(Counterpunch, February 03, 2014)
From Egypt, Ukraine, the Turkish-Syrian border, Cuba and Thailand
Government buildings are being trashed, ransacked. It is happening in Kiev and Bangkok, and in both cities, the governments appear to be toothless, too scared to intervene.
What is going on? Are popularly elected administrations all over the world becoming irrelevant; as the Western regime creates and then supports thuggish ‘opposition movements’ designed to destabilize any state that stands in the way of its desire to fully control the planet?
They are shouting and intimidating those who want to vote for the moderately progressive government that is presently leading Thailand. There is no dispute over the electoral process – voting is generally free, as both international observers and most of the local Election Commission members agree.
Freedom, legitimacy or transparency is not what is at stake now.
The rhetoric varies, but in essence, the ‘protesters’ are demanding the dismemberment of the fragile Thai democracy. Most of them are paid by the upper-middle and upper classes. Some of them are thugs, many hired for around 500 Baht a day (roughly US$ 15) in the villages of the restive southern provinces of the country. They are accustomed to the use of violence, their body language and facial expressions clearly show it.
Government officials of the legitimate government have to climb over blockades, or beg protesters to allow them to enter their own offices.
People who came to vote in the pre-election round were intimidated and insulted, and one man was almost strangled to death.
While life in the capital has been fully disrupted, the government does not dare to send in tanks or the police to clear the streets. It should. But it is too scared of the army and the monarchy – two pillars of this outrageous hybrid of savage capitalism and feudalism – comparable only to even worse regional nightmares, such as Indonesia and the Philippines.
It is all in the open now: the government speaks of its fear, while the military sends poisonous threats through the lackey media and through ‘leaks’.
What is happening and what is at stake? The Prime Minister’s older brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, while he was PM himself, attempted to bring in a modern capitalist system to this submissive and deeply scared nation. And not only that: he housed the poor, introduced an excellent free universal medical care system (much more advanced than anything ever proposed in the United States), free and very advanced primary and secondary education, and other concepts deemed dangerous to the world order, and to the local feudal elites, as well as the army.
Thai elites, whose love of being obeyed more than wealth, admired and feared, reacted almost immediately. The PM was exiled, barred from returning home to his country, and smeared. There were military coups, mysterious ‘alliances’, rumours, and ‘secret messages’ coming from a ‘very high place’. There was outright killing, a real massacre, when the so called ‘Red Shirts’, supporters of Mr. Shinawatra (ranging from moderate reformists to Marxists) were butchered by snipers, some shot in their heads.
But the people, the poor, the majority of Thailand, particularly those from the North and Northeast, reacted in a stoical and most determined fashion. Whenever elections were called, whenever the regime outlawed the pro-Shinawatra political parties, the new ones emerged, and kept winning the elections.
In 2011, Mr. Shinawatra’s sister, Yingluck, became Thailand’s Prime Minister.
‘Protestors’ blocked several central arteries of Bangkok, declaring that “Thailand is not ready for democracy”, and that “if elections should determine the country’s future, pro-Shinawatra forces would keep winning”.
That, of course, would be unacceptable to the elites and to many Western countries that have, for decades, benefited from the Thai feudal system.
One of Thailand’s generals, ‘refused to rule out the possibility of another military coup’.
What the opposition proposed was some hazy concept, of a government of technocrats, which would govern until Thailand ‘is ready’ to vote: read until people’s power is broken and it would become certain that a pro-elites, pro-monarchy and pro-military government would be ‘freely’ elected.
In the meantime, thugs are blocking public streets; cultural centers but not malls. They are described as ‘protesters’ in both Europe and the United States.
And here we are coming to the core of things: The terror of the military and feudalism was dressed up in the clothes of rebellion, even revolution. It was given legitimacy, even a certain romantic flair.
Fascism is raising its ugly head, once again. And the West is fully aware of it, and in fact it is openly supportive of the regime that is now de facto governing Thailand from behind the curtains. Because it is the regime it helped to manufacture.
I left Bangkok and while in the air, one thought kept repeatedly coming to me: many of the places I had been writing about lately are living a very similar reality as Thailand is.
Those elected democratically, those progressive in their core, these governments all over the world have been under severe attacks by some armed thugs, bandits, and anti-social elements, even by outright terrorists.
I saw it on the Turkish-Syrian border. I heard the stories of many locals, in the Turkish city of Hatay, and in the countryside near the Turkish-Syrian border.
