Forget the superpowers, we need to pursue reform

They are not shouting "Death to America!" yet, unlike some people in Afghanistan and Iran, but more Thai ultra-royalists have over the past few weeks become rather convinced that Imperial America is behind an alleged attempt to abolish the Thai monarchy.

The yellow-shirt media such as the ASTV Manager daily or its satellite TV channel are rife with such conspiracy theories and they believe that much that is wrong with the current political divide is due to America's interference behind the scenes, through its funding of NGOs and alleged support for the red-shirt movement.

One well-intended ultra-royalist, whom I have known for over a decade, insisted to me a few days ago when I ran into him that the red shirts and people who seek to reform the lese-majeste law are either fooled or funded by America with the twin goals of US domination over the Thai economy and politics and the abolition of the royal institution.

In what was nearly a monologue cataloguing the "evils of America", he then kindly advised me to not fall into "the trap" and said what is needed in Thailand now is unity and not the conflicts that we have witnessed over the past half decade. He said the loss of freedom of some people detained under lese-majeste law is nothing comparable to the potential loss of Thailand's national and economic sovereignty to the US.

While my view on America's role abroad is nuanced and complex, he will have to try harder to come up with irrefutable and concrete evidence to convince and convert me. The whole conspiracy notion is just too loony to be true, though I didn't say that to him.

America, still the world's leading superpower, has an undeniably tainted record in its foreign relations - or rather foreign domination and subversions.

Look at the deaths and sufferings in Afghanistan or Iraq until today, and you can see why many fair-minded persons would disapprove of America's meddling in foreign lands. Nearer to home, read the history of the Philippines and how it became, for half a century, a colony of America through betrayal and the bloody repression of revolts. And what of the Vietnam War or America's support of the military regimes here in Thailand to dictators like Field Marshal Sarit Thanarat during the Cold War?

Yes, Thais need to be wary of America. (Sometimes I wonder how many CIA agents are sipping Singha beer in Patpong or Soi Cowboy.) If you read books like the late historian Howard Zinn's "A People's History of the United States", you will know what I mean.

Thais have to keep in mind that America is not alone, however, and China is increasingly becoming a leading proponent of hegemony in our region and beyond. Yet most of these ultra-royalists are rather cosy with China and not bothered by what's happening in Xinjiang or Tibet or beyond.

Those who are distrustful of America would do well to be distrustful of China and other big powers. One should separate the subversive role of some superpowers from the ordinary folks from those nations, however.

And back to the issue of domestic political reform, such as the drive to amend the lese-majeste law in order to make it less draconian, we must make it clear that we cannot allow some people to cite fear of foreign interference to stop us from taking whatever reform steps we need to do to make Thailand more democratic and free.

As long as many people here in Thailand are not free to speak their minds on the royal institution in a critical manner, as long as a handful of Thai elite still disproportionately dominates the economy, politics and society, the struggle will have to continue - albeit with mindfulness of what some superpowers are capable of doing.


The title says it all

The title says it all :

Forget the superpowers, we need to pursue reform.

See Walden Bello's, The puzzling persistence of APEC, toward a truly relevant multilateral association

What are the key issues that must be addressed today by such a body?

As discussed above, there is the threat of the smaller economies being caught in the middle of the geoeconomic rivalry between the United States and China...

At the same time, it could serve as a mechanism for the peaceful resolution of disputes, of which there are a number in the region...

A third area that cries out to be addressed by a non-partisan pan-Pacific body is the very advanced environmental crisis in the APEC area...

A fourth problem that a non-partisan multilateral body must address is the condition of migrant workers...

A fifth problem throughout the APEC region is the dismal condition of indigenous peoples...

In sum, there are great problems in the region that cry out for solutions from a truly non-partisan, multilateral association of states, one that is not under the thumb of hegemonic powers, that serves as a constructive forum for member states at par with one another and where civil society is also given representation.

The first step toward regional solidarity in standing up to the hegemons is a non-partisan, multilateral association of people in Thailand, one which will enjoy the support of all of Thailand's peoples and thus have the power to govern the nation, and so give the nation the credibility and stability to be a regional leader.

