US-Funded Mobs Attempt to Block Thai-Chinese Submarine Deal

The protesters’ argument is childish, but Washington’s reason for wanting the deal dropped is much more obvious.

  • Diesel electric subs are quiet, launch anti-ship cruise missiles out of range of enemy anti-sub capabilities; 
  • At least 2-3 submarines firing missiles in a coordinated attack would have a chance at breaching an enemy vessel’s air-defense weapons; 
  • Deal would build significant military ties with China – already Thailand’s most important economic partner; 
  • US seeks to encircle and contain China with a united front comprised of Australia, Japan, India, and even the UK and France;
  • China and potential allies like Thailand and others in the region would pose a significant deterrence to this strategy and other forms of foreign aggression.

August 26, 2020 (Tony Cartalucci – ATN) – Thailand’s US-backed opposition has attempted to oppose the purchase of an additional 2 Chinese-built Type 039A submarines by the Thai Royal Navy. The purchase would bring the total of Chinese Type 039A submarines being delivered to Thailand to 3.

US-funded street protests and the US-backed billionaire-led opposition parties they seek to put into power – Pheu Thai and Move Forward (formally Future Forward) – have vowed to include opposition to the submarine deal to their list of demands.

The Bangkok Post in its article, “Navy defends subs procurement, Pheu Thai vows to sink it,” would note (empahsis added):

Pheu Thai spokesman Anusorn Iemsa-ard on Monday dismissed the navy’s explanation as being of no consequence. The party would not step back from the issue, he said. If necessary they step up the campaign to sink the project. He warned of a street protest against the submarine procurement.

Thailand is one of the few Southeast Asian countries at the moment without submarines, with nations like Myanmar, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, and even the tiny city-state of Singapore all possessing one or more.

The modernization of Thailand’s navy and closer military ties with China and other pro-Beijing nations in the region would diminish the threat of Washington’s open desire and already ongoing efforts to confront and contain China and its allies in the region through the use of military force.

It is not that Thailand seeks to use its submarines to sink the ships of existing enemies threatening the nation now, it is that Thailand seeks to create a credible deterrence so that it never needs to.

While there are other more reasonable groups suggesting that the purchase simply be delayed so that post-COVID-19 economic recovery can be accelerated – the US-backed opposition has been opposed to the Thai-Chinese submarine deal long before the COVID-19 crisis began – and have opposed all other forms of military spending as well.

As early as 2018, articles like, “Future Forward Party vows to cut army budget,” would report (emphasis added):

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.

“In today’s world, no one engages in wars any more,” said Mr Piyabutr, adding the saved money would be spread among the people, including as educational scholarships for the young and an old age allowance hike for the elderly.

Another article from January 2020 titled, “Opposition targets 124-billion-baht defence budget,” – before any lockdowns or any subsequent economic turmoil struck,” would report:

The opposition has taken aim at the proposed 124-billion-baht budget for the Defence Ministry, with the focus of attack locked on the planned purchase of two submarines worth 22.5 billion baht.

The parties mentioned in the article included Future Forward and Prachachat Party – both of which are nominee parties created by US-backed fugitive billionaire Thaksin Shinawatra and his Pheu Thai Party.

READ MORE: The Complete Guide: US Government Role in Thailand’s “Student Protests

It is clear that COVID-19 is simply the latest excuse to channel public frustration away from actually working on building the nation up, and aiming it at institutions the US-backed opposition seeks to tear down.

The opposition’s argument against the deal is childish and transparently self-serving. It wants power, and the military stands in its way. The US which backs the opposition clearly desires to unravel Thai-Chinese relations – hoping to roll back everything from military purchases like the pending submarine deal, to cancelling high-speed rail projects already under construction.

The argument against the submarine deal attempt to prey on the general public’s ignorance of modern warfare, basic strategy, and even basic economics.

So if Thailand does need submarines, why? 

Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum: If You Want Peace, Prepare for War 

The saying, “if you want peace, prepare for war,” is attributed to late Roman writer Vegetius, and expressed what was already an age-old maximum at the time – realizing that nations desiring peace needed to maintain a significant deterrence against any potential enemy’s desire for war.

This sentiment is also echoed in the writings of ancient Chinese strategist Sun Tzu dating back 2,500 years ago in “The Art of War” where he stated:

The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.

This means keeping ones military forces so well prepared, trained, and equipped for war that it would never become a matter of fighting your enemy and defeating them, because no enemy would will to fight in the first place.

Type 039A submarines are diesel electric. They are exceptionally quiet making it difficult for anti-submarine warfare units to find and destroy them. In addition to shorter range anti-ship torpedos, they can also fire CM-708 missiles and CX-1 cruise missiles which travel at ranges of up to 280 km (174 miles) from 6 torpedo tubes.

However, in order to overwhelm an enemy warship’s air-defense capabilities, it would be likely that more than 4-6 missiles would need to be launched at a single time. Thus, should Thailand have 3 submarines they would be able to launch a coordinated attack – posing a serious threat to enemy surface vessels at ranges beyond an enemy’s anti-submarine warfare capabilities.

Should Thailand’s 3 submarines be combined with those of other nations in the region – including China – against a foreign aggressor – these capabilities would be multiplied.

