Friday, April 3, 2015

Thailand: 2010 Bloodbath Anniversary a Reminder of Looming Threat

April 4, 2015 (Tony Cartalucci - ATN) To this day, supporters of ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, including US and European news agencies, NGOs, lobbyists, and politicians, consider the bloodshed in Bangkok, Thailand during April and May of 2010 to be the result of a "military crackdown" on "mostly unarmed" so-called "red shirt" protesters.

They continue this disingenuous rewriting of history in order to frame the current political conflict in Thailand as one precipitated by an illegitimate grab of power by the Thai military, contrary to the principles of "democracy" and "rule of law."

Image: Taken the night of April 10, 2010, Shinawatra's militants can be seen with both an M16 (with a 40mm M203 grenade launcher attached under the barrel) and an AK47. Shinawatra's supporters, particularly foreign lobbying efforts, have attempted to claim that all deaths resulting from M16 fire could only have been the result of the army's weapons. This picture provides incontrovertible evidence that Shinawatra's mercenaries too, used M16s. 
In reality, what took place in the streets of Bangkok between April and May of 2010, was a particularly ugly instance of foreign-backed, armed "color revolution." It included heavily armed militants deployed by Thaksin Shinawatra and his political machine whose goal was to covertly maim, kill, destroy, and terrorize on such a scale that international pressure would force Shinawatra's opponents from power. This reality not only reframes the current military-led government in a different light, it illustrates exactly why a measure as extreme as a military coup was required to restore peace and stability to a nation targeted by a terroristic, murderous political order.

How "Peaceful" Terrorism Works 

The trick behind framing the 2010 violence as perpetrated by a heavy-handed military, was to provide cover for Shinawatra's militants, using tens of thousands of unwitting Shinawatra supporters as human shields to absorb the losses incurred by crossfire between Thai troops and this mercenary force. Additionally, the Western media and Western NGOs played an intentionally complicit role, particularly CNN and the BBC, by repeatedly denying the existence of heavily armed militants operating within the ranks of the red shirts - despite video and photographic evidence, and even open admissions by the protest leaders themselves to the contrary.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Thailand, International Oil, and the Future of Energy

April 1, 2015 (Tony Cartalucci - NEO) - The Southeast Asian nation of Thailand is currently wrestling with a particularly contentious issue involving international oil concessions. In essence, foreign oil monopolies, particularly Western corporations including Exxon, Chevron, and British Petroleum (BP) have been given access to Thailand's oil and natural gas supplies, to explore, develop, and exploit for billions in profits year to year.

Much of this money, it is alleged, ends up leaving the country. What remains is often divided up amongst a handful of special interests leaving little if anything at all left for the actual people and nation that has provided this vast source of energy and riches.

Also of particularly contention is the domestic energy market itself. Being run mainly by foreign and local energy monopolies, many suspect the price of energy for consumers is arbitrarily or criminally manipulated. This in turn has a direct impact on the quality of life of Thailand's 70 million people as well as an impact on the overall economic development of the country. 

Raising suspicions further were admissions by the Saudis that they have been intentionally rigging global energy prices as a means of "pressuring Russia regarding Syria."

The New York Times in their article, "Saudi Oil Is Seen as Lever to Pry Russian Support From Syria’s Assad," admits:
Saudi Arabia has been trying to pressure President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia to abandon his support for President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, using its dominance of the global oil markets at a time when the Russian government is reeling from the effects of plummeting oil prices. 
Image: Mega-energy infrastructure means mega-energy disasters. This oil spill in Rayong, famous for its fishing industry and tourism, has suffered immeasurably from a recent oil spill. 
In reality, Saudi Arabia is adjusting prices as per the demands of Washington and Wall Street, and in addition to pressuring Russia regarding Syria, it is also part of a plan to undermine and eventually overthrow the government of Russia itself. And if energy prices can be used as a weapon against a nation as big as Russia, surely they could be used as a weapon to manipulate, undermine, and endanger the sovereignty of Thailand.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Thailand's Red Shirts Exploit Memory of Singapore's Lee Kuan Yew

Lee's misplaced admiration for Thaksin Shinawatra will now forever haunt his memory in Thailand. 

