US Propaganda Reorganises in Cambodia

January 29, 2020 (Joseph Thomas - NEO) - US State Department-funded and directed Voice of America recently noted that its networks in the Southeast Asian country of Cambodia are reorganising, though no in such straightforward terms.

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

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

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

US-Funded and Directed Media Augments US-Backed Opposition 

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

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

Thailand: The Lingering Spectre of US Colour Revolutions

January 23, 2020 (Joseph Thomas - NEO) - Thailand's opposition is openly backed by powerful foreign interests, particularly those in Washington. As the opposition attempts to secure power and help serve as a vector for Western special interests, the spectre of a Western-sponsored "colour revolution" increasingly looms over Thailand's future.

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

Taking to the Streets 

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

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

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

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

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

The Spectre of Malign Foreign Interference 

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

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

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

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

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

Washington Desperation Drives Nuclear Proliferation

January 22, 2020 (Gunnar Ulson - NEO) - A cornered animal is a dangerous animal. For the elite in Washington, with the terminal decline of their "American Century" and the global empire it built during it, they find themselves in a most unaccommodating corner and thus have become increasingly reckless and dangerous in their decision making.

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

The Unspoken Nuclear Threat

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

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

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

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

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

Washington Deliberately Walks Toward a Dangerous Nuclear Threat 

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

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

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

US War of Terror Continues: Assassinating Iran's Top Anti-ISIS General

January 16, 2020 (Tony Cartalucci - NEO) - The US has eagerly taken credit for the killing of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani amid a series of military strikes carried out by US forces across Syria and Iraq. The assassination was shortly followed by Iranian missile strikes aimed at US bases in Iraq.

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

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

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

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

The War of Terror Continues 

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

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

Strikes in Iraq and Syria: US Terror for the New Year

January 13, 2019 (Tony Cartalucci - NEO) US strikes against targets in Iraq in Syria belonging to Iranian-linked militias operating across the territory of both Middle Eastern nations directly before New Year's marked a new low for US foreign policy in the region.

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

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

The US is Goading Iran, Not Defending Against It 

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

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

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

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

Stabbing Iraq in the Back...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazineNew Eastern Outlook”.