organisations playing a central role in both supporting and leading recent protests in Thailand did not exist, neither would their protests.

It is also worth mentioning that direct support for anti-government activities by the US and European embassies has maintained pressure on the current Thai government at a time Shinawatra's own political machine cannot. In other words, geopolitical factors such as US and European influence have played a direct role in the mounting pressure observed, but grossly mischaracterised, by Western analysts. 

Fugitives Can't Run in "Free and Fair" Elections 

US and European support for Shinawatra's ongoing bid to return to power undoubtedly enhances the impunity he has enjoyed both while in power and since being ousted in 2006. This impunity is what allowed his Pheu Thai party to run in 2011 elections despite Shinawatra, a convicted criminal and fugitive, openly running the party. It is this impunity that will allow his party to run again if elections are held in 2019.

And despite what is essentially a fugitive running for office and remotely running an entire nation from abroad, unimaginable in the West, Western pundits, journalists and even more objective analysts like Crispin seem to regard this as merely a second thought, often depicting the Thai military's efforts to oust and since obstruct Shinawatra's return to power as "undemocratic" and "repressive."

In Crispin's piece, he unironically refers to the notion of "free and fair" elections that would include Shinawatra's Pheu Thai party which would likely win. No where in Crispin's piece, nor anywhere else across the Western media is it explained how an election can be "free and fair" if a party led by a fugitive is allowed to participate.

Yet the US and Europe routinely pursue agendas around the globe merely using notions such as democracy and human rights as a façade. Thailand would be only the latest among many nations the US in particular has backed an unsavoury political machine in seizing power in hopes of integrating it into what Washington likes to call its international order, regardless of the degree of hypocrisy required to do so.

3D Printed Guns: Debating Inevitability

August 11, 2018 (Ulson Gunnar - NEO) - 3D printing and other forms of computer-controlled manufacturing have allowed nations, companies and even individuals the ability to go from consumers to producers. As this technology improves and costs drop, access to this technology and the ability of the technology itself will increase, making it possible for virtually anyone, anywhere to make virtually anything.

In May 2018, prominent US-based corporate-funded policy think tank, RAND Corporation, had published an article titled, "Four Ways 3D Printing May Threaten Security." In it, an argument was made about the dangers of 3D printing becoming more accessible, first by citing 3D printed guns as well as drones and other forms of technology it claimed criminals and terrorists could leverage. But then RAND would reveal a threat, particularly to its corporate sponsors, that highlighted the true fears 3D printing invokes among the captains of established industries — decentralization.

The fear of 3D printing "taking jobs" for example, can more accurately be described as taking both jobs and revenue from large corporations and shifting them both to small companies or individual entrepreneurs. Along with this shift, goes the concentration of wealth and influence these large corporations have enjoyed, some since as early as the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.

RAND also feared nations targeted by US sanctions being able to easily circumvent them by acquiring the parts and systems required by simply manufacturing them themselves through the use of technology like 3D printing. In reality, RAND and other representatives of established industries seem more concerned about losing their wealth and influence than of any "threat" such technologies might or might not actually pose.

3D Printed Guns 

The notion of 3D printed guns has been around for a while. Cody Wilson of US-based  Defense Distributed has promoted a vision of home-based gun manufacturing, leveraging 3D printing and a peer-to-peer (p2p) network of online files shared much the way other online 3D model libraries are organized.

Wilson had been fighting a legal battle to protect his and others' rights to manufacture and share the designs of their guns. In an article by Engadget titled, "You can legally download 3D-printed gun designs next month," the results of that legal battle were reported:
3D gun printing advocate Defense Distributed has emerged triumphant in a legal battle to freely publish online blueprints that could allow users to manufacture firearms. 

The victory spells the end of an ongoing lawsuit against the US Department of State -- which in 2013, forced Defense Distributed founder Cody Wilson to pull down files from the DEFCAD website because they violated International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) protections. The State Department argued that blueprints of Wilson's 'Liberator' pistol, which had already been downloaded more than 100,000 times, were classified as 'exports' and could therefore not be distributed according to law.

The article was shared by Grindhouse, a DIY biohacking group that specializes in human augmentation through the use of biotechnology, another field in which advances in technology are manifesting themselves, quite literally in the hands of ordinary people. Under Grindhouse's Facebook post, a refreshingly complex discussion developed, far beyond the pro-anti gun debate typical in American politics.

