Friday, April 10, 2009

Thaksin counterstrike

From the recent news, it is quite apparent that the ousted former Premier of Thailand Thaksin Shinawatra is planning his counterattack on his former enemies. Thaksin applied the last strategy of the 36 Stratagems and retreated. Biding his time and now he has found the perfect opportunity to launch his counterattack. Thanks to the current global economic crisis, the current Thai government will have less energy and time to deal with his return and furthermore, Thais have become increasingly dissatisfied with the present Thai government.

The Thai government has also reacted to Thaksin's counterattack by applying Fabian's strategy; denying Thaksin any chance of direct confrontation by preventing him from returning back to his home country. To deal with this, Thaksin has gathered support of the Red-shirt protesters to fight against his adversaries. By using Thai civilians as his preemptive strike force, it makes extremely difficult for the Thai government to retaliate for fear of incurring the people's wrath.

Thaksin should be returning to Thailand in the later half of 2009 once the possibility of snap polls is realised. Puea Thai Party which was formed after PPP was dissolved, will be the main threat that the present Thai government faces. Will Thaksin be elected as PM again? It will be quite unlikely if that happens as the elite in Bangkok will probably do everything they can to prevent Thaksin from claiming power again. Thaksin will most probably install a proxy leader to represent him in this clash of powers which will threaten to throw Thailand into complete chaos. Another possible scenario will be the King of Thailand stepping in to resolve this conflict. Whose side will the Thai King support? Perhaps only time will tell.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

North Korea grabbing the headlines

First of all, I would like to apologize for taking such a long time to update this blog. As I am currently in my final semester of my University/College studies, the seemingly endless load of school work has prevented me from updating my blog frequently. Nevertheless, my exams will be over soon and I look forward to sharing my strategic insights with the world.

I found it quite shocking that North Korean actually carried out its missile testing while facing the possibility of sanctions meted out by the UN security council. However, on thinking more deeply, this action is simply a way of North Korea reminding the world of her presence and urgent needs. More pressing issues such as the global financial crisis have long since pushed North Korea out the global news radar and it seems that North Korea is getting very worried about this happening.

By launching this missile, North Korea has perhaps made a serious strategic blunder by showing its urgency and rashness. United States can make use of North Korea's desperateness to convince Kim Yong-il to denuclearise his country in exchange for concessions. Nonetheless, as Sun Tzu advocates that a desperate army should not forced into a corner, care must be taken to not aggravate North Korea further during negotiations, as we simply do not know what bolder actions Kim Jong-il will take if talks break down.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

India & US inks nuclear pact

With the nuclear deal between India and US set in stone, India now has access to US civil nuclear technology. This will without a doubt, give India a much needed boost to its nuclear weapons programme. Pakistan and China are of course quite unhappy about US' move, but such is the fickle world of politics; where allies can be gained and lost in a blink of an eye.

Unfortunately, this deal might very well ignite the nuclear arms race in Asia, destabilising country relations in the process. Perhaps this is also America's way of pressurising Pakistan to cooperate with them to eradicate the Taliban? The Taliban has always been a thorn in the flesh for the folks at Washington, and Pakistan's on and off relationship with the Taliban certainly doesn't alleviate the situation. The rise of India is worrying the Pakistani officials, and with this nuclear deal, Pakistan has to think carefully on how to navigate her way to a future where her sovereignty will still be respected.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

If everything else fails; retreat!

Perhaps a last attempt to consolidate any remaining power he still possesses, Malaysia's Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi announced that the government will spend a staggering amount of RM207.9 billion on cash incentives that will no doubt aid the people to cope with the ever rising costs of living. Pity that this came too late, especially since the ruling coalition party was soundly defeated in the recent elections. Some might even say that if the government has been doing its job well, there will be no need for such drastic actions at all. Perhaps he is panicking from Anwar's recent landslide victory in the by-election?

I would advise PM Abdullah to relinquish his power and appoint a worthy successor soon; for such desperate clinging to his waning authority is certainly quite futile. To quote from the most famous stratagem of the 36 Stratagems; "If everything else fails; retreat!". Since PM Adbullah has lost most, if not all, of his credibility, it would be unwise of him to continue battling with the opposition. He would certainly face an inevitable defeat if he persists, as his attempts to talk down his enemies will only add strength to the voices of the opposition. Perhaps he could engage in a proxy battle with Anwar through his successor, though such actions would only cause more political turmoil.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The true ambition of Russia?