The first steps toward building such an association within Thailand are outlined in On Thailand's continued impunity for disappearance and On Thailand's Universal (Human Rights) Review.

Democracy and self-determination at home and democracy and self-determination for the region.

Snap out of it. Stop backing into the future. Turn around. Meet the future and shape it according to your own interests... people. Or the 'elites' of the region, in concert with the global 'elite', will shape it according to theirs.

Pravit fails entirely to cite

Pravit fails entirely to cite a single point of the "loony conspiracy theory" and address its veracity. This is a disappointing and dishonest rant - not journalism.

The documented facts Pravit needs to address are:

1. Prachatai is funded millions of baht a year by the US government, through the National Endowment for Democracy chaired by Neo-Conservatives, corporate fascists, corporate lobbyists, and confessed warmongers.

2. UDD leaders consorted directly with Wall Street Fortune 500 corporations in Washington DC just before July 2011's elections.

3. Thaksin has a documented history of serving, working with, and receiving substainial support from Wall Street and London - including sitting on Bush/Baker's Carlyle Group as an adviser, sending troops to Iraq when Bush Jr. asked, inviting in the CIA to conduct their rendition program.

Clearly there is more going on here than just baseless accusations & "loony conspiracy theories." Pravit - if he wants us to take his point of view seriously - needs to document as thoroughly his rebuttal as were the accusations he is trying to baselessly brush off.

Pravit says it clear and

Pravit says it clear and loud. The yellow lot have lost their marbles and support and are grabbing any nonsense ideas that might bolster a cause, no matter how mad.

As I see it, item 1 of your list is a waste of everyone's time and is your constant refrain, even when Prachatai do disclose their funding. I notice that you still keep your funding by extremists opaque at your site.

Point 2 has been shown several times to be nothing more than a beat up by you. Initially you stated that these D.C groups were all they saw in the U.S. We now know that this was your lie. In any case, I can see no issue with red shirts raising their case with all manner of political groups. It is a common practice and was not hidden or secret.

On the third point, we have heard this many, many times, and the profile you suggests does not amount to a conspiracy of international capitalists.

If the term "looney conspiracy theory" fits, as it does, then use it.

The theory is that the US is

The theory is that the US is plotting to overthrow the monarchy.

Your points are:
1) US funds NGOs (such as Humans Rights Watch and Reporters Without Borders)
2) UDD met members of corporate America
3) Thaksin met members of corporate America

What do any of these points have to do with the Thai monarchy?

During the Thaksin era, people believed everything that the PAD said because the idea of a corrupt politician is hardly far fetched. It's not that the PAD has now lost their marbles, it's just now people see the PAD for what they really are.

Thaksin didn't "meet" members

Thaksin didn't "meet" members of corporate American .... he was an adviser to the Bush/Baker US equity firm Carlyle Group while holding public office. Upon becoming PM he sent Thai troops to Iraq for Bush Jr.'s imperial adventure, invited the CIA to conduct their rendition program, and attempted to ram through without parliamentary approval a US-FTA with the US-ASEAN Business Council - the same council UDD leaders met with in 2011 before the July elections.

After being ousted in 2006, he has had Carlyle Group associate James Baker's Baker Botts lobby for him, as well as Bush Iraq envoy Robert Blackwill of Barbour Griffith & Rogers, and PNAC signatory Kenneth Adelman of Edelman (also a trustee at Freedom House), Amsterdam & Peroff, and Kobre & Kim.

Clearly, that is a little bit more than just "met members of corporate America." He is a proxy seeking to usurp Thailand's political order with a foreign-backed order of his own. It is neo-imperialism.

John, when you're ready to start addressing each one of these documented facts - and illustrate how they are "benign" I will listen. For now, you are just name-calling & purposefully circumventing facts.

The Thai generals themselves

The Thai generals themselves last year openly stated the US was kept abreast of the plans for a coup on a daily basis the last few weeks preceding the actual putsch. Wikileaks and others seem to confirm when the generals the US embassy agreed "something has to be done about Taksin".

