Updated: The U.S. and Thailand

25 06 2014

A whole bunch of the anti-democrats get steamed up that the U.S. is abandoning them through it condemnation of the military coup. Some of them really don’t mind as they prefer Thailand to have a closer relationship with authoritarian China. Some of this is due to an affinity for authoritarianism, some of it comes from a kind of ethnic and cultural desire, and some from the “bending like bamboo in the wind” notion of diplomacy that has been claimed to motivate foreign policy.

There may be something in these kinds of statements. Yet PPT reckons that this emotion and turning against the U.S. is little more than the royalist elite’s inability to understand change. In this case, the way global politics and posturing has changed. If these inward-looking dunces looked, say, to Egypt, they’d know that the U.S. is not the great defender of human rights and democracy that are associated with its current posture in Thailand.

In fact, if they looked at Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Scot Marciel’s testimony to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, they might notice that U.S. policy is not all that much changed from that during previous military interventions:

Our interests include the preservation of peace and democracy in Thailand, as well as the continuation of our important partnership with Thailand over the long-term. We remain committed to the betterment of the lives of the Thai people and to Thailand regaining its position of regional leadership, and we believe the best way to achieve that is through a return to a democratically elected government.

The coup and post-coup repression have made it impossible for our relationship with Thailand to go on with “business as usual.” As required by law, we have suspended more than $4.7 million of security-related assistance. In addition, we have cancelled high-level engagements, exercises, and a number of training programs with the military and police. For example, in coordination with the Department of Defense, we halted bilateral naval exercise CARAT (Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training), which was underway during the coup, and canceled the planned bilateral Hanuman Guardian army exercise. We continue to review other programs and engagements, and will consider further measures as circumstances warrant. Many other nations have expressed similar views. Our hope is that this strong international message, plus pressure from within Thailand, will lead to an easing of repression and an early return to democracy.

At the same time, mindful of our long-term strategic interests, we remain committed to maintaining our enduring friendship with the Thai people and nation, including the military. The challenge facing the United States is to make clear our support for a rapid return to democracy and fundamental freedoms, while also working to ensure we are able to maintain and strengthen this important friendship and our security alliance over the long term.

Sure, Marciel talks about democracy, but he also talks about strategic interests, enduring friendship, even with the military, and maintaining and strengthening that relationship.

That’s why the U.S. Ambassador is meeting military leaders and anti-democrats like those of the gormless Democrat Party.

Kenny and Thanasak

Update: A reader asked where we collected the picture. It is from the U.S. Embassy’s website from 23 June 2014.


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