Blogs > Cliopatria > A Coup in Thailand, and other crises

Sep 20, 2006 6:19 pm

A Coup in Thailand, and other crises

The military is out on the streets and in charge of the government in Thailand after a bloodless (so far) coup. I have been more than a bit preoccupied in recruiting teachers for some workshops; so this came out of the blue to me, and I am in my usual position of trying to catch up. Just in case some of you have also been busy, here are some sources.

This CNN FAQ claims it tells you “everything you ought to know about the military takeover.” It doesn’t, but it is an OK place to start.

Then go to the BBC, which as usual is thick with articles. This links to a photo gallery but in the right hand column are links to several more articles. They tend to confirm what CNN hinted at, which is that a rural/urban political division is relevant to the unrest and that the previous government had been increasingly ineffective over the past year.

In fact, reading between the lines, it seems to me that this may be a “liberal” coup in the 19th century sense of the term, in which the military and some business interests have overthrown a government that has poured a lot of money into the rural regions and to the poorer elements of society in general. The extension of basic health care to most of the populace must have been enormously expensive as well as popular. That plus alleged cronyism does seem to have damaged other aspects of the economy. I would need to know much more about the Thailand military and the monarchy to understand why the military would do this and why the monarch either supported the coup or acquiesced so quickly .

Postscript: Were I running an international affairs class, I would have my students comparing the circumstances in Thailand, Venezuela, and Mexico. In all three cases there is tremendous tension between a business oriented minority with considerable economic and political clout and a majority that usually feels cut off from the economic rewards that the minority enjoys. All are currently in a state of political crisis, with Venezuela perhaps being the most stable in short run. Clearly globalization is one driving force and class division another. But simplistic statements like that are only the bare beginnings of an analysis.

PPS An interesting, and helpful, comment on the coup and an even more helpful Christian Science Monitor article.

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