Archive for the Thailand Category

Military contractor pleads guilty in US Navy corruption scandal [World Socialist Website]

Posted in China, Encirclement of China, Malaysia, Obama, Pentagon, Thailand, US foreign occupation, US imperialism, USA on March 14, 2015 by Zuo Shou / 左手

By Nick Barrickman
19 January 2015

On Thursday, military contractor Leonard Glenn Francis pleaded guilty in federal court to charges of fraud and bribery for his role in a scheme intended to fleece the US Navy out of tens millions [sic] of dollars. Francis must forfeit $35 million in funds obtained by the firm and faces up to 25 years imprisonment for his role. Including Francis, five naval officials and two other contractors have been indicted for their part in the affair.

The guilty plea is connected to a federal investigation into military defense contractor Glenn Marine Defense Asia (GMDA) over a ten-year period beginning in 2004. Throughout this time, GMDA officials bribed naval officials with “top-shelf” luxury goods, paid vacations, hotel and spa visits, prostitutes, and other items so that the naval brass would give the firm preferential treatment and steer ships to its private ports.

At these locations, naval officials were paid to “drive the big decks [aircraft carriers]” into “fat revenue” ports, according to Francis’s memos presented by the prosecution. GMDA, which won a US government contract worth $200 million despite numerous complaints stemming from the firm’s exorbitant fees, would then conspire with naval officials and subcontractors in order to vastly inflate the costs of services rendered. Despite a clause in its contract that fixed the prices the firm was allowed to charge the government, the company was able to exploit loopholes by bribing a number of officials in charge of processing appeals for so-called “incidental services.”

The federal investigation found that the firm registered 282 false quotes for services rendered at three Thailand-based ports during a nine-month period in 2011-2012 alone, resulting in an overcharge of nearly $2.3 million. At two of the ports, the firm utilized shell companies posing as local government officials to impose fictitious tariffs on passing vessels, raking in additional millions.

“Francis maintained corrupt relations with scores of Navy officials,” stated Assistant US Attorney Mark Pletcher to Reuters. A contractor speaking under conditions of anonymity told the Washington Post of GMDA’s practices that “[t]here is no way that anybody who’s been there for five minutes can’t have smelled something.” The contractor continued, “But the Navy routinely decided to look the other way. It was just constantly outrageous.”

Six others have pled guilty to charges stemming from the scandal, including Navy Capt. Daniel Dusek, who also pleaded guilty Thursday to one charge of conspiracy to commit bribery and is the highest-ranking military official to be indicted. Others involved include US Navy Commander Jose Luis Sanchez, who pled guilty last month of accepting $100,000 in cash, entertainment, and other items; retired Lt. Commander Edmund A. Aruffo; and GMDA manager Alex Wisidagama.

Two senior military officials, Vice Admiral Ted Branch and Rear Admiral Bruce Loveless, directors of Naval Intelligence and Intelligence Operations, respectively, have had their access to classified material halted pending further investigation. Navy Commander Michael Vannak Khem Misiewicz has pled not guilty to charges against him in the affair.

In conjunction with a vast network of bribes, the firm was able to reap increasingly high profits as a component of the Obama administration’s “pivot to Asia,” in which vast military resources have been deployed to areas surrounding the Asian continent in preparation for a confrontation with the US’s global competitor, China. A 2013 Washington Post article notes that in 2009, four of the firm’s ports in Thailand and Malaysia received seven visits from US forces. One year later, the number grew to 48 visits, a sevenfold increase…

Edited/excerpted by Zuo Shou

Full article link: http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2015/01/19/navy-j19.html

UN report condemns US government’s “international criminal program of torture” [World Socialist Website]

Posted in Canada, CIA, Egypt, George W. Bush, Guantanamo Bay concentration camp, Indonesia, Iraq, Italy, Jordan, Libya, Obama, Pakistan, Pentagon, Poland, Romania, Syria, Thailand, Torture, U.K., UAE - United Arab Emirates, US Government Cover-up, US imperialism, USA, War crimes, Yemen on November 1, 2014 by Zuo Shou / 左手

By Thomas Gaist
1 November 2014

A recent report to the UN Committee Against Torture concludes that the US presidential administrations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama are responsible for far-reaching violations of international law for directing and covering up a global torture program developed by the US Central Intelligence Agency in the years following the September 11, 2001 attacks.

The report, prepared by the “Advocates for US Torture Prosecutions,” Dr. Trudy Bond, Prof. Benjamin Davis, Dr. Curtis F. J. Doebbler, and The International Human Rights Clinic at Harvard Law School, states unequivocally that entire sections of the state apparatus are responsible for “breathtaking” crimes against international law.

“Civilian and military officials at the highest level created, designed, authorized and implemented a sophisticated, international criminal program of torture,” the report states.

