Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Exposing and Stopping the Danger of US "Soft Power"

March 21, 2018 (Joseph Thomas - NEO) - US soft power is included in US policy papers and promoted by US politicians and diplomats on a regular basis. It is also included as the admitted purpose of US, UK and European international programmes like Chevening and Fulbright scholarships.

Foreign Affairs magazine, published by big-business-funded US policy think tank, the Council on Foreign Relations, would reveal in a review of Joseph Nye's book, "Soft Power: The Means to Success in World Politics," that (my emphasis):
...the term "soft power" -- the ability of a country to persuade others to do what it wants without force or coercion -- is now widely invoked in foreign policy debates.
The United States can dominate others, but it has also excelled in projecting soft power, with the help of its companies, foundations, universities, churches, and other institutions of civil society; U.S. culture, ideals, and values have been extraordinarily important in helping Washington attract partners and supporters.
And in reality, US domination and its soft power work together to create what is modern day empire and the foundation of US global hegemony.

The United States' many organisations, from the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) to its Young Leaders Initiatives targeting the Americas (Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative/YLAI), Africa (Young African Leaders Initiative/YALI) and Southeast Asia (Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative/YSELAI), all seek to indoctrinate and co-opt the populations of targeted nations to serve the interests of Wall Street and Washington rather than their own.

While the US does this often under the guise of promoting "democracy," it is clearly engaged in precisely the opposite. While democracy is generally understood as a process of self-determination, through US soft power, the process is co-opted and abused to allow Wall Street and Washington to determine the policies and direction a targeted nation takes rather than its own people.

Often times victims of US soft power are youths who are indoctrinated in university programmes or targeted by US-funded fronts posing as nongovernmental organisations (NGOs). They believe they have arrived at their conclusions and adopted their personal set of principles on their own, unaware of the amount of time, money and energy invested in ensuring they adopt a worldview and a set of political proclivities that serve US interests rather than those of their own nation, people and those of the individuals themselves.

The use of soft power is not new. It is a practice as old as empire itself.

The ancient Romans engaged in sophisticated cultural colonisation we could easily describe as soft power.

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.

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 (my emphasis):
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. The unsuspecting Britons spoke of such novelties as 'civilization', when in fact they were only a feature of their enslavement.
In a very similar manner, youths today in nations targeted by US soft power describe the notions of "democracy" and "human rights' as well as Western-style neo-liberal politics and institutions as "civilisation." They often seek out every opportunity to disparage the culture and institutions of their own nation, describing them as backwards and demanding they be promptly replaced with new notions and institutions modelled after or directly beholden to those in the US and Europe.

We can see across the whole of Asia this full process of soft power coming to fruition. Years and millions of dollars spent in infiltrating universities, indoctrinating youths through programmes like YSEALI or the British Chevening scholarships and funding and directing fronts posing as NGOs has led to the creation of entire political parties contesting power, comprised of indoctrinated youths beholden both to the notions of Western culture and institutions as well as the money and technical support nations like the US and UK directly provide these parties.

Hong Kong's "Demosisto" political party is made up entirely of youths and NGO representatives that have been created and funded for years by the US, UK and various other European interests.

Myanmar's ruling National League for Democracy has the top echelons of its party run by former journalists, activists and politicians cultivated, funded and trained by US-funded programmes for decades. This includes the current minister of information, Pe Myint.

Case Study: Thailand

The recently formed "Future Forward" opposition party headed by Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, the heir of a multi-million dollar auto-parts business, has overtly advertised itself as an amalgamation of Western-style neo-liberal political ideology.

While the supposed "founders" of the party appear to fully represent various social issues, the immense amount of money needed to perform "Future Forward's" campaigning indicates the true founders (and financial sponsors) have chosen to remain behind the scenes.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Fake News Storm Clouds Gather Over Southeast Asia

March 10, 2018 (Joseph Thomas - NEO) - From Cambodia to Thailand American and European media companies have launched a campaign of disinformation aimed at reversing Washington's waning influence in the region vis-à-vis not only Beijing, but the growing strength of nations the US and Europe once saw as mere geopolitical pawns.

Cambodia Expels US-Run Opposition Party and Media 

In Cambodia, articles depicting the government as having trampled free speech and democracy are in direct response to Phnom Penh's decision to disband the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) headed by Kem Sokha who now resides in jail. The media storm also follows the Cambodian government's decision to shut down US government funded propaganda networks posing as local, independent news organisations.

