Articles, Opinions & Views: IRI ’interference’ poses no clear and present danger to M'sia - By Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy

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“When you're left wounded on

Afganistan's plains and

the women come out to cut up what remains,

Just roll to your rifle

and blow out your brains,

And go to your God like a soldier”

“We are not retreating. We are advancing in another direction.”

“It is fatal to enter any war without the will to win it.”

“Old soldiers never die; they just fade away.

“The soldier, above all other people, prays for peace,

for he must suffer and be the deepest wounds and scars of war.”

“May God have mercy upon my enemies, because I won't .”
“The object of war is not to die for your country but to make the other bastard die for his.

“Nobody ever defended anything successfully, there is only attack and attack and attack some more.

“Fixed fortifications are a monument to the stupidity of man."
“It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died.
Rather we should thank God that such men lived.

The Soldier stood and faced God

Which must always come to pass

He hoped his shoes were shining

Just as bright as his brass

"Step forward you Soldier,

How shall I deal with you?

Have you always turned the other cheek?

To My Church have you been true?"

"No, Lord, I guess I ain't

Because those of us who carry guns

Can't always be a saint."

I've had to work on Sundays

And at times my talk was tough,

And sometimes I've been violent,

Because the world is awfully rough.

But, I never took a penny

That wasn't mine to keep.

Though I worked a lot of overtime

When the bills got just too steep,

The Soldier squared his shoulders and said

And I never passed a cry for help

Though at times I shook with fear,

And sometimes, God forgive me,

I've wept unmanly tears.

I know I don't deserve a place

Among the people here.

They never wanted me around

Except to calm their fears.

If you've a place for me here,

Lord, It needn't be so grand,

I never expected or had too much,

But if you don't, I'll understand."

There was silence all around the throne

Where the saints had often trod

As the Soldier waited quietly,

For the judgment of his God.

"Step forward now, you Soldier,

You've borne your burden well.

Walk peacefully on Heaven's streets,

You've done your time in Hell."

