US Decries Chinese High-Speed Rail in Laos

April 24, 2018 (Joseph Thomas - NEO) - China's plans to build high-speed rail connecting Kunming in its Yunnan province with the rest of Southeast Asia are already underway. In the landlocked nation of Laos, tunnels and bridges are already under construction.

The United States has, in general, condemned China's One Belt, One Road (OBOR) sweeping infrastructure programme, with US and European policy circles accusing Beijing of what they call "debt trap diplomacy."

Quartz in an article titled, "Eight countries in danger of falling into China’s “debt trap”," would claim:
Beijing “encourages dependency using opaque contracts, predatory loan practices, and corrupt deals that mire nations in debt and undercut their sovereignty, denying them their long-term, self-sustaining growth,” said US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on March 6. “Chinese investment does have the potential to address Africa’s infrastructure gap, but its approach has led to mounting debt and few, if any, jobs in most countries,” he added.
The report continued, stating:
Some call this “debt-trap diplomacy“: Offer the honey of cheap infrastructure loans, with the sting of default coming if smaller economies can’t generate enough free cash to pay their interest down.
While nations should protect themselves from the dangers of being indebted to foreign interests, the US and supposedly international institutions like the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank are hardly innocent of wielding debt as a geopolitical weapon themselves.

However, while some of China's projects may be questionable, others offer tangible benefits not only for China, but for the regions they will be interlinking.

Laos' Escape from Colonial Shadows  

The real concern in Washington, London and Brussels is regarding infrastructure projects that are successful, bringing profit and benefits to both Beijing and partner nations, allowing them to collectively move out from under centuries of Western primacy.

Future of Asia: China's Economic Opportunities or America's Perpetual Conflict?

April 21, 2018 (Joseph Thomas - NEO) - The US recently announced possible plans to deploy thousands of addition US Marines to East Asia as part of the recently revealed 2018 National Security Strategy which designates China along with Russia as the US Department of Defence's "principal priorities."

The Business Insider in its article, "The US is considering sending heavily armed Marines to Asia to counter China," would state:
The possible MEU [Marine Expeditionary Unit] deployments could reassure Asian allies that the US is not a waning power in the region, something that has become a concern for partners in the Indo-Pacific.

However, if a nation needs to arrange a token redeployment to convince its allies it isn't a waning power, such gestures seem to only confirm such suspicions.

China is the New "Threat"  

Within the pages of the 2018 National Security Strategy, the US has justified its increasingly direct, adversarial posture towards China by claiming:
China is a strategic competitor using predatory economics to intimidate its neighbors while militarizing features in the South China Sea.
The document continues:
China is leveraging military modernization, influence operations, and predatory economics to coerce neighboring countries to reorder the Indo-Pacific region to their advantage. As China continues its economic and military ascendance, asserting power through an all-of-nation long-term strategy, it will continue to pursue a military modernization program that seeks Indo-Pacific regional hegemony in the near-term and displacement of the United States to achieve global preeminence in the future.

The paper also makes mention of what it calls an "international order," a reoccurring theme throughout several decades of US policy papers. While this particular paper claims it is "free and open" and "rules-based," other papers have more candidly described it.

Prolific US policymaker and neoconservative pro-war commentator Robert Kagan would claim:
The present world order serves the needs of the United States and its allies, which constructed it. 
In other words, the "international order" is merely the world as the US sees fit. US policy in Asia, attempting to maintain hegemony in a region a literal ocean away from its own shores validates Kagan's interpretation of what "international order" actually means. It is neither "free and open" nor "rules-based" unless it is understood that the world is considered "free and open" for Washington to do with as it pleases, with "rules" used only to constrain the actions of others in order to prevent competition.

In reality, the "international order" is predicated on a more timeless geopolitical maxim, "might makes right." Reflected in the pages of the 2018 US National Security Strategy then, is a United States attempting to cope with the fact that very soon it will no longer be the mightiest in the zero-sum world it created.

Targeting China's "strategic competition" across Asia with a military build-up in East Asia, however, reveals the United States' fundamental weaknesses, its overdependence on military might and its reliance on geopolitical coercion based on outdated administrative institutions similar to those of the bygone British Empire. The US appears to have made its long-term containment policy regarding China based purely on the assumption that it could maintain its military supremacy over China and continue monopolising global economics indefinitely.

