Sunday, September 24, 2006

Perils of a Coup

"Thailand's dangerous coup" reads the cover of The Economist (not online yet). The editors write "Although the coup was apparently bloodless and accompanied by promises of an election in a year or so, no one has any real idea what will happen next."

Many Bangkok residents express certainty that the coup leadership will pull off this change of government like clockwork. Maybe so. Personally, I find expressions of high certainty in such uncertain times disconcerting.

The editorial continues: "although getting rid of Mr. Thaksin was no bad thing, their way of doing it struck a deep blow at a still fragile political system." Thailand only got a fully democratic constitution in 1997, and The Economist suggests that milestone had positive ripple effects throughout the region, helping to inspire Indonesians to overthrow their dictator. This time, the editors of The Economist suggest that the coup could inspire the generals of other emergent democracies in the region -- notably Indonesia and the Philippines -- to get involved in politics again. The editors' conclusion? "More instability, not less, is the likely outcome. Nor is turmoil likely to help clean up political life. Corruption flourished under a succession of military-favoured prime ministers and was bad too, under the opposition Democrats in the late 1990s."

If The Economist's assessment of the situation does not give you pause, I just saw where Thailand is now featured on Dictators of the World blog.

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