Continuity of Agenda: US Encirclement of China Continues Under Trump

January 20, 2018 (Ulson Gunnar - NEO) - The United States has pursued a decades-long policy of encircling, containing and if possible, undermining China as part of a larger strategy of achieving and maintaining what US policy papers call "primacy" over Asia.


US policy has led to deeply-rooted networks operating within China's borders and along China's geopolitical peripheries to divide and destabilize the immense and increasingly powerful Asian state. These networks are funded and supported regardless of who occupies the White House. While the rhetoric shifts from president to president regarding "why" the US is providing so-called "activists" and "opposition" fronts aid, the aid and the agenda it serves continues.

Under current US President Donald Trump's predecessor President Barack Obama, this ongoing policy was marketed to the American and international public as the "Pivot to Asia." It was spun as a means for the US to reengage with Asia but in reality constituted an overt attempt to co-opt the governments of China's neighbors and break up the region's growing ties with Beijing.

Obama's "Pivot" was a failure, but one within the greater context of a general decline in US primacy both in the Asia Pacific region and around the world.

Under Trump, this policy of encircling and containing China continues. It is now marketed to the public as an "Indo-Pacific" strategy, with the US forced to court India, Australia and Japan on the fringes of Asia Pacific after failing to make progress within Asia Pacific itself.

It is important to understand just how long-term these polices are so that when Trump announces them to the public, the public understands that it is not "Trump's" policy, but simply Trump continuing to carry out the agenda of the very special interests (the so-called "Deep State") he vowed to resist upon taking office.

Understanding that these policies serve special interests and at the cost of the American public helps inoculate the public to rhetoric claiming that confronting China and destabilizing Asia is somehow part of "making America great again."

Tibet

Tibet is one of the oldest and most clear-cut examples of a political controversy used by Washington to target and undermine Beijing's credibility.


The centerpiece of US strategy in Tibet has been an independence movement led by the Dali Lama, the so-called spiritual leader of Tibet and a political figure the US through the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has backed both politically and militarily since at least as early as the 1950s.


US Desperation Expected as Syrian Forces Move into Idlib

January 20, 2018 (Tony Cartalucci - NEO) - The Syrian government with support from its Russian, Iranian, and Lebanese allies has embarked on a major military operation to retake parts of Syria's northern governorate of Idlib. As it does so, the US and its regional allies are rushing to position themselves to ensure the permanent partition of Syria is achieved.



As Syrian forces push deeper into Idlib they have come up against a large amount of foreign-provided weaponry including US anti-tank missiles and even fleets of armored vehicles including Panthera F9 armored personnel carriers - joint-developed by the UAE and Ukraine and manufactured in Turkey.

Despite the formidable arsenal provided to militants - the majority of which fight under the banner of Al Qaeda and its affiliates - Syria and its allies maintain air superiority. The US tried - and failed - to establish what US policymakers have called a "safe haven" or "buffer zone" in northern Syria where US military might could provide shelter for militants from Syrian and Russian airpower.

While the US has successfully established such a zone in eastern Syria - the closest it came to doing so in northern Syria is NATO-member Turkey's "Euphrates Shield" occupation zone and the smaller "Idlib Shield" zone which both border territory held by hostile Kurdish militants.

Recently announced plans by the US to create a 30,000-strong "border defense force" comprised of US-armed and funded Kurdish militants may be intentionally designed to grant Turkey a pretext to begin widening its occupation zones to provide cover for the remnants of militants likely to be evicted from much of southern Idlib.

Reports that Turkey is preparing an offensive to widen its occupation westward into Idlib are already circulating in the media.

The BBC in its article, "Syria crisis: Why Turkey is poised to attack Kurdish enclave Afrin," would report:
Turkish television channels have been reporting from the Syrian border every top of the hour with pictures showing the deployment of troops, tanks and armoured vehicles. 

"The countdown has begun for Turkey's operation against Afrin," said one pro-government channel. 

Its correspondent underlined that the troops on the border were already pointing at what the authorities term terrorist targets within Syria. There were also reports of Turkish artillery shelling the area. 

It should be noted that Afrin is located between territory Turkey is currently occupying. Turkish troops, should they seize Afrin, would effectively have expanded Turkey's "Euphrates Shield" by 30 miles (53 km) and present an opportunity to for its troops to link up with troops of Turkey's "Idlib Shield." This would create a large, singular buffer zone within which US-NATO forces could harbor militants driven back by Syria's most recent offensive. 


Sanctions, Subversion, and Color Revolutions: US Meddling in Cambodian Elections

January 16, 2018 (Tony Cartalucci - NEO) - After a nearly year-long marathon of daily, acrimonious accusations against Moscow for alleged, yet-to-be proven interference in the 2016 US presidential elections, Washington finds itself increasingly mired in its own hypocrisy - openly and eagerly pursing the very sort of interference abroad in multiple nations regarding elections and internal political affairs it has accused Russia of.

Image: US State Department officials threaten Cambodia with sanctions for uprooting US-funded organizations openly engaged in political interference in Cambodia's upcoming elections. 
A particularly acute example of this is Cambodia where recently, the government has begun uprooting and expelling US State Department-funded fronts and media organizations as well as arresting members of the US-backed opposition party while disbanding the party itself - for interfering in preparations for upcoming elections.