The report details the vast scale of the torture system, noting that detainees were tortured not just at the US Guantanamo Bay Military Base in Cuba, but in numerous secret black sites worldwide, including in “Bosnia-Herzegovina, Canada, Djibouti, Egypt, Indonesia, Iraq, Italy, Jordan, Libya, Lithuania, Mauritania, Morocco, Pakistan, Poland, Romania, Russia, Syria, Thailand, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom (Diego Garcia), and Yemen.”

Having been “conceived and authorized at the highest levels” of the US government, responsibility for the crimes committed is shared by numerous top officials, the report concludes, including “President George W. Bush, then Vice President Dick Cheney, then Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) George Tenet, then National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, then Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, then Secretary of State Colin Powell, and then Attorney General John Ashcroft.”

The torture techniques were devised by the CIA in collaboration with intelligence officers from the Egyptian and Saudi regimes, according to the report.

“The techniques in question, sometimes styled as interrogation techniques and sometimes as detention procedures, included near-drowning (‘waterboarding’), sleep deprivation for days, and forced nudity,” the report notes.

“They have caused many people intense suffering, including severe mental harm and, in some cases, death,” the report notes.

“Retroactive legal approval” was then contrived by US government lawyers at the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC).

In order to justify the new methods of “enhanced interrogation,” the torture lawyers of the Bush administration drew up an “absurdly narrow” definition of torture to justify the administration’s policies.

As a CIA lawyer commented to personnel at Guantanamo Bay when summarizing the content of the Bush administration torture memos, “…it is basically subject to perception. If the detainee dies you’re doing it wrong.”

“The fact is that senior officials in the United States government solicited information on how to use aggressive techniques, redefined the law to create the appearance of their legality, and authorized their use against detainees,” notes a report by the US Senate Armed Services Committee, cited in the new report to the UN…

…Far from being limited to the Bush administration, the report makes clear that the Obama administration, the Justice Department and multiple federal courts have upheld the conception that those involved in “waterboarding, dietary manipulation, walling, long-time standing, sleep deprivation and water dousing” should receive immunity, and that these techniques do not constitute torture.

The Obama administration has sought to safeguard all the senior Bush administration officials most directly responsible for torture from prosecution or any form of legal or punitive action for their involvement in torture.

As the report notes, all senior US government officials have received blanket immunity for their involvement in orchestrating a worldwide torture network, and “courts-martial and administrative proceedings for acts of torture have been almost exclusively limited to low-level private contractors or soldiers.”

The authors conclude that the “enhanced interrogation” methods violated the UN Convention Against Torture or Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment and Punishment, which builds on the ban on torture contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

The report maintains that “the prohibition against torture is absolute,” rejecting the legal concepts of the Bush administration and calling for the prosecution of top Bush administration lawyers, including the drafter of the three main “Torture Memos,” Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Yoo,

The failure of the US government to hold accountable any of the leadership elements that organized the torture is undermining the “preemptory norm against torture,” according to the report. Torture is becoming more widespread and viewed as more acceptable by states everywhere in response to the unabashed repudiation of international law by the US.

In its concluding recommendation to the UN Committee Against Torture, the legal scholars demand that the US government adopt a legal and policy course that is 180 degrees opposed to that followed by the Obama administration since taking office.

“The United States should promptly and impartially prosecute senior military civilian officials responsible for authorizing, acquiescing or consenting in any way to acts of torture committed by their subordinates,” the rapporteurs write.

Were the demands of the report to be implemented, the result would be legal-political prosecutions directed against command elements and numerous individuals within the upper layers of the most powerful agencies of the American government, including the CIA, the military and the Department of Justice, together with numerous high-ranking members of the Bush and Obama administrations.

Countless figures, many now ensconced in lavish sinecures in academia and the corporate establishment, would have to face long jail sentences.

No such accountability will be forthcoming from any section of the political establishment, however, given that the torturers and their defenders are the preeminent political servants and military-intelligence specialists of the capitalist class.

The torture program was developed and implemented as part of an explosion of American militarism, as the ruling class has sought to maintain its global position through war and violence in every corner of the globe. At the same time, it is part of a wholesale assault on democratic rights, directed fundamentally at any opposition to the policies of the corporate and financial elite.

Far from prosecuting those responsible, the Obama administration is currently engaged in a coordinated campaign to prevent the release of a Senate Intelligence Committee summary on CIA torture, working closely with the spy agency itself to cover up the crimes for which it is guilty.

Article link: http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/11/01/tort-n01.html

Also see: “Report to U.N. Calls Bullshit on Obama’s ‘Look Forward, Not Backwards’ Approach to Torture” – https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2014/10/30/un-report-slams-obama-protecting-u-s-officials-torture-charges/

People’s Daily warns against “trap” of Western-style democracy [People’s Daily]

Posted in Africa, Bourgeois parliamentary democracy, China, CPC, Thailand, Ukraine, USA on June 17, 2014 by Zuo Shou / 左手

BEIJING, June 9 (Xinhua) — The flagship newspaper of the Communist Party of China (CPC) carried a signed article on Monday, calling on people to guard against “the trap of Western-style democracy.”