The notion of greater personal responsibility was mentioned, but also the possibility of gun manufacturers having their monopolies and revenue threatened by distributed firearms manufacturing by individuals and small businesses. While the technology for individuals to do this today is still prohibitively expensive, it will not be in the near future as better 3D printers and printers capable of printing in metal find their way into homes around the globe.

Just as RAND and other representatives of corporate monopolies have tried to raise alarm over 3D printing in an effort to protect their respective industries, efforts to register, restrict and constrain the use of 3D printing by citing the possible widespread proliferation of homemade weapons seems very likely to follow Defense Distributed's legal victory.

Push Back? 

Manufacturing your own firearms is dangerous. Poorly constructed firearms, or even well-made firearms that are poorly cared for, can cause harm, even death to the operator and bystanders. It is possible that after Defense Distributed's legal victory, interests seeking to restrict 3D printing may use accidents involving 3D printed firearms as a pretext to finally implement stricter controls over 3D printing technology altogether.

Stopping individuals with 3D printers from printing anything is virtually impossible.

US Warmachine Seeks New Pretext in Syria

August 7, 2018 (Tony Cartalucci - NEO) - US designs in Syria were made crystal clear by US Army General Joseph Votel - head of US Central Command (CENTCOM) - during a July 19th press briefing.

General Votel would state unequivocally when asked what the "arrangement" was regarding Syria, that:
Our mission is very, very clear: It is focusing on the defeat of ISIS and then helping our partners in both Iraq and Syria stabilize the situation and specifically in Iraq to help create a platform that can lead to a long-term political solution through the U.N. process.
Several aspects of this statement make it clear what the US was doing in Syria to begin with, and what it seeks to do now.

The US Created and Protects ISIS - Not Fights It 

General Votel echoes repeated claims by US policymakers and leadership that the US is dedicated to fighting and defeating the so-called "Islamic State" (ISIS). Yet ISIS was admittedly created by the US and its partners in the region in the first place. It was a  2012  leaked Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) memo that revealed: 
If the situation unravels there is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist principality in eastern Syria (Hasaka and Der Zor), and this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime, which is considered the strategic depth of the Shia expansion (Iraq and Iran). 

The DIA memo would also explicitly explain who these "supporting powers" are:
The West, Gulf countries, and Turkey support the opposition; while Russia, China, and Iran support the regime.
ISIS would take shape precisely in eastern Syria where the DIA memo had said its "Salafist" (Islamic) "principality" (State) would. It would attempt to place pressure on Damascus and isolate it - particularly from Iranian logistical efforts traversing Iraq and entering Syria along the Euphrates River before moving deeper into Syrian territory itself.

While the US had invaded and occupied Syria openly since 2014, it wasn't until the Russian Federation's military intervention in 2015 that ISIS supply lines streaming out of NATO-member Turkey were targeted and destroyed. It was then and only then that ISIS positions across the nation began to collapse.

It is interesting to note that America's multi-trillion dollar military machine has still failed to eliminate the few remaining pockets of ISIS in eastern Syria. These are pockets that for all intents and purposes are isolated from any of the outside support that allowed the group to flourish for as long as it did.

Elsewhere across Syria - government forces with the backing of Russia and Iran have eliminated ISIS almost entirely. Operations ongoing in southern Syria seek to dislodge the final remnants of this terrorist front - coincidentally sustaining itself directly on the border of the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. 

Why is the stretched resources of the Syrian military able to mount successful campaigns to eliminate ISIS west of the Eurphrates, but the US is unable to do so in the east?

ISIS Continues Attempts to "Isolate Damascus" 

The largest pockets of ISIS remain in and around US occupied territory in Syria. It is from these pockets that ISIS militants have launched repeated attacks on Syrian forces along the Euphrates River, particularly near the Syrian-Iraqi border crossing where Iranian support flows into Syria.

This is also where Western airstikes in June hit Iraqi militias who were fighting ISIS in the area. The BBC would claim in their article, "Syria war: Iraqi militias blame US for deadly border strike," that:

Iraq's Popular Mobilisation said missiles hit one of its positions on the Iraqi-Syrian border overnight. The paramilitary force is led by Iran-backed Shia Muslim militias and is itself fighting IS.
While General Votel - when asked what the US was doing to "stop Iranian expansion into Syria,"  would claim the US was solely focused on fighting ISIS, it is the US' occupation of eastern Syria that prevents Syrian forces from defeating ISIS there, and allows ISIS militants to attack and undermine Iranian support for the Syrian government. It is also the US occupation of eastern Syria that has provided a perpetual pretext to and foothold from which to strike at Syrian forces and their allies directly as they struggle to keep the Syrian-Iraqi border open.

