Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Unleashing extraordinary powers of suppression

A Russian Jotman reader has this response to recent events in Bangkok:
I don't know much about the Thai affairs, but what is happening might very well make parallels with what happened in Russia in the recent years. First, country's security services engineer acts of terror (or use the genuine ones for their own purposes) and then use the extraordinary powers to suppress whatever they feel needs to be suppressed.
The Thai generals would appear to be acting out the same plot. According to today's Bangkok Post "Military coup leader Sonthi Boonyaratkalin Monday ordered security forces to keep a close watch on so-called "old-power" figures in all provinces, in case they might reveal plans to pulls the strings for another bombing campaign." In the same article General Sonthi, head of Thailand's Council for National Security, outlines his strategy to utilize scare police resource in the hunt for the bombers:
"Every single person and group, no matter whether they are former MPs or those likely to have the power to incite violence, are being closely observed to see if something more will happen," Gen Sonthi said. (hat-tip Patiwat/Bangkok Pundit - my italics)
Of course, those who have the "the power" to do really bad things (like terrorism) do not neccessarily have the *motive* or *temperament* to do them. It's as if George W. Bush blamed the Democrats for carrying out the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Perhaps Bush could have pointed to some hightly-placed Democrats in the CIA who had the "power" to carry out the attacks. But the motive? The temperament?

If worth their salt, surely hypothesized "evil machiavellian plotters" in the Thaksin camp would forsee that bombs going off in Bankok could amount to a heaven-sent gift to the regime; an excuse for the military rulers to clamp-down against its opponents. Terrorism in Moscow helped Putin to consolodate his own power. The attacks of 9/11 vastly improved the political fortunes for the US president (for the next six years anyway). Why would Thailand prove the exception?

As to the question of temperament, I would refer you to my post One Coup Does Not a Terrorist Make.

Finally, Sonthi's statement belongs to an expanding volume of zingers by Thai generals. I'd also include the following quote attributed to the Thai Prime Minister. Quick to rule out the Southern Insurgents, what was his rationale? He said the Southern Insurgents "would not be able to find their way around Bangkok." (being bumpkins from the South!)

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