Fake News Storm Clouds Gather Over Southeast Asia

March 10, 2018 New Eastern Outlook 

From Cambodia to Thailand American and European media companies have launched a campaign of disinformation aimed at reversing Washington's waning influence in the region vis-à-vis not only Beijing, but the growing strength of nations the US and Europe once saw as mere geopolitical pawns.

Cambodia Expels US-Run Opposition Party and Media 

In Cambodia, articles depicting the government as having trampled free speech and democracy are in direct response to Phnom Penh's decision to disband the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) headed by Kem Sokha who now resides in jail. The media storm also follows the Cambodian government's decision to shut down US government funded propaganda networks posing as local, independent news organisations.

This includes Voice of America and Radio Free Asia, both funded and directed out of Washington D.C., not anything resembling independent, local political interests in Cambodia itself.

A good example of this disinformation campaign comes from Voice of America Khmer itself in an article titled, "U.S. Cutting Aid to Cambodia for Recent Democratic Setbacks." The article claims:
In its annual World Report, the rights group said the government, controlled by Prime Minister Hun Sen's Cambodian People's Party for more than three decades, disbanded the main opposition party, the Cambodia National Rescue Party, and arrested its leader on questionable treason charges. The dissolution came after a ruling the CNRP was involved in an attempt to overthrow Hun Sen's regime. 
However, what VOA calls "questionable treason charges" are never explored further in the article. The charges stem from CNRP leader Kem Sokha himself being caught on video openly admitting to conspiring with the US government to seize power in Cambodia.

Confirmed US Meddling in Thailand's Upcoming Elections

February 21, 2018 New Eastern Outlook

As the United States intensifies its accusations against Russia for alleged interference in the 2016 US Presidential Elections, the United States itself is found engaged in confirmed political interference worldwide.

This includes in Southeast Asia where Washington is attempting to rush elections in Thailand in hopes of returning their proxy Thaksin Shinawatra and his Pheu Thai Party (PTP) to power.

US efforts to rush elections have included a concerted effort to dismiss those pointing out Shinawatra's continued influence in Thai politics, his continued leadership role over PTP and his intentions to use PTP to return to power.

However, Reuters in an article titled, "Thai ex-PM Thaksin calls for party unity ahead of promised election," would openly admit Shinawatra, a convicted criminal and fugitive, still controlled PTP whose leadership met with him recently in Hong Kong.

The article reported:
Fugitive former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra met lawmakers from his Puea Thai Party in Hong Kong where he called for party unity ahead of an approaching general election, party members said on Monday.
Many are watching to see how Puea Thai Party performs in a vote which the military government has promised to hold in November but which could be delayed.

The necessity of repeated delays of Thai elections is very straightforward.

Thaksin Shinawatra, a convicted criminal and fugitive still seeks to contest them through PTP. Allowing a fugitive to contest elections would be illegal and any election outcome influenced by a convicted criminal and fugitive would be illegitimate. By delaying elections, the current Thai government hopes to continue diminishing Shinawatra's unwarranted influence and wealth as well as that of his political network inside Thailand until both are no longer an obstruction to legal elections.

Yet despite this straightforward necessity to delay elections, the United States and its European partners have repeatedly demanded rushed elections. Additionally, the US and its European partners are funding myriad opposition fronts ranging from media platforms to street protests to place pressure on the current Thai government to rush elections while it is believed Shinawatra and PTP still have a chance of winning.

New Year, New Turmoil as US Targets Thailand

January 27, 2018 New Eastern Outlook

Washington's Asia-Pacific strategy has gone from maintaining primacy over the region for decades to increasingly desperate attempts to salvage its now waning influence.

This is in part due to China's rise as an economic, military and political regional power as well as the increasing self-reliance of smaller but still pivotal Asian nations. This includes the Southeast Asian Kingdom of Thailand.  

In Washington' Shadow 

The height of contemporary US influence over Thailand was in 2001 when Thaksin Shinawatra became prime minister. His administration eagerly catered to US interests at Thailand's own expense, including sending Thai troops to participate in the 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq, hosting the US Central Intelligence Agency's extraordinary rendition programme on Thai soil, attempts to sign a US-Thai free trade agreement without approval of Thailand's parliament and the privatisation of Thailand's natural resources.

He also indulged in a wide spectrum of human rights abuses including a 2003 90 day "war on drugs" that left nearly 3,000 innocent people extrajudicially executed in the streets, a 2004 crackdown on protesters in Thailand's restive deep south that left over 80 dead in a single day, the assassination or disappearance of his political opponents and a concerted campaign of fear and intimidation waged against the Thai media.

Image: Thaksin Shinawatra, since fleeing the country after a criminal conviction, has led protests and election campaigns remotely by telephone and video ever since.

By 2006, Shinawatra had overreached in his ambitions. Between increasingly bold attempts to consolidate his power and the abuse of that power, the Thai military was finally prompted to oust him from office in a swift and bloodless coup.

In the aftermath, he would be convicted for corruption and sentenced to 2 years imprisonment. Rather than face jail, he fled Thailand and has attempted to run his political party remotely as a fugitive since.

America's Awkward "Pivot" to Asia: US-Cambodia Confrontation Widens

January 25, 2018 New Eastern Outlook

The so-called "Pivot to Asia" initiated under the administration of US President Barack Obama as a means of reinvigorating US influence across Asia Pacific vis-à-vis China has resulted in a backlash against tired US policies predicated on "democracy promotion," "rights advocacy" and increasingly meaningless economic and military ties between Washington and the nations of Southeast Asia.