There, I was stopped, prevented from working, interrogated by the local police, army and religious thugs, when I was trying to photograph one of those ‘refugee camps’ built by NATO specially for Syrian fighters, who were housed, trained and armed in this area.
Hatay was overran by Saudi and Qatari jihadi cadres, pampered by the US, EU and Turkish logistics, support, weaponry and cash.
The terror these people have been spreading in this historically peaceful, multi-cultural and tolerant part of the world, could hardly be described in words.
Children from the borderline village described raids, theft and violence, even killing, by anti-Assad ‘rebels’.
Here, and in Istanbul where I worked with Turkish progressive intellectuals, media and academia, I was explained to again and again, that the anti-Syrian ‘opposition’ has been trained, financed and ‘encouraged’ by the West, and by Turkey (a member of NATO), causing the death and destruction of millions of lives in the entire region.
As I write these words, RT is broadcasting an exclusive report from the Syrian city of Adra, the city that had been plundered and destroyed by pro-al Qaida and the pro-Western ‘opposition’ forces, including the Free Syrian Army.
This is the city where, allegedly, one month ago, people were murdered, stoned alive, burned in barrels, and beheaded.
Instead of stopping support for the racist, bigoted and extremely brutal Syrian ‘opposition’, Washington continues demonizing Assad’s government, and threatening it once again with military action.
And those thugs, in the countries that elected their own patriotic or progressive governments, were hired by local elites on behalf of the Western Empire.
And before that, the so-called ‘elites’ were hired, funded, or at least trained/’educated’ by the West.
On an ‘intellectual’ level, the private media outlets have been fiercely competing with each other, over which one would become more submissive towards the foreign handlers. The militaries and the most regressive feudalist, even fascist forces all over the world (see Ukraine, for instance) are clearly getting back into the saddle, benefitting and taking full advantage of the trend.
All this has been happening in different degrees and with variable levels of brutality, in Thailand, China, Egypt, Syria, Ukraine, Venezuela, Bolivia, Brazil, Zimbabwe and many other places all over the world.
Right after reading my article about the situation in Thailand, published on 30 January, my Brazilian reader reacted:
“Similar to our Brazil: though in a faded… somewhat lighter environment but substantially the same… the local elites, right now in January 2014, are doing whatever they can, to prevent the re election of Ms Dilma Roussef… You are an experienced Latin America´s observer, you know very well…”
The process, the tactics, are almost always the same: Western-paid media, or Western media directly, discredit designated popular governments, then ‘scandals’ are created, colors designated to some newly constructed ‘opposition’ movement, thugs selected and paid, and finally deadly weapons ‘miraculously’ appear at the ‘protest sites’.
As long as the government is ‘nationalist’, really patriotic and defending the interests of its own people against international plunder, (not like the Abe’s government in Japan which is peculiarly described as ‘nationalist’, but in reality it fully sides with US foreign policy in the region), it gets marked, and it appears on an invisible but powerful hit list, old-fashioned mafia-style.
As Michael Parenti correctly and colorfully described: “You do it our way, or we break your leg, capice?”
I witnessed President Morsi of Egypt (I was critical of his rule at first, as I was critical of the government of Mr. Shinawatra, before real horror swept both Egypt and Thailand), being overthrown by the military, which, while in its zealous over-drive, managed in the process to murder several thousands of mainly poor Egyptian people.
I was then in Egypt, in and out, for several months, filming a documentary film for the South American television network, Telesur.
In disbelief and dismay I witnessed my revolutionary friends going into hiding, disappearing from the face of the earth. This happened as outrageously arrogant families cheered on the military murderers with no shame, openly.
The logic and tactics in Egypt were predictable: although still capitalist and to a certain extent submissive to IMF and the West, President Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood, were a bit too unenthusiastic about collaborating with the West. They never really said ‘no’, but that had not appeared to be enough for the Euro-North American regime, which, these days, demands total, unconditional obedience as well as the kissing of hands and other bodily parts. The regime demands old-fashioned, Protestant-style obedience, complete with self-deprecation and a constant feeling of guilt; it is ordering true and ‘sincere’ servility.
It appears that almost no country, no well-liked government can escape annihilation, if it does not fully submit.
It went so far that unless the government in a developing countries such as Philippines, Indonesia, Uganda or Rwanda, sends a clear message to Washington, London or Paris that “we are here simply to make you, in the West, happy”, it would risk total annihilation, even if it was elected democratically, even if (and actually ‘especially if’) it is supported by the majority of the people.
