Friday, June 15, 2018

Tales of North Korean Abuses: No Facts, All Fiction

June 16, 2018 (Tony Cartalucci - NEO) - Claims of North Korean human rights abuses spearheaded attempts to undermine US-North Korean negotiations in Singapore. While the talks are unlikely to change the long-laid agendas of special interests across the West who have cultivated and profit from the ongoing conflict, it is important to confront these claims and diminish the intended effect they are meant to have in buttressing the notion of American exceptionalism and justifying American interventionism. 


Tales of North Korean human rights abuses are so pervasive and persistent that even those opposed to US exceptionalism and interventionism have shied away from confronting and refuting them. 

Rumors Built Upon Rumors 

One would expect such significant accusations to be backed up by an equally significant amount of evidence. Yet - like most of what the Western media produces and spreads among the public consciousness - there is little evidence at all. 

In most cases, tales of North Korean abuses are derived from hearsay by alleged witnesses and supposed defectors who no longer reside in North Korea.

The New York Times provides a prime example of the sort of abuses unquestioningly cited and repeated by pundits, politicians, and political "experts" alike. In its recent article, "Atrocities Under Kim Jong-un: Indoctrination, Prison Gulags, Executions," the New York Times would claim:
Mr. Kim rules with extreme brutality, making his nation among the worst human rights violators in the world. 

In North Korea, these crimes “entail extermination, murder, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, rape, forced abortions and other sexual violence, persecution on political, religious, racial and gender grounds, the forcible transfer of populations, the enforced disappearance of persons and the inhumane act of knowingly causing prolonged starvation,” concluded a 2014 United Nations report that examined North Korea.
The source of the New York Times' assertions is admittedly a "2014 United Nations report that examined North Korea," officially titled the, "Report of the detailed findings of the commission of inquiry on human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea" (PDF).

The 372-page report - however - admits under an introductory section titled, "Methods of work," that (emphasis added):
In the absence of access to witnesses and sites inside the DPRK, the Commission decided to obtain first-hand testimony through public hearings that observed transparency, due process and the protection of victims and witnesses. Victims and witnesses who had departed the DPRK, as well as experts, testified in a transparent procedure that was open to the media, other observers and members of the general public. More than 80 witnesses and experts testified publicly and provided information of great specificity, detail and relevance, sometimes in ways that required a significant degree of courage.   
In other words, the entirety of the UN's 372-page report - cited as "evidence" of North Korean "atrocities" by prominent media organizations like the New York Times - is based on hearsay gathered by an investigation that never stepped foot once inside North Korea. Despite a lack of actual evidence to substantiate these claimed abuses, the New York Times depicts the UN report's conclusions as fact.


Friday, June 8, 2018

Manufacturing Dissent: US NGO's Build Opposition in Thailand

June 9, 2018 (Joseph Thomas - NEO) - Should decidedly anti-British government organisations be found across the United Kingdom to be funded and directed by Russians, we could only imagine the reaction. Even whispers of hints of Russian influence have resulted in legislation, sanctions and quite literally years of punditry warning of the Kremlin's insidious reach.


When the tables are turned, it is clear London, Washington and Brussels understand the inappropriateness of one nation interfering in the internal affairs of another.

Yet this acute awareness has not informed US or European foreign policy, including components of what could be called "soft power," or influence operations. While soft power implies non-coercion, in practice it is always used in conjunction with coercive means toward exacting concessions from targeted nations.

Hiding US Funding 

In the Southeast Asian Kingdom of Thailand, a growing army of such influence operations has formed the foundation of an opposition to the current government. It is an opposition that without its current funding and support from abroad otherwise would not exist.

Just as was done for years against nations like Syria, Libya, Ukraine and Egypt (nations to have recently suffered or nearly suffered the impact of Western-sponsored regime change), Thailand faces long-term interference in its internal affairs as a direct result of these influence operations.

The opposition in Thailand itself is minute and unpopular. However the organisations supporting them enjoy a veneer of credibility owed primarily to their efforts to obfuscate from audiences their foreign funding and their actual role in organising and leading the opposition.

One example can be seen in the local English-language newspaper, the Bangkok Post. Its article, "The fight for basic rights," interviews the American founders of a supposed nongovernmental organisation called, "Fortify Rights." Fortify Rights has consistently used its platform to support anti-government protests under the pretext of defending human rights.


Nowhere in the interview is Matthew and Amy Smith asked where their money comes from and how, as Americans, it is their moral imperative to involve themselves in critical issues faced by Asia.

Throughout the interview, the Smiths repeatedly admit to reporting back to the United States government, including testifying before US Congress and lobbying in Washington for issues related to Myanmar's ongoing refugee crisis. The interference in Asia by a nation residing on the other side of the planet seems almost taken for granted by both the Smiths and the interviewer, as if the United States is imbued with the authority to arbitrate universally.



