And why is the Western media pretending the US isn’t funding them?
August 5, 2020 (Tony Cartalucci – LD) – The Southeast Asian nation of Thailand has in recent years “tilted” too far toward China for Washington’s liking.
Now, the familiar signs of US-backed covert regime change are evident in Thailand’s streets. Protests are openly targeting Thailand’s current government as well as its military and constitutional monarchy. Protests are similar to US-backed unrest seen recently in Hong Kong and are becoming more frequent despite their poor attendance and an overall protest-weary public.
“It is neo-colonialism dressed up as a pro-democracy movement meant to end Thailand’s ability to decide for itself its own foreign policy, economic partners, and military allies. It couldn’t be any less “pro-democracy” – which is precisely why maintaining “secrecy” regarding the protest’s real sponsors and agenda is so important.”
Despite the superficial and deliberately ambiguous stated goals of protesters – the real goal of US-backed unrest in Thailand is similar to its motivations for sowing chaos in Hong Kong – to pressure Beijing by attacking China’s stability directly and the stability of its most important trading partners and military allies which currently includes Thailand.
Thailand – with the second largest economy in ASEAN – has boosted ties with China significantly in recent years – China being Thailand’s primary export and import partner, providing Thailand the majority of its foreign direct investment, tourism, the majority of its arms purchases in a recent bid to modernize it military, and in the construction of major infrastructure projects including a high-speed railway system that will extend China’s One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative deep into Southeast Asia.
Thailand has also openly and repeatedly refused to join US efforts to pressure Beijing regarding issues like the South China Sea.
It is obvious why the US would want to pursue regime change in Thailand – and failing that – what lies behind its desire to plunge the nation into disastrous chaos denying it and China any prospect of stability or prosperity.
Western Media Seeks Secrecy for Protest Leaders, Sponsors
The Western media was all too happy to report on a “Harry Potter” themed protest at Democracy Monument in Bangkok on August 3. Protest leader Anon Nampa openly criticized Thailand’s key independent institutions including the military and the monarchy.
US government-funded front – Prachatai – extensively covered the small protest in its article, “The revolution will be magical: Harry Potter-themed protest calls for monarchy reform” despite the protest clearly drawing less than 100 people.
What the Western media and US-funded fronts didn’t mention was who Anon Nampa is, his role in leading protests, who funds his activities, or why. More specifically, nothing is mentioned about the real motivations people like Anon Nampa have for targeting Thailand’s military and monarchy specifically.
Obviously the US would prefer a client regime completely dependent on Washington financially and politically – something much more preferable to strong Thai institutions like the military and monarchy which do not answer to Washington and have the resources and ability to act independently.
Despite occasionally mentioning Anon Nampa and other leaders by name, the Western media and their local partners have insisted the protests are “organic” and “leaderless” and aimed at achieving superficial and deliberately ambiguous goals like “democracy” and “human rights.”
The Protests are not “Leaderless”
Anon Nampa is a lawyer and member of Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR). The front has been funded since it was created in 2014 by the US State Department via the notorious National Endowment for Democracy (NED) long-since exposed as an arm of US-backed regime change efforts around the globe.
Bangkok Post in a 2016 article titled, “The lawyer preparing to defend herself,” would admit:
…[TLHR] receives all its funding from international donors including the EU, Germany and US-based human rights organisations and embassies of the UK and Canada.
One of TLHR’s founding members – Sirikan “June” Charoensiri – was later awarded the US State Department’s “2018 International Women of Courage Award,” presented to her by US First Lady Melania Trump.
The US embassy in Bangkok also openly praised TLHR in its own post celebrating the award, exclaiming:
The U.S. Embassy in Bangkok is proud of Sirikan “June” Charoensiri’s work as a lawyer and human rights defender, and for being recognized by the Secretary of State as an International Women of Courage award recipient.
Ms. Sirikan is a co-founder of Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR), a lawyers’ collective set up to provide pro bono legal services for human rights cases and to document human rights violations.
