Coup foiled self-coup

Newspapers around the world fell over themselves to editorialize on the Thailand coup. The Korea Herald and The Australian are generally mild, suggesting, on the whole, that Thaksin had it coming. The Age goes further than most in focusing on the role of the Thai monarch in the coup. The Nation in Thailand, editorializes on what kind of leader is needed by the country.

The most remarkable Nation (my favorite Thai paper and which Newsstand says is the best, but which Richard Parry of The Times of London condemns for military boot-licking) story though is this. Sonthi outsmarted Thaksin at the eleventh hour:

However, an intelligence report reached General Sonthi’s camp stating that there would be bloodshed on Wednesday. The People’s Alliance for Democracy had planned to hold a political rally that day at the Royal Plaza in order to force Thaksin out of politics. Had that rally taken place, there would have been clashes between the People’s Alliance for Democracy and Thaksin’s supporters and blood would have been spilt on Rajdamnoen Avenue. If only Thaksin had promised that he would take a break from politics and allow a period of political reforms to take place, the PAD and other branches of the anti-Thaksin movement would have declared victory. All political confrontations would have subsided. Thaksin could have run for office once the Constitution was amended, and he would have been returned to the premier’s post, probably in the latter part of next year.

However, Thaksin never considered taking a break from power. Again, don’t be fooled by his “taking a break” story – the idea never crossed his mind.

The General Sonthi camp learned that during the PAD rally, Yongyuth Tiyapairat and Newin Chidchob were planning to rally their supporters to create an ugly scene at the Royal Plaza. During the ensuing commotion, there would be human casualties. Thaksin would then have stepped in and declared a state of emergency, placing the country under martial law.

Now you can understand why he had time to prepare his state of emergency statement and read it at 9.20pm on Channel 9 from his New York hotel room. You can also understand why Yongyuth and Newin are now at the top of this country’s most-wanted list and have surrendered themselves to the CDRM for interrogation.

Once the situation was under his complete control, Thaksin had planned to fly back yesterday in order to declare victory over anti-democratic elements in society. He had a military reshuffle list in hand that would have further consolidated his control over the military. With that accomplished, everything would have been easy. Virtually all institutions in the country would have been under his directive…

Members of the Thai elite and the PAD, however, would not allow this to happen. If Thaksin were to run in the next election, he would have won. With 12 million votes or so, he would have claimed a democratic majority and he also would have stayed on as prime minister. After that he could rewrite Thai history by turning Thailand into his own regime.

General Sonthi had to act fast to head off Thaksin’s coup. He staged a military coup on Tuesday, a day before the bloodshed was set to take place. He and Thaksin did have a telephone conversation on Tuesday evening, with Thaksin trying to buy time and negotiate a settlement.

He told General Sonthi that if he kept his cool, Thaksin would take a break from politics. He asked Sonthi to wait until he returned from New York so that the two could talk things out and said that he would reschedule his return flight to Bangkok to Wednesday, instead of yesterday as he had planned.

General Sonthi was polite, but told him that he had no choice, that he had to stage the coup…

Thaksin’s wife Khunying Pojaman Shinawatra was supposed to take a 12am flight to Singapore on Tuesday night. She quickly changed her flight to 9pm…

Twenty-five minutes later, knowing that his wife was safely on an aircraft bound for Singapore, Thaksin read out his state of emergency address from his New York hotel room, effectively sacking General Sonthi .

But an hour later, General Sonthi declared a counter-coup to overthrow the Thaksin regime and tear up the Constitution.

This story suggests the need for soul searching along the lines of When is the abhorrent practice of staging a coup justifiable?

If a democracy will legitimize a future dictatorship, should the people be allowed to anoint a dictator? Or should it be nipped in the bud, but in doing so, instituting a dictatorship, anyway? Apolinario Mabini once said “drown the constitution in order to save it!”
Here’s an interesting tidbit (from the story above) that bucks the conventional wisdom that Thaksin continues to be wildly popular in the provinces:

On the other hand, this coup is quite popular both in Bangkok and in the provinces. A survey conducted by Suan Dusit showed that the majority of Thais – 84 per cent – support the coup. Support was higher in the provinces at 86 per cent compared with 82 per cent in Bangkok.