It assumed wrong.

Building Together Versus Dividing and Destroying 

In contrast, China is building an alternative order upon economic opportunities, binding Asia together through infrastructure, manufacturing, enterprise and trade. Absent from Beijing's methodology is the political coercion, preconditions and interference ubiquitous throughout US foreign policy.

Soft Power: US Gives Award to US-Funded Agitator

April 18, 2018 (Tony Cartalucci - NEO) - The Western media continues to saturate headlines with stories of "Russian meddling," meanwhile Western governments led by Washington openly celebrate their own meddling in foreign political affairs.

One such example unfolded during the US State Department's annual "Women of Courage Awards" with Thailand-based Sirikan "June" Charoensiri among the recipients.

Upon the US State Department's website under a post titled, "Biographies of the Finalists for the 2018 International Women of Courage Awards," Charoensiri's alleged work is described:

In the immediate aftermath of Thailand’s May 2014 coup d’etat, lawyer Sirikan Charoensiri (known as June) co-founded Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR), a lawyers’ collective set up to provide pro bono legal services in human rights cases and to document human rights issues under the military government. TLHR has represented hundreds of clients since the military coup, often as the only alternative for those facing politically-motivated charges. Because of the political sensitivity of the organization’s work, TLHR lawyers and staffers, and June in particular, have been subjected regularly to harassment, intimidation, and criminal charges. As a consequence of her advocacy, June is currently facing three sets of criminal charges for her work as a lawyer, including a charge of sedition – the first for a lawyer under the military government. Nevertheless, June continues undeterred in her work.
However, completely omitted from Charoensiri's "biography" is the fact that her organization - Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) - was organized out of the US Embassy in Bangkok following the 2014 coup and has since been funded by the US State Department via the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) since - aimed at US-backed regime change.

NED's website included TLHR under its 2014 recipients but has since erased this page. Its 2017 listings for Thailand omit TLHR's funding despite its continued sponsorship. Local English newspapers like The Nation have covered TLHR admitting they are funded by "foreign organizations" but failed to list them or press TLHR members regarding their dependence on foreign government funding and potential conflicts of interest.

The Nation's article, "Legal eagles fight for human rights," would admit (emphasis added):

Established on May 24, 2014 and funded by foreign organisations, the centre has risen to prominence fast.
Its rise to "prominence" is owed to the almost constant promotion afforded to it by the Western media - particularly representatives of Western media corporations like Reuters, AFP, the BBC, and others based in Bangkok, Thailand.

Defending Human Rights? Or US-Funded Regime Change?

The US State Department's aggrandizement of Charoensiri is aimed at lending what is essentially US political meddling in Thailand's internal affairs a sense of badly needed legitimacy.

The War in Syria was a US Intervention Since "Day 1"

April 15, 2018 (Tony Cartalucci - NEO) - In the aftermath of US-led missile strikes on Syria, the Western media has attempted to continue building the case for "US intervention."

However, before the first agitators took to the streets in Syria in 2011, the US was already involved.

The New York Times in its 2011 article, "U.S. Groups Helped Nurture Arab Uprisings," would admit (emphasis added):
A number of the groups and individuals directly involved in the revolts and reforms sweeping the region, including the April 6 Youth Movement in Egypt, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and grass-roots activists like Entsar Qadhi, a youth leader in Yemen, received training and financing from groups like the International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute and Freedom House, a nonprofit human rights organization based in Washington, according to interviews in recent weeks and American diplomatic cables obtained by WikiLeaks. 
The work of these groups often provoked tensions between the United States and many Middle Eastern leaders, who frequently complained that their leadership was being undermined, according to the cables. 
The financing of agitators from across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) before the so-called "Arab Spring" was meant to stampede targeted governments from power - paving the way for US client states to form. Nations that resisted faced - first, US-backed militants - and failing that, direct US military intervention - as seen in Libya in 2011.

After the US funded initial unrest in 2011 - the US has armed and funded militants fighting in Syria ever since. 

The same NYT would publish a 2013 article titled, "Arms Airlift to Syria Rebels Expands, With Aid From C.I.A.," admitting (emphasis added):
With help from the C.I.A., Arab governments and Turkey have sharply increased their military aid to Syria’s opposition fighters in recent months, expanding a secret airlift of arms and equipment for the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, according to air traffic data, interviews with officials in several countries and the accounts of rebel commanders. 