“Copying Western-style democracy would probably lead to disaster” and “‘street politics’ usually leads to domestic turmoil and even civil war,” according to the article by Mi Bohua.

The article acknowledged that democracy is good, but said it should be realized in different forms in different countries.

There is actually no objective standard concerning democracy hailed by the United States and other Western countries, it said.

For the United States and other Western countries, anything that accords with their interests and accepts their manipulation is democracy, while those that do not fit the norm are not, said the article.

Some countries in western Asia and northern Africa have fallen into the craze for Western-style democracy, which has led to irretrievable secession and endless domestic struggles instead of happiness and stability, it said.

Countries in western Asia and northern Africa, Ukraine and Thailand, which have experienced street protests and even armed conflicts, have been led astray to the wrong path of Western-style democracy, that is, ‘street politics,’ according to the article.

In most of the cases, the United States and some Western forces have been involved in the street politics in these countries, either on stage or behind the scenes, it said…

Excerpted; full article link: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/china/2014-06/09/c_133393632.htm

The US and Thailand’s military coup [World Socialist Website]

Posted in Afghanistan, Encirclement of China, George W. Bush, Iraq, Japan, Korean War, Obama, Pentagon, south Korea, Thailand, US Government Cover-up, US imperialism, USA, Vietnam, Wikileaks on May 31, 2014 by Zuo Shou / 左手

26 May 2014

The US response to last week’s military coup in Thailand was utterly cynical. Secretary of State John Kerry declared that he was “disappointed by the decision of the Thai military to suspend the constitution and take control of the government,” urged “a return to democracy” and warned that military and other assistance programs would be reviewed.

Kerry’s “disappointment” had nothing to do with any concern for the democratic rights of the Thai people. Rather the Obama administration’s overriding concern throughout seven months of political upheaval in Bangkok has been to preserve its close, longstanding relations with the Thai military as part of its broader “pivot to Asia” and military build-up against China throughout the region…

…Last week’s coup follows the same pattern as the military’s ousting of Thaksin in 2006. WikiLeaks cables later revealed that US ambassador Ralph Boyce had been briefed about the military takeover several weeks in advance and had given the nod of approval. Both sides understood there would be cosmetic US aid cuts. However, US funding continued for law enforcement, counterterrorism and non-proliferation programs. Thailand kept its preferential treatment as a major non-NATO ally and the joint Cobra Gold military exercises, one of the world’s largest, went ahead as planned in 2007 under the junta. The Obama administration undoubtedly gave the green light for the latest coup as the Bush administration did in 2006.

The military’s actions are not aimed primarily against the pro-Thaksin faction of the ruling class, but against the working class and the rural poor. The fear in Thai ruling circles, and also in Washington, is that the protracted factional infighting could open the door for a movement of workers and peasants in conditions of negative economic growth, rising social tensions and corporate demands for austerity.

While giving tacit support to the coup, the US is also seeking to minimise the impact on relations with the military. Thailand is a formal military ally and has sent troops to fight in neo-colonial US wars in Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq. During the Vietnam War, 50,000 American troops were based in Thailand and US bombing raids took off from Thai airbases.

The importance of Thailand to the Pentagon’s war plans were underscored by a 2009 WikiLeaks cable from US ambassador Eric John which noted that “our military quietly access the [Utapao] air base over 1,000 times per year for flights in support of US operations, including missions in Afghanistan and Iraq.” He also noted that the US military used the same air base “for flights on targets of intelligence interest, and we received permission for these operations as a matter of routine, without having to answer questions to the purpose of the flights. It is hard to imagine another Asian nation so easily permitting such operations. While we avoid publicising our use of Utapao to avoid Thai sensibilities regarding the perception of foreign basing, Utapao and other Thai air fields and seaports remain vital to our force projection objectives in Southeast Asia.”

Washington’s implicit support for last week’s military coup in Thailand is a warning to the working class throughout Asia and internationally. Far from being a champion of democracy, US imperialism is increasingly relying on right-wing regimes, such as the Japanese government of Shinzo Abe and South Korea’s President Park Geun-hye, daughter of former US-backed dictator Park Chun-hee, as it seeks to reassert US hegemony through the “pivot to Asia” and prepares for war against China. The Thai junta is the latest…

Peter Symonds

Excerpted; full article link: https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/05/26/pers-m26.html

Cooking the Books: The Federal Bureau of Narcotics, the China Lobby and Cold War Propaganda, 1950-1962 [Asia-Pacific Journal / Sweet & Sour Socialism Essential Archives]

Posted in "War on Drugs" pretext, Afghanistan, Anti-China propaganda exposure, Anti-communism, Black propaganda, China, China-bashing, CIA, Colombia, Connection to drugs and narcotics, Cuba, Hong Kong, Iran, Japan, Karzai puppet regime corruption, Korean War, Law enforcement, Media smear campaign, Myanmar, Nicaragua, Panama, PLA, Sweet and Sour Socialism Essential Archives, Syria, Taiwan, Thailand, US Government Cover-up, US imperialism, USA, Venezuela on April 20, 2014 by Zuo Shou / 左手

The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 11, Issue 37, No. 1, September 14, 2013.

