Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Thailand: Telling The Kingdom's Side of the Story

December 12, 2013 (Tony Cartalucci) - Anti-regime protesters are beginning to understand what many average people around the world may still not know, that the Western media, particularly iconic names like the BBC, CNN, Reuters, AFP, AP, and many more, are not in fact news organizations, but rather propaganda fronts serving the corporate-financier interests of the West and whomever they may be using as proxies in any given country. 

In Thailand, that proxy is decidedly Thaksin Shianwatra, ousted from power in 2006 and since then running a proxy political party through various family members. His sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, currently holds the nation's premiership, despite Thaksin openly running the country from abroad.  

It was in 2010, when many Thais first had their eyes opened to the biased nature of Western propaganda. In particular, there was Dan Rivers of CNN, who obfuscated the existence of black-clad militants operating aomongst Thaksin's street mobs, engaging in shootouts with the Thai military for weeks, and resulting in the deaths of over 90 people, including 8 soldiers and police, as well as many by-standers and protesters. 

Dan Rivers' reason for omitting the existence of armed militants among the protesters was to portray the government as engaged in a brutal, unjustified military crackdown on unarmed civilians - this even despite one of Thaksin's spokesmen, Sean Boonpracong, admitting to Reuters early on in the violence that indeed armed militants filmed firing their weapons on troops on April 10, 2010 had been working on their behalf. 

Video: April 10, 2010 - armed militants operating within the ranks of pro-Thaksin protesters attacked riot troops with rifles and grenades, killing 6 including the colonel commanding the operation. The resulting crossfire between troops and militants would end up killing many more, and similar gun battles would take place over the next several weeks. In all, over 90 would die, and to this day the Western media and the regime itself maintain the army simply "butchered 92 protesters." 

Reuters in their 2010 article, "Red means stop, and anger, in vibrant Thai protest," reported: 
The red shirts' international spokesman, Sean Boonpracong, told Reuters elements of the army are with their movement. They are known as "watermelons" -- green on the outside but red in the middle -- and they include the shadowy, black-clad men with military weapons that were seen at the April 10th crackdown. 
"They are a secret unit within the army that disagrees with what's going on. Without them, the black clad men, there would have been a whole lot more deaths and injuries," he said.
And now, as Thailand faces renewed conflict, these practiced liars are once again on the ground, prepared to take anything they see, spin it, and work it into a predetermined narrative to then be peddled before the world. John Head of the BBC looks like a strong candidate to replace Dan Rivers as arch-propagandist, while many locally based-expats working with/for the regime are more than eager to add their subsidized voices to the growing din of disinformation. 

So why was Dan Rivers intentionally lying about the conflict? And what can a nation like Thailand do in the face of such well organized deceit? 

Western Media Defends Corporate-Financier Interests, Not the Truth 

To understand the stalwart support the Western media lends Thaksin Shinawatra and his regime, one must understand the vast investment the West has made in him. 

Thaksin had been prime minister from 2001-2006. Long before Thaksin Shinwatra would become prime minister in Thailand, he was already working his way up the Wall Street-London ladder of opportunity, while simultaneously working his way up in Thai politics. He was appointed by the Carlyle Group as an adviser while holding public office, and attempted to use his connections to boost his political image. Thanong Khanthong of Thailand's English newspaper "the Nation," wrote in 2001:
"In April 1998, while Thailand was still mired in a deep economic morass, Thaksin tried to use his American connections to boost his political image just as he was forming his Thai Rak Thai Party. He invited Bush senior to visit Bangkok and his home, saying his own mission was to act as a "national matchmaker" between the US equity fund and Thai businesses. In March, he also played host to James Baker III, the US secretary of state in the senior Bush administration, on his sojourn in Thailand."
Upon becoming prime minister in 2001, Thaksin would begin paying back the support he received from his Western sponsors. In his first year in office, he immediately began selling off Thailand's national resources, including privatizing the nation's oil and selling it off to Chevron. In 2003, he would commit Thai troops to the US invasion of Iraq, despite widespread protests from both the Thai military and the public. Thaksin would also allow the CIA to use Thailand for its abhorrent rendition program.

In 2004, Thaksin attempted to ramrod through a US-Thailand Free-Trade Agreement (FTA) without parliamentary approval, backed by the US-ASEAN Business Council who just before last year's 2011elections that saw Thaksin's sister Yingluck Shinawatra brought into power, hosted the leaders of Thaksin’s "red shirt" "United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship" (UDD).

Image: The US-ASEAN Business Council, a who’s-who of corporate fascism in the US, had been approached by leaders of Thaksin Shinwatra's "red shirt" street mobs. (click image to enlarge)
The council in 2004 included 3M, war profiteering Bechtel, Boeing, Cargill, Citigroup, General Electric, IBM, the notorious Monsanto, and currently also includes banking houses Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Chevron, Exxon, BP, Glaxo Smith Kline, Merck, Northrop Grumman, Monsanto’s GMO doppelganger Syngenta, as well as Phillip Morris.
Photo: Deposed autocrat, Thaksin Shinawatra before the CFR on the even of the 2006 military coup that would oust him from power. Since 2006 he has had the full, unflinching support of Washington, Wall Street and their immense propaganda machine in his bid to seize back power.