TLHR staff are also regularly accompanied by US and European embassy staff when hearing charges regarding their overt foreign-funded sedition.
It is clear that the US government and its European partners have invested heavily in TLHR and groups like it in Thailand.
It is also clear that TLHR and other US government-funded fronts in Thailand are leading current protests and that the Western media is deliberately attempting to nonetheless portray the protests as “leaderless,” never asking obvious questions regarding money trails and political motivations.
Secrecy an Obvious Prerequisite for Covert Regime Change
The Diplomat is an explicitly pro-Western policy journal partnered with other journals and organizations openly funded by and/or affiliated with various governments in the West including the United States government itself.
In its article, “As US-China Competition Grows, Will Covert Regime Change Make a Return?,” academics admitted that growing US-Chinese tensions provide ample motivations for Washington to pursue Cold War-style covert regime change operations against “regimes that tilt too close to China.”
The article would admit (emphasis added):
As the rivalry between the United States and China intensifies against the backdrop of a pandemic and (dis)information wars about culpability, some have wondered whether covert regime change might make a comeback. During the Cold War, the the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), almost always at the direction of the president, quietly engineered the overthrow of numerous regimes who drifted — or were perceived to be drifting — too close to the Soviet Union. It is not hard to imagine how competition with China for the allegiances of other countries might create similar incentives.
The article notes that while the Cold War saw the height of such operations carried out by the US government, such operations have most certainly continued until present day – citing US-led regime change efforts in Syria as a specific example.
Under an entire section of the article titled, “The Appeal of Secrecy,” the authors would note (emphasis added):
The ongoing battle over the rules of international order also means that U.S. policymakers may be especially keen on hiding violations of existing laws governing intervention — laws that they helped create. Given China’s own embrace of the principles of non-intervention and non-interference, brazen violations could cede the moral high ground and result in greater support for the Chinese model. It is conceivable that these dynamics could play out in regions like Africa where the United States and China continue to compete for economic and military influence.
Finally, any consideration of using the quiet option to topple regimes that tilt too close to China must include a full accounting of the inherent risks. These include the prospect that a covert operation will become public knowledge prematurely and the possibility that it could destabilize the target state and create longstanding ill-will in the process.
Thus – by the West’s own admission – pretending obviously US-funded subversion in Thailand aimed at a Thai government that “tilts too close to China” is “organic” and “leaderless” is all part of the “covert regime change” playbook.
TLHR – brought into existence by the US embassy in Bangkok in 2014 and funded by the US government ever since – has openly led anti-government protests in Thailand alongside other similarly US-backed fronts with Anon Nampa taking on a more visible role physically leading protests in recent weeks.
Without the millions of dollars provided to Anon Nampa, TLHR, and other fronts like it by the US government their ongoing activities would be impossible and these protests would never have materialized.
Eliminating Thailand’s military and monarchy – two institutions with independent means to fund themselves and with full agency over their own decisions – and replacing them with opposition groups entirely dependent on US and European funding and political support is the surest means to rectify Thailand’s “tilt to China.”
An opposition installed into power by the US would lack any means to make its own decisions and would represent its sponsors in Washington rather than the Thai people it claims to champion for.
Obviously keeping Washington’s role in current Thai protests as quiet as possible for as long as possible is meant to protect the illusion of legitimacy the protests have been given by the Western media. It helps prevent any revelations or public outcry that “could cede the moral high ground and result in greater support for the Chinese model.”
It is neo-colonialism dressed up as a pro-democracy movement meant to end Thailand’s ability to decide for itself its own foreign policy, economic partners, and military allies. It couldn’t be any less “pro-democracy” – which is precisely why maintaining “secrecy” regarding the protest’s real sponsors and agenda is so important.
ADDED – AUGUST 17, 2020:
Why the US Wants to Remove Thailand’s Current Government/Institutions and Who They Want to Replace Them With…
US-Chinese tensions have seen an uptick in recent years through a series of confrontations including in the South China Sea and through a growing “trade war.” But simmering just out of view is a series of covert regime change operations the US is organizing both inside China’s own territory and against China’s closest allies throughout Asia.
