Cops and bombs

22 08 2015

As anyone who has anything to do with Thailand would expect, the “investigations” into the bombs has become a tragic comedy of seeming police incompetence, political connivance and a collage of seemingly stupid babbling from authorities.

We have been posting bits and pieces about this and there has been a blizzard of social media commentary. Khaosod has a report worth reading and the link to a BBC report is also useful for understanding the seeming incapacity for serious investigation.

The inability of the military dictatorship and the police to deal with events such as this need to be understood in a context where neither force is in any way “normal.”

Wikipedia defines the armed forces or military as “forces authorized to use deadly force, and weapons, to support the interests of the state and some or all of its citizens. The task of the military is usually defined as defense of the state and its citizens, and the prosecution of war against another state.”

The Thai military is not really covered by this definition because its task is as a force that focuses internally and concentrates on political suppression and social control. The result is that it has murdered thousands of persons it identifies as threats to the royalist ruling class and its state. Its reward has been that its commanders have become “unusually wealthy.”

Wikipedia says a police force is “constituted body of persons empowered by the state to enforce the law, protect property, and limit civil disorder. Their powers include the legitimized use of force. The term is most commonly associated with police services of a sovereign state that are authorized to exercise the police power of that state within a defined legal or territorial area of responsibility.”

The police are best understood as an organization that collects money from the citizenry and diverts it upwards to commanders. The police control crime in unusual ways, essentially acting as a criminal gang that protects its turf from other gangs. Police corruption is legendary. An organization that is focused on amassing wealth for its bosses is hardly likely to be very effective in dealing with crimes. Interrogation methods routinely involve bashings. Like the military, torture and enforced disappearance are a regular complaint made against police. Investigations are regularly botched and concocted.

This coalitions of dolts and the corrupt may lead to the perpetrators of this heinous event being apprehended, but no one should hold their breath and, as always, there will need to be considerable skepticism exercised when “successes” are announced or suspects killed or paraded for the media.

Further reading: An anthropological study PPT hadn’t seen before turned up as we searched for information on the police. We didn’t find a downloadable version but Google Books has a copy of “Constructing Order Through Chaos: A State Ethnography of the Thai Police,” by Eric Haanstad. A subscription copy and free abstract is also available. It looks like an interesting read.


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