Thai Army Asserts Foreign Policy Role – allegedly

Marwaan Macan-Markar has a new article in Irrawaddy.

His main point is that “Thailand’s powerful military remains the dominant player in shaping the relationship between this Southeast Asian kingdom and its immediate neighbors.”

Does it now?

Where was the military in the latest Thai-Cambodia diplomatic spat? They were the cool heads, on both sides, practically ignoring the hysteria in political circles.

Where is the military in relations with Malaysia? Or Burma?

Where was the military when Thaksin unceremoniously sacked Surayud over disagreements on Burma policy? And it was in Thaksin’s years that Hmong refugees were given to the military to handle, and so they did, through five or six civilian governments.

I can’t see any reason for Marwaan to state that Thai military dominates Thai foreign policy. I think he just continues the tired anti-coup agenda, the staple food of FCCT of which he was a president during post coup years.

Besides, given the scum Thai politics has churned up over the past couple of years, the military double check on Thai foreign policies might not be such a bad idea. Prior to Abhisit Thai overtures to Burmese generals were really sickening, for example, and Noppadon’s secret agreement on Preah Vihear could have been stopped in time if he had to run it by Thai army that has its own views on sovereignty.

Ideally, country’s foreign policies must be under parliamentary control, but that had been seriously lacking during the past decade. Any double check, be it by the generals, courts or even Privy Councilors would have been welcome. In that vein even Abhisit should have run Hmong expulsion by the parliament. As for handling refugees – it’s either police, or the military, or ISOC – someone with physical power to control thousands of men.

Originally I’ve seen the article through Thai Political Prisoners but, apparently, comments don’t function there today so I have no other venue to vent my anger on that half-arsed assertion than my own blog.

Without TPP it wouldn’t have happened in the first place, of course.

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2 Responses

  1. There was a chapter by James Ockey, written in 2001, which argues that after 1992 a large part of Thailand’s policy toward Laos and Burma was based on decisions of military leaders who had developed personal relationship with Laotian and Burmese officers. This was despite the supposed retreat of the military from politics following the May 1992 bloodbath.

    Thaksin’s sacking of Surayud could be seen as an anomaly, something that kicked start a period of real civilian supremacy in the 2000s and diminished Prem’s influence in the process.

    Btw, as far as i know the PPT blog never allows comments from readers. It’s understandable though, given the blog’s stance toward you-know-who…

    • Agree on Thaksin wrestling control from Prem but have no idea how you could call his rule “real civilian supremacy”, not to mention that he installed his brother-in-law instead.

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