From a "pivot" that was presented as a means to win over allies across Asia through economic trade and regional security underwritten by US military might, under the administration of current US President Donald Trump, US foreign policy has shifted decidedly toward a coercive and punitive posture to reestablish Washington's influence.

It can be argued, however, that the "pivot" was from the beginning, merely window dressing for a policy that was little more than a highly focused effort to coerce and punish nations for moving out of Washington's sphere of influence, and into Beijing's.

In Cambodia, this backlash against US intentions has been particularly acute. The Cambodian government under Prime Minister Hun Sen has shuttered and expelled US State Department-funded fronts posing as nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) including media organisations, as well as arrested opposition leaders and disbanded the opposition's political party.

US Strikes Back 

In turn, the US has imposed visa restrictions on individuals within the Cambodian government involved in the crackdown on US-backed political activity in the country.

Flaunting British Neo-Imperialism in Asia-Pacific

January 10, 2018 New Eastern Outlook 

For over a century, the British Empire exerted control over Asia-Pacific, outright colonising India, Burma, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Singapore and Australia while influencing and encroaching upon greater China, Siam and beyond.

It exploited the people and natural resources of the region, fuelled conflict as it waged war with rival European powers seeking to carve out their own colonies in Asia and left an enduring impact on the region, including ethnic and territorial feuds still unfolding today, e.g. the Rohingya crisis in present-day Myanmar.

Rather than make restitution for its decades of war, conquest and exploitation, the United Kingdom today eagerly seeks to reassert itself in the region alongside the United States who has also spent over a century in the region pursuing what US policymakers openly admit is American "primacy."

The Diplomat, a US-European geopolitical publication focused on Asia-Pacific, described this development in its article, "The British Are Coming (to Asia)."

The article featured a single image, that of the HMS Queen Elizabeth, one of the UK's newest warships and its largest. It is one of two "colossal warships" UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson recently pledged to send across the globe to aid Washington in its growing confrontation with Beijing.

The author, US Air Force Major John Wright currently serving as Japan Country Director, International Affairs, Headquarters Pacific Air Forces, Honolulu, Hawaii, attempts to construct a positive argument for the UK's involvement thousands of miles from its own shores.

The article admits that the US has few capable allies in the region willing to "comply with mutual defence needs beyond their own territory." It admits that the US has increasingly looked beyond Asia for partners. The UK then, is about as beyond Asia as any potential partner could be.

The article notes that the UK has already deployed warplanes to Japan in addition to the aforementioned future deployment of British warships to the region. It also suggests that:
...the U.K. could revive the old trick of acting as a “fleet in being;” its ability to steam where and when it pleased while possessing no major territory would throw off regional rivals’ military calculus and force them to commit precious reconnaissance assets to monitoring the United Kingdom.
In other words, a European military would be deployed in and harass "rivals" across Asia alongside US warships already engaged in regional meddling. This, the author concludes, "would be a great benefit to stabilising the security troubles of the region."   

NATO Rolls Out Offensive Cyberweapons

December 26, 2017 New Eastern Outlook  

NATO members including the US, UK, Germany, Norway, Spain, Denmark and the Netherlands have begun taking public steps in defining guidelines regarding the deployment of offensive cyberweapons.

Reuters in its article, "NATO mulls 'offensive defense' with cyber warfare rules," would state:
A group of NATO allies are considering a more muscular response to state-sponsored computer hackers that could involve using cyber attacks to bring down enemy networks, officials said.
Reuters would also report:
The doctrine could shift NATO’s approach from being defensive to confronting hackers that officials say Russia, China and North Korea use to try to undermine Western governments and steal technology.
The article also noted that the United States and its allies already possess and have threatened to use cyberweapons offensively, citing the 2010 Sutxnet virus deployed against Iranian nuclear infrastructure as a possible example. Other examples cited of possible applications included shutting down power plants with malware rather than bombing them.

Reuters also reported that NATO was setting up "cyber commands" including one in Estonia apparently intended to launch cyber attacks into Russia.

Western Media Consumed by Myanmar Monster of Own Creation

December 23, 2017 New Eastern Outlook  

Years ago, those confronting and questioning the Western media's "pro-democracy" narrative regarding Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, her National League for Democracy (NLD) political party and her supporters including saffron-clad supposed "Buddhist monks," were ridiculed and dismissed.

Warnings that Suu Kyi's political movement was nothing more than a foreign-funded attempt to co-opt the people and resources of the Southeast Asian state of Myanmar - a former colony of the British Empire still referred to widely in the West by its colonial nomenclature, "Burma" - were dismissed as mere conspiracy theories.

Meanwhile, concerns that violence targeting Myanmar's Rohingya minority was in fact being bolstered by Suu Kyi's rise to power were intentionally and concertedly sidestepped by the Western media who attempted to conceal the true nature of Suu Kyi's political party and the core "values" of her support base and shift blame onto the ruling military-led government.

It was inevitable that upon taking power, Suu Kyi and the NLD - enabled by decades of US-UK-EU financial, political, and material support - the progressive veneer applied to this "democracy icon" would begin to peel, and the true nature of her and her followers would reveal itself.

Consumed by a Monster of Their Own Creation 

In an immense amount of irony, prominent Western media organizations like Reuters now find themselves decrying the very government they themselves spent decades helping into power, as the government cracks down on reporting over the ongoing Rohingya crisis.