NATO at 70: Retirement or Renaissance?

April 23, 2019 (Gunnar Ulson - NEO) - US Vice President Mike Pence has recently referred to NATO as, "the most successful military alliance in the history of the world." Of course, "success" needs to be defined, especially when casual observers note the trail of death and destruction left in NATO's wake from Eastern Europe to North Africa to the Middle East to Central Asia over the last several decades.

For the casual observer, the NATO-linked Atlantic Council would attempt to offer a (very) short list of "NATO's accomplishments in recent years." The article was published in 2013, and time has not been kind to this list. 

NATO's Failures in Recent Years 

The list's author, James Stavridis,  was then NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe. He is now operating executive of the dubious private equity firm, The Carlyle Group which holds large investments in the defense sector. 

His list included Afghanistan where (at the time) he claimed, "Afghan Security Forces are nearly fully in the lead - 90% of Afghans are now protected by their own security forces as opposed to virtually none four years ago." 

Fast forward to today, there are still entire regions of Afghanistan not controlled by the NATO-backed government in Kabul, with NATO troop withdrawals repeatedly postponed specifically because nothing about Stravridis' claims were true. 

And, the very Taliban NATO claimed it was fighting for control over Afghanistan for are now sitting at the negotiation table across from Western representatives virtually dragged there kicking and screaming after years of vowing no negotiations, ever.

Next on Stravridis' list is  Libya. 

He boasts of NATO's operation in Libya being "the fasted deployment in the history of NATO." He characterized the systematic destruction of a now utterly failed, warring state, as "incredible teamwork in the service of the people of Libya at the specific request of the United Nations Security Council. Evidence of the positive and powerful reach of NATO." 

Today, Libya's capital of Tripoli is surrounded by the military forces of Khalifa Haftar who seek to wrest control of the city and assume control over a (slightly more) united Libya. The Western media is currently publishing articles such as the Guardian's, "Fighting in Libya will create huge number of refugees, PM warns," or, in other words, admitting to the failed, destroyed state NATO's "incredible teamwork" left the North African nation in. 

Those refugees have only one place to go... Europe. 

The very region NATO could conceivably claim it is defending, Europe, now faces yet more refugees fleeing from the handiwork of "the most successful military alliance in the history of the world." The social and economic fallout from the ongoing consequences of NATO's intervention in Libya continue to contribute to Europe's collective security challenges, not guard against them. 

US Defeat in Syria Transforms into Campaign of Spite

April 21, 2019 (Tony Cartalucci - NEO) - The US-engineered proxy war against Syria, beginning in 2011 and the crescendo of the so-called "Arab Spring," has ended in all but absolute defeat for Washington.

Its primary goal of overthrowing the Syrian government and/or rendering the nation divided and destroyed as it has done to Libya has not only failed - but triggered a robust Russian and Iranian response giving both nations an unprecedented foothold in Syria and unprecedented influence throughout the rest of the region.

Lamenting America's defeat in Syria in the pages of Foreign Affairs is Brett McGurk - a career legal and diplomatic official in Washington whose most recent title was, "Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant." He resigned in protest over alleged plans for a US withdrawal from its illegal occupation of eastern Syria.

McGurk's lengthy complaints are full of paragraph-to-paragraph contradictions - illustrating the lack of legitimate unified purpose underpinning US policy in Syria.

In his article titled, "Hard Truths in Syria: America Can’t Do More With Less, and It Shouldn’t Try," McGurk would claim (emphasis added):
Over the last four years, I helped lead the global response to the rise of the Islamic State (ISIS)—an effort that succeeded in destroying an ISIS “caliphate” in the heart of the Middle East that had served as a magnet for foreign jihadists and a base for launching terrorist attacks around the world.
McGurk would also claim (emphasis added):
Following a phone call with his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Trump gave a surprise order to withdraw all U.S. troops from Syria, apparently without considering the consequences. Trump has since modified that order—his plan, as of the writing of this essay, is for approximately 200 U.S. troops to stay in northeastern Syria and for another 200 to remain at al-Tanf, an isolated base in the country’s southeast. (The administration also hopes, likely in vain, that other members of the coalition will replace the withdrawn U.S. forces with forces of their own.)
Yet if anything McGurk says is true, then ISIS is undoubtedly a threat not only to the United States, but to all of its coalition partners - mainly Western European nations. Why wouldn't they eagerly commit troops to the coalition if ISIS truly represented a threat to their security back home? And why would the US withdraw any troops in the first place if this were true?