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IRI ’interference’ poses no clear and present danger to M'sia - By Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Malaysiakini : “Here is my first principle of foreign policy: good government at home.” ― William Ewart Gladstone
COMMENT | Some folks have been emailing me asking me what I think of all this International Republican Institute (IRI) “collusion” with Pakatan Harapan.  I get that “collusion” with foreign powers is a big thing at the moment, but honestly I do not really see the issue here. Some people have said that the IRI is a cut-out for the American intelligence apparatus or something like that.
Really? Look, I think the American intelligence apparatus is a cut-out, or has become a cut-out, for big business - Big Pharma, Big Agro, et cetera - and all the other corporate interests that influence American foreign and domestic policy.
Besides, the fact that a representative from the organisation goes around blabbering about the “long game” with the opposition demonstrates that whatever nefarious intentions attributed to the IRI aid is misplaced because it sounds like amateur hour when you boast about a victory which you acknowledged that you had no hand in.
This looks like spin to counter all the negative spin that the IRI faces all over the world. A good news story about a democracy that works in an Islamic country and how the IRI played its small part.
Granted, I would like to know what kind of “training” they provided to our local politicians. I am most curious if this involved the use of social messaging and propaganda, but ultimately this kind of interference happens all the time.
Foreign groups wishing to cultivate a specific kind of government or promote specific agendas operate in countries through ways benign and toxic. Opposition parties facing hostile establishments have very little choice but to get support where they can find it, more so if such support is sexed up with democratic ideas. Furthermore, since its inception, our opposition has been made up of former establishment figures, so there of course would be foreign power brokers invested in how the country chooses to vote.
Claiming, as the IRI did, to have access to the prime minster, his office or to political operatives, is admittedly worrying. However, I consider most of these types of engagements as falling under the “lobbying culture” which Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad should be familiar with, considering he had paid a lobbyist back in the day to meet a US president. So, it is not that unusual.
Choosing sides
Which is not to say that the IRI is a benign outfit. Just two years ago, US media outlet Politico reported that Russia concluded that the organisation posed “a threat to Russia’s security and political system.” I mean, Russia should know a thing or two about interfering in the political process of foreign countries. 
IRI’s response was: “For 33 years, IRI has worked around the world with citizens, civil society groups and political leaders to advance democracy and human dignity. We’ve helped women and members of marginalised communities take their rightful place in the decision-making process of their societies. We simply believe, as Ronald Reagan said three decades ago, that ‘all people should have the freedom to determine their own destiny’."
On the other hand, US magazine Mother Jones in 2004 detailed the fallout from the organization’s activities in Haiti and Venezuela and of its penchant to choose sides:
1. “At the time, all the major US democracy-promotion groups were active in Venezuela, including both IRI and NDI (the National Democratic Institute). But documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act show that while NDI worked with parties across the political spectrum, IRI staffers spent much of their time cultivating the opposition.
2. “And despite a warning from the National Endowment for Democracy not to take sides in Venezuela, IRI also used its own money to bring opposition figures to Washington, where they met with top US officials.”
So there’s that. Of course, now everyone from Gerakan to Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) is claiming that they had no involvement with IRI and their ilk. PSM is the most believable because of their track record and the fact that their ideology is anathema to mainstream US groupthink. Gerakan, meanwhile, is correct to call out PKR vice-president Nurul Izzah Anwar over her claim that Gerakan received training from IRI. If she makes such a claim, she should back it up with evidence and not attempt to smear everyone with the mulch Harapan finds itself in.
Now the IRI has claimed it worked with the BN regime too, but it does sound like an afterthought considering their man had said that they played the long game with the opposition and that Harapan political operatives had allegedly thanked the IRI for standing with them all those years.
Comic relief
Maybe it’s just that in the rush of things, people say stupid things, especially when the assets you have cultivated produce political fruit, waiting to be plucked. Ok, that was mean. Do I think that there are compromised political operatives in Harapan and BN? It would not surprise me, but I just think this whole thing with the IRI is overblown. But it does provide some comic relief though, courtesy of the DAP.
Lim Guan Eng’s denial of any involvement with the IRI was funny.  Pro tip. If this is the first time you are hearing about this, should not the logical answer be to discover more about the subject instead of merely denying any involvement because your coalition partners admitted involvement?
Here’s the thing. If the influence of IRI through Harapan is detrimental to the sovereignty of the country, then DAP is involved by virtue of being part of the coalition.  And really, DAP has been “critical” of the US Republican Party? Has DAP been critical of the US Democratic Party too? Or is this a cheap shot at US President Donald Trump to score points with the domestic audience?
Of course then there was the predictable backpedalling, when Guan Eng (photo) admitted that DAP had contact with the IRI but did not hear the reporter’s question properly. Yeah, right. The first flight response from DAP when it comes to anything it perceives could tarnish its image is getting tiresome. Nothing to rock the boat, eh, Guan Eng, even when it means waiting to craft a response which does not throw your coalition partners under the bus.
And of course, the stupidest thing was said about having contacts with the US political parties. Lim said that DAP had no contacts with the US Republican Party or the US president, but training with thinktanks was okay because it was not like having contacts with the US Central Intelligence Agency. How stupid is this?
Look, a political party having contact with another democratically elected political party is good, even if the political party is in the opposition and share the same ideologies. It is the way that democracies work and democratic ideas flourish.
However, far more dangerous, are members of a political party attending training and workshops by so-called thinktanks which promote agendas public and sub-rosa. Indeed, it would have been better if DAP maintained ties with the US Republican and Democratic parties because that is what functional political parties do. Maintaining lines of communication with other democratically elected political parties is a good thing, and not mucking about with foreign NGOs, some of whom are funded by political parties which could have been infiltrated by intelligence operators beholden to higher undemocratic powers.
It is good that DAP finally cleared this up. Guan Eng’s bad hearing saved the day because at best DAP was ignorant of what their partners were up to – which does not inspire much confidence – or at worst, DAP is a useful idiot. Look up the term. When it comes to help and funding from foreign NGOs you have to take the good with the bad. It is unfortunately as simple as that, especially considering that we have done our fair share of regional interference. Look that up too.
All of this nonsense, of course, is a smokescreen for the real threats to our democracy which are the moves by the Harapan regime to backtrack on their campaign promises and start a new, more virulent Islamic discourse, which is for part two.
posted by Major D Swami (Retired) @ 1:11 PM  
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