All this is nothing new, of course. But in the past, things were done a little bit more covertly. These days it is all out in the open. Maybe it is done on purpose, so nobody will dare to rebel, or even to dream.
And so, the revolution in Egypt has been derailed, destroyed, and cruelly choked to death. There is really nothing left of the so-called ‘Arab Spring’, just a clear warning: “never try again, or else”.
Yes, I saw the ‘elites’ of Egypt dancing, and celebrating their victory. The elites love the army. The Army guarantees their continuous place at the zenith, their power. The elites even make their little children hold portraits of the military leaders responsible for the coup, responsible for thousands of lost lives, responsible for breaking the great hopes and dreams of the Arab world.
What I witnessed in Egypt was chilling, and it resembled the 1973 coup in Chile (a country which I consider my ‘second or third home’); the coup, which I am not old enough to remember, but footage of which I have seen again and again, in silent and never diminishing horror.
‘Or else’ could be the torture and murder of people in Bahrain. ‘Or else’ could be Indonesia in 1965/66. Or it could be the ‘collapse of the Soviet Union’. ‘Or else’ could be civilian airliners exploding mid-flight; a Cuban plane was destroyed by CIA agents. It could be ravaged Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, or Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, bombed into the stone ages. ‘Or else’ can easily be some fully devastated country like Nicaragua, Grenada, Panama or the Dominican Republic. Or ‘or else’ could mean ten million people butchered in the Democratic Republic of Congo, for both its natural resources and for the anti-imperialist outspokenness of its great leader, Patrice Lumumba.
Now in Egypt, Mubarak’s clique is rapidly coming back to power. He was a well-trusted ‘devil’, and the West quickly realized that to let him fall would be a serious strategic blunder; and so it was decided to bring him back; either personally, or at least his legacy, at the coast of thousands of (insignificant) Egyptian lives, and against the will of almost the entire nation.
The military of Egypt, of course, cannot be allowed to fall, either. The US has invested billions and billions of dollars in it, and the soldiers are now literally in control of half of the country. And it is a very reliable organization: it murders without scruple any being attempting to build a socially just society in this the most populous Arab nation on earth. And it plays with Israel. And it loves capitalism.
Two countries are separated by thousands of miles, and belong to two different cultures, located on two continents; Thailand and Egypt. In both countries, people spoke. They voted in their leaders. Not some Communist government, mind you: just a moderately socially-oriented one in Thailand, and a moderately nationalist/Islamic one in Egypt.
In both cases, the feudal and fascist elites went to work, immediately. Those that are behind them, that are financing them, and ‘morally’ supporting them, is, I believe, absolutely clear.
Ukraine is not a fresh victim of destabilization tactics of the European Union, which is so sickly greedy that it appears it, cannot contain itself anymore. It salivates, intensively, imagining the huge natural resources that Ukraine possesses. It is shaking with desire dreaming of a cheap and highly educated labor force.
European companies want to get into Ukraine, by all means. But one has to be careful not to allow the Ukrainian hordes to enter that sacred and thoroughly racist fortress – the European Union. Europe can plunder all over the world, but it is strict and brutal to those who want to get in and ‘steal its jobs’.
Of course the EU cannot do in Ukraine, what it freely does in many places like the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). It cannot just come and pay some proxy countries, as it pays Rwanda and Uganda (that are already responsible for the loss of over ten million Congolese lives in less than 2 decades), to plunder Ukraine and kill almost all those people that are resisting.
Europe, again and again, for centuries, has proven that it is capable of massacring entire nations without the slightest mercy, (while showing almost zero historic memory) and with almost no moral principles, at least compared to the rest of the world. But it is canny, and unlike the United States, it knows plenty about tactics, strategy and PR.
What the EU did in Libya is clear. Anyone claiming that the United States is acting on its own, must be exercising enormous discipline not to see how closely linked are the interests and actions of the old and new usurpers of Africa, Asia, Latin America, Middle East, Asia and Oceania. France is acting, once again, as the arch neo-colonial thug, particularly in Africa.
But Ukraine is ‘right there’, too near geographically, to the EU itself. It has to be destabilized, but it all has to appear very legitimate. ‘The rebellion’, ‘revolution’, ‘uprising of its people’; that is the way to handle things ‘properly’.
More than a month ago, a bizarre deal was proposed, where European companies would be allowed to enter and clean Ukraine of its natural resources, but the people of Ukraine would not be allowed to even come and work in the EU.
