US Meddling in Thai Elections: Seeking to Create an Anti-China Proxy

March 20, 2023 (Brian Berletic - New Eastern Outlook) - The Southeast Asian Kingdom of Thailand is slated to hold general elections in May of this year. Thailand, with the second largest economy in ASEAN and with a population of nearly 70 million people, has grown far too close to China for Washington’s liking. Because of this, Washington sees the elections as an opportunity to remove the current circles of power and replace them with opposition parties they have supported for years and how have openly pledged to “rebalance” away from China, and toward the US.

The US government has invested millions of dollars over decades in Thailand to create media networks, lobbying groups, “rights” organizations, and even protest movements meant to aid Washington’s proxies of choice into power, or otherwise contest their defeat and reverse electoral outcomes in the streets.

Why is the US Meddling in Thailand? 

The US is involved in political interference all along China’s periphery. This is done in a bid to encircle and contain China itself through the creation of US client regimes hostile toward Beijing. The US has already maneuvered a pro-Washington government into power in neighboring Malaysia to the south and is backing violent terrorism in Myanmar to the west after the military there ousted Washington’s government of choice in 2021.

Cambodia to Thailand’s east has embarked on an extensive campaign to uproot US-sponsored media organizations and opposition parties culminating in the recent jailing of Cambodian opposition leader, Kem Sokha, who openly admitted in a video that the US government was aiding him in a Serbia-style color revolution.

Thailand is being targeted because, despite the common misconception that Thailand is a major non-NATO ally of the US, over the last decade or more, Thailand has cultivated a strong and still-growing relationship with China.

China represents Thailand’s largest trade partner, its largest investor, and its largest infrastructure development partner. Notable in terms of infrastructure is a high-speed rail network already under construction that will connect Thailand to China via the high-speed rail line already completed and operating in Laos to Thailand’s north.

China is also Thailand’s largest source of tourism. Before COVID-19 closed the borders of many nations around the world to tourism, more tourists were arriving in Thailand from China than from all Western nations combined.

Thailand has also begun cooperating with China in terms of defense in recent years. Thailand is replacing a large amount of its aging US military hardware with Chinese alternatives. Thailand has purchased a variety of systems big and small from China including VT4 main battle tanks, a large variety of armored fighting vehicles, naval vessels including the Kingdom’s first modern submarines, and mobile air defense systems.

Thailand has also worked with China on jointly-developed weapon systems like the DTI-1 guided multiple launch rocket system and has conducted military exercises exclusively with China.

US Sparks Turmoil in Georgia to Open New Front Against Russia

 March 11, 2023 (Brian Berletic - New Eastern Outlook) - It is no coincidence that as Washington wages proxy war against Russia in Ukraine that familiar trouble spots elsewhere along Russia’s periphery have ignited again. In the Caucasus region nation of Georgia, protests have begun, targeting the current government and attempting to obstruct a transparency bill aimed at exposing and managing the very sort of US and European interference driving the protests.

The BBC in its article, “Georgia protests: Police push protesters back from parliament,” would claim:

Police have used water cannon and tear gas against protesters in Georgia’s capital, Tbilisi, for a second night. The crowds are angry at a controversial Russian-style law, which would class non-government and media groups as “foreign agents” if they receive more than 20% of their funds from abroad.

The article also said:

A similar law in Russia has been used to severely limit press freedom and supress civil society. “We think that our government is under Russian influence and it’s very bad for our future,” said Lizzie, one of many students taking part in the protests.

However, it is quite clear that by “civil society,” the BBC is referring to Western-sponsored opposition groups active in Georgia since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Beyond the irony of Western-sponsored opposition groups complaining about “Russian influence” when they themselves are products of US-European influence, the protests seek specifically to obstruct attempts by Georgia to protect its sovereignty from Washington, London, and Brussels’ unwarranted influence.

The BBC attempts to cast doubts on the Georgian government’s motivations for passing laws meant to expose foreign funding within Georgia’s media and political space.

The article claims:

Georgian Dream chairman Irakli Kobakhidze said criticism of the draft law as similar to Russia’s own repressive legislation was misleading. “In the end, the stir will die out and the public will have transparency in the funding of NGOs,” he said. 

However, Eka Gigauri of Transparency International told the BBC that NGOs were already subject to 10 different laws and the finance ministry already had full access to accounts, funding and other information.

While at first it might seem odd that an organization called “Transparency International” would be arguing against more transparency especially in regards to something as sensitive as foreign funding, a look at Transparency International’s own funding which includes the US State Department, the EU Commission, and the UK Foreign Office, it becomes clear that the organization exists to advance Western foreign policy objectives, specifically at the cost of actual transparency.

The BBC attempts to reinforce its narrative by claiming protesters are fighting for their “future” in the European Union, however, what the BBC is actually describing is not only a repeat performance of US-sponsored regime change efforts that targeted Ukraine in 2014 triggering the ongoing conflict Russia has since intervened in, but also a repeat performance of US interference within Georgia itself.