The New York Times in its August article, "Cambodia Orders Expulsion of Foreign Staff Members With American Nonprofit," would claim:
Cambodia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Wednesday ordered foreign staff members of an American nonprofit that gets support from the United States government to leave the country within a week, part of an apparent attempt to silence opposition voices before national elections next year.
The NYT would elaborate, reporting:
The nonprofit, the National Democratic Institute [a subsidiary of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED)], is loosely affiliated with the Democratic Party in the United States, and has provided training to various Cambodian political parties, including those from the opposition. Local news media organizations with ties to Mr. Hun Sen’s party have accused the nonprofit of conspiring against him.
Unsurprisingly, the NYT attempts to portray Cambodia's uprooting of US government-funded fronts, media, and opposition directly and openly manipulating its political affairs as undemocratic. Such a narrative concurrently takes shape in the NYT's pages side-by-side an entire section titled, "Russian Hacking and Influence in the U.S. Election."

While Western media like the NYT claims foreign interference in America's affairs constitutes the destruction of American democracy, it simultaneously proposes that extensive US meddling in elections abroad - including in Cambodia - constitutes the promotion of democracy.

Unfortunately for many, the hypocrisy this glaring double standard represents goes unnoticed - due in part to the notion of American - and to a larger extend - Western exceptionalism.

Washington's Khmer Marionettes 

The move by Phnom Penh is the culmination of years of US meddling in Cambodia's internal political affairs and political processes including its elections.

Image: Cambodian opposition leader Kem Sokha being arrested for treason. Kem Sokha has spent over a decade openly conspiring with the United States government to overthrow the Cambodian government and install himself and his political party into power. 
The opposition party - the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) - is led by long-time US proxies Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha. Both have divided their time and activities between politicking in Cambodia and residing in Western capitals, including Washington D.C. openly conspiring with the US government to overthrow Cambodia's current political order, and install themselves into power.


Flaunting British Neo-Imperialism in Asia-Pacific

January 10, 2018 (Joseph Thomas - NEO) - 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."   

Yet, when considering what actually drives "security troubles of the region," it is evident that the presence of US forces far beyond US territory, for example, stationed in South Korea and conducting military exercises along North Korea's borders in a deliberate attempt to provoke Pyongyang is the problem, not the solution. The addition of British warships and aircraft in the region will only further multiply "security troubles" evident in the author's own comments regarding the need for "regional rivals" to commit to tracking and keeping in check British warships.


Omitted from Major Wright's nostalgic review of the UK's historic role in Asia-Pacific was the concept of "gunboat diplomacy," where the British Empire coerced Asian states into making lopsided concessions to London or face British naval firepower. Chunks of Siam were carved off under threat of British "gunboat diplomacy," Hong Kong was outright seized by it and other nations likewise were forced by threat of military aggression to make concessions that benefited only the British.

US "primacy" in Asia-Pacific today closely resembles British "gunboat diplomacy." While literal gunboats training cannons on the capitals of targeted states is no longer feasible, other means of coercion are. These include options categorised under "soft power" including US-European-funded opposition groups which may or may not include armed components. There is also economic warfare. When Thailand ousted US-proxy Thaksin Shinawatra and his political allies from power, the US pursued a campaign of economic sabotage aimed at Thailand's seafood industry and tourism sector.


Google's AI Center in China: Poaching Talent

January 8, 2018 (Ulson Gunnar - NEO) - Artificial Intelligence (AI) is already fundamentally changing information technology and stands poised to permeate and transform technology both online and off ranging from manufacturing and transportation to medicine and military applications. The US, Russia and China have all noted that dominance in this field of technology will be an essential ingredient to holding global primacy in the near future.


What resembles a sort of arms race has emerged between prominent nations around the globe. Perhaps in an effort to provide the US with an edge, or perhaps in an effort to mitigate the impact of such an arms race, Google has opened an AI center in China.

CNN in its article, "Google is opening an artificial intelligence center in China," would announce:
Despite many of its services being blocked in China, Google has chosen Beijing as the location for its first artificial intelligence research center in Asia.
The purpose of the center, according to CNN, citing China's desire to become a global leader in AI technology, will be to:
...help China pursue its aim to become the global leader. The facility will employ a team of researchers who will be supported by engineers the company already has in China.
Considering Google's services being banned, blocked and otherwise unwelcomed in China, the question remains as to why exactly Google would seek to aid China in becoming a leader in AI technology Google itself seeks to position itself as a leader in.

This question may have been at least partially answered in a recent AI summit which included Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google's parent company, Alphabet Inc.

Poaching Foreign Talent

The Washington DC-based Center for a New American Security (CNAS), as part of its Artificial Intelligence and Global Security Initiative, held its Artificial intelligence and Global Security Summit (video) in early November 2017. During Schmidt's question and answer session, he remarked that China would likely overcome America's lead in AI technology by 2025.


While Schmidt offered suggestions on how the US could keep its lead over China, particularly through establishing its own national laboratories for researching and developing AI technology within an enumerated national strategy regarding AI, it would be his comments on US immigration policy that hinted at why Google might open an AI center in China as part of maintaining America's lead.