The government, logically and sensibly, rejected the deal. And then, suddenly, Thai-style or Egyptian-style thugs appeared all over the streets of Kiev, armed with sticks and even weapons, and went onto trashing the capital and demanding the democratically elected government to resign.
The groups of thugs include many neo-Nazis, anti-Semites and common criminals. They are emboldened by the Thai-style fear of the Ukrainian government, to use force. They are setting on fire police officers, blocking and occupying government buildings, preventing the administration from serving the people.
Just as their ‘orange’ predecessors, they have been manufactured and carefully crafted, before being released into the wider world.
In Africa, just to mention a few cases, tiny Seychelles, a country with the highest HDI (Human Development Index by UNDP) has for years been bombarded with criticism and destabilization attempts. The Government provides excellent totally free (including medicine) medical care and free education. The people of Seychelles are well fed and housed. It is definitely not a perfect society, but, together with Mauritius, it is the best the African continent has to show. But that does not seem to be relevant.
Propaganda from outside, as well as the mainly British-sponsored opposition press, is trashing the system.
One wonders why, but then, on closer scrutiny and understanding of the Empire, things become clear: The Seychelles used to cooperate closely with both Cuba and North Korea, on educational fronts and in other fields. It was too ‘socialist’ for the Empire. And for those retirees seeking an exclusive hedonist lifestyle, it would be acceptable to be surrounded by blue and maybe even by brown, but definitely not by red.
Eritrea, dubbed as the ‘African Cuba’, may be a proud and determined nation, but it was designated as total pariah and outcast state by most of the Western powers. It was hit by sanctions and punished for who knows what.
“We are trying to be inclusive, democratic and fair”, the Eritrean Director of Education recently told me, in Kenya. “But the more we do, the more we care about our people, the more infuriated Western countries appear to be.”
He was a very wise man and so he did not appear to be surprised. Both of us were just ‘comparing notes’.
Zimbabwe is another clear and extreme case. There, the West evidently and openly supports ‘the opposition’, against the government that is loved and supported by the great majority of citizens; the government of liberation struggle against colonialism and imperialism.
Provoked by outrageous lies disseminated by the mainly British mass media, I visited Zimbabwe last year, disputing point-by-point all the main propaganda points directed against Harare. Needless to say, my report, published by CounterPunch, created outrage against Western propaganda, all over the African continent.
The West builds and feeds ‘rebellions’ and ‘opposition’ against Venezuela, Bolivia, Cuba, Brazil, and Ecuador, to mention just a few countries high on its hit list.
In Venezuela, the US sponsored an aborted coup, and it directly pays for hundreds of organizations, ‘NGO’s’ and media outlets, with the direct goal of overthrowing the revolutionary process and the government.
In Cuba, the people of this proud and humanist nation have been suffering for decades. They have been enduring what can only be described as terrorism against their beautiful country. The US and the West have sponsored invasions, terrorist acts, even attempts to influence weather patterns and cause devastating droughts. Crops have been poisoned.
Any Cuban ‘dissident’, any thug that takes up arms against the Cuban system and the government, would get immediate funding and support from the United States.
Even Western media outlets, performing secret polls in Cuba, often come to the conclusion that the majority of Cuban citizens support their system. But that only infuriates the West further. Cuban people are paying a heavy price for their freedom, for their pride, for their independence.
There are many other examples how the ‘opposition’ and terror against ‘unpopular’ (in the eyes of the West) governments are built.
Bolivians almost lost their ‘white’ and-right wing province of Santa Cruz, as the US supported, many say financed the ‘independence movement’ there, obviously punishing the extremely popular government of Evo Morales for being so socialist, so indigenous and so beloved. Brazil, in one great show of solidarity and internationalism, threatened to invade and rescue its neighbor, by preserving its integrity. Therefore, only the weight of this peaceful and highly respectable giant saved Bolivia from certain destruction.
But now even Brazil is under attack of the ‘manufacturers of opposition’!
I don’t want to write at length about China here, in this report. Readers are already familiar with my stand, but in summary: The more high-speed trains the Communist government builds, the more public parks, free exercise machines, more public transportation lines and wide sidewalks, the more it attempts to make medical care free for all once again, the more it attempts to make education free and public – the more it is being smeared and called ‘more capitalist than capitalist states (while over 50% of country’s production remains firmly in state hands).
Russia, like China, Cuba or Venezuela, is demonized relentlessly, every day and every hour. Any oligarch, any deranged pop figure, who criticizes the government of President Putin, is immediately elevated by the US, German and other Western governments, to the level of sainthood.
