September 20, 2006

Thai Military Coup

All you need to know about the Thai Military Coup is that THE KING REMAINS IN CONTROL. I have been to Thailand half a dozen times. It's a very odd culture - the best of peaceful dignity alongside violent kick-boxing and other manifestations of craziness. But what holds it all together is the monarchy. Nearly every taxi, shop and cafe in Bangkok has a photo of the King on display. He's the man.

PM Thaksin is an idiot right-wing stooge ass. Good riddance.

UPDATE: As every student of US foreign policy knows, there are "good" coups (e.g. Chile 1973, or more recently Venezuela) and "bad" coups. So what's this? Well, the Bush administration, the European Union and even Alexander Downer have criticized the coup as a blow to what they call "Democracy" (I think that word needs to be enclosed in quote marks these days: what they are really talking about is rampant globalized capitalism).

But surely Thailand is a good example of a country where such Western-style "Democracy" is not necessarily the best option. The monarchy in its current form does a fairly good job, from what I can see. This article reinforces what I said earlier:
The coup is also a response to the Islamic insurgency raging in southern Thailand, and public displeasure with Thaksin's strong-arm tactics. Gen. Sondhi Boonyaratkalin, the army commander who led the coup, had advocated a peaceful solution. As a Muslim, he was long seen as a force for healing whose hands were tied by Thaksin's policies.

It remains unclear what role, if any, the king played in removing Thaksin. What is clear, however, is the chain of events that led to Thaksin's ouster - a series of missteps that prompted accusations he was challenging the king's authority, an unpardonable act by Thai standards...

In April, the king made a rare TV appearance, prodding the courts to intervene to resolve a political deadlock that had left the kingdom with a caretaker government and no working legislature.

The judges duly ruled, paving the way for new elections. But Thaksin angered many by refusing to bow out.

"The anti-Thaksin forces in the top levels of government - and perhaps in the palace - realized that Thaksin could still be prime minister after the new election and there was no way out, and they were fed up," said Paul Handley, author of "The King Never Smiles," a biography that portrays Bhumibol as a major player in Thai political developments over the decades.
I am sure many in the USA would be happy to have a quiet and humble King who could boot Bush out of the Oval Office right now.
The king is venerated for his Buddhist principles and his common touch, manifested in decades of tireless face-to-face work among the rural poor. He rarely enters the political arena, but when he does, everyone listens and obeys - something Thaksin was seen as reluctant to do.

"Thaksin failed to realize that the king has been on the throne for 60 years and he's no fool," said Sulak. "The man is old and Thaksin thought he could play around with him - and it was a dangerous game."


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