Or suggests something I think our own Edsa II indicated: the masses can elect a leader, the middle and upper class can topple that leader -in large part because immense mass popularity does not translate into an active political defense. That suggests that the kind of popularity say, Estrada and Thaksin enjoyed was a passive, because patronage-based, one.

Reactions to the coup have been generally negative, in principle, so it’s interesting to read what a Thai who supports the coup has to say. Interesting Things, blogging from Bangkok, wrote an open letter to Western friends explaining the coup. Bangkok Pundit praises the democratic opposition for (belatedly) expressing unhappiness with the coup.

Meanwhile, Thaksin floats in a kind of political limbo in London; the United States makes some noises about the coup, mainly about its aid; but in Thailand, there is already a short-list of successors even as the interim regime prepares to investigate Thaksin’s wealth and as Bryanton Post says, the media continues under a clampdown.

Here at home the official jitters continue. The President bleats for democracy (and her cabinet oinks in unison); DFA tells Filipinos to be careful in Thailand (they may become monarchists and getting ideas); the military growls it’s in control. Raul Lambino, overnight, has become a “constitutional law expert” and warbles that the Thai coup shouldn’t make anyone’s parliamentarist feelings wane. Some obvious defects in his reasoning: parliamentary countries are overwhelmingly monarchical or post-monarchical; many constitutional monarchies have kings with moral authority and have used their authority or even residual powers; and he sidesteps the closest analogy of all: there is no use in invoking the benefits of vote of no confidence when the only party leader of this country ever to lose one was Estrada. But every majority has held firmly until overtaken by other events.

Mike Tan compares Thailand to the Philippines and suggests why the President shouldn’t fear a coup and why people shouldn’t want one: we neither have honest generals nor an uninterested moral authority to keep things in check.

In other news:

Supreme Court questions PCGG assertion of absolute immunity; in his column, Rasheed Abou-Alsamh discusses the question with a similar point of view.

JB Baylon went to Cebu to discuss press freedom. Satur Ocampo did an interesting experiment: an on-line press conference.

In Japan, the Dailu Yomiuri is distraught over a court ruling that says teachers don’t have to stand at attention when the flag is raised and the national anthem performed. From Malaysia, Screenshots reports Harry Lee (aka Lee Kwan Yew) is stirring up ethnic tensions with the Malays again.

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Manuel L. Quezon III.

43 thoughts on “Coup foiled self-coup

  1. Raul Lambino, overnight, has become a “constitutional law expert”

    Just can help laughing…..

  2. Raul Lambino, overnight, has become a “constitutional law expert”

    Just can’t help laughing…..

  3. I guess we’ll find out over the next few days whether there is anything in the story of Thaksin planning a bloody scene at the Royal Plaza, but at first glance it looks a bit too convenient to me.

    So the reason for the military coup was actually to save Thai lives and protect the “higher interests” of Thailand? How noble.

    Thaksin was undoubtedly a despicable guy, with much blood on his hands (remember the 80 Muslim protesters suffocated and crushed to death in army trucks in 2004?), but one of the problems with democracy is that the nice people don’t always win. If you believe in the system you just have to accept that you won’t always approve of the victor (as the Americans and Israelis will have to accept the victory of Hamas in Gaza).

    Of course, it can be argued that Thaksin wasn’t democratically elected at all. Here is a friend of mine who lives in northern Thailand:

    “The courts, the election commission, the auditors, the police and the media were all subverted by the Thaksin machinery and his vast wealth. … When you’re rich enough to buy enough votes from ignorant farmers and poor laborers to ensure a landslide victory — is that “democratically elected?” The Thai Rak Thai machine was paying 400 baht/vote in the north, and for a family, that’s a small fortune. And they had ways of knowing whether or not the votes were delivered, and where the investment didn’t match the votes, communities and community leaders were punished. It was all very sophisticated. Thailand remains a feudal system, where leaders pass out cash, goods and favors to assure support. There is no understanding in most villages of what a government is supposed to do. As long as cash and favors continue to appear, no questions are ever asked, and governments are judged solely on the proportion of gravy that flows the greatest distance. Equity, morality, ethics, efficiency, justice are all concepts as foreign as nuclear physics to most rural people.”

