The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

The End of the Beginning In Thailand

Or perhaps, more accurately, the beginning of the end of the beginning.  Army troops have taken control of the perimeter of the Red Shirt protesters.

The inability, or refusal, to come to an acommodation with the Red Shirts will bear bitter fruit for the future.  The bottom line is that the Red Shirts represent a prosperous rising rural class.  They elected their man,  Thaksin Shinawatra, to lead the country, only to have him removed by a military and they feel they have been shut out unfairly from power.

The army and monarchy are overplaying their hand.  They can crush the red shirts in Bangkok, but we’ll see how they do against a rural insurgency.  A rural insurgency they are begging for.

Beautiful country (I spent some time there as a teenager).  Pity it’s led by a bunch of schmucks.


The Thinker Americans Don’t Listen To


Heading to America’s Future Now Conference


  1. tooeqarly

    Yeah, they elected their man T alright, fair and square, ya think?
    ita good guy bad guy sort of story you say?

  2. Ian Welsh

    They see it that way, and that means they’ll fight. Military coups which also take out the constitutional court tend to leave a bad taste in people’s mouths. And Thai males almost all have military training.

  3. Celsius 233

    Ooo, you need to be very careful if you think you know what’s going on here. You probably don’t!
    If you think the “red shirts” are the rural poor, led by the rural poor; you are gravely mistaken.
    Thaksin is in fact the power behind the bamboo curtain. This was admitted by the leaders of the shirts. The shirts are tools and yes, this isn’t over.
    The PM is in fact legitimately in power much like the present coalition ruling in England.
    I would suggest any discussion be preceded by copious amounts of research regarding this very complex and easily misunderstood political situation.
    The reporting in the west is mostly ill informed. I’m not an expert here, but I have been paying attention. I also have no axe to grind in this so I don’t much care, but I do know the duplicity of the Thai political process. Nothing is as it seems.

  4. Ian, thanks for the link. At Corrente, msexpat has been posting, and reporting, on Thailand for some time — sometimes from the ground (she visited the Red Shirt encampment before the blowup). I agree with Celsius that the situation is very complex, but MsExPat is probably as nuanced as an outside observer can be.

    All that said, at the “roots” of the Red Shirt movement (which is definitely a rather “big tent”-like and ramshackle structure, not ideological) is the perception of “double standards” and a demand for their removal. That, I think, many of us can identify with. The Thais aren’t the only people with a credentialled elite that combines amorality, venality, brutality, and stupidity in equal measure.

  5. par4

    This too used to be a beautiful country. We are also led by a bunch schmucks and liars,thieves,Fascists,perverts,draft-dodgers…

  6. Suspenders

    The last time I really paid attention to Thai politics was when the “Yellow Shirts” were protesting Thaksin and shutting down airports and the like.

  7. Beautiful country … Pity it’s led by a bunch of schmucks.

    Something that could be said about a lot of countries these days, including my own.

  8. Ian Welsh

    You may be right Celsius. I still have a couple contacts, but I could be misled.

  9. Heitzso

    From a friend in Thailand, re the incredibly poor reporting of the situation in our culture:

  10. Suspenders

    Heitzso, thanks for that link, that was very informative.

  11. Celsius 233


    That is a great link and goes a long way to explaining why we westerners mostly get it wrong. I know enough Thai to know the author is 100% correct. The language alone is daunting and then there are the politics and the players.
    I’ve been here 8 years and know enough to know I don’t know. Fortunately I have a highly educated and intelligent wife who can explain the “nuances” and outright treasonous speech and behavior of the various factions; especially the shirts.
    That link is a must read for anybody looking to understand the slightest amount about what’s really going on here. I’ve never met a westerner here who has much of a grasp of the country and culture in which they are living. Pity.

  12. Celsius 233

    Addendum; nobody will likely read this but I couldn’t resist this coup de grâce on the shirts: They attacked and destroyed TV channel 3, which was their station, because they didn’t know it was their station.

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