Friday, November 29, 2013

Thailand: TIME Magazine Does Hit Piece on Anti-Regime Protests

November 30, 2013 (Tony Cartalucci) - How times have changed, and how TIME magazine has changed with them. Just in 2011, TIME was praising the so-called "Arab Spring" as throngs of protesters rose up to oust "tyranny" and bring in "democracy."

While despotic regimes tied to Western corporate-financier interests or vicious wars led by NATO-backed hordes of Al Qaeda instead took the place of "democracy," the glowing praise of the "Arab Spring" can still be seen and heard across the Western media.

Strange then, it seems, that now as throngs of protesters fill the streets in Thailand's capital, Bangkok, and in provincial capitals around the country to demand the ousting of a despotic regime guilty of theft, corruption, and mass murder, TIME has decided to side with the government and condemn the unprecedented numbers in the streets as "undemocratic."

It's article, childishly titled, "Thailand’s Democrat Party Is Hilariously Misnamed," reeks of a paid-for hit piece and extreme bias before reading the first sentence, and lays out a suspiciously incomplete background to the story that leaves the current Thai regime looking like the victim.

Why the Change in Heart? 

It is quite simple. The "Arab Spring" was not real dissent - that is - while many demonstrators no doubt were agitated, the impetus, leadership, and final objectives of the protests were not genuine, but rather directed by the West.

The US State Department admitted that it had been training the leaders of the eventual 2011 "Arab Spring" as early as 2008. After initially feigning displeasure and ignorance over the unrest, the New York Times would report in their article, "U.S. Groups Helped Nurture Arab Uprisings," that:
Even as the United States poured billions of dollars into foreign military programs and anti-terrorism campaigns, a small core of American government-financed organizations were promoting democracy in authoritarian Arab states.
It would identify these groups as (emphasis added):
A number of the groups and individuals directly involved in the revolts and reforms sweeping the region, including the April 6 Youth Movement in Egypt, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and grass-roots activists like Entsar Qadhi, a youth leader in Yemen, received training and financing from groups like the International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute and Freedom House, a nonprofit human rights organization based in Washington, according to interviews in recent weeks and American diplomatic cables obtained by WikiLeaks.
A quick look at the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), through which each of these groups are funded and directed, reveals a board of directors representative of something entirely NOT democratic - but rather representative of the largest corporate-financier interests on Earth.

Their goal across the Middle East was to reshape it politically to suit their interests, not foster "democracy." The subsequent regimes in Libya, Tunisia, and in Egypt (until real dissent and a military coup sweep it away) were despotic many times over than those protesters attempted to replace. In nations like Syria, the so-called "opposition" has been fully revealed as hordes of Al Qaeda, equipped, armed, trained, and funded by NATO, even being sheltered within NATO-member Turkey.  

Image: A visual representation of the National Endowment for Democracy's corporate-financier ties found across their Board of Directors. Far from "human rights advocates," they are instead simply leveraging such issues to disguise what is in reality corporate-financier hegemonic expansion.

In regards to Thailand, this same consortium of corporate-financier interests has been the primary factor maintaining the current government's grip on power. While headed by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, the government is run remotely from Dubai, by Yingluck's brother Thaksin Shinawatra who is currently residing there as a fugitive.

The National Endowment for Democracy directly funds pro-Thaksin propaganda fronts such as "Prachatai" and other faux-human rights organizations like the Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA), that leverage their perceived legitimacy to attack his opponents and prop up his regime, usually behind the ironic guise of "human rights."

Image: The Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA) is proudly sponsored by the US State Department's National Endowment for Democracy, Freedom House, and convicted Wall Street financial criminal, George Soros' Open Society Institute. It should be noted that Kenneth Adelman, a trustee of Freedom House, has also served as Thaksin Shinawatra's lobbyist, exposing this so-called human rights organization, and fronts like SEAPA as nothing but an extension of the special interests Adelman openly serves. 