The answer is very simple - ISIS was a creation of the West - a tool explicitly designed to help "isolate" the Syrian government and carry out military and terrorist operations the US and its partners were unable to do openly.

It was in a leaked 2012 US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) memo (PDF) 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 clarify:
The West, Gulf countries, and Turkey support the opposition; while Russia, China, and Iran support the regime.
This "Salafist"[Islamic] "principality" [State] would show up on cue, placing additional pressure on an already besieged government in Damascus and eventually creating a pretext for direct Western military intervention in Syria.

Only through Russia's own intervention in 2015 were US plans overturned and its overt war against Syria frozen in limbo.

McGurk and others throughout the Western establishment have attempted to compartmentalize what is essentially their own collective failures by linking them exclusively to both former-US President Barack Obama and current US President Donald Trump.

Whether President Trump maintains troops in eastern Syria or not, nothing will change or reverse the significant strategic and geopolitical defeat Washington has suffered.

Instead, troops levels and deployments in not only Syria, but also neighboring Iraq, serve to contribute to the next phase of US interference in the Middle East - spoiling reconciliation and reconstruction.

Washington's War of Terror

This most recent episode of US military intervention in the Middle East - fighting terrorists it itself created and deliberately deployed specifically to serve as a pretext - is an example of US "slash and burn" foreign policy.

Just as farmers burn to the ground forest that serves them no purpose so that they can plant what they desire in its place - the US deliberately overturned an emerging political and economic order in the Middle East that served them no purpose in a bid to replace it with one that did.


West Finds New Anti-China Puppet in Wake of Thai Elections (Original English) 

การแทรกแทรงทางการเมืองของโลกตะวันตกเผชิญกับความพ่ายแพ้อีกครั้ง คราวนี้ในแถบเอเชียตะวันออกเฉียงใต้ที่ประเทศไทย 

ด้วยประชากรณ์กว่า 70 ล้านคน และเป็นเขตเศรษฐกิจที่มีขนาดใหญ่เป็นอันดับ 2 ของภูมิภาคเอเชียตะวันออกเฉียงใต้ และกำลังก้าวสู่การเป็นพันธมิตรระดับภูมิภาคที่สำคัญในนโยบาย One Belt, One Road ของจีน ทำให้สหรัฐและพันธมิตรต้องการจะหนุนฝ่ายที่เป็นปฏิปักษ์ต่อจีนขึ้นสู่อำนาจในการเลือตั้งของไทยเมื่อเดือนมีนาคมที่ผ่านมา
อย่างไรก็ตาม พรรคพลังประชารัฐซึ่งมีความเกี่ยวโยงกับกองทัพได้คะแนนความนิยมที่สูงกว่า ทำให้ฝ่ายปฏิปักษ์ที่มีสหรัฐหนุนหลังพบกับความพ่ายแพ้ร้ายแรงในการเลือกตั้งเป็นครั้งแรก นับตั้งแต่ขึ้นสู่อำนาจเป็นครั้งแรกในปี 2544 

ฝ่ายปฏิปักษ์ที่มีสหรัฐหนุนมีผู้นำคืออดีตนายกรัฐมนตรี ทักษิณ ชินวัตร มหาเศรษฐี นักโทษหนีคดีผู้ลี้ภัยทางการเมือง เขาถูกโค่นล้มจากอำนาจในปี 2549 ภายหลังมีข้อครหาการคอรัปชัน การละเมิดสิทธิมนุษยชน และการพยายามจะกุมอำนาจรัฐทั้งหมดไว้ทกับตัวโดยมิชอบด้วยกฎหมาย 