    I think everyone in the Philippines will see some parallels in this analysis

    Nevertheless, an election was due in Thailand next month. Wouldn’t it have been better to have done everthing possible to have ensured that the election was conducted as fairly as possible, rather than rushing into a coup? Let the people speak, if the people want the gravy so be it.

  4. – Can somebody tell gloria that she can be a NINOY .. just make herself available for Assasination … for the NATION’s sake

  5. “Let the people speak, if the people want the gravy so be it.”

    Torn, the short-term benefit many poor voters see in the cash handouts is, I’m afraid, precisely the reason why so many aspiring pseudo-feudals in the third world countries still manage to buy themselves a victory in what seems on the surface as democratic elections.

    I am currently in Yemen, where president Ali Abdullah Saleh is about to be declared a winner of the first democratically contested presidential election in the history of the country. He has been at the helm for 28 years and his corrupting practices were the main campaign cry of the opposition. Do you think people mind? Just wait for the results.

    BTW, the fact that even in Yemen, which is considered one of the poorest countries in the world, you find a growing number of OFWs speaks volumes about the desperation felt at the home turf.

  6. off-topic but bafil, i would appreciate info re nature of work, salary scales, and treatment of our OFWs in Yemen. i’m surprised not that they are there, but that their number is “growing”. thanks.

  7. Apparently there are more twists and turns, plots and subplots in this Thai episode than one could imagine. The Nation story portrays Sonthi as the apparent hero in this evolving saga. Reading the story I’m amazed at what kind of fly (or flies)-on-the-wall om both sides of the globe the paper must have to piece together this fascinating blow-by-blow insider account of what really happened in the last few days. I’m also a bit surprised at the certainty of the poll results just two days after the coup. I don’t know, maybe this story is just too “convenient” as “torn” says and maybe too flattering to the general as well.

    I’m more inclined to look at this upheaval as a good, old-fashioned power play. On the surface everyone roots for democracy, but the reality is more like advancing one’s interests and reinterpreting democracy to suit one’s interests and beliefs. Isn’t that what the real practice of democracy anyway?

    Shawn Crispin posted this report yesterday in Asia Times which drags King Bhumibol more into this mess. I find it understandable for his majesty to be concerned at Thai Rak Thai’s influence over the rural poor, an influence that the party is gradually trying to make less dependent on support for the monarchy. Since Thaksin’s considerable political power doesn’t emanate from the Bangkok elite and educated class, but from the rural peasantry (that accounts for 80% of the votes), he pushed more for an economy-led government and grassroots mobilization and at least paid a lot of lip-service to championing the poor especially against Bangkok’s middle class. These clashed with the status quo and may have been perceived to udermine the monarchy’s sway over the poor-if the poor becomes more well-off then the king’s influence might fade.

    The parallels with the Philippines of course are thick. In the Philippines there is no monarchy, but there is the Church, which just like the Thai king exerts moral authority and powerful influence over the poor.

  8. The thais must have excellent survey firms or asked very simple questions. I am amazed at how fast these surveys were conducted. It takes Filipino polling firms more than 3 weeks to release survey results.

  9. toots,

    I don’t have any precise numbers. I took the general information about growing numbers from a friend of mine’ s domestic helper Purita, who hails from Philippines but hasn’t been back in her motherland in something like & years. I believe most OFWs do as she does – work for the foreign nationals, diplomatic staff and others who unlike most of Yemenis can afford to pay decently.

    Among other signs of Pinoys’ presence here in Sana’a are the cans of tuna adobo and tuna bicol express I discovered just the other day in a local supermarket 🙂 And I also heard Crazy as Pinoy’s song blasting out a car stereo somewhere nearby while stuck in a traffic jam couple of days ago.

