Terrorists and Marxist-Leninists

13 06 2010

In an earlier post, PPT mentioned that Thailand’s special envoy to the U.S. would speak at the Asia Society. In that post we expressed some skepticism, noting that the visit was advertised as to “rehabilitate Thailand’s image” following the government’s crackdowns on red shirt demonstrators, resulting in thousands of deaths and injuries and hundreds of political prisoners. The regime has also told “Thailand’s friends” that they are expected to do more to “help.”

AFP reports on this visit by Kiat Sittheeamorn, who is said to be seeking U.S. support in the country’s political crisis, discouraging the kingdom’s longtime ally from trying to mediate in the wake of bloody street protests.” If that sound like a double-handed approach, it is. The Abhisit Vejjajiva military-backed regime wants the U.S. to abstain from criticism and support it, despite the government’s authoritarianism.

Abhisit and his military backers throw people in prison under emergency rule, kill protesters and engage in levels of censorship not seen since 1976-77, and hopes the U.S. will ignore this. They just might, as the U.S. has a long record of supporting authoritarian government in Thailand and plenty of other places.

The elite supporters of the Abhisit government were all schooled during the Cold War and so it is not all that surprising to hear Cold War rhetoric return. Envoy Kiat has been “dispatched  to Washington to make the case that so-called Red Shirt protesters who occupied central Bangkok for weeks included armed and Marxist elements.”

Kiat is reported as meeting “with members of Congress and President Barack Obama’s administration on Friday” and said thanks for the advice, but that the Abhisit government has its own plan, inadequately described as a “reconciliation plan.” He reckons that outside interference will only further complicate things.

For PPT, complicating things might be necessary as the Abhisit government’s approach is way too simplistic. You get an idea of the lack of complex thinking when Kiat compares Thaisland’s recent events to those of  the 11 September attacks in the U.S. Oddly, in talking of Thailand’s response then was by the Thaksin Shinawatra government.

And it gets worse because Kiat dissembles: “We always respect the decisions of any government; it’s their right.” That’s a pile of fermented fish. Think Cambodia of late. But the point is to ask for support from “friends” whatever the Abhisit government decides to do.

Kiat comes up with the now usual platitude that “some” Red Shirts had “legitimate grievances,” but that the events of March-May were not a “straight-forward demonstration” because of the other standard line – armed groups – and the recycled Cold War slogan, “Marxist-Leninist ideologists.”

It seems that this line was accepted by “Senator Jim Webb, who heads the Foreign Relations subcommittee on East Asia, [who] recently visited Thailand and agreed that aspects of the Red Shirts were ‘classic Marxist’.”

What constitutes classic Marxism for Webb? Here’s a statement that would be unworthy of an undergraduate but would be neatly fitted into 1950s McCarthysim: “You had the incitement of people based on poor versus the rich in a country that has made enormous advances over the last 30 years,” Webb said.

Don’t expect anything much that is logical from either the Abhisit dissemblers or from U.S. policymakers. Thailand doesn’t matter all that much and support is easier than having problems.

A U.S. academic who seems to have some influence in policy circles, Catharin Dalpino, who is said to be “director of the Thai studies program at Georgetown University,” but who has a remarkably sparse record on academic work on Thailand,  said the “United States had a stake in Thailand’s stability but needed to exercise restraint. Unlike many other countries since the Cold War, Thailand transitioned to democracy without foreign involvement, she said.”

Maybe Dalpino missed the 2006 coup? Maybe she missed the military’s involvement in the 2008 maneuverings to get Abhisit in place? Maybe she’s missed all the killing and censorship? Or maybe she is a “friend of Thailand” doing the assigned job?

If this AFP report is accurate, the Kiat visit to the U.S. is a farcical propaganda exercise, supported by simplistic – downright stupid – views in the U.S. from Dalpino and Webb.

International perspectives on Thailand’s class war

5 04 2010

The brief flurry of excitement over references to class warfare brought angry denials from -well, the ruling class and its minions – that class doesn’t even exist in Thailand. It’s interesting that those who have long fought a class war against those in the bottom ranks of society get fearful when the ideological curtain is even briefly opened. In any case, PPT wondered what some of the international Marxist media was saying. Here are a couple of examples that may be of interest to our readers:

Danielle Sabaï, Thailand: New stage in the “class war”, at International Viewpoint; and

Joe Gold, Thailand: How will it end?, In Defence of Marxism.

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