It is not that Thailand seeks to use its submarines to sink the ships of existing enemies threatening the nation now, it is that Thailand seeks to create a credible deterrence so that it never needs to.

The United States is already seeking conflict thousands of miles from its own shores in the South China Sea. It has tens of thousands of its troops scattered across East Asia in Japan and South Korea, in Oceania in Australia, and even in Southeast Asia in the Philippines where they are mostly unwelcome. US troops also occupy Afghanistan which borders China to the west.

Beyond that, the US has used its military to destroy Libya, nearly destroy Syria, and transform Yemen into what the UN itself calls “the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.”

In order to claim that, “in today’s world, no one engages in wars any more,” Thailand’s US-backed opposition must be living in an entirely different world.

The US has also all but announced its intentions to use military might to reestablish its primacy over Asia-Pacific – a continent and ocean away from Washington. It is developing weapons and establishing bases specifically for this purpose, while carrying out military exercises off China’s shores.

It also seeks to create a united front to antagonize China and its allies. Potential members include Australia, Japan, India, and even nations as far flung from Asia-Pacific as the UK and France.

And Washington’s creation and sponsorship of protests in nations like Thailand are aimed also at undermining China by destabilizing and for all intents and purposes – eliminating its closest and most important regional allies. 

For the nations of Asia which count China as their most important trade partner, investor, source of tourism, and increasingly as an important partner for developing infrastructure – the prospect of the US encircling and containing China is a threat to all Asia.

The fact that the US is openly working to destabilize and destroy Asia as a whole to isolate and implode China, is a much more obvious and direct threat to all Asia.

For all of Asia, if it wants peace, it must prepare for war. This means creating a regional military capable of deterring the world’s greatest threats. The US – for the multiple nations it has destroyed and still to this day illegally occupies and menaces – constitutes such a threat and obviously so.

China, Thailand, and other nations cooperating closer on military matters as they increase economic cooperation would create a deterrence to such a threat, limiting what it might be tempted to do, and perhaps eventually convincing the US and its allies to engage more constructively with Asia rather than seeking primacy over it.

Arguments Against Thai-Chinese Submarine Deal are Childish 

Besides the literal children the opposition is hiding behind – the opposition itself has fielded a multitude of childish reasons they are opposed to the Thai-Chinese submarine deal. One thing that immediately reveals itself is the lack of any demonstrated knowledge by the opposition of anything relating to modern warfare, the technical aspects of the submarines in question, or how they will – or could – be used.

One argument is that the money could be used for something else “more important.” The money is being taken from the Royal Thai Navy’s own, existing budget. In order for the money to be spent on something else, the Navy’s budget would need to be reduced and the funds transferred elsewhere. Since Thailand most definitely needs a navy – as all nations with a coast do – the money is already being spent on something important.

Another argument is that Thailand isn’t currently fighting a war and thus doesn’t need weapons.

This ignores the basic fact that in modern warfare entire conflicts can start and finish in days, weeks, or months. Waiting until war breaks out to acquire the weapons you need to fight it is not a strategy at all – and those citing it in their opposition to Thailand’s military spending are either woefully ignorant of even the most basic aspects of modern warfare, or deliberately seeking to leave Thailand weak and defenseless.

The process of acquiring submarines, training sailors and preparing the vessels for combat takes years – years no nation has when a war has already begun.

One op-ed in the Bangkok Post would claim:

If bought, the future of the submarines wouldn’t be difficult to fathom. Look at how we manage other military vehicles. A fleet of 25 tanks now serves as an artificial coral reef under the sea near Narathiwat while the HTMS Chakri Naruebet, Thailand’s first aircraft carrier, now serves as a playground for Children’s Day..

Lamenting that weapons were purchased but never “used” – in other words never sent off to war – is a particularly odd stance for someone attempting to appear “progressive.” In the case of the HTMS Chakri Naruebet, while it hasn’t been used in war, it has been repeatedly used in major relief operations across Thai territory including during various major floods and the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.

Thailand’s military commanders apparently understand “si vis pacem, para bellum,” and that the best weapons are the ones they never have to use. They have aptly protected the nation because of this understanding. They’ve done so despite desk chair commentators and their inability to understand or appreciate it. 

The same author would conclude by claiming:

That these submarines are to be procured for “national defence” is pretty ironic, considering so many people are barely surviving as it is.

Yet at a time when “people are barely surviving as it is,” the US-backed billionaire-led opposition is choosing to take to the streets, threatening political instability that will most certainly compound Thailand’s post-COVID-19 economic troubles – not help them.

In fact – this very same opposition in 2010 took the the streets in protests that ended in armed gun battles with government troops and widespread arson killing nearly 100 and costing as much as 13 submarines. Surely, that money could have been used for something “more important.”

Backing off an important defense deal with China because a loud, violent US-backed opposition threatens unrest otherwise – sets a dangerous precedent. So does caving because a “hashtag” artificially trended in opposition to the deal on a US-based social media network well known for its role in political interference abroad.

It is clear that a real global menace and its many proxies do not want Thailand to purchase these submarines. This seems to only further validate the Royal Thai Navy’s decision to buy them in the first place.