    On a less cheerful note, I also heard from another expat there is a number of Filipinas working as prostitutes in a Russian bar in the city.

  10. Bafil — thanks for the response and interesting info om Yemen. Just to clarify though — I don’t think it’s *good* that people may see an election merely as a chance to grab their slice of the pie. I think it’s terrible, and I wish people would vote for equality, justice, culture and everything democracy is supposed to be about. But I would still rather that the people have a chance to make a mistake than that others make their decision for them.

    Still, it’s easy to be high-minded in theory, but in practice I can sympathize with my friends in Thailand who are just glad to be rid of Thaksin. I often wonder how it would have been if EDSA 2 had never happened, if Erap had continued in his corrupt and frankly criminal ways, and Jinggoy or JV had taken over. I wonder how we would all feel about the “will of the people” then. Not that the alternative has turned out to be any great shakes of course.

  11. Alex Bernardo, I don’t think the church in the Philippines has that much authority as you imagine. The church has always been trying to assert themselves but they really fall short. The church w/in itself is divided anyway.although they stand for morals authority. They are in a much weaker position then the Thai monarchy is. Besides the Thai people have pride in never have been conquered by anybody & surely proud of their King.The Phil. instead does not have a unifying symbol that is strong enough as a monarchy.

  12. Ellen Tordesillas writes in her blog, “Envious of Thais”.

    At the beginning, I couldn’t understand why Filipinos should envy the Thais for martial rule but after having read more about CA unconfirmed Lieutenant General Esperon, I started to understand. This military officer dishonours the army uniform he wears!
    In that respect, we have all the reasons to envy the Thais!

    Their armed forces seem to have qualified professional military officers while our AFP have a bunch of uniformed tulisans for its leadership, devoid of true courage and honour, two singular attributes which should be the stuff military officers are made of…

    But not our AFP top ranking or senior officers!

    The Thais, it seems, can indeed be proud of theirs!

  13. “We’ll bomb you to Stone Age, US told Pakistan
    FromTim Reid in Washington

    “Musharraf reveals post-9/11 threat in book serialised by The Times

    “PERVEZ MUSHARRAF, the President of Pakistan, claimed last night that the Bush Administration threatened to bomb his country “into the Stone Age” if it did not co-operate with the US after 9/11, sharply increasing tensions between the US and one of its closest allies in the war on terrorism.”

    I wonder whether the former US ambassador to Manila threatened Gloria with the same thing if she didn’t allow the US to hunt down the Abu Sayaff with the AFP.

  14. There are talks in Brussels (in NATO & EU corridors) that Bush threatened Blair with withholding the replacement for UK’s Trident nuclear deterrent technology if he didn’t toe Bush’s line and join him in invading Iraq on a lie that Saddam had links with Osama bin Laden and/or Saddam was stockpiling WMDs.

    Poor Blair couldn’t very well say that to the British public – that Bush had got him by the balls. If this is true, I will be a bit more sympathetic to Blair.

  15. Of course, Bush couldn’t threaten Chirac because France possesses its own equivalent Trident nuclear technology replacement!

    Unfortunately, Blair, not only had to think of British defence investments in the J-27 aircraft fighter (have run in hundreds of millions of pounds with not a model in sight) but also UK is incredibly dependent on the US for many of its defence tech.

    France, fortunately, is reasonably ‘independent’ in this respect. OK, not comparable to US defence tech but enough to say to Bush, fukoff!

  16. Anna.. Has anyone filed a lawsuit in Brussels against GMA? [They’ve done it against Ariel Sharon, others…] A short background for folks in Philippines — In 1993, Belgium’s Parliament voted “law of universal jurisdiction”, allowing it to judge people accused of war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide. In 2001, four Rwandan people were convicted of sentences from 12 to 20 years of prison for their involvement in 1994 Rwandan genocide. As recently as last year/Sept-2005, Chad’s dictator Hissène Habré (dubbed the “African Pinochet”) was indicted for crimes against humanity, torture, war crimes and other human rights violations by a Belgium court. Arrested in Senegal following requests from Senegalese courts, he is now under house arrest. I don’t know if the accused has been extradited to Belgium yet.