History Repeating Itself 

As early as 2003, the United States government sponsored regime change in Georgia.

In a 2004 article by the London Guardian titled, “US campaign behind the turmoil in Kiev,” the Guardian not only talks about US interference in Ukraine amid the so-called Orange Revolution, but also in both Serbia and Georgia.

Why the US seeks War with China by 2025

February 12, 2023 (Brian Berletic - New Eastern Outlook) - In recent weeks there has been a build-up of talk regarding a US war with China. Not because of any actual provocation from Beijing, but instead because of a collective resignation to its supposed inevitability.

This is best illustrated by comments made by US Air Force General Michael Minihan. In TIME Magazine’s article, “U.S. General’s Prediction of War With China ‘in 2025’ Risks Turning Worst Fears Into Reality,” General Minihan is quoted as saying:

“My gut tells me we will fight in 2025.”

The article goes on to claim:

“I hope I am wrong,” Minihan, who heads the Air Force’s Air Mobility Command, wrote in an internal memo, which circulated on social media, to the leadership of its 110,000 members. Chinese President Xi Jinping, he explains, “secured his third term and set his war council in October 2022. Taiwan’s presidential elections are in 2024 and will offer Xi a reason. United States’ presidential elections are in 2024 and will offer Xi a distracted America. Xi’s team, reason, and opportunity are all aligned for 2025.”

Yet nothing General Minihan says explains why the United States itself would conceivably find itself at war with the United States. Instead, General Minihan is more or less admitting that the US will go to war with China over Chinese actions regarding Taiwan. In fact, the article goes on to admit:

Minihan’s comments are merely the most immediate of a worrying, emerging consensus that the U.S. and China are destined to clash over Taiwan, the self-ruling island of 23 million that Beijing claims as its sovereign territory.

A clash between the United States and China over Taiwan would be the result of the United States willfully going to war with China over a matter the United States officially recognizes as China’s internal political affairs.

The current US State Department’s website regarding “U.S. Relations With Taiwan” admits that officially, “we do not support Taiwan independence.”

If the US does not support Taiwan independence then by extension the US acknowledges Taiwan is not independent and therefore Washington, officially, recognizes Beijing’s sovereignty over Taiwan. This is what defines the “One China” policy Washington and virtually every other nation on Earth has agreed to in order to establish diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China in Beijing.

At a time when Washington regularly lectures Moscow about “violating sovereignty,” Washington’s stance toward Beijing and Taiwan should be a simple matter of respecting Chinese sovereignty. Yet it is not because of the double-game the United States plays both internationally and with China specifically.

Washington’s Deliberate Provocations 

TIME Magazine and other Western media publications attempt to depict Beijing as the aggressor, omitting any discussion of either the “One China” policy or the US State Department’s own official declaration of supposedly upholding it.

Instead, Western audiences are led to believe that Taiwan somehow is independent and that Beijing is “bullying” it. The inevitable clash between the US and China is supposedly driven by America’s desire to “stand up” for Taiwan and its inferred sovereignty. In reality, a potential clash between the US and China would be the result of Washington once again violating the sovereignty of another nation thousands of miles from its own shores.

US to Send Abrams Tanks to Ukraine: Will it make any Difference?

January 29, 2023 (Brian Berletic - New Eastern Outlook) - The recent announcement that the United States will be sending at least 31 M1 Abrams tanks along with a growing number of German Leopard 2 main battle tanks comes as Ukrainian forces find themselves losing ground across much of the line of contact.

Articles like the Guardian’s, “US joins Germany in sending tanks to Ukraine as Biden hails ‘united’ effort,” claim:

Joe Biden has approved sending 31 M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine, a significant escalation in the US effort to counter Russian aggression as international reluctance to send tanks to the battlefront falls away.

The reversal of the US’s previous position came after Germany confirmed it will make 14 of its Leopard 2A6 tanks available for Ukraine’s war effort, and give partner countries its permission to re-export other battle tanks to aid Kyiv.

It also says:

“Putin expected Europe and the United States to weaken our resolve,” Biden said in the Roosevelt Room at the White House. “He expected our support for Ukraine to crumble with time. He was wrong. He was wrong. He was wrong from the beginning and he continues to be wrong.”

Yet despite the apparent uptick in support, upon closer analysis it appears practical support for Ukraine has long-since been exhausted and the West has now resorted to “wonder weapons” that will have even less impact on the battlefield than previous aid packages.

Not the “Game Changer” Many Think 

The idea that the West transferring their main battle tanks to Ukraine will be a “game changer” is rooted in the myth of Western main battle tanks being “superior” to their Russian counterparts. In turn, this myth is owed to their performance in Iraq in 1991 and again during the US invasion of Iraq in 2003 where modern US and British main battle tanks went up against Soviet-era export versions of the T-72.

