Friday, April 20, 2018

Future of Asia: China's Economic Opportunities or America's Perpetual Conflict?

April 21, 2018 (Joseph Thomas - NEO) - The US recently announced possible plans to deploy thousands of addition US Marines to East Asia as part of the recently revealed 2018 National Security Strategy which designates China along with Russia as the US Department of Defence's "principal priorities."


The Business Insider in its article, "The US is considering sending heavily armed Marines to Asia to counter China," would state:
The possible MEU [Marine Expeditionary Unit] deployments could reassure Asian allies that the US is not a waning power in the region, something that has become a concern for partners in the Indo-Pacific.

However, if a nation needs to arrange a token redeployment to convince its allies it isn't a waning power, such gestures seem to only confirm such suspicions.

China is the New "Threat"  

Within the pages of the 2018 National Security Strategy, the US has justified its increasingly direct, adversarial posture towards China by claiming:
China is a strategic competitor using predatory economics to intimidate its neighbors while militarizing features in the South China Sea.
The document continues:
China is leveraging military modernization, influence operations, and predatory economics to coerce neighboring countries to reorder the Indo-Pacific region to their advantage. As China continues its economic and military ascendance, asserting power through an all-of-nation long-term strategy, it will continue to pursue a military modernization program that seeks Indo-Pacific regional hegemony in the near-term and displacement of the United States to achieve global preeminence in the future.

The paper also makes mention of what it calls an "international order," a reoccurring theme throughout several decades of US policy papers. While this particular paper claims it is "free and open" and "rules-based," other papers have more candidly described it.


Prolific US policymaker and neoconservative pro-war commentator Robert Kagan would claim:
The present world order serves the needs of the United States and its allies, which constructed it. 
In other words, the "international order" is merely the world as the US sees fit. US policy in Asia, attempting to maintain hegemony in a region a literal ocean away from its own shores validates Kagan's interpretation of what "international order" actually means. It is neither "free and open" nor "rules-based" unless it is understood that the world is considered "free and open" for Washington to do with as it pleases, with "rules" used only to constrain the actions of others in order to prevent competition.

In reality, the "international order" is predicated on a more timeless geopolitical maxim, "might makes right." Reflected in the pages of the 2018 US National Security Strategy then, is a United States attempting to cope with the fact that very soon it will no longer be the mightiest in the zero-sum world it created.

Targeting China's "strategic competition" across Asia with a military build-up in East Asia, however, reveals the United States' fundamental weaknesses, its overdependence on military might and its reliance on geopolitical coercion based on outdated administrative institutions similar to those of the bygone British Empire. The US appears to have made its long-term containment policy regarding China based purely on the assumption that it could maintain its military supremacy over China and continue monopolising global economics indefinitely.

It assumed wrong.

Building Together Versus Dividing and Destroying 

In contrast, China is building an alternative order upon economic opportunities, binding Asia together through infrastructure, manufacturing, enterprise and trade. Absent from Beijing's methodology is the political coercion, preconditions and interference ubiquitous throughout US foreign policy.


Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Vietnam Locks up US-funded Agitators

April 11, 2018 (Joseph Thomas - NEO) - Vietnam has tried and imprisoned several members of a US-funded network engaged in sedition across the country. The move follows  trials and prison terms handed out earlier this year for other US-funded operatives meddling in Vietnam's internal political affairs. 

Image: Nguyen Van Dai, recently sentenced to 15 years in prison, is pictured with US Senator and chairman of the International Republican Institute (IRI) John McCain in the US Embassy in Hanoi, Vietnam. The IRI provides money to foreign agents of US influence and is a subsidiary of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED).  
The prison terms for agents of US-funded political meddling in Vietnam come as the US and its European allies continue pushing accusations of Russian meddling. However, unlike the US and Europe's accusations against Russia, agents of US-funded sedition in Vietnam are exposed by extensive evidence, much of which comes from the US government itself. 

The BBC in its April 6, 2018 article, "Nguyen Van Dai: Vietnam jails activist lawyer and five others," would claim:
Six prominent Vietnamese activists have received heavy prison sentences on charges of "attempting to overthrow" the country's communist government. 

Lawyer Nguyen Van Dai was sentenced to 15 years, while the other defendants were jailed for between seven and 12 years, relatives said on Thursday.
The article mentions Nguyen Van Dai and his fellow defendants' role in founding the so-called "Brotherhood for Democracy."

Deutsche Welle in its article, "Vietnamese human rights lawyer Nguyen Van Dai among six given jail terms," adds that:
Dai founded the Committee for Human Rights in Vietnam in 2006 and was sentenced to five years in jail in 2007 for spreading propaganda against the government. While his term was reduced to four years on appeal, his lawyer's license was revoked. 

After his release in 2011, Dai co-founded the Brotherhood for Democracy network in 2013. It included other, formerly jailed dissidents advocating via social media for human rights throughout Vietnam.
DW would also report (our emphasis):
They were all accused of "activities aimed at overthrowing the people's government," according to the indictment issued by the Supreme People's Procuracy in Hanoi last December. The charges included carrying out human rights training, calling for multi-party democracy and receiving funding from foreign groups.

The BBC, DW and other US and European media organisations went through extensive efforts to avoid mentioning US training, funding and other forms of support provided to Nguyen Van Dai and other recently arrested and jailed "activists." The defendants' various website also fail to directly and openly disclose their funding.

