Days of Insanity

Finally the Cambodian war is coming to an end of its news cycle. There’s still the issue of the Thai engineer arrested there but it’s basically over. Just like Rakesh brouhaha it didn’t produced any long lasting results and the only one with a cool head on his shoulders was Abhisit, he didn’t say or do anything he might regret later.

Why was it insane? Well, lots of people were really into it, commenting on every move, blow by blow, and keeping scores, like in this blog entry at Absolutely Bangkok. What escapes people is that this is 21st century, the world is flat, and even African states realize that cooperation is good, war is bad.

There are no winners in a war and no benefits in “winning” either, unless you have clear objectives like developing nuclear weapons (allegedly Iran).

Cambodia has absolutely nothing to fight for, and a lot to lose.

So far they lost tourism at their second biggest cultural site and prospects of offshore oil and gas drilling, and a goodwill of their biggest neighbor. There is also an arguable loss of any credibility as a civilized nation, and short term effects like lower income from border trade and casinos.

There’s absolutely no prospect of regaining those lost opportunities via their little war, no matter how hard they try. They might want to offset those losses by getting services of Thaksin as their economic advisor, but that’s where it gets really bizarre, because Thaksin himself is preaching synergy and mutual benefits, not fighting.

Did they even listen to him? Did he listen to himself?

Sophon Ongkara in The Nation thinks that Cambodian business elite and policy makers were not impressed by Thaksin’s effort so far, and so it’s the only ray of light in their hopelessly insane war-mongering. Perhaps someone on that side would rise and ask Hun Sen – Where are you going with this? Have you lost your mind?

On the ground reports from Cambodia are scarce, Nation’s Suwalak being the only one providing a constant stream. In the beginning of the affair he was reporting that average Cambodians were happy with Thaksin’s appointment and that the resultant spat with Thailand was something Hun Sen could easily fix (or win). That was just naive. The sooner they realize it the better, but rising nationalism there is something that is not going away and it will affect Thai-Cambodian relationships in many ways that can’t be predicted.

For now it’s only an intermission.

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2 Responses

  1. Rumours are circulating that the arrest of the Thai engineer in Cambodia is a hoax. Thaksin allegedly staged it. This engineer isn’t being held in a prison but is being looked after very well. Thaksin will pretend to negotiate for his release, hoping to turn himself into some kind of a national hero.

  2. There are pictures in the papers of Siwarak and Thai embassy woman taken during her visit, she’d probably noticed if he wasn’t held in prison.

    The second part, about Thaksin saving him, could very well come true, but Thai diplomatic efforts need to fail first, and if they do, relations will deteriorate even further and Thaksin’s personal effort would come against this background.

    It won’t convince any detractors, even though reds will be impressed.

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