The US Has No Legitimate Partners in Syria 

General Votel's claim that the US seeks to work with its "partners" in Syria to "stabilize the situation," ignores the fact that the US occupation of Syria is illegal and that its partners in Syria are neither the recognized representatives of the Syrian people, nor capable of stabilizing the situation.

The so-called "Syrian Democratic Forces" (SDF) are a primarily Kurdish front, overstretched and representing a fraction of the population in even the territory they now hold.

This has created tensions and even violence in areas the SDF is occupying. Their ability to hold eastern Syria is tenuous at best and any prospect of them expanding beyond its current boundaries is unlikely. Their current position politically and militarily is entirely dependent on the US which itself is occupying a tenuous position in eastern Syria based on an equally tenuous pretext.

Regime change in Syria has failed. The notion of balkanizing Syria would simply create a net burden on the US and its allies - clinging to territory through direct military occupation and through unpopular and/or indefensible proxies. Time, for now, is on Damascus' side.

Shopping for a New Pretext
With this the case, and with the entire US-led proxy war on Syria launched as merely a stepping stone toward the further encirclement, subversion, and eventual overthrow of the Iranian government in the first place, the US is racing against the clock to shift the diminishing conflict in Syria to Iran.

Soros-funded HRW Defends Terrorists, Accomplices in Thailand

August 5, 2018 (Joseph Thomas - NEO) - In 2010, Thailand was the scene of a smaller-scale foreign-backed destabilisation similar to those carried out by the United States and Europe against nations like Libya, Syria, Yemen and Ukraine from 2011 onward.

Between April and May of that year, nearly 100 would die and many more injured when US-backed former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra attempted to seize back power through violent street protests, armed insurrection, terrorism and nationwide arson.

Just as has been done in nations like Libya, Syria, Yemen and Ukraine, Human Rights Watch (HRW), funded by convicted financial criminal George Soros' Open Society Foundation, would leverage human rights in an attempt to depict the Thai government as "cracking down" on what it attempted to depict as peaceful, unarmed protesters.

Yet in HRW's own 2011 report titled, "Descent into Chaos Thailand’s 2010 Red Shirt Protests and the Government Crackdown," it would have to admit that protesters were only "mostly unarmed," a euphemism used to cover up the fact that heavily armed militants were present and were the primary trigger for the weeks of violence that unfolded.

The report would slip in admissions to this in between lopsided condemnation of the Thai military's response to these "mostly unarmed protesters," including a description of the first episode of violence to break out on April 10, 2010.

The report would admit (my emphasis):
As the army attempted to move on the camp, they were confronted by well-armed men who fired M16 and AK-47 assault rifles at them, particularly at the Khok Wua intersection on Rajdamnoen Road. They also fired grenades from M79s and threw M67 hand grenades at the soldiers. News footage and videos taken by protesters and tourists show several soldiers lying unconscious and bleeding on the ground, as well as armed men operating with a high degree of coordination and military skills. According to some accounts, they specifically aimed at the commanding officers of the army units involved in the crowd dispersal operations, sowing panic among the soldiers. Human Rights Watch investigations concluded this group consisted of Black Shirts deployed among the UDD protesters.
HRW would further describe the "Black Shirts" as:
Members of these armed groups were captured on photographs and film armed with various military weapons, including AK-47 and M16 assault rifles, as well as M79 grenade launchers, during their clashes with government security forces.
The HRW report includes several reports made by Western journalists at that time, many of whom would later downplay or cover up the role of the "Black Shirts" during the 2010 violence.

Rewriting HRW's Own Account of History 

Despite the many admissions by HRW that the 2010 violence was a result of the Thai military responding to heavily armed terrorists operating in the streets of the nation's capital, it has since depicted the 2010 violence as a brutal and unwarranted military "crackdown" often omitting any mention of Shinawatra's armed terrorists.

The most recent example of this is a July 23, 2018 HRW article titled, "Silencing a Witness to Thailand’s Deadly 2010 Crackdown." This "witness" is an unabashed supporter of Thaksin Shinawatra and his violent street front, the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) or "red shirts."