Jonathan Marshall

As influential contributors to national policy, intelligence professionals inevitably face strong political and bureaucratic pressures to shape their assessments to fit official or factional policy. In the modern era, such pressures have contributed to costly, even disastrous, escalations of the Vietnam War, the arms race, and, most notoriously, Washington’s conflict with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.2

Intelligence on the international narcotics menace has been particularly subject to such pressures ever since U.S. leaders vowed to wage “war” on the illicit drug trade more than a half century ago.3 In recent years, influential interest groups and policy makers have leveled epithets like “narco-terrorism” and “narco-communism” against targets such as Cuba, Nicaragua, Iran, Panama, Syria, the Taliban, and Venezuela to justify harsh policies ranging from economic sanctions to armed invasion, while ignoring or downplaying evidence implicating U.S. allies (the Nicaraguan Contras, the Afghan mujahedeen and Karzai administration, the Colombian military, and so forth).4 Given the stakes, critical scrutiny of such claims, and rigorous attention to de-politicizing intelligence on international narcotics matters, may be as vital to preventing foreign policy disasters as is ensuring sound intelligence on more traditional matters of national security.

To shed historical light on the dangers of turning international drug enforcement into a political weapon, this paper re-examines a classic case of alleged manipulation of narcotics intelligence: the vilification of Communist China by U.S. Commissioner of Narcotics Harry J. Anslinger at the height of the Cold War. His inflammatory rhetoric denouncing the People’s Republic of China (PRC) as an evil purveyor of narcotics went largely unchallenged in the Western media during the 1950s and early 1960s, when Anslinger acted as America’s leading drug enforcement official and its official representative to the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND). As we shall see, his charges strongly reinforced Washington’s case for diplomatic isolation of China, including its exclusion from the United Nations.

In 1971, as relations between Washington and Beijing began to thaw, the official U.S. line on China’s responsibility for drug trafficking abruptly reversed. At about the same time, a young scholar named Alfred McCoy published an authoritative volume on the modern history of the international heroin trade, contesting Anslinger’s claims and pinning blame for much of the traffic on U.S. military allies in Southeast Asia.5 Since then a number of historians have endorsed McCoy’s conclusions and characterized Anslinger’s conduct as the work of a master bureaucrat (or ideologue) bent on augmenting his agency’s prestige and power by inflating Cold War stereotypes of the PRC.6

This paper reexamines and extends their work by asking the question made famous by Tennessee Sen. Howard Baker during the Watergate hearings: What did he know, and when did he know it? As Kevin F. Ryan has observed, “it is unclear how much the FBN actually knew about [China’s involvement in] the international narcotics trade (and how much was simply convenient rhetoric) . . .”7 McCoy and most subsequent historians have relied on ex post rejections of Anslinger’s claims by U.S. and foreign law enforcement officials in the aftermath of the opening to China. But can we be sure Anslinger had no evidence to support his charges? If so, did Anslinger simply invent his claims, or did other interested parties feed him misleading or false information? And, equally important, what did Anslinger know but choose to ignore about drug trafficking by American allies, including those covertly backed by the Central Intelligence Agency?

New evidence, including recently declassified files of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics and Central Intelligence Agency, along with overlooked public materials from that period, sheds important new light on the state of Anslinger’s knowledge and probable motives. The records, unavailable to or unused by previous historians, provide strong new confirmation of Anslinger’s manipulation of intelligence to serve both his agency’s bureaucratic interests and a militantly anti-Communist foreign policy agenda at the expense of genuine narcotics enforcement. They leave open the possibility that Chinese traffickers continued to smuggle opiates out of the mainland into the 1950s, but do not challenge what is widely accepted today about the communist government’s attempt to suppress cultivation and trafficking…

— Anslinger’s Questionable Sources: the SCAP Connection —

…In reassessing the credibility of Anslinger’s claims, one of the most striking facts to note is that Anslinger had no full-time agents stationed in the Far East until 1962.37 (The U.S. Customs service had jurisdiction over narcotics investigations in the region, with offices in Hong Kong and Japan.)38 He thus depended heavily on agents of friendly governments — and particularly on partisan intelligence sources connected with U.S. occupation forces in Japan (SCAP) and Nationalist China.