This includes in the Kingdom of Thailand – the second largest economy in Southeast Asia, with a population of nearly 70 million, and who in recent years has expanded ties with China through a series of major arms deals, joint military exercises, increases in trade and investment, as well as through joint infrastructure projects extending Beijing’s One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative deep into Southeast Asia.
Thailand has begun replacing its aging US military hardware with new Chinese systems including VT4 main battle tanks, armored personnel carriers, infantry fighting vehicles, naval vessels including Thailand’s first modern submarines as well as joint defense projects like the DTI-1 guided missile launcher.
China is also Thailand’s largest export and import partner, the largest source of foreign direct investment, and the largest source of tourists – accounting for more tourism to Thailand than from all Western nations combined.
Thailand has also openly and repeatedly refused to join the US in placing pressure on Beijing regarding the South China Sea. Thailand likewise refused to heed US demands to allow suspected Uyghur terrorists to travel through Thai territory and instead extradited them back to China – a move that resulted in the deadly 2015 bombing in Thailand’s capital aimed at Chinese tourists.
In addition to growing military, economic, and political ties, Thailand is jointly building high-speed rail lines to extend China’s OBOR initiative from China, through Laos in the north, through Thailand, and to Malaysia and Singapore to the south. Once completed passengers and cargo will be able to move overland to and from China at unprecedented rates and volumes – cementing China’s position as the regions central economic power – replacing the US permanently.
Unable to compete on equal terms economically, the US has instead turned to political subversion.
It has backed political opposition parties who have openly pledged to role back Thai-Chinese relations in favor of renewed obedience to Washington.
This includes political parties like Pheu Thai led by fugitive billionaire Thaksin Shinawatra and Move Forward (formally Future Forward) led by nepotist billionaire Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit.
Articles like Bloomberg’s “Thailand needs hyperloop, not China-built high-speed rail: Thanathorn,” illustrates clearly the agenda US-backed political parties and leaders like Thanathorn represent. The article would note:
A tycoon turned politician who opposes Thailand’s military government has criticised its US$5.6 billion high-speed rail project with China because hyperloop technology offers a more modern alternative.
It should be noted that not only does the “hyperloop” exist only as crude prototypes versus China’s high-speed rail technology already moving billions of people a year – the Thai-Chinese high-speed rail line is already under construction.
Thus – Thanathorn’s proposed reversal would mean cancelling actual ongoing construction and waiting years if not indefinitely for theoretical “hyperloop” technology to be developed let alone deployed.
Thanathorn – unsurprisingly – is also a critic of Thai military spending since much of it is directed toward Chinese hardware replacing the US as Thailand’s primary arms supplier.
Bangkok Post’s “Future Forward Party vows to cut army budget,” would note:
The Future Forward Party (FFP) has vowed to cut the military budget and reduce the number of generals in the army, according to its secretary-general Piyabutr Saengkanokkul.
Despite the US alone waging multiple wars around the globe, Future Forward co-founder Piyabutr Saengkanokkul provide a particularly absurd reason for slashing Thailand’s military budget:
“In today’s world, no one engages in wars any more.”
Thailand’s growing ties with China are clear. So is China’s rise regionally and globally. Washington’s desire to remain the dominant power in Asia-Pacific is also abundantly clear. Just as the US has done in Hong Kong, Xinjiang, and has attempted to do in neighboring Southeast Asian countries – it is attempting to effect regime change and the overwriting of Thailand’s political order in a bid to reverse this trend.
No one will win except Wall Street and Washington. The US and the protests it backs in Thailand have no alternative for the massive amount of economic opportunities China currently offers Thailand. The goal is to simply cut China off – not create something of equal or greater opportunity. So while “student” protesters complain about the economy, they are holding a proverbial knife to the neck of Thailand’s economic future – both in terms of the instability the unrest they seek to create will impact the country – and the economic ties with China that will be cut by the political interests that will take power if they succeed.