US Asian Pivot in Tatters as India & Thailand Escape From its Grasp

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Prayut Chan-o-cha, Prime Minister and Head of the National Council for Peace and Order, Thailand. Courtesy: Open Source

By Ann-Marie de Veer
Saturday 7 May 2016

In late November 2011 the Obama regime in the US announced that it would be seeking to shift its current interventionist foreign policy away from the Middle East to the Asian Pacific, a policy more commonly known as the Pivot to Asia. The rationale for this change in its military emphasis was to contain a growing power in the region, China, and to reassert its former military and economic hegemony upon its Southeast Asian vassals, i.e. Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Japan, Malaysia, Myanmar, South Korea, Vietnam and, of course, India and Thailand. Naturally the Middle Kingdom, a direct translation of 中国 (China), were none to pleased with the move but it was not unexpected given that China had risen from relative economic obscurity to becoming the world's second largest economy in just 30 years.

The Indian Bengal tiger rises.

India, a former colony of the British Empire, has been traversing a political canyon for decades with one foot on the peaks in the East and the other on the ridges in the West. This balancing act has, thus far, allowed the nation to remain a relatively independent country that has largely escaped the vagaries of the US Empire, i.e. its global economic and military projects in overthrowing and/or assimilating geostrategic or resource rich nations. While India is known to have bought its military hardware from both the East, i.e. Russian MiG's, and the West, i.e. US C17's, in the past, more recent developments have favoured the East. India has been operating a nuclear powered submarine on lease from the Russian Federation since 2012 and is on schedule to equip its Air Force with nearly 300 Su-30's engineered in Russia and built in India. Its latest maritime acquisition, a second Russian built nuclear powered submarine, is programed to come online in 2018. Clearly India is now using the political equivalent of a snowboard high above the canyon with both feet firmly planted on the Southeast Asian peaks.

The Thailand elephant is on a charge.

Thailand has the unique distinction of not being colonised by either the West or the East in more than 800 years of history: its foray with Japan in World War II, as in being a collaborator, was simply political expediency. Nonetheless, the nation has endured numerous military takeovers in its post WWII history, in ridding itself of the scourge of foreign influence. It is no secret that the US Empire has sought to exploit the nation for geopolitical and geostrategic reasons for decades having installed one puppet dictator after another, the latest being in 2011, i.e. Yingluck Shinawatra, who was forced to step down by the country's Constitutional Court in May 2014 for abusing her power whilst in office. Subsequently, the Thai military, via the National Council for Peace and Order, have restored relative peace and stability to the country. However, the military's hold on power is clearly vexing the US Empire who have, until recently, been the primary source of Thailand's military equipment and weaponry.

Thailand first began diversifying its sources for military armaments in the late 1980's and early 1990's when it bought anti-aircraft guns, armoured personnel carriers, artillery equipment, tanks, and frigates from China. The purchases were aimed more at making a political statement rather than adding any new technological capability, after having endured years of sharp practice by the West in the provision of military equipment and weapons. The US Empire were quick to respond, first in creating a succession of more compliant puppets and then by foisting their military hardware on the Thai forces.

Fifteen years later, the Thai military are now in a position to choose what they beileve is right for the nation: today, there are Russian Mi 17's where there once US Blackhawk helicopters and the dated US M113 armoured personnel carriers are giving way to yet more Chinese imports and their own domestically built variants.

In December 2015 India announced that it intends to purchase the Russian S-400 air-defence system and later this month, Thailand is off to Moscow looking to replace its aging US M-series tanks with Russian T-90 battle tanks.

Clearly the US Empire's regional and geopolitical influence is being systematically undermined by two of its former vassal states: in other words, its Pivot to Asia is in tatters while its Military Industrial Complex is left smarting over the loss of business.

India and Thailand have finally wrestled themselves free from an Empire in terminal decline although they are not so naive as to assume that there will not be any repercussions.

It is vain for the crowd to flee; death follows close behind; it is only by defying it that the brave escape.
François-Marie Arouet, aka. Voltaire