While the US claims to be Thailand’s “ally,” its behavior has been more like an abusive captor. Defense News in its article, “Thai Chinese Sub Buy Challenges US Pivot,” would claim:
Thailand’s move to purchase Chinese submarines has exacerbated tensions with the US and poses a challenge to Washington’s “pivot” to the Pacific.
The military junta, which declared a coup in May 2014 and created the National Council for Peace and Order, could turn to China for political and military support and cooperation, analysts said. The junta-led Cabinet approved the purchase of three Type 039A (Yuan) attack submarines in early July.
The International Business Times in their article, “Thailand-China Submarine Deal Suspended Following Concern Over Jeopardizing Ties With Washington,” would report:
The Royal Thai Navy announced Thursday that the government has suspended action on the high-profile one billion dollar submarine deal with China, which was still seeking final approval from the cabinet. The decision to put the deal on hold came after domestic and international experts expressed concern over how the deal with Beijing would affect Bangkok’s relations with the U.S.
Officially, Thailand’s suspension of the deal was to “conduct research on the suitability of the deal and weigh the costs and benefits to the country.” The temporary suspension may be in response to a concerted campaign to derail the deal – spearheaded by the US itself, and carried out by US-funded media organizations, both international and within Thailand itself.
The US State Department through its National Endowment for Democracy (NED) funds annually over 1 million Thai Baht to the Thai propaganda network “Prachatai.” Prachatai poses as an “independent” check and balance to government corruption despite its immense foreign funding, and regularly works to undermine Thailand’s traditional institutions, while covering up for or promoting those backed by the US – including the regime of Thaksin Shinawatra and his political supporters.
Prachatai has claimed the Chinese submarine deal is simply a means for the military to pad its pockets. It has also attempted to claim that the deal signifies Thailand’s growing ties with China, a trend it clearly portrays as negative. A recent Prachatai “interview” with “anonymous” Thai naval personnel attempts to frame the US State Department’s talking points. Prachatai’s narrative parrots that of the US State Department itself, and is repeated by other media outlets in Thailand sympathetic to US-proxy Thaksin Shinawatra.
Violence and Coercion
With the Augst bombing in Bangkok, it is feared that Bangkok’s growing ties with Beijing have prompted Washington to escalate its campaign of coercion.
Just days after the bombing, US Embassy Chargé d’affaires Patrick Murphy, a National War College graduate and leader of a US Provincial Reconstruction Team during the US occupation of Iraq, met with senior Thai officials to first offer “condolences” for the bombing, then press for immediate elections. It is a move perceived by many as the issuing of demands under threat of continued violence. The demand for elections is made on behalf of ousted US-proxy Thaksin Shinawatra who Washington is eager to return to power.
The prospect of elections has been all but indefinitely postponed until Shinawatra and his political networks have been permanently removed – prompting increasingly desperate acts of violence both by Shinawatra’s remaining networks in Thailand, and by his foreign sponsors abroad.
It is clear, even by America’s own admission, that its grip on Asia is slipping. Policy toward Asia focuses not on partnerships based on mutual benefit, but a myopic obsession over containing China and maintaining American “primacy” over all of Asia – even at the cost of America’s alleged “allies.”
These “allies,” Thailand included, are asked to sacrifice both short-term and long-term peace, stability, and prosperity to invest in Washington’s losing proposition. It is no surprise then that many across Asia have begun to carefully divest instead.
As Bangkok pivots toward Beijing, attempts by Washington to disrupt Sino-Thai relations will increase. Bangkok capitulating to Washington now will not result in long-term benefits to Thailand as Washington’s grip over Asia will inevitably continue to slip. That Washington has resorted to coercion and engineered conflicts already is a sign of irreversible weakness. However, some may push for capitulation in pursuit of short-term peace and stability. This is also unlikely, as capitulating now to Washington will mean the return of Shinawatra to power – a scenario that is seen as unacceptable by the vast majority across both the Thai public and throughout Thailand’s business and political circles.
As it is clear Thailand will suffer short-term instability regardless of its choice, it must thus decide upon a foreign policy that will offer the best prospects in the intermediate and longer-term future. Its pivot toward Beijing is exactly that.
Asia stands at the edge of an era where North America and Europe no longer dictate the region’s destiny. By creating a geopolitical order driven by Asian states – maintaining a balance of political and military power throughout the region without foreign interests – namely the United States – the resources both human and natural of this region can be enjoyed by the people that actually reside there.
Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine“New Eastern Outlook”.