Monday, April 26, 2010

Thailand for Dummies

Do you know what's going on in Thailand?

It's been a couple of years since the military dissolved  the Parliament and exiled the Prime Minister, both of whom they didn't like.

Thailand has a King. The Thais are pretty nationalistic and proud of their history. They all love their King.

Thailand also has a hereditary aristocratic class who are educated and privileged. They run the military, big business, the judiciary and police. They have some support within the greater masses of Thais but only in and around the environs of Bangkok, which has benefited from the modernization of this one Thai metropolis in the last few decades. They are called the Yellow Shirts.

The majority of the provincial Thai populace, who have not benefited and who wish to begin to share in the new found Thai prosperity, mostly supported the government that the military has overthrown. They are called the Red Shirts.

The South of Thailand is Islamic. These people are ethnically and culturally different from everybody else. They are kind of a mixture between piratical sea Dyaks and the wild men of Borneo and are generally some of the most bloodthirsty killers that ever roamed the South China Sea. Open warfare against everybody that is not them is their natural state, unless there is nobody else around, when they war against each other. They want autonomy. At least that's the excuse they use for the current state of mayhem in the South.

The aristos and their minions are not strong enough to suppress majority and maintain even a sham democracy. They have the resources to do it by wholesale slaughter but then the rest of the World would not see Thailand as a good place to do business. That would be like killing the goose that lays the golden egg. The Yellow shirts know this and don't have much to lose except their lives anyway, so they persist in trying to force a reinstatement of a legitimate government and  new elections, which both sides know they will win. Until the country is unified, nobody can control the Dyaks in the South.

The King is trying to make peace. It's worked before but he's just about the oldest man in the country, sick and will die soon. He's been the King since he was a little boy and nobody believes that his successor will command any allegiance from anyone that matters. Neither side is willing to make any concessions.

Things are deteriorating in Thailand. They are our only real ally left in South East Asia.


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