  17. Tony, I’m aware that people could file lawsuits against foreign heads of state in Brussels but I don’t know if anyone’s file a case against Gloria.

    Are you thinking of filing a case against her in Brussels?

  18. mlq3,
    There’s hardly any news about the coup here (Michigan, USA). Except for the link you provided (Secretary Hill’s comment), I don’t see it any where else. I kept turning my tv channels but did not see one tiny bit. I wanted to compare the opinions posted in your blogsite to that of American views. Most people here are apathetic to politics anyway. If you mention Thai food, yummy!, but Thailand? Where in hell is that?

  19. “Twenty-five minutes later, knowing that his wife was safely on an aircraft bound for Singapore, Thaksin read out his state of emergency address from his New York hotel room, effectively sacking General Sonthi .

    “But an hour later, General Sonthi declared a counter-coup to overthrow the Thaksin regime and tear up the Constitution.”

    Bloody civilized of those Thai protagonists, wasn’t it?

  20. Maybe most Americans have heard where the Hell is Bangkok, but not Thailand. Sure, elinca, most may have seen a lot of Thai produced XXX movie series entitled one night in Bangkok, but never realized that Bangkok is Thai’s major city (capital city). Of cource the Americans know where Thailand is, they just have enough pre-occupation of their own to be bothered. And since the coup was bloodless and no American was hurt, it’s not newsworthy.

    Anna, I believe The Bush administration may have threatened Pres. Musharraf with bombing, because it is known that Pakistan was a big supporter of the Taliban Regime. Because, conducting a campaign without Pakistan co-operation against the Taliban and Al Qaeda would be quite impossible without breaking the rules since the U.S. forces have to use the Pakistan Airspace. At that time, immediately after 9/11 the U.S. was ready and willing to engage anyone, the emotion was high and any President would have no problem getting the Congress approval and the American public. Even Blair, may have been given hint, but I Doubt it very much. Because as a pereson i don’t believe Tony Blair is anybody lackey except he believe what he was doing and he’s brave enough to put his political career on the line for his conviction. PM chretien defied Bush, and all Bush can do was snub him, by conveniently keeping busy not to pay an official visit during Chretien tenure, more of a Childish gesture to get even. and some delay tactics of our Soft-wood agreements and a few more. That’s all he could do. They need our oil and our natural gas more than we need anythig from them..hehe, the other half of my family are americans, but they too are so busy, they may not even know there was a coup in Thailand.

  21. Vic,

    Yes. Undoubtedly, the Pakistani chief must have irritated Bush.

    On the whole, America behaves less beligerently when another nation has the balls to stand up to them, not so much in physical terms but like what you said about Canada’s natural gas reserves and other things. Bush knew he couldn’t push Chretien around like he pushes others.

    But as far as Blair is concerned, Bush didn’t have th threaten him crudely but the UK needs a replacement for their obsolete Trident nuclear technology and they need it from the US badly. Bush didn’t even have to speak bluntly to Tony about it but the message still got through to Blair through the underlings.

    These things have happened; good thing Thatcher and Reagan saw eye to eye on a lot of things but even then if the UK didn’t toe the line, Thatcher could have gotten it in the neck, not her neck of course, but UK defence would have suffered a bit.

    In any case, UK has a big defence tech need – even this is supposed to be hush hush. Tony COULD NOT tell the UK that in effect, Dubya had him, or the British defence by the balls.

  22. I agree that if you were to consider the Trident issue, Tony Blair was no lackey really to Bush. But problem is he overdone himself and the Brits are making him pay for this. Boy, did he sell Bush and his Iraq war doctrine in the UK and in the EU so hard and almost comically, he was laughable almost!

    Ultimately, his playing poodle all the way through to Bush, is the reason why he’s being asked to quit. You can’t begin to imagine how Brits in general today loathe the Iraq adventure. More so today after secret documents confirm that the invasion, the Bush war on Iraq was based on lies.