All this is definitely not because of the Russian human rights record, but because Russia, like the Latin American countries and China, is determinedly blocking Western attempts to destabilize and destroy independent and progressive countries all over the world. It is also due to the increasing influence of the Russian media, particularly RT (Russia Today), which became a commanding voice of resistance to Western propaganda. Needless to say, this writer is proudly associated with RT and its efforts.
It is certain that what the world is experiencing now, could be described as ‘the new wave’ of a Western imperial offensive. This offensive is taking place on all fronts, and it is rapidly accelerating. Under the proud Nobel Peace Price winner, Barack Obama and his closest European Neo-cons and ‘socialists with brown insides’, as well as the re-elected fascist Prime Minister of Japan, the world is becoming an extremely dangerous place. It feels like some frontier town invaded by violent gangs.
The biblical perception of ‘those who are not with me are against me’ is gaining new depth.
And be aware of the colors. Be aware of the ‘uprisings’, or anti-government ‘protests’. Which one is genuine and which one is unnaturally created by imperialism and neo-colonialism?
It all appears to be extremely confusing to the majority of people who are getting stuffed on the corporate media feed. Actually, it is supposed to be confusing! The more confused people get, the less capable they are to rebel against real dangers and oppression.
But in the end, despite everything, on the 2nd of February, the people of Thailand voted! They climbed the barricades; they fought with those who were attempting to close polling stations.
And in Ukraine, the majority still supports their government.
And Venezuela and Cuba have not fallen.
And the jihadi cadres are not yet in control of Syria.
And Eritrea and Zimbabwe are still behind their leadership.
People are not cattle. In many parts of the world they are already realizing who their real enemies are.
When the US sponsored a coup against Chavez, the military refused to follow, and as a handpicked businessman was sworn-in as President, the military began moving tanks towards Caracas, in defense of the legitimate and elected leader. The revolution survived!
Chavez passed away, and some say that he was poisoned; that he was infected with cancer, that he was hit from the North. I don’t know whether it is true, but before he died, he was photographed, bold and sweating, suffering from an incurable disease, but determined and proud. He was shouting: “Here nobody surrenders!” And this one image and one short sentence, inspired millions.
I remember, last year in Caracas, standing in front of a huge poster depicting his face, spelling out his words. I would thank him; embrace him if I could, if he were still alive. Not because he was perfect – he was not. But because his life and his words and actions inspired millions, pulled entire nations from depression, from gloom and doom, from slavery. I read from his face this: “They try to screw you by all means, but you fight… You fall but you fight again. They try to kill you but you fight… For justice, for your country, and for a better world.” Chavez did not say this, of course, but that is how it felt, looking at his photograph.
By then, most of South America was free and united against Western imperialism, and hard to defeat. Yes, here, nobody surrendered!
The rest of the world is still very vulnerable and mostly in shackles.
The West is continuously manufacturing and then supporting oppressive forces, be they feudal or religious. The more oppressed people are, the less disposed they are to fight for justice and for their rights. The more scared they are, the easier it is to control them.
Feudalism, religious oppression and cruel right-wing dictatorships, all that serves perfectly well both the market fundamentalism of the Empire, and its obsession with controlling the planet.
But such an arrangement of the world is abnormal, and therefore temporary. Human beings are longing for justice and, in their essence, are a sharing and decent species. Albert Camus, correctly, arrived at the conclusion in his powerful novel “The Plague” (analogy to fight against fascism): “there is more to admire than to despise in humans”.
What the West is now doing to the world; igniting conflicts, supporting banditry and terror, sacrificing millions of people for its own commercial interests, is nothing new under the sun. It is called ‘ordinary fascism’. And fascism came and was defeated, in the past. And it will be again. It will be defeated because it is wrong, because it is against natural human evolution, and because people all over the world are realizing that the feudal structures that Western fascism is trying to administer all over the world, belong to the 18th century, not to this one, and should never again be tolerated.
Andre Vltchek is a novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He has covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. His discussion with Noam Chomsky On Western Terrorism is now going to print. His critically acclaimed political novel Point of No Return is now re-edited and available. Oceania is his book on Western imperialism in the South Pacific. His provocative book about post-Suharto Indonesia and the market-fundamentalist model is called “Indonesia – The Archipelago of Fear”. He has just completed the feature documentary, “Rwanda Gambit” about Rwandan history and the plunder of DR Congo. After living for many years in Latin America and Oceania, Vltchek presently resides and works in East Asia and Africa. He can be reached through his website or his Twitter.