National security and the self-fulfilling prophecy

20 02 2012

It is only a few days ago that bombs went off in a well-known area of Bangkok and the authorities and media have been talking about terrorism. Then there is the ongoing struggle in the south, which has cost thousands of lives.

In The Nation, Kavi Chongkittavorn has a longish article on national security. He reminds us that Thailand’s most recent national security strategy (2007-2011) concluded last year. That strategy “pursued two priorities—internal security and stability as well as protection of national sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

In essence, despite some fudging, he concludes that the strategy was pretty much a waste of time, overtaken by events, lack of foresight and poor policy formulation. The issues mentioned above were ignored or handled badly.

In the next five-year strategy (2012-2017), Kavi makes one fundamental point:

Despite all the great shifts and changes of political environment–one thing has not and will not change is the protection of monarchy which remains the utmost important task of the country’s security policy makers. It remains at the top of the country’s objectives….

A strategy that elevates the monarchy to such a position in “national security” suggests that its status remains severely diminished. Continuing to follow military notions about the threat to the monarchy is likely to become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Devoting ever greater resources to “protecting” the monarchy is evidence that the military and palace are unlikely to promote a historic compromise that would have recognized non-elite demands for voice and could have established a monarchy protected by and beholden to a constitution.

That would have allowed national security strategy to focus on issues such as terrorism and solving real security problems rather than policing “loyalty.”


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