    Unfortunately, even at the time, Blair couldn’t very well have announced to the Brits that they didn’t have modern nuclear deterrent tech – he had to be quiet about this thing, all so very UK defence sensitive – and so he had to agree to dance the waltz with Bush on Iraq. (This thing has been making the rounds of EU and NATO for the last 1 year or so, particularly when UK MoD started to sort of “complain” that the US wasn’t honoring some of its promises….)

    And of course, there’s that eternal “hypocrisy” issue – a left leaning albeit modern ideologue turning into more conservative than the most conservative of the Tory party. At some point, people start putting one and one and they started saying, what’s this guy really on about.

    And in UK politics, that’s a killer.

  23. Vic,

    To give you an idea how Blair and the Iraq adventure is loathed, I was playing golf this afternoon with a couple of members of the UK delegation to NATO; their turnaround is amazing: they now say unequivocally that the Iraq War is illegal; for Brits in official capacity to say that, it means something very serious is afoot. They also said that Blair played his Bush lapdog role so badly that the UK is feeling the pinch…

    I used to sort of feel moderately about Blair when he was elected in spite of the fact that he was a hypocrite, I thought well, ok, why not, but leading us to the invasion of Iraq invasion ain’t right – Blair offered the UK a losing proposition on all grounds (and he still hasn’t got replacement for Trident!); as a leader he failed the UK miserably so I’m all for kicking him out unceremoniously and the quicker, the better.

  24. Oh Vic, let me add that I’m not positive that the UK’s need for Trident replacement was used as a kind of blackmail by Bush to Blair…hence, my question if Bush might have “threatened Blair” earlier on (and it really just came into the picture after I read the Pakistani chief’s revelation). These are talks, if you want, “rumours” but people here have a way of putting one and one together. Brussels is much like Washington DC in that respect.

  25. Anna,
    The way I looked at the Iraq issue at the beginning is more of protecting the American interest in that part of the world more than anything else. Also part of it personal, that maybe some may have forgoteen that during the senior Bush Visit to Kuwait after the Gulf War I, there was an attemp in his like suspected to have been hatched by Saddam Hussein people or even by himself. We knew it, that even with our friendship on the line we were firm in our conviction not to join the Iraq adventure. If it was a conservative government in Majority, I believe the decision would be the same.

    As for Tony Blair, I think it’s time for him to hit the bucket anyways. He seems to run out of fresh ideas, and his consistent conformity to the Republican Administration policy should make him more in line of conservative than a liberal.

    Or maybe, one idea that really pop up in my thoughts during the propaganda days, Blair, being an eloquent speaker than Bush may have voluntered to be just his spokesman. Unlike Reagan, who was one of the Greatest Communicators, Bush can easily turn off his listeners and Blair knew about it.

  26. Funny that Blair is considered “eloguent”, which he is somehow, but do you know that he’s taunted here for his “blairing” speech? He easily stutters and mixes up his words when he’s caught off guard.

  27. “Blair, being an eloquent speaker than Bush may have voluntered to be just his spokesman. Unlike Reagan, who was one of the Greatest Communicators, Bush can easily turn off his listeners and Blair knew about it.”

    Could be but I doubt it. Blair was in on the secret before the invasion of Iraq as the Downing stret memos revealed – there were no stockpiles of WMDs in Iraq but he laboured on beside Bush. That’s why the common topic when it comes to this fiasco is why Blair went ahead defying common sense and reason to invade Iraq?

    He went beyond the calls of friendship and all that WWII gratitude crap – it was just utter dog loyalty to an ideal that was completely wrong. So people think, why – what could have been the reason? Maggie didn’t behave like that at all and told Reagan in no mean terms that she was not for a head on confrontation with the USSR despite Reagan’s insistence to build his star wars as a pre-emptive move, just in case…

    There was more than what meets the eye with regards Blair incredibly stupid public “fealty” to Bush; he was an educated man, considered a politician of high caliber so how could he when he could have persuaded Bush to wait for a couple more days for the UN inspectors to finish their job. So, people now say, it’s the eternal superpower blackmail: defence technology!