Thaksin would remain in office until September of 2006. On the eve of the military coup that ousted him from power, Thaksin was literally standing before the Fortune 500-funded Council on Foreign Relations giving a progress report in New York City.

Since the 2006 coup that toppled his regime, Thaksin has been represented by US corporate-financier elites via their lobbying firms including, Kenneth Adelman of the Edelman PR firm (Freedom HouseInternational Crisis Group,PNAC), James Baker of Baker Botts (CFR), Robert Blackwill of Barbour Griffith & Rogers (CFR), Kobre & Kim, and currently Robert Amsterdam of Amsterdam & Peroff (Chatham House).

Robert Amsterdam of Amsterdam & Peroff, would also simultaneously represent Thaksin's "red shirt" UDD movement, and was present for the inaugural meeting of the so-called "academic" Nitirat group, attended mostly by pro-Thaksin red shirts (who literally wore their red shirts to the meeting). Additional support for Thaksin and his UDD street-front is provided by the US State Department via National Endowment for Democracy-funded "NGO" Prachatai

It is clear that the West has invested astronomical amounts of time and resources into the Shinwatra regime, and the regime has attempted to reciprocate by selling off national resources, signing compromising FTAs, entangling Thailand's foreign policy with the global exploits of Wall Street and London, and as of late, seeking to claw its way back into power and try it all over again. 

This sort investment will be jealously defended. To expect the BBC, CNN, or Reuters, all of whom work directly for the very interests invested in Thaksin Shinawatra's return to power, to report objectively and give an honest account for what is taking place in Thailand, is naive at best - dangerously destructive at worst. 

How to Counterbalance Western Propaganda

In the past, not may options were open to a nation besieged and/or subverted by the West. Government run media has been clumsy and quickly distrusted by foreign audiences, official statements are easily filtered out or spun by the Western press, and hiring Washington lobbyists only entangles any given nation with the very special interests trying to undermine them - as well as engendering distrust back at home. 

There are many examples of how to do it wrong, but also, fortunately, examples of how to do it right. Russia's RT news service (English) and Iran's Press TV (also English) are two of these. RT is becoming the leading counterbalance to Wall Street and London's propaganda. While RT itself holds the interests of Russia closely to heart, producers realize that the key to their success has been being more or less truthful - in other words tapping the demand for accurate news coverage a growing number of people realize they cannot get from the Western media. Should RT begin employing the same methods of deceit as the West, they would be conceding the one advantage they have over the much larger, better funded, and entrenched Western press. 

Russia's unique position of reemerging world power and the size and wealth of the nation lends weight and reach to its reportage. Iran, on the other hand, could be considered a growing regional power in the Middle East. Its news network, PressTV, is providing a much needed counterbalance to the Western media in regards to pivotal events throughout both the Middle East and across the greater Muslim World. 

For Thailand, it could take cues from both. The professional international production value of RT, combined with the regional strategy and focus employed by Press TV. Having separate Thai and English services covering news in Thailand, across Asia, and around the world, this news service could serve as the voice of Thailand, from Thailand, to counterbalance the current narrative regarding Asian events dominated by the Western press. 

There is also a need to counter the various smaller, local operations, funded by the US State Department, the British Foreign Ministry and other Western special interests seeking to manipulate public perception of Asia both domestically and internationally. Outfits like US NED funded Prachatai, or in nearby Asia-Pacific, Australia's Lowy Institute and its ring of propaganda fronts, have been busy at work, serving as "experts" and "sources" for the West to use in its propaganda.  

In creating a counterbalance to get the truth out it is important to remember several key points: 

1. To get the truth out, one must tell the truth. It is far easier to tell the truth than to manufacture lies. Consistency and accuracy are the reasons why RT and Press TV are able to gain and keep large audiences. Gaining the trust of viewers and readers and keeping it is difficult, but regaining it after it has been lost is nearly impossible. It must be actual news, and not just state or party propaganda - viewers will know, and they will tune out. 

2. Production value must focus on professionalism. Local cultural idiosyncrasies might turn off foreign audiences - the very people you are attempting to tell your side of the story to. 

3. Focus on strengths - being a Thai-version of RT or Press TV, in Thailand, means direct access and local knowledge of events taking place in or near the country. This ability to understand what is happening and to gather and get that information out to eager viewers is something the West cannot compete in, and the resources behind a Thai-version of RT or Press TV will always have significantly more resources at its disposal than any of the propaganda fronts the West funds inside of Thailand. 

4. Strict editorial control is necessary to ensure that Western propaganda does not creep into the organization. However, space must be given for fair and balanced reporting, even if it is critical of those behind the network themselves. 

5. Outreach - English and Thai services must also be accompanied by a full range of social media accounts - in Twitter, Facebook, affiliated blogs, and an official, professional and easily accessible English/Thai language website. Focusing on niche issues among international news is a good means of bringing in a wider audience.

6. Reputation - To make it difficult for critics to spin coverage, building up a respectable reputation is essential. This, again, depends on truthful and timely news, providing insight and information Western propaganda fronts cannot gain access to, or cannot do so in a timely manner, or refuse to do because it will compromise their agenda.