Not five months after a military coup d'etat snuffed out democracy in Thailand, the US administration has decided to proceed with the annual US-Thai military exercises known as "Cobra Gold." (Bangkok Post) This decision is neccessarily a short-sighted one, because by proceding with the exercises Washington sends the message that democracy is expendable. How to explain this rather surprising anouncement (that comes just a few months after the US suspended military aid to Thailand)? Two possibilities come to mind.
1. Perhaps the US is afraid that Thailand will move closer to China should the US not continue to cooperate with the junta-backed regime. If so, it would seem to indicate that Washington has little expectation that Thailand will soon return to democratic rule.
2. Perhaps Washington is buying Thailand's short-term cooperation at the United Nations on global security issues relating to Iran or North Korea.
But the US Administration is comprimising one if its self-declared core principles: support for democracy. Either way you look at it, this announcement testifies to an new and profound development: an acceleration in the relative decline of the geopolitical power of the United States.