Anslinger acknowledged that SCAP intelligence provided among “the first reports we received about the Communist narcotic smuggling in the Far East.”39 He made a SCAP account of heroin trafficking in Japan the centerpiece of his first all-out assault against Communist China before the CND in May 1952.40 The report declared that “Investigations, arrests, and seizures in Japan during 1951 proved conclusively that communists are smuggling heroin from China to Japan, and are using the proceeds from the sale thereof to finance party activities and to obtain strategic materials for China.” In support of that strong claim, it [among other allegations] cited one seizure of heroin that carried the seals of a pharmaceutical laboratory in northern China. But more than a half dozen other cases cited in the document simply involved heroin smuggled into Japan from Hong Kong — typically by Chinese from Taiwan (“Formosans”). Evidently, for Anslinger, heroin carried from British-controlled Hong Kong by smugglers from Nationalist-controlled Taiwan was proof of a Communist conspiracy…

…neither SCAP intelligence nor its sources could ever be considered “reliable,” except politically…42

–Anslinger and the China Lobby–

Many of Anslinger’s detailed allegations about large opium-growing regions in China, heroin laboratories in Chinese cities, and smuggling directives by Chinese government agencies originated from Nationalist China, whose representative to the CND issued grandiose allegations against the mainland’s new Communist masters.55 In 1951 Nationalist China provided the CND laboratory with its only “authenticated” samples of opium from the mainland. These samples were in turn used to implicate the PRC whenever the lab found a chemical match with opium seized by a member nation, including the United States. This stunning conflict of interest — perhaps fraud is not too strong a word — was uncovered only in 1963 following an inquiry by the Polish representative to the CND.56

Anslinger’s uncritical reliance on intelligence from Nationalist China was all the more irresponsible because he knew all about that regime’s own sordid history of profiting from the drug trade. Throughout much of the 1930s, a senior Treasury agent based in China sent Anslinger voluminous, detailed reports implicating senior government officials in opium trafficking. Indeed, history Chiang Kai-shek rise to power was smoothed by the muscle and financial support of China’s most infamous criminal syndicate, the Green Gang.57

In the 1950s, Anslinger collaborated closely with the “China Lobby,” a network of Nationalist Chinese officials and American supporters who sought to maintain high levels of aid to Taiwan while denying diplomatic recognition to the PRC…

…Anslinger helped the China Lobby in another key respect — by delegitimizing serious charges that some of its own personnel were tainted by the illegal drug trade. In 1960, Anslinger helped the Taiwan regime suppress publication of the first scholarly study of the China Lobby, because it contained the sensational claim:

There is . . . considerable evidence that a number of [Nationalist] Chinese officials engaged in the illegal smuggling of narcotics into the United States with the full knowledge and connivance of the Nationalist Chinese Government. The evidence indicates that several prominent Americans have participated in and profited from these transactions. It indicates further that the narcotics business has been an important factor in the activities and permutations of the China Lobby…61

–The FBI, Customs and CIA v. Anslinger–

Most Americans were in no position to question Anslinger’s assertions about China. Out of public view, however, many official experts in the U.S. and allied governments rejected his claims—including some in his own bureau.

The British Foreign Office, for example, dismissed his sources, which included Nationalist Chinese press accounts and claims by arrested traffickers in Japan, as “very dubious.” British Home Office official John Henry Walker privately derided Anslinger’s “annual onslaughts on Red China” as largely unsubstantiated and speculated that Anslinger sought to grab headlines because he was “under pressure in Washington and having to fight to keep his job…”70

–What the FBN Knew about the CIA and the Golden Triangle Drug Trade–

[I’ve excerpted this particularly sensational section which is quite long, but highly recommend reading it in its entirely – Zuo Shou]

It is notable that the single biggest redaction from the 1956 CIA study, when it was quietly declassified several decades later, concerns Thailand. For it was the CIA’s assets in Thailand who bore more responsibility than any other group in the “Golden Triangle” for the resurgence of the opium trade after the Communist victory in China in 1949. It is thus critical to explore what Anslinger must have known but chose not to disclose about the CIA’s drug-trafficking allies in the region.

Several excellent studies of the Golden Triangle in the 1950s provide rich background — without necessarily answering the question of what Anslinger knew.79 In brief, by January 1950, the People’s Liberation Army had driven thousands of Chinese Nationalist soldiers from the Eighth and Twenty-Sixth armies out of Yunnan province into Burma and French Indochina. In northeast Burma, more than 10,000 men under the command of General Li Mi found sanctuary in the wild hill country settled by minority peoples, many of whom cultivated opium as a traditional cash crop. Having themselves profited from opium for many years in Yunnan, the KMT forces — named for the Kuomintang party that ruled Nationalist China — began trafficking once again from Burma, both to make ends meet and to finance their schemes to reconquer China.

Washington’s interest in using Li Mi’s forces to contain the Chinese Communists soared after the start of the Korean War. By direction from President Truman in December 1950, the CIA secretly began supplying the KMT by air and with ground caravans through Thailand.80 Security was provided by the CIA-backed Thai national police, who in turn were eager to market the KMT’s opium to the legal Thai national opium monopoly and to international traffickers.

After several hapless forays by the KMT into southern China in 1951 and early 1952, Washington gave up serious hope of using them to roll back Communism in China. Meanwhile, as the CIA’s “covert” mission became widely known, U.S. relations with Burma worsened and Washington grew alarmed at the possibility of a retaliatory invasion by Communist China.81 The United States tried in vain to persuade the KMT forces to decamp for Taiwan, but the Chinese insisted on staying put — and in the words of one U.S. ambassador, “continuing nefarious operations in Burma and Thailand including opium smuggling racket.”82 Tabling preparations for war, they focused instead on building a drug empire that helped boost the region’s opium exports from an estimated 40 tons before World War II to more than three hundred tons by 1962.

