We at PPT are no great fans of the United States government and its double standards on human rights globally or of its hopelessness on lese majeste in Thailand.
the conservative Thai establishment has grown increasingly hostile to the “Western” values symbolized by America, partly in response to growing pressure from ordinary people for greater democracy and freedom of speech.
By conservative elite, the report apparently means the Democrat Party, the patrician royalists associated with the palace, much of the Sino-Thai business class, and titled royals.
But when were this lot ever interested in democracy. They are only interested in their own wealth and control of the political system, and have been happy enough for the murderous military to run coup after coup since 1957.
It is worth noting that this is an article about Thai views of the U.S., and it needs to be remembered that it is exactly this anti-democratic elite is the one that was promoted, funded and coddled by the U.S. as its allies in Thailand.
The report is correct in noting that:
One flashpoint in this debate was the treatment of a U.S. citizen arrested last year for [PPT: allegedly] circulating a partial translation of a book by an American author that took a critical look at the Thai royal family. Joe Gordon, who was born in Thailand but emigrated and became a car salesman [PPT: perhaps it is more relevant to say he is a U.S. citizen] in Colorado, was sentenced to two and a half years in jail last December for breaking the “lèse majesté” law that forbids criticism of the monarchy.
Yes, American citizen Joe Gordon has been in a stinking, festering jail on this ludicrous charge for 13 months. When this report says that the “United States found itself dragged into the debate” on Joe’s jailing, we can only think that there has been media brain failure. The U.S. has a citizen jailed on charges that have never been proven in court and for “crimes” committed, not in Thailand, but in the United States!
The U.S. government hasn’t been “dragged” into anything; it has been complicit in Joe’s predicament. The government, the well-dressed but vacant ambassador and the embassy have been worse than pathetic.
But, yes, the ultra-royalists did show up at the U.S. embassy after one American diplomat apparently mistakenly “criticized the jailing of Gordon and called for greater freedom of speech.” On this the article cites the laughable ultra-royalist ventriloquist’s doll Tul Sitthisomwong. The dull one states:
We feel annoyed…. We know that America focuses on human rights and freedom of people, but “lèse majesté” in Thailand … is not about human rights, it’s about breaking the law.
We doubt that anyone in the “conservative elite” sees Tul as anything other than a trained attack dog, working for treats. So his view that “the U.S. is meddling in other countries to try to maintain its waning influence” and that this is seen in the events over NASA and Utapao is probably reflective of what he hears from his “betters” and bosses.
We can understand that U.S. policymakers and businesspeople must be confused by all of this.They do seem to have been doing what they have done for years and the Thai elite seems to have slipped away or is biting the hand that once fed it very well. Blame Thaksin for that? The ultra-royalists do. They blame him for bad weather.
To see the confusion expressed in a remarkably pedestrian report on the topic, see this PDF, written by an American close to the old conservative elite who produces a report full of old and tired ideas.