And perhaps most damning of all is that NED's Freedom House Trustee, Kenneth Adelman, literally served as Thaksin Shinawatra's paid lobbyist. Adelman is just one of many Washington D.C. lobbyists that have come to Thaksin's rescue. Since a military coup ousted him in 2006 Thaksin has been represented by US corporate-financier elites via their lobbying firms including, James Baker of Baker Botts (CFR), Robert Blackwill of Barbour Griffith & Rogers (CFR), Kobre & Kim, and currently Robert Amsterdam of Amsterdam & Partners (Chatham House).

To claim that the current government represents "democracy" would be dishonest at best. Looking at the Shinawatra regime's foreign sponsors, it appears more appropriate to say it represents the ambitions and designs of Wall Street and London who have propped it up for nearly a decade. 

This is where TIME comes in. 

What TIME Doesn't Say is more Important than What it Does Say...

TIME attempts to spin recent news reports trickling out into the international media of unprecedented protests filling the streets of Bangkok and Thailand's many provinces. It attempts to portray the protests as simply elitists attempting to overrule "democratic elections." TIME claims:
If anyone has been exercising people power, it’s the 15 million voters who elected Yingluck and her Pheu Thai party in July 2011. Thaksin-backed political parties have won the previous five elections with significant majorities, and Thaksin’s own populist policies helped bring millions of rural poor out of poverty. 
These of course are the elections "won" by Thaksin's well oiled and foreign-funded political machine. Like everywhere else, from neighboring Malaysia to Russia, NED is involved in skewing election results both locally and from abroad, while propping up political parties favorable to its corporate interests. TIME doesn't dabble in the actual nature of Thaksin's "red shirt" supporters, nor does it mention the phenomenon of Khmer Rouge-style "red villages" constructed by Thaksin where villagers, with his money and blessing, post up signs with his image on it, declaring the entire village his. Political dissent is not tolerated, and critics of Thaksin have literally been hacked to death with machetes.

Photos: Top: Machete wielding thugs during 2009's failed insurrection. Bottom: The establishment of politically exclusive zones called "red villages" and "red districts" where Thaksin is literally declaring political monopolies and intimidating opposition from expressing themselves. While the Thaksin denies this is their intent - there have been horrific incidents of violence throughout Thaksin's northeast epicenter of support, including the infamous hacking to death of a radio DJ's father after speaking ill of the UDD - covered in an interview with red shirt propagandist Kanyapak Maneejak (DJ Aom) of Thaksin's Chiang Mai Rak 51 faction. Kanyapak states that red shirt mobs were simply "following their hearts" when they butchered the old man outside the gates of his own home. 

A notorious incident involved Thaksin supporters rushing to the house of a radio DJ who spoke ill of Thaksin. When his father attempted to flee, they cut him down with machetes. When asked about the incident, pro-Thaksin mob leader Kanyapak Maneejak claimed, "the reds there all came following their hearts."

This cult of personality built on violence, intimidation, and the exploitation of a rural people kept intentionally ignorant while indoctrinated at political indoctrination camps set up by Thaksin's political lieutenants, is peddled by TIME as a democracy on the verge of being overthrown by a "putsch." It is a deception, as is the repetitive mantra that the majority of Thais stand behind Thaksin and his political machine.

In the last general election, held in 2011, according to Thailand's Election Commission Thaksin Shinawatra's proxy political party received 15.7 million votes out of the estimated 32.5 million voter turnout (turnout of approx. 74%). This gives Thaksin's proxy party a mere 48% of those who cast their votes on July 3rd (not even half), and out of all eligible voters, only a 35% mandate to actually "lead" the country. 

Out of this 35%, the number of actual Thaksin supporters is difficult to estimate, as many cast votes simply because they are paid to or for free handouts afterward. While anti-regime rallies fill the streets with hundreds of thousands of protesters around the country, Thaksin's counter rally can barely fill a quarter of the stadium it has been held at for now nearly a week. With more than enough people living within walking distance of the stadium to fill it up many times over, and even with a stream of buses organized by Thaksin's political machine disgorging red shirts gathered up from across the country, why is the stadium still empty?