The US has been playing ball with Thailand on its side for many decades. Already during the Vietnam war: one point 17,000 Thai soldiers were fighting alongside US troops.

...when Pol Pot was toppled the US refused to accept the new government and vetoed its membership at the UN while in the meantime.

...Thailand harbored Pol pot for at least 5 years and allowed him to live the good life in Pukhet the US supported the toppled Khmer Rouge (as the only "legitimate government of Cambodia!) the Thai generals allowed their troops to roam free along parts of the border and in return became millionaires in part due to in turn being allowed to cut down vast areas of forest land for timber. the north of the country the military junta gave some of the biggest drug lords in the world Thai passports and a free hand on condition they would participate hunting down and killing Communist insurgents. Wherever the US has its hand drug production seems to "oddly" increase dramatically. Look at the current statistics over the last few decades in Afghanistan.

...considering how the Thai military has carried out its propaganda I suspect they have been given translated version of CIA handbooks on how to lie, oppress and murder pro-democracy movements.

The US has also supported the monarchy for many decades so why they would now turn against the military and those with whom they have been allied suggests utter nonsense is behind such thinking.

Yes the US is in a shambles and has risen to become the worlds biggest Imperialist Empire-like entity. But it has always operated (and still does) hand in hand with oppressive military regimes throughout the world. Thinking it would be different in Thailand is ludicrous.

Two things - ONE: oppressive

Two things - ONE: oppressive military regimes like in Egypt or Iraq? The US had Saddam eliminated and mass murdered a million or so Iraqis, while the Egyptian military is fighting against a US-backed uprising planned since at least 2008.

You seem to think that the US is "friends" with nations like you are a friend with other human beings. Instead, think of the US as a sociopath who uses people and discards them at their earliest possible convenience.

The Thai military 40 years ago was useful to the US, now they are an obstacle and are being removed. Thaksin is the proxy of choice. When he outlives his use, he too will be removed. This is the game of modern empire.

TWO: All the facts point to the US currently backing Thaksin and his UDD. Prachatai for example is 100% confirmed funded by the US government....

Thaksin has the largest lobbying firms in Washington behind him, his existence politically is maintained by his foreign connections and their support for his efforts inside of Thailand.

How do you reconcile these facts with your statement?

I fully agree with you that the US is the modern purveyor of imperialism throughout the world. I simply believe the facts point to a different proxy operating on their behalf here in Thailand, facts that I hope you consider.

And please remember, condemning Thaksin and his exploitative UDD does not mean you must accept or approve of the status quo, or condemn the genuine hopes of the people in improving their lives.

I just hope you realize that lives can be improved through pragmatism, rather than political infighting - improving education at the grassroots for instance, instead of making politically unipolar "red villages" for Thaksin.

All the same, only a complete

All the same, only a complete moron or a complete madman would believe the USA want to bring down the same monarchy they have supported for 40-odd years and have worked so hard for so long to kid the gullible Thai population that defines the essence of 'Thai-ness' and that its in their interests to keep.

Sondhi Lim seems to believe it...

'Sondhi Lim seems to believe

'Sondhi Lim seems to believe it...' I don't think we know for sure. The man is a fake and a total fraud. He'd do or say anything. What boggles the mind is some people (the ASTV crowd) actually believe him.

Sondhi in his presentation

Sondhi in his presentation provided a list of documented facts taken from Prachatai's own "About Us" page, US Senate archives, the National Endowment for Democracy's website, and UDD's own website.

Thaksin's lobbying records for example...

These are irrefutable, documented facts. He has made his case, he has cited his sources. Your rebuttal is to simply call him names and say he is wrong.

Where is Pravit's factual rebuttal? Nowhere. Pravit doesn't even dare mention the facts brought up by ASTV because it would get people looking - and looking would lead to the truth - one that directly contradicts his, Prachatai's, and their backers' beliefs and baseless narratives.