The picture of  Natthida “Waen” Meewangpa used by HRW in its July 23 article depicts her flashing the three-finger salute used by US-funded and backed anti-government agitators currently attempting to undermine and overthrow the Thai government and reinstall Shinawatra to power.

HRW would claim:
After she resisted intimidation by the Thai military to stay silent, the life of Natthida “Waen” Meewangpa – a volunteer nurse who witnessed the shooting of civilians and unarmed supporters of protesting “Red Shirts” by soldiers during the 2010 political confrontations in Bangkok – has turned to hell.
HRW would not only link to its 2011 report, indifferent to the possibility that readers might read HRW's own admissions that the violence was in fact triggered by armed terrorists, not a military "crackdown," it also concludes by claiming:
So long as Natthida remains locked up, there is little prospect of justice for the victims of one of Thailand’s bloodiest episodes. Worse still, soldiers and their commanders will have good reason to believe that next time around, they can again get away with murder.
Yet the violence HRW is referring to and that Meewangpa claims to have witnessed, is depicted in concise detail in HRW's own 2011 report. It involved multiple gun battles between Thai troops and pro-Shinawatra terrorists around the downtown temple of  Pathum Wanaram.

West Fumes as US Meddling in Cambodian Elections is Foiled

August 1, 2018 (Joseph Thomas - NEO) - It would be unthinkable for an American opposition party run openly out of Moscow to compete in American elections. It would be even more unthinkable for the Russian government to declare US elections illegitimate for disallowing a Moscow-backed party from running in American elections. 

Yet this is precisely what the US and the European Union have attempted to do in the wake of Cambodia's recent elections regarding an opposition party created by Washington and whose leadership calls Washington a second home.

US-EU Seek to Undermine Cambodian Election Results 
The BBC in their article, "Cambodia election: Ruling party claims landslide in vote with no main opposition," would claim: 
Critics have called the vote a sham as the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), which narrowly lost the last election, has been dissolved.
The US said the poll was "flawed". 

"We are profoundly disappointed in the government's choice to disenfranchise millions of voters, who are rightly proud of their country's development over the past 25 years," a statement from the White House said. 

The US will consider placing visa restrictions on more government officials, it added. The EU has said it is considering economic sanctions.
However, the BBC never explains why the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) was dissolved.

Had it, Washington and Brussels' statements would have been immediately rendered hypocritical and Cambodia's decision to dissolve CNRP more than warranted. This is because CNRP is openly run out of Washington, with US support, for the expressed aim of undermining and eventually overthrowing the current Cambodian government.

Cambodia's Opposition is Run From Washington 

Kem Sokha who had led CNRP until its dissolution had travelled to Washington annually since as early as 1993 to seek support from the US. He also repeatedly announced receiving direct US support, as well as plans for subverting the Cambodian government with US backing. 

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

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

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

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

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

The Phonom Post in a December 2017 article titled, "US says more sanctions on table in response to political crackdown," would claim: Washington, a panel of “witnesses” convened by the House Foreign Affairs Committee – including Kem Sokha’s daughter, Kem Monovithya – called for additional action in response to the political crackdown. In a statement, Monovithya urged targeted financial sanctions against government officials responsible for undermining democracy. She also called on the US to suspend “any and all assistance for the central Cambodian Government”, while “continuing democracy assistance programs for civil society, particularly those engaged in election-related matters”.

Like her farther, Kem Monovithya's collaboration with the US government goes back much further. The Washington Post in a 2006 article titled, "While in U.S., Cambodians Get a Lesson on Rights From Home," would first admit:
Kem Sokha, a former Cambodian senator and official, heads the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, which is supported by U.S. government funds. The center has held public forums to hear complaints about conditions in Cambodia.
Regarding Kem Monovithya herself, the Washington Post would note:
Monovitha Kem, a business school graduate and aspiring lawyer, said she would lobby U.S. and international institutions to fight Hun Sen's decision. 

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

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

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

This includes Licadho, which is funded by both the UK government and the US via USAID. It also includes Radio Free Asia and Voice of America, both of which are funded by the US government and overseen by the Broadcasting Board of Governors chaired by US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo himself. There is also the Cambodian Center for Independent Media, funded by NED subsidiaries Freedom House and IRI as well as the British Embassy and convicted financial criminal George Soros' Open Society Foundation.

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