19.08.2018 Author: Joseph Thomas

US Meddling: Washington Backs Fugitive, Terrorist in Thailand


America’s bid to install a compromised Thai politician into power is part of a larger bid to encircle China with hostile and dysfunctional client states. 

The US is currently pressuring the Southeast Asian Kingdom of Thailand to hold immediate elections in a bid to return billionaire former prime minister and now fugitive Thaksin Shinawatra to power.

The purpose of returning Shinawatra to power is to transform Thailand into a US client state and further obstruct the rise of China, and Asia as a whole, upon the global stage.

Shinawatra, who held office from 2001 to 2006 before being removed in a military coup, has since run various proxy governments from abroad, populated by his family members and close associates. This included his own brother-in-law and from 2011 to 2014 his own sister, Yingluck Shinawatra who was ousted from power in another coup in 2014.

More recently, he has created several proxy parties, including “Future Forward” run by the son of billionaires closely allied with the Shinawatra family and furbished with party members including his own lobbyists and members of US government-funded organisations.

US Meddling 

The US has directly funded myriad groups involved in Thailand’s internal political affairs including Thai Lawyers for Human Rights which not only provides free legal aid to anti-government agitators, but also openly organises and leads anti-government activities itself, media front Prachatai, iLaw, Thai Netizens Network,  BenarNews, The Isaan Record, the Cross Cultural Foundation and Fortify Rights.

Each and every one of these US government-funded fronts has engaged in recent anti-government activities either by supporting agitators, or by being agitators themselves. They are demanding rushed elections and have consistently leveraged “human rights” and “democracy” to defend pro-Shinawatra groups in their bid to return Shinawatra to power.

No mention is made by these US-backed fronts of the abuses and criminality conducted by the Shinawatra family since 2001. And while these fronts along with the US government itself have claimed the current Thai government represents a “dictatorship” they claim is guilty of “human rights abuses,” the fact that they seek to return a true dictatorship guilty of very real human rights abuses to power reveals what is clearly an ulterior motive merely couched behind notions of human rights and democracy.

US Diplomatic Cables Reveal Washington Knows Shinawatra is a Killer and Criminal 

US diplomatic cables released to the public by Wikileaks revealed several telling admissions by the US itself of who Thaksin Shinawatra really is, what he has done, and the very serious violence he has repeatedly organised and carried out in multiple failed bids to return to power.

In one 2006 cable titled, “Thailand’s Deal of the Century: Temasek Buys Out PM’s Shin Corp,” US diplomats would admit that Shinawatra sold his telecommunications company Shin Corp to Singapore on the same day that an amendment to the Telecommunications Business Act (TBA) he had signed off on the previous week came into effect. In essence, he changed the laws to suit his personal business interests on a Friday, and sold his company to foreigners on a Monday.

Despite this stunning and overt demonstration of Shinawatra’s corruption and abuse of power, the US embassy applauded the deal hoping that the sale of Thai assets to foreigners might help “rest some of the Thais fears of market liberalization, and by extension a Free Trade Agreement with the United States.”

In a 2010 cable, the US embassy admits that Shinawatra and his supporters are guilty of engaging in violence. While the US and the Western media have attempted to whitewash this violence publicly, throughout the leaked US cables it is repeatedly admitted.

While the US claims it has tried to dissuade Shinawatra and his supporters from using violence, it is the US and the Western media’s continued support of Shinawatra, his supporters, and their collective cover up and spinning of serial acts of violence and terrorism that have enabled such violence to continue in the first place.

Part of spinning the violence has been attempts by the US and the Western media to depict violent elements as “independent” of Shinawatra and his political supporters. However, in another 2010 US cable, it’s admitted that:

The UDD leaders reiterated their goals for the coming months, including a large rally in mid February, emphasized the grassroots growth in the movement, and described the relationship between fugitive former PM Thaksin Shinawatra, the UDD, the opposition Puea Thai party, and activists like Seh Daeng, acknowledging it could ultimately
be considered one team.

The planned protests mentioned in the cable would eventually unfold in April and May of 2010. They would include up to 300 heavily armed militants led by Seh Daeng who would engage in firefights with the Thai military for weeks, costing nearly 100 lives and ending in widespread arson across Thailand’s capital of Bangkok.

Despite these admissions, the US continues funding organisations that work directly with Shinawatra and his political supporters seeking to rush elections before their political networks are fully uprooted and their return to power indefinitely quashed. Attempts to hold Shinawatra and his supporters accountable for this violence has been decried by US-funded groups as “politically motivated” and “violations of human rights.”

While the US claims the current Thai government is a “dictatorship” and that Thailand is devoid of “democracy,” it continues to arm and back actual dictatorships devoid of democracy like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (where Thaksin Shinawatra is currently residing).

Encircling China

Among the many US cables leaked regarding Thailand, one from 2004 stands out in particular. Titled, “Thai Views of a More Assertive China,” it laments:

When analyzing China’s growing influence in the region, Thai experts tend to: accept China’s growing power as inevitable; hope that problems associated with China’s growing strength will either fix themselves or be mitigated by other powers like the United States or India; and, keep their fingers crossed that trade deals with China lead to growth in Thailand without destroying domestic enterprises. Thai analysts note that China is deftly building up good will in the region to assuage any concerns about hegemony. Perhaps naively, they tend to discount notions that China will jeopardize its generally good relations in the region in the near future by pressuring ASEAN nations to support Beijing on political or strategic issues.

Since 2004, Sino-Thai relations have only expanded. The current Thai government has signed multiple deals with Beijing over major military deals including the purchasing of main battle tanks to replace ageing US hardware, Chinese armoured personnel carriers and even submarines. Joint Sino-Thai development programmes have even produced domestically manufactured missile systems.

Thailand and China are also conducting joint military exercises.

Beyond military cooperation, there are major infrastructure projects in the works, including high speed rail and the acquisition of rolling stock for existing transit systems.

Chinese tourists constitute by far the largest demographic visiting Thailand with more Chinese visiting the Kingdom than from North America and Western Europe combined. Concerted attempts by US and European media organisations to sabotage Thailand’s tourism industry after Shinawatra’s ousting from power in 2014 failed miserably specifically because of this fact.

Thailand today reflects a nation within a region happily moving on without the United States. Whatever role Southeast Asia had hoped the US would play in balancing power in the region against a growing China have evaporated in the realisation that the US has no constructive alternatives to offer in such a role.

The US’ continued support of Thaksin Shinawatra along with its incessant subversion of Thailand’s institutions through US-funded fronts reveal America’s strategy is not aimed at balancing regional power, but containing China, and not through strengthening China’s peripheries with economically and militarily strong neighbours, but by encircling it with the flaming hulks of failed states run by incompetent leaders installed through US meddling.
Should Shinawatra return to power as the US envisions, he too will likely seek to cut deals with China. But he would be doing so as he ran Thailand further into economic turmoil and attempted to sell it off piecemeal to foreign investors from Wall Street, London and Brussels.

The US reveals that its interference in other nations is not predicated on any sort of principle or ideal such as “human rights” or “democracy.” It gladly seeks to preserve the power of despots in the Middle East , and it eagerly seeks to replace a violent criminal to power in Southeast Asia. The only real common denominator deciding who is “good” and who is “bad” in the eye of Washington is obedience.

Joseph Thomas is chief editor of Thailand-based geopolitical journal, The New Atlas and contributor to the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

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