The airlift, which began on a small scale in early 2012 and continued intermittently through last fall, expanded into a steady and much heavier flow late last year, the data shows. It has grown to include more than 160 military cargo flights by Jordanian, Saudi and Qatari military-style cargo planes landing at Esenboga Airport near Ankara, and, to a lesser degree, at other Turkish and Jordanian airports.
As the proxy war the US waged against Damascus began to fail, multiple attempts were made to justify direct US military intervention in Syria as the US and its allies did in 2011 against the Libyan government.

This includes repeated attempts to enforce the "responsibility to protect" doctrine, multiple false-flag chemical attacks beginning with the Ghouta incident in 2013 and the emergence of the so-called "Islamic State" (ISIS) which helped the US justify the deployment of ground troops now currently occupying eastern Syria.

The notion of the US currently "contemplating intervention" in Syria attempts to sidestep the fact that the Syrian conflict itself - from its inception - has been a US intervention.

Long Before "Day 1" 

Even before the most recent attempt at US-led regime change in Syria, the US has pursued campaigns of violent subversion aimed at Syria and its allies.

In 2007, veteran journalist Seymour Hersh would write in his article, "The Redirection: Is the Administration’s new policy benefitting our enemies in the war on terrorism?," that (emphasis added):

To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has coöperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.
Hersh's words would become prophetic when, in 2011, the US would begin arming and backing militants - many with overt affiliations to Al Qaeda - in a bid to destabilize Syria and overthrow the government in Damascus.

US Launches Impotent Attack on Non-existent "Chemical Facilities"

April 14, 2018 (Tony Cartalucci - LD) - The US, UK, and France announced strikes on what they call, "Syria's chemical weapons program." 

The use of stand-off weapons such as cruise missiles and air-to-ground missiles reflects the US and its allies' fear of Syrian and Russia anti-aircraft defense systems.

The Syrian and Russian governments announced that 71 of over 100 missiles fired were intercepted, according to Russian media. Targets struck had already been evacuated or were not currently in use.

CNN in its article, "US, UK and France launch Syria strikes targeting Assad's chemical weapons," would claim: 
The US, UK and France launched strikes against targets at three sites in Syria in the early hours of Saturday morning, following a week of threats of retaliation for an alleged chemical weapons attack on civilians in the Damascus enclave of Douma. 

"I ordered the United States armed forces to launch precision strikes on targets associated with the chemical weapon capabilities of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad," Trump said late Friday at the White House.
Of course, the phrase, "associated with the chemical weapon capabilities" of Syria is intentionally ambiguous.

Considering that any attack on actual, currently active chemical weapon facilities in Syria would risk the spread of toxic chemicals over civilian areas - attacking such sites would contravene the entire supposed purpose of the US-led attack - protecting Syrian civilians from "chemical weapons."

Considering that any attack on actual, currently active chemical weapon facilities in Syria would risk the spread of toxic chemicals over civilian areas - attacking such sites would contravene the entire supposed purpose of the US-led attack - protecting Syrian civilians from "chemical weapons." 
The fear of even industrial chemical facilities being targeted by terrorists to spread clouds of deadly toxins over civilian populations has been a familiar theme throughout America's supposed "War on Terror."

The Washington Post in a December 2001 article titled, "Chemical Plants Are Feared as Targets," would describe the possible impact of an explosion at a chemical plant in Tennessee, claiming:
If those chemicals had been released, as many as 60,000 people who live within reach of the ensuing vapor cloud could have faced death or serious injury, according to the plant's worst-case estimate.
Obviously, US-led strikes on chemical facilities in Syria - had they existed - would have led to similarly catastrophic threats to the civilian population of Syria, calling into question both Washington's credibility, and the alleged purpose behind this recent act of military aggression.

Popular Mechanics, a publication that eagerly promotes Pentagon endeavors around the globe, published an article on the eve of the US-led missile strikes titled, "These Are Syria's Chemical Weapons. Here's How To Destroy Them," admitting:
Due to the very nature of chemical weapons, an explosive attack would spread lethal agents over a wide area, meaning more civilian casualties. 

Racing to Beat OPCW Investigation

The US-led attack came just before the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) investigation into the Douma incident could begin. Just before the attack, Russia openly and directly accused the United Kingdom specifically of staging the Douma incident.