Thursday, September 22, 2016

YSEALI: America's Quiet Colonisation of Southeast Asia

September 22, 2016 (Joseph Thomas - NEO) - The US State Department's Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) claims on its official US government website to build "the leadership capabilities of youth in the region and promotes cross-border cooperation to solve regional and global challenges."


It not only consists of US-based educational and professional "fellowships" for Southeast Asian participants, but also a funding component to help alumni establish foreign-funded organisations posing as "nongovernmental organisations" (NGOs), enhancing the already large presence of US-funded organisations operating across Asia in the service of American interests.

Under an initiative called, "Generation: Go NGO!," YSEALI claims:
This is an opportunity for young NGO leaders to advance their professional skills and competencies with the aim to grow, scale, and take the organizations they work for, or those they founded, to new heights. 

From developing baseline metrics to creatively pursuing financial and in-kind resources to assertively applying social media to advance mission, this workshop will bring together individuals from across ASEAN to learn and collaborate on ways to build capacity, message, and impact.
Beyond this, YSEALI also conducts other workshops across Southeast Asia to help prepare what is essentially a parallel political establishment that serves not Southeast Asian institutions or the population, but the US State Department and the corporate and financial interests it represents, quite literally an ocean and continent away.


Monday, September 19, 2016

America in Asia: Arrogant, Unapologetic, and Ready for More Conflict

September 19, 2016 (Tony Cartalucci - NEO) - The United States exists an entire ocean away from Asia, yet its policymakers, politicians, and even Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter have declared America's "primacy" over the region, vowing to assert itself and its interests above all nations actually located in Asia. 


In a June 2016 Reuters article titled, "U.S. flexes muscles as Asia worries about South China Sea row," Secretary Carter is quoted as saying:
The United States will remain the most powerful military and main underwriter of security in the [Asian] region for decades to come – and there should be no doubt about that.
The US, by presuming to dictate all that takes place across Asia, has all but declared itself a hegemon.

Reiterating the notion of American primacy and exceptionalism is a full-time occupation for the US State Department's employees. This includes US Ambassador to ASEAN Nina Hachigian who pointed out to followers on Twitter that she had "spoke to some Lao shop owners" following US President Barack Obama's recent visit to the Southeast Asian nation, and "they said [President Obama's] visit was the most exciting and significant event in decades."

Of course, for the nation of Laos, the most significant event regarding the US is undoubtedly the 2 million tons of munitions the US dumped on it between 1964 and 1973. These 2 million tons include cluster bombs consisting of some 266 million submunitions, an estimated 30% of which were left unexploded and remain to this day an enduring, deadly hazard to Laos and its 6.8 million people.


There are an estimated 80 million submunitions still littering the country, or about 11 for each man, woman, and child that lives in Laos. 20,000 people have been killed by unexploded US munitions and many more maimed which includes losing limbs.


Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Obama's Ungraceful Exit from Air Force One, America's Ungraceful Exit from Asia

September 13, 2016 (Joseph Thomas - NEO) - When US President Barack Obama attempted to leave Air Force One upon arriving at Hangzhou, China, just southwest of Shanghai, he found that no staircase or red carpet awaited him. Instead, he and his staff were forced to use an alternative exit from the aircraft, only to find additional restrictions placed upon them on the tarmac.


The New York Times in its article, "Bumpy Beginning for Obama in China, Starting on the Tarmac," would note:

There was no staircase for Obama to exit the plane and descend on the red carpet. Obama used an alternative exit.
On the tarmac, a quarrel broke out between a presidential aide and a Chinese official who demanded the journalists traveling with Obama be prohibited from getting anywhere near him. It was a breach of the tradition observed whenever the American president arrives in a foreign place. 

When the White House official insisted the U.S. would set the rules for its own leader, her Chinese counterpart shot back. 

"This is our country! This is our airport!" the Chinese official yelled.
Rather than accept and adapt to the conditions set forth by their Chinese hosts, the President's staff quarrelled with them, marking yet another ungraceful bout of American exceptionalism where even in another's country, America's will is expected to be fulfilled.

Reflecting on the event, President Obama made cryptic comments seemingly both attempting to downplay the event as a mere oversight, but alluding to the fact that it was more than a mere oversight by their Chinese hosts.

And in fact, it was no oversight. It was a clear message to America that the age of American exceptionalism, particularly in Asia, is over.