On social media, when the topic of US government funding was raised, Matthew Smith categorically denied receiving US government funding. He would refer to additional questions regarding his organisation's funding as "trollish."

However, Fortify Rights' 2016 annual report (PDF), as pointed out to Smith himself, includes government funding from the United Kingdom, Canada, the Netherlands and the US Congress-funded National Endowment for Democracy (NED).


Other controversial sponsors of Fortify Rights include convicted financial criminal George Soros' Open Society Foundations.

Matthew Smith not only knows that NED is funded by and serves as an intermediary for the US government, (thus making Fortify Rights a recipient of US government funding), he is undoubtedly aware of how controversial such funding is across Asia, a region sensitive to outside interference after centuries of European and more recently, American colonisation.


Monday, June 4, 2018

US Regime Change and its Armies of "Garbage"

America's "color revolutions" are polished by the Western media to portray opposition as daring heroes. However, the truth is far less flattering, and even compromising. 

June 5, 2018 (Tony Cartalucci - NEO) - Had James Buchanan - writing for the Guardian in his article, "'This country has no freedom!': how Thailand's punks are railing against the junta" - told the truth about who Kitikea ‘Pure Punk’ Kanpim was and the subculture of substance abuse and woman-beating he represented - the article likely would never have been published.


But telling the truth is not the business the Guardian is in - telling narratives that buttress the US-European corporate-driven agenda is. And the agenda for Thailand is regime change.

Just as the Western media sold the world tales of brutal terrorists representing "freedom" and "democracy" in nations like Libya and Syria in 2011 or right wing Neo-Nazis in Ukraine in 2014 - the Western media is rummaging through the lowest common denominator in Thai society to portray a fringe anti-government movement as a "popular uprising."

To that end, Buchanan's article portrays drug-addled woman-beaters like Kanpim as disingenuously as he does Thailand's political crisis.

His article claims:
Anger at repression is quelled under the military dictatorship – but the country’s punk scene is turning the protest volume back up again.
It continued:
The provocative slogan, directed at junta leader Prayuth Chan-ocha, helped the event’s Facebook page go viral, piquing the interest of pro-democracy activists and putting the small underground scene in the national spotlight.
Despite Prayuth Chan-ocha being Prime Minister of Thailand - the Western media has repeatedly used the slur "junta leader" to depict both the prime minister himself and the nation's government as a backwards 3rd world dictatorship. 

Yet no mention is made of what precipitated the 2014 military coup in Thailand that brought both to power - not by Buchanan in the Guardian - and not anywhere else across the Western media.

Western Media's Contempt for Context

The previous government was headed by US-backed billionaire ex-prime minister, mass murderer, and now fugitive Thaksin Shinawatra via his own sister who openly ran as his proxy during 2011 elections. After coming to power in 2011, Shinawatra immediately began amending laws to grant himself and his political allies amnesty in a bid to return himself fully to power. 

A vote-buying rice subsidy program that played a role in putting Shinawatra's political party into power also began unraveling. By 2014, nearly 1 million farmers were left unpaid with their rice stolen away to government warehouses. Protests swelled to over 1 million people on key days. In a bid to cling to power, Shinawatra deployed heavily armed militants to attack protesters across the country leaving over 20 dead. 

These were the same armed militants who targeted and killed soldiers in 2010 triggering weeks of violence leaving nearly 100 dead in what Buchanan disingenuously called in his article a "military crackdown." 



Shinawatra's government openly declared it did not recognize the court's authority. Police - loyal  to Shinawatra who himself was a high-level police bureaucrat before becoming prime minister - refused to act. It was left to the military to intervene to restore the rule of law.

Up until the week of the coup that finally removed Shinawatra from power - people were dying in the streets and farmers languished unpaid and in crippling poverty induced by the Shinawatra's corruption.

In this context, the coup would appear justified to most readers - which is precisely why this context is omitted in Buchanan's article and in articles all across the Western media.

The Woman-Beating "Freedom Fighter" 

This brings us back to Buchanan's article and its attempt to portray Thailand's "punk scene" as a small but important part of the "widespread opposition" he claims exists.

Friends close to Kitikea ‘Pure Punk’ Kanpim - admit that he suffers from a life of substance abuse - ranging from hard drugs and the abuse of prescription psychotropics, to alcohol and butane fumes. He is also prone to fits of abuse and violence - directed generally at his girlfriend. Local news stories have frequently covered his erratic and at times criminal behavior which police believe is associated with mental illness. 

In one instance, Kanpim would punch his girlfriend in the face, knocking her to the ground before painfully grinding his "Doc Martin" boot on her forehead.