However, admissions have been inadvertently made.

Covering Up US-Funding of Sedition in Vietnam  

While the US National Endowment for Democracy (NED) website lists 11 programmes being funded in Vietnam as of 2017, descriptions are left intentionally ambiguous, failing to disclose any organisation or individual actually receiving the funds. Disclosures for previous years have since been deleted from the NED website.

Opposition website "The 88 Project" in a post titled, "Vietnam Free Expression Newsletter No. 5/2018 – Week of January 29-February 4" would report on the imprisonment of Tran Hoang Phuc, Nguyen Van Dien and Vu Quang Thuan earlier in 2018.

Phuc is admitted to have been a participant in the US State Department's Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI). YSEALI indoctrinates young people across Southeast Asia, often helping them organise and fund subversive operations posing as "nongovernmental organisations" (NGOs).


Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Exposing and Stopping the Danger of US "Soft Power"

March 21, 2018 (Joseph Thomas - NEO) - US soft power is included in US policy papers and promoted by US politicians and diplomats on a regular basis. It is also included as the admitted purpose of US, UK and European international programmes like Chevening and Fulbright scholarships.


Foreign Affairs magazine, published by big-business-funded US policy think tank, the Council on Foreign Relations, would reveal in a review of Joseph Nye's book, "Soft Power: The Means to Success in World Politics," that (my emphasis):
...the term "soft power" -- the ability of a country to persuade others to do what it wants without force or coercion -- is now widely invoked in foreign policy debates.
The United States can dominate others, but it has also excelled in projecting soft power, with the help of its companies, foundations, universities, churches, and other institutions of civil society; U.S. culture, ideals, and values have been extraordinarily important in helping Washington attract partners and supporters.
And in reality, US domination and its soft power work together to create what is modern day empire and the foundation of US global hegemony.

The United States' many organisations, from the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) to its Young Leaders Initiatives targeting the Americas (Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative/YLAI), Africa (Young African Leaders Initiative/YALI) and Southeast Asia (Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative/YSELAI), all seek to indoctrinate and co-opt the populations of targeted nations to serve the interests of Wall Street and Washington rather than their own.

While the US does this often under the guise of promoting "democracy," it is clearly engaged in precisely the opposite. While democracy is generally understood as a process of self-determination, through US soft power, the process is co-opted and abused to allow Wall Street and Washington to determine the policies and direction a targeted nation takes rather than its own people.

Often times victims of US soft power are youths who are indoctrinated in university programmes or targeted by US-funded fronts posing as nongovernmental organisations (NGOs). They believe they have arrived at their conclusions and adopted their personal set of principles on their own, unaware of the amount of time, money and energy invested in ensuring they adopt a worldview and a set of political proclivities that serve US interests rather than those of their own nation, people and those of the individuals themselves.

The use of soft power is not new. It is a practice as old as empire itself.

The ancient Romans engaged in sophisticated cultural colonisation we could easily describe as soft power.

Ancient Roman historian Tacitus (c. AD 56 – after 117) would adeptly describe the systematic manner in which Rome pacified foreign peoples and the manner in which it would extend its sociocultural and institutional influence over conquered lands.

In chapter 21 of his book Agricola, named so after his father-in-law whose methods of conquest were the subject of the text, Tacitus would explain (my emphasis):
His object was to accustom them to a life of peace and quiet by the provision of amenities. He therefore gave official assistance to the building of temples, public squares and good houses. He educated the sons of the chiefs in the liberal arts, and expressed a preference for British ability as compared to the trained skills of the Gauls. The result was that instead of loathing the Latin language they became eager to speak it effectively. In the same way, our national dress came into favour and the toga was everywhere to be seen. And so the population was gradually led into the demoralizing temptation of arcades, baths and sumptuous banquets. The unsuspecting Britons spoke of such novelties as 'civilization', when in fact they were only a feature of their enslavement.
In a very similar manner, youths today in nations targeted by US soft power describe the notions of "democracy" and "human rights' as well as Western-style neo-liberal politics and institutions as "civilisation." They often seek out every opportunity to disparage the culture and institutions of their own nation, describing them as backwards and demanding they be promptly replaced with new notions and institutions modelled after or directly beholden to those in the US and Europe.

We can see across the whole of Asia this full process of soft power coming to fruition. Years and millions of dollars spent in infiltrating universities, indoctrinating youths through programmes like YSEALI or the British Chevening scholarships and funding and directing fronts posing as NGOs has led to the creation of entire political parties contesting power, comprised of indoctrinated youths beholden both to the notions of Western culture and institutions as well as the money and technical support nations like the US and UK directly provide these parties.

Hong Kong's "Demosisto" political party is made up entirely of youths and NGO representatives that have been created and funded for years by the US, UK and various other European interests.

Myanmar's ruling National League for Democracy has the top echelons of its party run by former journalists, activists and politicians cultivated, funded and trained by US-funded programmes for decades. This includes the current minister of information, Pe Myint.

Case Study: Thailand

The recently formed "Future Forward" opposition party headed by Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, the heir of a multi-million dollar auto-parts business, has overtly advertised itself as an amalgamation of Western-style neo-liberal political ideology.


While the supposed "founders" of the party appear to fully represent various social issues, the immense amount of money needed to perform "Future Forward's" campaigning indicates the true founders (and financial sponsors) have chosen to remain behind the scenes.