But numbers in and of themselves do not legitimize a government. Throughout history, dictatorships have used elections and personality cults to lend themselves legitimacy they otherwise lacked, and no matter how popular a candidate may be, if he is overtly committing crimes, enriching himself at the expense of the nation, and leading his countrymen to strife and ruin, elections are simply the trappings of a poorly dressed dictatorship. 

TIME's Glossing Over of Mass Murder 

Finally, but perhaps most importantly, TIME's ability to gloss over Thaksin's human rights record is astonishing and is the telling exhibit that reveals the biased nature of both the article, as well as the hypocrisy of TIME's greater editorial agenda. TIME writes: 
There are, of course, plenty of reasons to oppose the billionaire telecom mogul: the catalog of nest-feathering business deals from his time in office left few in any doubt of his lack of scruples, while his 2003 “war on drugs” involved some 2,800 extrajudicial killings. The image of him directing demonstrations from his lavish Dubai haven, while his Red Shirt supporters risk arrest, violence and occasionally their lives, is hardly a heroic one. But the opposition’s failure to exploit these weaknesses is astonishing.
TIME's ability to mention "some 2,800 extrajudicial killings" as if it is a mere afterthought is only part of the story. In 2003, Thaksin Shinawatra initiated what he called a "war on drugs." It involved granting police "shoot to kill" orders and quotas to meet. What resulted was nearly 3,000 dead in under 90 days. Human Rights Watch, in their 2004 report "Not Enough Graves," would later reveal that most of those killed by Thaksin had nothing at all to do with the drug trade. The next year, Thaksin's regime would claim the lives of 85 protesters in a single day in what is now known as the Tak Bai incident.

Just as the regimes decried by TIME in 2011 during the "Arab Spring," Thaksin's regime is not just guilty of mass murder but as also been accused of intimidating, kidnapping, and killing his opponents - including journalists and lawyers.

Image: A section from the "Voice of Taksin" publication releasing the personal details of judges involved in court cases against Thaksin Shinwatra. The article was preceded by stories of judges who had been killed for making "unfair" rulings and was a threat made against judges who might dare rule against Thaksin.  

Thaksin's tenancy toward violence also includes his multiple attempts to retake power. In the lead up to political violence in 2010 that claimed nearly 100 lives, triggered by pro-Thaksin militants the Human Rights Watch report "Descent into Chaos" said carried M16 and AK-47 assault rifles, M79 grenade launchers and M67 hand grenades, Thaksin's propaganda front openly threatened the life of judges ruling against him in one of many corruption cases he faces. At stake were billions of baht in cash.

After a month of bloodshed, and with Thaksin's mobs dispersed and order restored to Bangkok, buildings owned by Thaksin's opponents were in flames, lit ablaze by his militants and looted by his mobs.

This was also conveniently omitted from TIME's piece.

In fact, had TIME actually told the full story, readers would immediately understand and support the protesters clamoring in the street calling for the ouster of this despotic regime. TIME did not tell the truth, and in stark contrast to its coverage of the "Arab Spring," is protecting a brutal dictator while disparaging the people who have, in historical numbers, come out into the streets to oppose him. TIME hopes that the average reader simply trusts the reputation and perceived legitimacy of TIME as a journalistic publication, and not bother looking into both sides of the story.

Thaksin's political machine is foreign-backed corporate fascism, wrapped in the tattered trappings of "democracy," with a tinge of "socialism" and a dash of "class struggle." For the people who see these trappings and fail to look deeper at the core of who Thaksin really is and how he came to and remains in power, he may seem appealing and "counter establishment." In reality he is simply a tentacle of a bigger establishment - that of Wall Street and London. Whatever social injustices TIME attempts to pin on the current Thai establishment, they are dwarfed by what Thaksin has already done, which in turn is dwarfed by what he intends to do should protesters fail to uproot him.

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