Not only do several experienced US military officers warn against this misconception, the performance of Western main battle tanks in recent conflicts tells a much different story.

Former US Army Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Davis in a recent article published by 1945 helps dispel the myths surrounding Western tank performance in Iraq and asked the question whether or not these high-tech tanks will make a difference – allowing Ukrainian forces to drive Russian forces from territory Kiev claims is Ukrainian.

He points out the critical factors that actually lead to a US victory in Iraq. He explains:

In Desert Storm, U.S. M1A1 Abrams tanks wiped out Saddam Hussein’s fleets of Soviet-made T-72s, and again the American Abrams-led invasion in 2003 revealed the T-72 was no match for U.S. tanks. And truly the American tanks were witheringly successful. During Desert Storm, for example, the U.S. and its coalition partners destroyed more than 3,000 Iraqi tanks. Saddam’s armored force, however, did not destroy even a single Abrams tank. It’s understandable, then, why anyone would want to have an Abrams or equivalent tank, especially when it has proven so effective against exactly the type of tanks Russia has.

Lt. Col. Davis omits, however, that the tanks used by Iraqi forces during Desert Storm are not comparable to the type of tanks Russia has today.

The Trouble with Western Tanks in Ukraine

January 18, 2023 (Brian Berletic - New Eastern Outlook) - Western nations have begun pledging a variety of Western armored vehicles to Ukraine including infantry fighting vehicles and even main battle tanks. Until now, the majority of armored vehicles sent to Ukraine had been Soviet-era weapons Ukrainian forces were familiar with both in terms of operating and repairing them.

However, following Ukraine’s Kherson and Kharkov offensives, much of this equipment has been destroyed, leaving the West little choice but to begin sending Western systems or leave Ukrainian forces in the field with only small arms.

While Western leaders and the media claim that Western armored vehicles represent a significant increase in Ukrainian capabilities, the reality is quite the opposite. Far from giving Ukraine an advantage on the battlefield, Ukrainian forces will struggle merely to get the vehicles on the battlefield and keep them there. Additionally, recent conflicts elsewhere in the world have proven Western armored vehicles including main battle tanks are neither “invincible,” nor “game-changing.”

Thus, if Ukraine’s hundreds of Soviet-era tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, and armored personnel carriers failed to achieve favorable outcomes for Kiev, it is unlikely replacing these systems with Western hardware will make any difference.

Logistics, Training, and Maintenance 

In order to get Ukrainians into Western armored vehicles they will have to be trained in their basic operation, in using them effectively on a modern battlefield together with other tanks and weapon systems, and keeping them on the battlefield (maintenance). Entry-level tankers can take up to half a year to acquire these skills – time Ukraine doesn’t have, meaning that unless Western operators will be manning them posing as Ukrainians, heavily abbreviated courses will be given instead, producing subpar operators compared to the training and effectiveness Ukrainian tank crews had on the battlefield using their own equipment at the beginning of Russia’s special military operation.

Another aspect of most Western main battle tanks is that unlike Soviet and Russian main battle tanks which feature autoloaders for their main guns, Leopard 2, Challenger 2, and M1 Abrams require a crew member to manually load their main guns. So, while Soviet-era and Russian tanks have three crew members, a driver, a gunner, and a commander, Western main battle tanks require a fourth, the loader. This means that for every 3 Western main battle tanks sent to Ukraine, four Ukrainian tank crews will be required to man them – more trained tankers spread across fewer tanks.

Before these newly trained Ukrainian tankers can crew their Western armored vehicles, they have to be moved onto the battlefield. Western infantry fighting vehicles like the US Bradley and the German Mauder are heavier than their Soviet and Russian counterparts. So are the Challenger 2 and Leopard 2 tanks pledged by the UK and Poland. The US M1 Abrams is heavier still.

This presents a challenge to moving the vehicles by truck or rail just to reach the battlefield. The second option, rail, is complicated even further by the fact that much of Ukraine’s rolling stock is moved by electric traction which has been severely inhibited by Russia’s systematic targeting and destruction of the Ukrainian power grid. There is also the matter of sustaining these armored vehicles on the battlefield as they operate. They will consume much larger amounts of fuel than Ukraine’s previous armored vehicles, meaning more fuel will be required and much more often.

Heavier vehicles place more wear and tear on mechanical components including the vehicles’ transmissions, suspension, road wheels, and tracks. Increased maintenance required by newly trained, inexperienced crews will prevent the vehicles from being operated to their maximum potential. More problematic still is that Western armored vehicles – both infantry fighting vehicles and especially Western main battle tanks – possess complex optics and computerized fire control systems. It takes months just to train technicians to diagnose these systems, and a year or more to train and gain experience in actually repairing them.