Why is a supposed “professor” lying and basic facts, accusing others of “fake news” while engaged in it himself? A look at how the US co-opts academia in a targeted country.
August 28, 2020 (Tony Cartalucci – ATN) – Thai-based English-language newspaper the Bangkok Post is never short on pro-Western anti-government voices eager to write columns.
Associate Professor Thitinan Pongsudhirak’s most recent op-ed is a perfect example of this.
When Thitinan calls something that is a fact, “fake new,” he is the one making fake news.
Clearly aimed at confronting and denying growing awareness that Thailand’s protests are the product of the nation’s corrupt billionaire-led opposition and its US sponsors – he provides an anemic, easily-debunked counter argument as to why he insists “student protests” – with large stages, professional sound systems, giant diesel generators, trucks providing logistics – are still “organic” and self-organized.
Are The Protests Organic?
His op-ed claims (emphasis added):
This time, the forces of the status quo revolving around the military, monarchy, judiciary and bureaucracy are at it again. But this time their primary opponent is not the political party machine of ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and its associated “red-shirt” supporters and voter bases in the North and Northeast. Instead, a broad-based and organic youth movement on myriad campuses in high schools and universities across the country is knocking on the door and challenging the established centres of power to reform and modernise.
Thitinan must have missed in the news just months ago when this same “youth movement” was openly brought into the streets, led from the front by union-busting billionaire Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit and his Future Forward/Move Forward Party.
Thai PBS’ article, “Thanathorn vows to bring people onto streets after rally in downtown Bangkok,” would report as early as December 2019 that:
Addressing the demonstrators, Thanathorn said the rally was just a harbinger of more political activities against the Prayut government. He threatened to “bring people to the streets…”
And here are the protests Thanathorn promised. There is nothing – even at face value “organic” about these protests. It was a corrupt billionaire’s promise to use mobs to gain the power his performance at the polls in 2019 failed to gain him.
|Image: The purpose of investing in academics like Thitinan can be seen here when US State Department propaganda like Voice of America needs a local voice to buttress US State Department talking points – in particular – claims that Asia’s population resents China while only uncooperative “anti-democratic” governments are doing business with Beijing.|
The current protest’s demands are identical to those of Future Forward/Move Forward and their senior partners – Pheu Thai Party – still run openly by fugitive billionaire Thaksin Shinawatra.
Thitinan even attempts to specifically deny there is any link between the current mobs and both Thanathorn and Thaksin.
He claims (emphasis added):
The go-to for blame in the recent past was Thaksin, and lately it has been Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, founder of the Future Forward Party, a parliamentary vehicle of young Thais which was hastily dissolved earlier this year. Yet student leaders and stage speakers have hardly praised either Thaksin or Mr Thanathorn. They look to be fighting their own fight and making their own struggle.
This is a lazy – entirely unqualified statement presented with no evidence whatsoever. Actual evidence proves that the core leaders of the so-called “Student Union of Thailand” (SUT) are diehard Thaksin and Thanathorn fans.
Their personal social media profiles are saturated with selfies taken not only at Future Forward/Move Forward and Pheu Thai rallies, but with the parties’ most senior leaders including Thanathorn himself and Thaksin Shinawatra’s sister, ousted ex-prime minister and now fugitive Yingluck Shinawatra.
One SUT leader, Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak, is even seen attending one the “red shirt” rallies Thitinan claims the students have nothing to do with.
|Image: Protests are regularly attended by politicians from Thailand’s billilnaire-led opposition parties Pheu Thai (right) and Future Forward/Move Forward (left). They often participate and provide material support to the protesters – because obviously “students” are buying or even renting stages, sound systems, diesel generators, and the fleet of trucks and workers who bring them to protest sites.|
And if Thitinan is too old-fashioned to do basic research into the background of a movement he presumes to lecture the public on through an op-ed in the Bangkok Post, perhaps he could just open his eyes at the next rally and see Future Forward/Move Forward and Pheu Thai members of parliament attending and even participating – including providing support for the core leadership.
Is the US Involved in the Protests?
Thitinan then claims (emphasis added):
So it must be the foreigners who are inciting the Thais to hate each other. Surely, these student protests must be the handiwork of the US government, with its age-old invasive and intervening tentacles around the world. The US must want to keep Thailand away from China because the post-coup Thai government has leaned towards Beijing.
This is actually 100% true – and the US itself has even admitted it seeks to prevent Asia from tilting too far toward Beijing. But Thitinan claims this isn’t so.
He explains (emphasis added):
Thai-US relations under President Donald Trump since 2017 have warmed up considerably compared to his predecessor Barack Obama. President Trump received Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, then a military junta leader, at the White House in October 2017. Since then, Thai purchases of US military hardware have revived. Just last month, Thailand and the US signed a Joint Vision Statement to reaffirm and reinvigorate the bilateral treaty alliance that dates back to 1954, highlighted by the US Army chief-of-staff’s visit to Bangkok. It does not make sense for the US to support the student movement to see the back of Gen Prayut and his government. Any Thai government cannot afford to be anti-China but the Prayut-led and military-backed regime has been broadly pro-US since Mr Trump took office.
Nothing about any of this adds up. Signing nonbinding “statements” is meaningless. Visits are meaningless. The Chinese president also visited the US and the US president visited China – does this mean the US and China are allies?
Thai-US arms deals have not been “revived.” Notice how Thitinan again omits any actual figures or facts.