จากนั้นมาทักษิณได้พยายามจะหวนคืนสู่อำนาจผ่านทางการใช้ตัวแทนหลายคน ซึ่งหนึ่ในนั้นมีน้องสาวของตน ยิ่งลักษณ์ ชินวัตร ผู้ซึ่งได้เป็นนายกรัฐมนตรีตั้งปี 2554 ถึง 2557 และเฉกเช่นเดียวกับพี่ชาย ได้ถูกโค่นล้มจากอำนาจโดยการแทรกแทรงของศาลและกองทัพ 

นอกจากพรรคเพื่อไทยแล้ว ทักษิณ ชินวัตร ยังคุมกลุ่มผู้ชุมนุมบนท้องถนนที่นิยมความรุนแรงที่รู้จักกันในนาม "เสื้อแดง" ในขณะเดียวกัน ทักษิณ ชินวัตร ก็ได้รับการสนับสนุนจากเหล่าเอ็นจีโอที่ได้รับเงินทุนจากสหรัฐ , กลุ่ม”นกเคลื่อนไหวนักศึกษา” และได้รับการสนับสนุนอย่างล้นหลามจากสื่อตะวันตก 

Battlefield Libya: Fruits of US-NATO Regime Change

April 10, 2019 (Tony Cartalucci - NEO) - Libya is back in the news, as fighting escalates around the capital, Tripoli.

Forces under the control of Khalifa Haftar - a former Libyan general under the government of Muammar Qaddafi - turned opposition during the 2011 US-led NATO intervention - turned "opposition" again against the UN-backed "Government of National Accord" (GNA) seated in Tripoli - have most recently reached Tripoli's airport.

The confusing chaos that has continually engulfed Libya since 2011 should come as no surprise. It is the predictable outcome that follows any US-led political or military intervention. Other examples showcasing US-led regime change "success" include Afghanistan, Iraq, and Ukraine.

And just like in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Ukraine - the Western corporate media has regularly omitted mention of Libya from headlines specifically to mask the very predictable consequences of US-led regime change as additional interventions against nations like Venezuela, Syria, and Iran are engineered and pursued.

Battlefield Libya 

In 2011, the North African nation of Libya was transformed from a prosperous, developing nation, into a divided, perpetual battlefield where local warlords backed by a milieu of opposing foreign sponsors and interests have vied for power since.

Libya's current status as a failed, warring state is owed entirely to the US-led NATO intervention in 2011.

Predicated on lies promoted by Western-funded "human rights" organizations and fought under the pretext of R2P (responsibility to protect) - the US and its NATO allies dismembered Libya leading to predictable and perpetual chaos that has affected not only Libya itself, but North Africa, Southern Europe, and even the Middle East.

The war immediately triggered not only a wave of refugees fleeing the war itself, but the redirection of refugees from across Africa seeking shelter and work in Libya, across the Mediterranean and into Europe instead.

Militants fighting as proxies for the US-led war in 2011 would be armed and redeployed to Turkey where they entered Syria and played a key role in taking the cities of Idlib and Aleppo during the early stages of that US-led proxy war.

Currently, Libya is divided between the UN-backed government based in Tripoli, eastern-based forces loyal to Haftar, and a mix of other forces operating across the country, holding various degrees of control over Libya's other major cities, and equally varying degrees of loyalty to the UN-backed government, Haftar's forces, or other factions.

Fighting around Tripoli has even allegedly prompted US military forces stationed in Libya to temporarily evacuate. CNBC in its article, "US pulls forces from Libya as fighting approaches capital," would report:
The United States has temporarily withdrawn some of its forces from Libya due to “security conditions on the ground,” a top military official said Sunday as a Libyan commander’s forces advanced toward the capital of Tripoli and clashed with rival militias. 

A small contingent of American troops has been in Libya in recent years, helping local forces combat Islamic State and al-Qaida militants, as well as protecting diplomatic facilities.
The presence of US forces in Libya might be news to some - and was certainly only a dream within the Pentagon until after the 2011 US-led NATO intervention finally toppled the Libyan government.

America's foreign policy of arsonist-fireman has endowed it with a large and still growing military footprint in Africa - one it uses to project power and affect geopolitics well beyond the continent.

America's Growing Footprint in Africa 

The ongoing Libyan conflict - flush with weapons pouring in from foreign sponsors - has also fuelled regional terrorism impacting neighboring Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Niger, and Chad, as far west as Mali and Nigeria, and southeast as far as Kenya. The war has been a boon for US Africa Command (AFRICOM) which has used the resulting chaos as a pretext to expand Washington's military footprint on the continent.