Washington’s role in this trade was much more than incidental.83 As U.S. officials understood early on,84 the Thai national police, under the ruthless and brutal General Phao Sriyanon, “had become the largest opium-trafficking syndicate in Thailand,” in McCoy’s words. He adds:

CIA support for Phao and the KMT seems to have sparked . . . a ‘takeoff’ in the Burma-Thailand opium trade during the 1950s: modern aircraft replaced mules, naval vessels replaced sampans, and well-trained military organizations expropriated the traffic from bands of illiterate mountain traders.

Never before had [Burma’s] Shan States encountered smugglers with the discipline, technology, and ruthlessness of the KMT. Under General Phao’s leadership Thailand had changed from an opium-consuming nation to the world’s most important opium distribution center. The Golden Triangle’s opium production approached its present scale . . .85

The Golden Triangle would remain the world’s largest exporter of opiates until supplanted in the 1980s by a new set of CIA allies in South Asia, the Afghan mujahedeen and Pakistani military intelligence.86

All of this was top secret—so much so that the very existence of the operation to support the KMT guerrillas was kept from the CIA’s deputy director for intelligence, most or all top State Department officials, and the U.S. ambassadors to Burma and Thailand.87 The CIA went to especially great lengths to hush up the drug-related murder of one agent and widespread opium trafficking under its auspices.88 So is it fair in retrospect to hold Anslinger responsible for ignoring or underplaying the U.S.-Thailand drug connection?

Washington’s lies fooled no one on the scene and could not have fooled Anslinger. A review of the often-overlooked public record shows that Anslinger must have known more than to sound the alarm about the emergence of the KMT and its U.S.-supported Thai allies as one of the world’s largest narcotics-trafficking syndicates. Ignorance was simply not a credible excuse.

As early as May 1950, the New York Times reported on the presence in Northeast Burma of “an aggregation of refugee Nationalist troops” who “operate pretty much as a law unto themselves” and “have been engaging extensively in opium dealing.” The story noted that the United States planned to open a consulate “at the little northern Thailand city of Chiangmai to watch American interests in an area of increasing importance in Southeast Asia,” a tip that U.S. authorities were in touch with the KMT.89

Less than two years later, the respected London Observer accused “certain Americans” of joining Thai officials and KMT officers in “making large profits” from the “guns for opium trade.” The story pointed to the large quantities of American-made weapons and ammunition flown to General Li Mi “from a certain trading company in Bangkok in which Americans have an interest.” (As we will see, that was a reference to the CIA’s Sea Supply Company.) Amazingly, the American embassy in Bangkok confirmed the allegation. “It cannot be denied that we are in the opium trade,” one U.S. diplomat told the reporter.90 In case Anslinger missed the story, the Washington Post made it the subject of an editorial: “It is somewhat startling to read the allegation that in supporting the Chinese Nationalist effort in northeastern Burma to harass the Chinese Communists, Americans have gone into the opium business!…”91

…Anslinger could hardly deny the obvious any more. The narcotics commissioner now acknowledged publicly that, “More opium moves to and around Chiengrai in northern Thailand than any other place in the world in illicit traffic.” But he still blamed Red China, choosing not to draw attention to the pro-American parties responsible for bringing the drugs to the world market.101 “By an accident of history,” wrote one journalist friendly with Anslinger who nonetheless appreciated the irony, “the middlemen between Yunnan and Thailand are anticommunist Chinese. . . . They grow opium and add it to the supplies they get from China and neighboring tribal villages of Laos and Burma…”102

–Conclusion–

Anslinger’s sweeping rhetoric against “Red China” today strikes most historians—rightly so—as an anachronistic product of the McCarthy era. But the long litany of arrests, interrogation reports and statistics that Anslinger cited to back up his claims sounded authoritative and proved persuasive to Westerners all through the 1950s and into the 1960s…

…Anslinger, however, went far beyond…limited claims [of PRC involvement in illegal narcotics trade] to condemn the Beijing regime as a uniquely grand and evil purveyor of narcotics. Such strong charges demanded equally strong evidence. Anslinger never provided it and almost certainly never had it. With the opening of FBN records, we now know that its Communist China files hold no credible reports implicating the Maoist regime in drug smuggling. Furthermore, other U.S. and British officials privately called Anslinger on the matter at the time, savaging the credibility of his sources. The CIA’s definitive study of the question in 1956 demonstrates that Anslinger pushed his incendiary charges at the United Nations and in the media despite clear intelligence to the contrary. At the same time, Anslinger ignored or downplayed readily available public and private evidence that America’s allies — and its own officials — were contributing far more than Communist China to the growth of the Far East drug trade and the expansion of the world heroin market.