This includes Voice of America and Radio Free Asia, both funded and directed out of Washington D.C., not anything resembling independent, local political interests in Cambodia itself.

A good example of this disinformation campaign comes from Voice of America Khmer itself in an article titled, "U.S. Cutting Aid to Cambodia for Recent Democratic Setbacks." The article claims:
In its annual World Report, the rights group said the government, controlled by Prime Minister Hun Sen's Cambodian People's Party for more than three decades, disbanded the main opposition party, the Cambodia National Rescue Party, and arrested its leader on questionable treason charges. The dissolution came after a ruling the CNRP was involved in an attempt to overthrow Hun Sen's regime. 
However, what VOA calls "questionable treason charges" are never explored further in the article. The charges stem from CNRP leader Kem Sokha himself being caught on video openly admitting to conspiring with the US government to seize power in Cambodia.

ABC Australia in its article, "Australian speech the key 'treason' evidence against Cambodian opposition leader," would quote Kem Sokha during a speech he gave while in Australia, as saying:
The USA, which has assisted me, has asked me to take the model from Yugoslavia, Serbia, where they were able to change the dictator Milosevic. 

I don't just do what I feel, I have experts, university professors in Washington DC, Montreal, Canada hired by the Americans in order to advise me on the strategy to change the leaders.
While Kem Sokha's defenders have claimed his remarks merely meant changing the government through "democratic means" it should be noted that by virtue of admitting one has foreign assistance negates anything democratic about one's means. Democracy is built upon self-determination while Kem Sokha's agenda was clearly being devised and determined in Washington D.C.

It should also be noted that the US intervention Kem Sokha referred to in Serbia was admittedly undemocratic in means as well.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Confirmed US Meddling in Thailand's Upcoming Elections

February 21, 2018 (Joseph Thomas - NEO) - As the United States intensifies its accusations against Russia for alleged interference in the 2016 US Presidential Elections, the United States itself is found engaged in confirmed political interference worldwide.

This includes in Southeast Asia where Washington is attempting to rush elections in Thailand in hopes of returning their proxy Thaksin Shinawatra and his Pheu Thai Party (PTP) to power.

US efforts to rush elections have included a concerted effort to dismiss those pointing out Shinawatra's continued influence in Thai politics, his continued leadership role over PTP and his intentions to use PTP to return to power.

However, Reuters in an article titled, "Thai ex-PM Thaksin calls for party unity ahead of promised election," would openly admit Shinawatra, a convicted criminal and fugitive, still controlled PTP whose leadership met with him recently in Hong Kong.

The article reported:
Fugitive former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra met lawmakers from his Puea Thai Party in Hong Kong where he called for party unity ahead of an approaching general election, party members said on Monday.
Many are watching to see how Puea Thai Party performs in a vote which the military government has promised to hold in November but which could be delayed.

The necessity of repeated delays of Thai elections is very straightforward.

Thaksin Shinawatra, a convicted criminal and fugitive still seeks to contest them through PTP. Allowing a fugitive to contest elections would be illegal and any election outcome influenced by a convicted criminal and fugitive would be illegitimate. By delaying elections, the current Thai government hopes to continue diminishing Shinawatra's unwarranted influence and wealth as well as that of his political network inside Thailand until both are no longer an obstruction to legal elections.

Yet despite this straightforward necessity to delay elections, the United States and its European partners have repeatedly demanded rushed elections. Additionally, the US and its European partners are funding myriad opposition fronts ranging from media platforms to street protests to place pressure on the current Thai government to rush elections while it is believed Shinawatra and PTP still have a chance of winning.

US Meddling 

The US accuses Russia of political interference based on activities of the Internet Research Agency a recent FBI indictment insinuated was linked to the Russian government. While no actual evidence has surfaced linking the organisation to the Kremlin, the US not only possesses its own organisations for the purpose of political interference, they are openly funded by and linked directly to the US government.

In Thailand, the United States government through the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) is funding media organisations like Prachatai which promote daily protests and demands for immediate elections.

Shinawatra also controls his own media organisations inside of Thailand. This includes VoiceTV supposedly founded by his son, Panthongthae Shinawatra, but clearly serving his father's political agenda.

Supposed rights advocates like Fortify Rights (page 20, .pdf)iLaw, Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR), Cross Cultural Foundation, Thai Netizen Network and Isaan Record are also all funded by the US government via NED and have not only contributed toward attempts to manufacture dissent, but have also led small protests in the streets themselves.