In a 2018 Intercept article titled, "U.S. Military Says it has a "Light Footprint" in Africa. These Documents Show a Vast Network of Bases," it was reported that:
According to a 2018 briefing by AFRICOM science adviser Peter E. Teil, the military’s constellation of bases includes 34 sites scattered across the continent, with high concentrations in the north and west as well as the Horn of Africa. These regions, not surprisingly, have also seen numerous U.S. drone attacks and low-profile commando raids in recent years.
The article notes that much of AFRICOM's expansion in Africa has occurred over the past decade.

While the pretext for US military expansion in Africa has been "counter-terrorism," it is clear US military forces are there to protect US interests and project US power with "terrorism" a manufactured pretext to justify Washington's militarization of the continent.

West Finds New Anti-China Puppet in Wake of Thai Elections

April 8, 2019 (Tony Cartalucci - NEO) - Western political meddling abroad faced another serious setback - this time in the Southeast Asian country of Thailand.

With a population of 70 million people, the 2nd largest economy in Southeast Asia, and transforming into a key regional partner for Beijing and its One Belt, One Road initiative, the US and its partners sought to propel opposition parties into power during recent elections held in March.

However, the military-linked Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) won the popular vote, delivering US-backed opposition parties their first serious defeat at the polls since rising to power in 2001.

The US-backed Thai opposition is led by fugitive billionaire, ex-prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra. He was ousted from power in 2006 after a series of corruption scandals, human rights abuses, and attempts to illegally consolidate power.

Shinawatra has since attempted to return to power through a series of nepotist proxies including his sister Yingluck Shinawatra who served as prime minister from 2011-2014 until likewise being ousted by judicial and military intervention.

In addition to Thaksin Shinawatra's Pheu Thai political party, he also maintains a violent street front known as the "red shirts," and is bolstered by US-funded nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), "student activist" groups, and extensive support throughout the Western corporate media.

In the most recent election, Shinawatra divided his political forces into multiple parties in a hedging strategy meant to preserve at least one party against disbanding for serving illegally as the fugitive's proxies.

In addition to Pheu Thai, Shinawatra also fielded Thai Raksa Chart, Pheu Tham, Pheu Chart, and Future Forward.

US Finds "New" Proxy in "Future Forward" 

While Pheu Thai and other parties are openly run by Shinawatra as proxies, the latter - Future Forward - has attempted to claim it is not a nominee party.

However, nothing could be further from the truth.

The party - headed by billionaire Thanathorn Jungrungreangkit (normally referred to as Thanathorn) - not only promotes an identical agenda of removing Thailand's military from politics - thus paving Shinawatra's return to power - it literally established its party headquarters next door to Shinawatra's Pheu Thai Party. It includes various pro-Shinawatra politicians in its party, and was promoted by Shinawatra's Thai Raska Chart (TRC) party as a nominee after TRC's disbanding ahead of elections. 

Thanathorn himself is co-heir of the Jungrungreangkit fortune accumulated by his late father, and since taken over by his mother. The Jungrungreangkit family has long allied itself with Shinawatra.

Media interests the family controls have served as stalwart supporters of Shinawatra and his political agenda for years. This support extends itself to promoting the same Western interests and agendas that in turn are sponsoring and benefiting from Shinawatra's bid to return to power.

Thanathorn himself - ahead of elections - went out of his way to court foreign interests and support - including visits with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and speaking at venues like the Concordia Summit - chaired by inveterate regime change promoters and pro-war advocates including John Negroponte and David Petraeus, as well as representatives of verified dictatorships like Prince Abdulaziz bin Talal bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia.   

Thanathorn has repeatedly declared his intentions to roll back joint Thai-Chinese infrastructure projects and slash the Thai military's budget, undermining its ability to fend of foreign interference - both foreign policy dreams long sought after by Washington.

It should come as no surprise then to see concerted support across the Western corporate media for Thanathorn and his Future Forward Party - as an alternative to supporting Shinawatra whose credibility and popularity are flagging despite years of extensive Western lobbying.