He instead, because it is much easier to, simply calls people "loony" and invoke the tired, baseless label of "conspiracy theorist."

Prachatai claims to be anti-Thaksin - laughable at best, despicable deceit in truth - and to prove it, what do they do when someone tries to uncover Thaksin's deep incestuous ties to Wall Street? Feature hit pieces by Pravit calling anyone saying such things "loons." Real professional! Real journalism, the best millions of State Department dollars can buy!

Sondhi didn't provide

Sondhi didn't provide evidence, he just plagiarized LandDestroyer. i.e. you. Your evidence has repeatedly been shown to be fallacious, concocted and misconstrued as conspiracy. I guess there is no difference between PAD and LandDestroyer. Conspiricists together. Finland plot, Taksin plot, US plot. What next? Accusations about fluoride poisoning and 9/11?

No need to simply repost it all.

Plagiarize Land Destroyer?

Plagiarize Land Destroyer? All I put on my blog is links and explanations to the US Senate archives regarding Thaksin's US backing...

Amsterdam & Peroff

BGR (more specifically US warmonger Robert Blackwill)
NYT: Backing an Iraqi Leader Again, This Time for a Fee

Edelman (more specifically, Kenneth Adelman who also chairs Freedom House - a direct supporter of Prachatai and fellow NED-funded subsidiary)
& Kenneth Adelman

Baker & Botts (James Baker, Thaksin's Caryle Group associate)
USCLA Asia Media: Thaksin hires high-profile Washington lobbyists

... a detailed explanation of publically available Board of Director lists for both the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and Freedom House who both support and fund Prachatai via the US State Department...

... and of course, cited UDD's own webpage regarding their gloating over visiting corporate-fascists in D.C. for support before July's elections.

It is not plagiarism to simply restate documented facts. You choose the word "plagiarism" in a cheap attempt to demean the presentation - and in an attempt to avoid having to deal with the stated facts in any meaningful, mature manner. So did Pravit - it was very disappointing and unjournalistic.

Yes, Tony, that's what

Yes, Tony, that's what plagiarism is. If Sondhi is cheapened or demeaned by this claim, I am sure that bothers neither him nor you as one of his conspiricist buddies. Presumably his conviction fro corporate fraud and sentencing to 20 years is right up your street as a supporter of extremists and rightists.

You have provided no proof

You have provided no proof that the US is backing the Thai military or the Monarchy today - your comment "40 odd years," simply infers that apparent support during the Vietnam War 40 years ago continued on to today. It clearly hasn't.

Conversely I have documented facts proving that they are, today, now, instead backing Thaksin, Prachatai (direct funding), and UDD/Nitirat. Irrefutable facts.

Thaksin's corporate lobbyists...

Prachatai's US funding...

UDD leaders meeting with Fortune 500 in Washington...

I also have demonstrated that Thaksin not only receives this support eagerly, but he has reciprocated at the expense of Thailand and its sovereignty...

Thaksin sends Thai troops to Iraq...

Thaksin invites in the CIA...

Thaksin attempts to ram-rod through US-FTA...

When you can provide an equally vigorous and up-to-date list of facts to back up your claims I might consider them. As of now, you have made baseless accusations and worse yet, resorted to childish name-calling.

What you said that you and

What you said that you and Sondhi Lim believe: "You have provided no proof ...childish name-calling." Lots

What you said that anyone else believes: "..." Bugger all.

It must make you very proud that, by all accounts Sondhi Lim finds it convenient to take you seriously. On the other hand, you ought to feel ashamed that the only person who takes you seriously apart from you is another complete nut-job.

Funny old world...

What is the proof that US

What is the proof that US support did not continue for the military? I can only find evidence that US support for the Thai military continues as military assistance.

Your claim on Thaksin receiving support is, in part, when he is prime minister. Slipshod language making that essentially "personal" support is fudging.

Yes. Tony is delusional. The

Yes. Tony is delusional. The Thai military and monarchy have never had such an ally as the US. Even through the dictatorships and massacres, the US has stood it's vigil in support of the authoritarian heavy hand it does business with.

