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Usually coups in Thailand are non events. Some corrupt old guys replacing other corrupt old guys and someone leaves the country with fortune intact. I know I've been in Thailand for one coup, in around 1990 or 91, I might have been there for another but I'm not sure, that's how big a deal they are.

People who are supposed to know say this one's different. The military has acted swiftly dissolving both legislative houses and purging the senior officers of the civilian police force as well as all government ministries. They call in people to talk to and if you don't show they freeze your bank and all other assets. The maximum penalty is unlimited jail time. Remember, there are no courts, just the army.  Besides government officials they are calling in many journalists, philosophers, historians, college professors, etc. Anyone who could possibly be a problem.

In what would seem an overreaction the US State Department said,

The U.S. Department of State recommends that U.S. citizens reconsider any non-essential travel to Thailand, particularly Bangkok, due to ongoing political and social unrest and restrictions on internal movements, including an indefinite nighttime curfew throughout Thailand. The Department of State has advised official U.S. government travelers to defer all non-essential travel to Thailand until further notice.  This Travel Alert supersedes the Travel Alert issued on May 16, 2014, and will expire on August 21, 2014.

I mean people are still flying in, going to full moon parties or Pataya or whatever it is they are going there for and carrying on as always.

Then again the US can probably listen in on every single message the Thai military sends to each other. They've been our best buds in letting us take people there to torture, ahem, I mean enhance their interrogations, at black sites and what not. We did just cancel every military joint exercise though.

I think why people are pessimistic this time is because they don't see any good outcome. The Army knows that there is no way they can win any elections and a lot of the military is probably somewhat sympathetic anyway. The only good outcome for the Army is if they set up a military dictatorship with a puppet prime minister and rubber stamp assembly, but that just is impossible democratically. I'd think there would have to be a lot of violence to get the population to put up with such a dictatorship. Plus there is a years long Muslim insurgency simmering in the south. I just can't see the endgame.

Al Jazeera as in many things seems to have some of the best coverage. I read Thomas Fuller of the NYT too. Also Bangkok Pundit the blogger.

I'm finally leaving to go camping if the kids are over their bug kids get, and I might not be on here long.

Good Luck Thailand


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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (33+ / 0-)

    “Conservation… is a positive exercise of skill and insight, not merely a negative exercise of abstinence and caution…” Aldo Leopold

    by ban nock on Sat May 24, 2014 at 07:57:40 PM PDT

  •  I'll predict the future (7+ / 0-)

    The military will set up a caretaker government with the military at the helm but with plenty of civilians to manage the government structure.  They'll stuff it up as they have little experience and no common political view to guide them.

    They'll spend the next year rewriting the constitution, cracking down on political parties and generally trying to shape things so that any political movement associated with former Prime Minister Thaksin will be unable to take power.

    Elections will be held between the Democrats and another political party made up of the remnants of Thaksin's political support base.  Democrats will lose.  Thaksin opponents will use protests and the judiciary to try to annul the election result.

    Repeat cycle.

    Cynicism is what passes for insight among the mediocre.

    by Sky Net on Sat May 24, 2014 at 08:43:02 PM PDT

  •  This is my 2nd, possibly 3rd, coup (12+ / 0-)

    As you indicate, a coup back before 2000 was really not a big deal, and unless one paid attention to local news, you might miss the fact that one happened.

    That changed with the 2006 coup, which was indeed violent, and led to much more violence 4 years later in protests against an installed government.

    This one is quiet so far - the curfew seems to be be honored, life during daylight hours is relatively normal except for a very noticeable reduction in traffic and schools being closed. We have been out several times in the last few days and seen little evidence of any change. Lots of whinging by tourists and long-term barflys about the havoc being wreaked on the nightlife.  But all of that could change in a heartbeat - there have multiple caches of arms seized, both in activists homes and businesses, and in vehicles headed for Bangkok.

    The long term prospects for resolution are dim.  The constitution will have to be re-written and there is already talk of gerrymandering parliamentary district boundaries so as to stack the deck in favor of the opposition.  The various factions are extremely divided - the ones being held in detention won't even stay in the same buildings with each other, demanding separate quarters, and very soft attempts to bridge the divide are met with threats of violence.

    I don't think the US warning is an overreaction at all - there is quite a bit of confusion on the roads during curfew hours; with planes routinely landing during those hours it is not only difficult to find ground transport, but also subject to the whims of the various military folks manning the many checkpoints.

    I am a warrior for peace. And not a gentle man... Steve Mason, 1940-2005

    by Wayward Wind on Sat May 24, 2014 at 08:51:15 PM PDT

  •  A possible reason (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ER Doc, FloridaSNMOM

    One possible reason this coup is much more authoritarian is that when the last coup imposed the Democratic Party government, Thaskin began to turn his Phue Thai Party affiliated militant wing the "Red Shirts" into a private armed militia. He gradually ramped up the severity of their armed disobedience culminating in the Bangkok riots where the streets were turned into shooting galleries between the government forces and the Red Shirt militias. During the riots the Reds raided and stole whole military/police armories through their networks of sympathizers in the police and military. After the election, when PT were elected into power, Thaksin used his sister Yingluck as a sock puppet prime minister and the Red militias built up those armories even more while the ever cynical power hungry Thaksin pulled the strings from his luxury hidey hole in Dubai.

    Now the military must, in order to quell potential armed insurrection, go much further than before to exert control. They need to dismantle the Red networks before they have time to get organized. Ive been watching what is going on through Thai sites, and it seems that most of these journalists and academics being pulled in are connected to the PT and Red Shirt networks, (or are vocal critics of the military and Lesse Majeste laws in Thailand).

    This stupid cyclical mess will only be sorted out once Thaksin and his shabby familial clan of plutocratic money grubbing rats, and his IRA style Red Shirt militias, are removed from Thai politics completely.

  •  The US statement is punitive, and I like it. (0+ / 0-)

    Obviously Thailand is perfectly safe for US tourists, probably more than before.  The travel warning is designed to hurt tourism, not that the US is a big part of Thailand's tourism, and I'm all for doing that.  I also liked that we walked away from joint military exercises.  The Thai military is obsessed with being respected and admired so we should demonstrate that we think they're just bemedaled tinhorn despots of the sort we've largely eliminated in our own hemisphere.

    It's not the side effects of the cocaine/I'm thinking that it must be love

    by Rich in PA on Sun May 25, 2014 at 05:03:14 AM PDT

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