The vast majority of Thailand’s military hardware is now being purchased from China, Russia, and Europe with purchases from the US steadily declining. Even a side-by-side comparison between US and Chinese arms deals with Thailand reveals China enjoys a nearly three-fold advantage – this is not even counting another two submarines Thailand seeks to purchase from China.
|Image: Thailand’s purchases from China including VT-4 main battle tanks, VN1 armored vehicles, a submarine, and an amphibious ship vs. its purchases of US-built Strykers, Harpoon missiles, and AH-6i helicopters. Thailand is slated to buy 2 more Chinese submarines – not included in this chart.|
Thitinan could have read the very same Bangkok Post his own op-eds regularly appear in to find this out. A 2019 article titled, “China competes with US for weapons sales to Thailand,” noted (emphasis added):
US-Thai relations soured after Gen Prayut led a military coup in 2014, triggering American laws that restrict defence ties until democracy is restored. China quickly filled the void, stepping up military exercises and signing 10 major arms deals including Thailand’s largest defence purchase ever: $1.03 billion for three diesel-electric submarines and 48 battle tanks, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.
Thitinan just plain blatantly lied. He also completely omitted mention of Thai-Chinese infrastructure projects including significant high-speed rail projects that will not only link various locations within Thailand together, but link Thailand to China via Laos. Nothing America has or could conceivably offer can compare.
Beyond the childish metrics Thitinan chose to make his point, there is documented, verified evidence that the current protests are funded by the US government.
The main protest leader – Anon Nampa – belongs to the “Thai Lawyers for Human Rights” (TLHR) which is funded by the US government via its notorious regime change arm, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED).
Organizations attempting to rewrite Thailand’s constitution as per the protesters and their billionaire-led opposition’s demands include iLaw which is also funded by the US NED.
Propaganda networks promoting the protests like Prachatai are also funded by the US NED.
Finally, even groups organizing bodies to fill up rallies like “Assembly for the Poor” is funded directly by the US NED.
In fact – virtually every aspect of the protests are funded by the US government to the point that those claiming the protests are “organic” appear to be playing a deliberate role in covering this up since it seems otherwise impossible not to notice.
Thitinan neither acknowledges facts surrounding US government involvement in Thailand’s protests, nor attempts to explain or excuse them – for obvious reasons. But they are facts nonetheless – facts his op-ed were meant to distract away from.
He concludes by claiming:
The list goes on, and the best way to separate fact from fiction and fake news is to listen to what these young Thais have been saying. Eyes, ears and an open mind are all that are needed to know the imperative for change and reform in Thailand.
Listening to protesters behind which billionaires and foreign governments are hiding – is not the best way to separate “facts from fiction and fake news.” Investigation and the gathering of evidence is.
Thitinan’s op-ed was practically a check list of facts he deliberately attempted to discredit as fake news.
When Thitinan calls something that is a fact, “fake new,” he is the one making fake news.
Who is Thitinan? And who is he Kidding?
Thitinan himself is described in a mini-bio at the end of his column as (emphasis added):
An associate professor and director of the Institute of Security and International Studies at Chulalongkorn University’s Faculty of Political Science, with more than 25 years of university service. He earned his MA from The Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and PhD from the London School of Economics where he was awarded the UK’s top dissertation prize in 2002.
Not mentioned in his bio are his moonlit dinners at 5 star rooftop restaurants in downtown Bangkok with W. Patrick Murphy, former US Chargé d’affaires and Deputy Chief of Mission in the Kingdom of Thailand.
This wining and dining is a typical feature of compromised figures in Thailand’s academia and media – drawn in by US and other Western embassies to unflinchingly support Western special interests when they should be critically examining them and reporting on them to the public in order to serve the best interests of their own nation.
Worse still Thitinan is a signatory for at least one of the US NED’s projects, the so-called, “Coalition for Democratic Renewal.”
He is a co-signer with the US NED’s president, Carl Gershman, as well as pro-war US Neo-Conservatives and NED directors like Francis Fukuyama, George Weigel, and the Washington Post’s Anne Applebaum, as well as fellow Thai agitators who directly receive money from the US NED like Jon Ungphakorn and Nidhi Eoseewong. Other signatories are NED funded agitators like Malaysia’s Anwar Ibrahim and Ambiga Sreenevasan, Hong Kong’s Joshua Wong who regularly flies to Washington for support and directives and his compatriot Nathan Law who was caught seeking aid and directives in the US consulate in Hong Kong, Sam Rainsy whose Cambodian opposition party is literally run out of Washington D.C., and Russia’s US-based critic – Garry Kasparov.
Is it possible Thitinan is signing off on NED projects but completely unaware of what the US NED is doing in Thailand or how it is funding virtually every aspect of Thailand’s current protests he has just lied to the public about when claiming they are “organic?” Not likely.
With 25 years of university experience – the concept of conflicts of interest and how to avoid them should be second nature to Thitinan, yet he appears to revel in them either oblivious to the ethical complications of his “after school” activities, or indifferent to them. His ability to objectively present analysis to the public when fearing his next dinner date with US State Department personnel might be in jeopardy means he cannot effectively do his job.
The fact that people like Thitinan are going through such lengths to cover up the truth behind these protests illustrates just how malign and dangerous they are.
It is not “online hate” that threatens to divide and destroy Thailand – it is the media and academia who are supposed to be the informed and educated voices sounding the alarm when dubious interests mobilize against the nation’s best interests – not just failing to warn against this danger, but actively enabling it.
Thailand’s protests are not “youth-led” or “organic.” They are backed by both the most destructive interests in Thailand, and the most destructive interests beyond Thailand’s borders – Thaksin Shinawatra and his allies who have repeatedly soaked the streets with blood and have attempted to burn the nation down – and the US who burns entire nations to the ground around the globe.
Is letting these sort of interests through the gates really worth another moonlit dinner with a US State Department official?