I believe many of you have been shocked by the Russia-Georgia war, having witnessed such horrific events while enjoying the breathtaking spectacle of Beijing Olympics opening ceremony. Russian officials claimed that the war was sparked by Georgia's attempt to retake its Russian-backed separatist province of South Ossetia. However Georgia denies that and says that they are merely responding to repeated attacks by South Ossetian separatists controlled and funded by Moscow. Both countries have their own story to tell but what I believe is the true goal of this war is for Russia to expand her power by gaining control of the most valuable resource on Earth -- Oil.

The map above shows the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) oil pipeline which runs through Georgia and extends from the Caspian Sea to the Mediterranean coast of Turkey. You can observe that the pipeline is strategically located to bypass both Russia and Iran. It is not difficult to conclude that the BTC pipeline allows the various republics which separated from USSR to deliver their petroleum to the world market without Russia getting in the way. If Russia could find a chance to attack Georgia and "accidentally" destroy the BTC pipeline, it could greatly boost the political might of Russia, who already provides a quarter of Europe's oil supply.

Back in 2002 when the construction plans for the BTC pipeline was announced, Russia did not have the power to oppose the United States and the world to prevent the building of the pipeline. It would also have been foolish for Russia to attack the pipeline directly. So Russia patiently bided her time, stirring up separatist movements in South Ossetia and provided assistance to the republic in various ways. Finally, the perfect opportunity to attack Georgia arrived; 8/8/08, the start of Beijing Olympics, and United States' military forces were greatly weakened by the Iraq war. With the world distracted by the Olympics and US' forces too divided, Russia successfully carried out their plans and defeated Georgia in a short span of five days.

Just like Sun Tzu said, "He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight". Choose the right timing to attack and you can achieve your goals quickly.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Gordon Brown's crisis

In Sun Tzu's Art of War, the welfare of the people is always stressed as the utmost importance in any situation. It is quoted in the book that "... The leader of armies is the arbiter of the people's fate, the man on whom it depends whether the nation shall be in peace or in peril". A nation is nothing without its people and the leader must always govern with the well-being of the people in his mind.

As recently witnessed in Malaysia, the ruling party, Barisan Nasional, experienced an embarrassing defeat in the elections. It lost sight of their main goals, the very reason that they were elected in the first place; to alleviate the suffering of the people. Now, another similar incident has happened in the West, where Britain's ruling party, Labour, lost the Glasgow East by-election.

Labour had held Glasgow East at the previous election with an overwhelming majority of 13,507 and the support of more than 60 per cent of voters. However, all was seemingly lost when Glasgow East was conquered by the Scottish National Party with a staggering swing of 22.54%.The reason for this shocking defeat? The people were furious with the Government over the ever escalating cost of living. It topped the voters' list of concerns and coupled with the fact that Glasgow East is one of the most deprived areas in the UK, quickly brought the defeat of Labour in the election.

When the people feel neglected and suffering is abound, the leader has failed in his duty and just like the General who does not follow the Art of War, the incompetent leader should be sacked.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Anwar in hot soup once again!

I was quite surprised when I read this piece of news. Anwar Ibrahim charged of sodomy again? Returning to politics with much fanfare by dealing a grievous blow to the BN party, with the opposition party winning a third of parliamentary seats and five states, it is very unlikely that he'll ruin himself by getting into such a detrimental scandal once again. Though I do not wish to point any fingers, but it is very clear that someone want to get rid of Anwar once and for all.

If Anwar is really innocent (and most likely he is), then the stratagem used in this situation is the famous 无中生有, or translated as "creating something from nothing". By creating a plain lie and making people believe the lie, your goals can be achieved and your enemy defeated. However, this strategy was already used as Anwar had been charged with sodomy during 1998 and jailed for six years. Fortunately, he was cleared of the charges in 2004 by Malaysia's highest court. It is extremely unwise for a strategist to repeat the same tactics as the enemy can easily predict your plans and counter them easily. Nonetheless, for Anwar's case, even if the sodomy charges fall through, his reputation has already been negatively affected. Perhaps he shall do the same to his perpetrators too? (some mudraking would do the trick) Lying low for the moment to wait for this incident to subside is another alternative too.

Seeing the state that Malaysia's politics is in, I find that the employment of this stratagem is a foolish one as this does not serve any purpose in restoring peace and order to the country. The plan may even backfire and hurt the reputation of the perpetrators instead!