Clearly, the FBN chief chose to put anti-communism, national security [sic], and bureaucratic self-interest ahead of his agency’s declared mission. These disparate values meshed seamlessly. By serving up a steady supply of lurid claims to feed the propaganda mills of professional Cold Warriors and China Lobbyists, Anslinger bought protection against budget cuts, premature retirement, loss of authority to rival agencies, and any weakening of the nation’s drug laws. Today one must agree with the British Home Office official who concluded disparagingly in 1954 that Anslinger had “strong motives for emphasizing the responsibilities of other countries for illicit traffic in the United States and for attributing this traffic to Communist sources.”129 Anslinger’s deplorable record should remind us today of the need for critical scrutiny of claims related to drug trafficking to avoid letting our own era’s propaganda warriors generate fear and revulsion to escalate international conflicts.

Excerpted; full article (with notes) link: http://japanfocus.org/-Jonathan-Marshall/3997?utm_source=September+16%2C+2013&utm_campaign=China%27s+Connectivity+Revolution&utm_medium=email

How International Financial Elites Change Governments to Implement Austerity [counterpunch]

Posted in 9/11, Afghanistan, Allende, Bolivia, Capitalism crisis early 21st century, Chile, Early 21st Century global capitalist financial crisis' US origins, Ecuador, Egypt, France, Georgia, Germany, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Hugo Chavez, IMF - International Monetary Fund, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Nicaragua, Nukes, Somalia, Syria, Thailand, U.K., Ukraine, US imperialism, USA, Venezuela, Yemen, Zelaya coup on March 7, 2014 by Zuo Shou / 左手

Feb. 28, 2014

by ISMAEL HOSSEIN-ZADEH

Many countries around the world are plagued by all kinds of armed rebellions, economic sanctions, civil wars, “democratic” coup d’états and/or wars of “regime change.” These include Ukraine, Venezuela, Syria, Thailand, Iran, Afghanistan, Iraq, Egypt, Yemen, Somalia and Lebanon. Even in the core capitalist countries the overwhelming majority of citizens are subjected to brutal wars of economic austerity.

While not new, social convulsions seem to have become more numerous in recent years. They have become especially more frequent since the mysterious 9-11 attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001 and the 2008 financial collapse in the United States, which soon led to similar financial implosions and economic crises in Europe and beyond.

Despite their many differences, these social turbulences share two common features. The first is that they are largely induced, nurtured and orchestrated from outside, that is, by the Unites States and its allies—of course, in collaboration with their class allies from inside. And the second is that, contrary to the long-established historical pattern of social revolutions, where the desperate and disenfranchised masses rebelled against the ruing elites, in most of the recent struggles it is the elites that have insigated insurgencies and civil wars against the masses. The two features are, of course, integrally intertwined: essentially reflecting the shared interests and collaborative schemes of the international plutocracies against the global 99%.

Fighting to Make Austerity Economics Universal

The official rationale (offered by the U.S. and its allies) that the goal of supporting anti-government opposition forces in places such as Syria, Ukraine and Venezuela is to spread democracy no longer holds any validity; it can easily be dismissed as a harebrained pretext to export neoliberalism and spread austerity economics. Abundant and irrefutable evidence shows that in places where the majority of citizens voted for and elected governments that were not to the liking of Western powers, these powers mobilized their local allies and hired all kinds of mercenary forces in order to overthrow the duly elected governments, thereby quashing the majority vote.

Such blatant interventions to overturn the elections that resulted from the majority vote include the promotion of the Orange Revolution in Ukraine (2004 and 2014), Rose Revolution in Georgia (2003), Cedar Revolution in Lebanon (2005), Tulip Revolution in Kyrgyzstan (2005) and the Green Revolution in Iran (2009). They also include the relentless agitation against the duly elected governments of the late Hugo Chavez and now his successor Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela, as well as the rejection (and effective annulment) of the duly elected Hamas government in Palestine.

So, the real driving forces behind wars of regime change need to be sought elsewhere; specifically, in the imperatives of expansion and accumulation of capital on a global level. Socialist, social-democratic, populist or nationalist leaders who do not embrace neoliberal economic policies, and who may be wary of having their markets wide open to unbridled foreign capital, would be targeted for replacement with pliant leaders, or client states. This is, of course, not a new explanation of economic imperialism; it is as old as the internationalization of trade and investment.

What is relatively new, and seems to be the main driving force behind the recent wars of regime change, is that, as the U.S. and other major capitalist powers have lately embarked on austerity economic policies at home they also expect and, indeed, demand that other countries follow suit. In other words, it is no longer enough for a country to open its markets to investment and trade with Western economic powers. It seems equally important to these powers that that country also dismantle its public welfare programs and implement austerity measures of neoliberalism.

For example, after resisting imperialist pressures for years, the late Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi eventually relented in 1993, and granted major oil and other transnational corporations of Western powers lucrative investment and trade deals. Under pressure, he even dismantled his country’s nuclear technology altogether in the hope that this would please them to “leave him” alone, so to speak. None of the concessions he made, however, proved satisfactory to the U.S. and its allies, as his regime was violently overthrown in 2011and he was literally butchered by the thuggish gangs that were trained and armed by Western powers.