March 24, 2015 (Tony Cartalucci - ATN) - Singapore is not a democracy and the family who rules it, the Lees, are not democrats. In fact, the Lee family is essentially a modern day monarchy in all but name, complete with Le Kuan Yew's son, Lee Hsien Loong, succeeding him and having sat in power for over a decade as Prime Minister of Singapore.

In reality, that is how all nations are run - by institutions, powerful families, corporate-financier monopolies, or a combination of the three - and through varying degrees of success, under the thin veneer of  representative governance through "elections" and "democracy."

Rarely are these powerful special interests competent enough and qualified for the power and influence they hold, and even rarer still are they able to strike a viable social contract with the people. When they do, a balance of power is established and peace, stability, and prosperity ensue.

The Lees have, for now, accomplished this rare balance in Singapore and thus why Lee's recent passing has been the subject of mixed feelings leaning toward the more positive.

For Thailand's "red shirts," supporters of deposed prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and self-proclaimed champions of "democracy," they have decided to seize upon Lee Kuan Yew's recent death, and his kind words afforded to Thaksin Shinawatra in the past, to vindicate their own political movement - no matter how hypocritical or ironic it may be.

Lee's Praise of Thaksin Shinawatra

Lee Kuan Yew in his book, "One Man's View of the World," praised Thaksin Shinawatra for "upsetting the apple cart" of Thailand's political status quo.

He admits Thaksin did this by exploiting the rural poor through populist policies - handouts essentially - and handouts Lee himself admitted were unsustainable in the long-term. Lee claimed Thaksin's actions would ultimately undermine Thailand's revered ancient institutions as well as the military, and predicted that the number of red shirts would continue to "outnumber" their opponents.

Lee believed this new course Shinawatra set Thailand on would narrow the income gap across the country and "drive domestic consumption." He assumed that over time, Shinawatra's brand of politics would prevail - but apparently he never foresaw the events of 2013-2014 unfolding as they did.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Thailand: Burying Land-House Tax Bill Shows Government is Listening

When an "unelected government" becomes more representative of the people than an "elected" one." 

March 15, 2015 (Tony Cartalucci - ATN) - It was announced recently that the reviled, highly unpopular land and house tax bill proposed by the Thai government will be indefinitely shelved. This is good news for millions of Thais who understand that once one pays to live on their land or in their house, it no longer is "their" land or house and what once was private property, then becomes a "rental property" owned in all but deed by the Finance Ministry.

Some believe the land and house tax bill was simply a matter of people resisting taxes during an already economically uncertain time, and insist that "extra revenue" is necessary and the bill must still be inevitably rolled out. One such view was expressed in Bangkok Post's op-ed space. This is, however, not the case.

The idea of free people becoming tenants on their own land above all stirred opposition to the land and house tax bill, not the perceived financial burden it would cost amid an already shaky economy.

However, regardless, the government appears to have taken the widespread backlash to heart, reacting quickly and reversing the proposal. Part of that quick reaction may have been spurred by the fact that the ousted regime of Thaksin Shinawatra and his political party appeared to be positioning themselves to use the growing point of contention as a means to propel themselves back into popularity and political relevancy.

Some will argue the reversal was a sign of weakness, others can easily argue that it was the government simply doing what all representative governments are supposed to do - listen and respond to the people - particularly when a reasoned, logical, well-informed opposition voices specific concern regarding policy and legislation - which is precisely what many segments of the Thai population began doing in the face of the proposed tax bill.

How an "Unelected Government" Becomes More Representative Than an "Elected" One 

The widespread opposition to this recent tax proposal by an "unelected" government is not unlike what happened when the previous "elected" government of Yingluck Shinawatra proposed the reviled "amnesty bill." The amnesty bill would have exonerated politicians, particularly those associated with the Shinawatra family, of serial offenses (including corruption, human rights abuses, and mass murder) committed since Yingluck Shinawatra's brother, Thaksin Shinawatra first came to power in 2001.