  28. “So, people now say, it’s the eternal superpower blackmail: defence technology!”

    If this is ever true that Blair was forced to cave in because of a life and death situation for the UK lest it might not enjoy superpower status unless he said yes to Bush, then I might just judge Blair less harshly.

  29. Anna… regarding Blair/Bush/Trident (nuclear technology): (1) Nowhere in the internet world (except as posited by you) will you see the “Bush blackmails Blair over Trident defence technology” idea. (2) UK’s nuclear capability via Trident and Vanguard submarines expires about 2024. (3) The issue is not Iraq; the issue is whether or not to expend about 25-Billion-pounds to replace the platform (and retain nuclear deterrence for UK). Blair says “decision to be made end-2006” and suggests he will replace. (4) Brown, too, has suggested he will support expending the billions to retain the nuclear deterrence capability, even if members of the Labour Party (and the Episcopal Church) oppose the expenditures.

    Here is a related URL:

    [PS: The idiom is “put two and two together” for “To draw the proper conclusions from existing evidence or indications.”]

  30. Tony,

    Nuclear submarine replacement must be assured beforehand – specifications drawn, contract negotiated, signed, sealed long before the current one expires. You don’t “buy” nuclear tech replacement on the day or year it expires. Kinda stupid to do that! (According to Royal Navy, Trident will be considered obsolote in a couple of years.)

    If you read what I said, this “blackmail” is based on rumours circulating in EU lobby town.

    The wikeda on the net may be your sole or best source of knowledge or info but sensitive stuff eg, defence, aren’t always on the net, wikeda or on bbc.

    Anyway, Bush is perfectly capable of blackmail (remember “either with me or against me crap”)! UK needs to replace Trident and Bush knows this – he had Tony Blair by the balls so Tony was forced go with Bush on Iraq otherwise, bye-bye Trident replacement!

    We will know the truth in 20 or 30 years – as in the case of a planned coup d’état (with the help of the CIA) against Labour’s Wilson government which was kept secret for almost 3 decades but finally revealed to the public this year.

    PS: And yes, I inadvertently used a French expression which when translated in English is “to put one and one”.

  31. Tony, it might help you to know that it takes 20 years to build a replacement for Trident.

    Hence, the speculation that Blair was “pressured” to join Bush on Iraq lest the US refuse to “sell” appropriate replacement technology in time to meet target date.

  32. Anna… The theory that I subscribe to is that Blair made up his own mind (regarding Iraq invasion) based on his personal views, inputs from Clare Short and Blair’s other cabinet members, his(Blair’s) understanding of the desires of UK citizens, and all the inputs from within and outside the Labour Party, from Annan, Schroeder, Chirac, Putin, Bush, the Chinese Politburo, and in spite of Giulani threats (rumored and not-yet-subsantiated) about “parking privileges in New York City”.

  33. Joselu. You are of course correct. The reverence for King Bhumibol is without question and his moral authority beyond doubt. I think Thaksin tried to chip away at the king’s power and look where he ended up.

    My point is that a government to thrive must claim to be backed by moral authority. Instilling fear would also work but I believe only for a short time. In the Philippines, the Church is a key player in politics as it occupies the role of providng moral authority. Its power may be more limited compared to the Thai King, but the Church has that role.

    Yet what makes the king’s role in Thailand much more powerful is that it’s a constitutional monarchy. The strict lèse-majesté laws make it punishable to publicly question the king’s authority. He is also exempt from public scrutiny.

    Anyway, I think it’s good that we’re discussing regional politics in Southeas Asia for a change, even if only bcause it somehow connects to Gloria, as Filipinos are normally more familiar with US and UK politics.

    Filipino journalist Roby Alampay posted this insightful report in Asia Times, mentioning the uncharacteristic interest of Filipinos to the happenings in Thailand, and drawing up possible parallels to Philippine democracy.

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