Why? Because the U.S. and its allies expected more; they wanted him to follow the economic guidelines of the “experts” of global finance, that is, of the U.S. and European economic “advisors,” of the International Monetary Fund and of the World Trade Organization—in short, to dismantle his country’s rather robust state welfare programs and to restructure its economy after the model of neoliberalism.

The criminal treatment of al-Gaddafi can help explain why imperialist powers have also been scheming to overthrow the populist/socialist regimes of the late Hugo Chavez and his successor in Venezuela, of the Castro brothers in Cuba, of Rafael Correa Delgado in Ecuador, of Bashar Al-assad in Syria and of Evo Morales in Bolivia. It also helps explain why they overthrew the popularly elected nationalist governments of Mohammad Mossadeq in Iran, of Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala, of Kusno Sukarno in Indonesia, of Salvador Allende in Chile, of Sandinistas in Nicaragua, of Jean-Bertrand Aristide in Haiti and of Manuel Zelaya in Honduras.

The imperialist agenda of overthrowing al-Gaddafi and other “insubordinate” proponents of welfare state programs abroad is essentially part of the same evil agenda of dismantling such programs at home. While the form, the context and the means of destruction maybe different, the thrust of the relentless attacks on the living conditions of the Libyan, Iranian, Venezuelan or Cuban peoples are essentially the same as the equally brutal attacks on the living conditions of the poor and working people in the US, UK, France and other degenerate capitalist countries. In a subtle way they are all part of an ongoing unilateral class warfare on a global scale. Whether they are carried out by military means and bombardments or through the apparently “non-violent” processes of judicial or legislative means does not make a substantial difference as far as their impact on people’s lives and livelihoods is concerned.

The powerful plutocratic establishment in the core capitalist countries does not seem to feel comfortable to dismantle New Deal economics, Social Democratic reforms and welfare state programs in these countries while people in smaller, less-developed countries such as (al-Gaddafi’s) Libya, Venezuela or Cuba enjoy strong, state-sponsored social safety net programs. Plutocracy’s intolerance of “regimented” economies stems from a fear that strong state-sponsored economic safely net programs elsewhere may serve as “bad” models that could be demanded by citizens in the core capitalist countries.

In a moment of honesty, former U.S. President Harry Truman is reported as having expressed (in 1947) the unstated mission of the United States to globalize its economic system in the following words: “The whole world should adopt the American system. The American system can survive in America only if it becomes a world system” [1].

In a similar fashion, Lord Cecil Rhodes, who conquered much of Africa for the British Empire, is reported to have suggested during the heydays of the Empire that the simplest way to achieve peace was for England to convert and add the rest of the world (except the United States, Germany and few other Western powers of the time) to its colonies.

The Mafia equivalent of Truman’s or Rhodes’ statements would be something like this: “You do it our way, or we break your leg.”ismaelhz

The mindset behind Truman’s blunt statement that the rest of the world “should adopt the American system” has indeed served as something akin to a sacred mission that has guided the foreign policy of the United States ever since it supplanted the British authority as the major world power…

Excerpted; full article link: http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/02/28/how-international-financial-elites-change-governments-to-implement-austerity/

China bans NZ milk powder imports [People’s Daily]

Posted in Australia, China, Food safety, Malaysia, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Vietnam on August 8, 2013 by Zuo Shou / 左手

(China.org.cn) August 05, 2013

China has stopped the import of all New Zealand milk powder following the alert by Fonterra that an ingredient could be contaminated by a potentially deadly bacteria, New Zealand’s trade minister said on Sunday.

New Zealand authorities have triggered a global recall of up to 1,000 tons of dairy products across seven countries after dairy giant Fonterra announced tests had turned up a type of bacteria that could cause botulism.

“The authorities in China, in my opinion absolutely appropriately, have stopped all imports of New Zealand milk powders from Australia and New Zealand,” Trade Minister Tim Groser said on a TVNZ program.

New Zealand’s Ministry of Primary Industries said Saturday that the tainted products include infant formula, sports drinks, protein drinks and other beverages. It said countries affected in addition to New Zealand include China, Australia, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam and Saudi Arabia.

Fonterra said its customers were urgently checking their supply chains.

Fonterra is the world’s largest dairy exporter, with annual revenues of about US$16 billion.

Consumers in China and elsewhere are willing to pay a big premium for New Zealand infant formula because the country has a healthy reputation.

China’s product quality watchdog Friday issued a statement urging importers of Fonterra dairy products to immediately start recalling the products.

In 2008, six babies in China died and another 300,000 were left ill by infant formula that was tainted with melamine, an industrial chemical added to watered-down milk.

Fonterra owned a minority stake in Sanlu, the now-bankrupt Chinese company at the center of the scandal.

Article link: http://english.people.com.cn/90778/8352091.html