TONY This is the point I


This is the point I believe is not realistic. Regardless what possible/probable truths your comments hold (factual or opinionated) the US has propped up the royal family and the military for so long its bonds are far too strong to be broken at this point.

The Thai military has so totally allied itself with the royal family it is its way of dominating the entire social structure of the kingdom. The US wants exactly that. It would want instability only if the current government were not playing ball according to the US rules. And the alternative option were better control of the population and its economy.

As of the 2006 coup there has been a clear rapprochement between China and Thailand as the Chinese see the military gaining more control. But the US, needing Thailand as it main ally in the region will only strengthen its ties with the military, not risk weakening them.

As I wrote and, military generals stated in late 2010/early 2011 the US embassy was kept abreast of the planned coup and gave its support. Wikileaks confirms this. Not that generals are known for truthful statements. But I doubt the generals could have openly stated this and had the US remain silent were it not true.

The propaganda and eventual cracking down on the demonstrators was pure CIA textbook. Of course, that has become such an open book it need no longer be proof the CIA was directly involved. I would be surprised though if the CIA was not involved in some ways helping the military. It was the usual propaganda trick of trying to convince the people the red shirt/UDD were anti-royalist potential terrorists allied with Cambodian mercenaries etceteras etceteras. Much like the "Communist" threat was exaggerated and successfully used to crush pro-democracy and workers movements before. She Daeng was IMO the worst thing that could have happened to the UDD/red shorts as he provided the perfect excuse for resorting to assassination and state violence.

As you suggest, not supporting TS does not make you a supporter of the status quo. In the same way being against the military machine(s) does not make me, or others ardent supporters of TS or the PT. The latter have consistently, since their election turned their backs on the very people that voted them into power and ignored some of their more important campaign promises, like looking into the LM laws and all its convictions since the 2006 coup.

That's what I was going to

That's what I was going to say to Tony. Only I gave up on writing posts to him ages ago because of his intellectual difficulties.

He does, as you say, see the world in black and white. That's why I have given up. Like a dog is color blind, you have just as much chance of getting it to see the beauty in a rainbow as you do of making Tony understand that he's been brainwashed by PAD propaganda. The most amazing thing is he actually appears to be a mouthpiece for PAD propaganda - it's a unique sort of fellow who believes his own rubbish.

Again - I have demonstrated

Again - I have demonstrated with an overwhelming body of facts who the US is supporting - Prachatai with direct funding, Thaksin with the largest lobbying organizations on earth, and his UDD through both US government/corporate-funded NGOs, the media, and the same lobbying efforts behind Thaksin...

You keep repeating "the US is propping up the military and the monarchy..." but where is a single shred of evidence to support that statement? How do 40 year old anecdotes about the Vietnam War and "Wikileaks" cables stack up to signed documents, signed confessions, and statements of funding?

Don't you realize that the US "will only strengthen its ties with the military" by backing Thaksin to the hilt, ensuring his people get into the top positions within the military that they are so found of funding and training? Wasn't that what this article was all about?

...that you so eagerly dismissed?

You act as if the military is a monolithic homogeneous institution - forgetting entirely that Thaksin has many allies both currently and formally involved - all of whom still maintain a great amount of influence throughout certain spheres. Cousin Chaiyasit Shinawatra for example, General Chavilit another example.

And finally - in 2010 - the government was responding to Thaksin's UDD who admittedly fielded 300 armed militants - this is confirmed by UDD's own spokesman, the HRW report, and both photographic and video evidence. Again, you claim you are not backing Thaksin, his PT, and his UDD, yet yes you are.

"How do 40 year old anecdotes

"How do 40 year old anecdotes about the Vietnam War and "Wikileaks" cables stack up to signed documents, signed confessions, and statements of funding."

Not very well: the US gave billions of dollars to Thailand's military over the post-WW2 era compared to a pittance given to the brave souls at Prachatai.

And US military support

And US military support continues. Cobra Gold, arguably the US's largest military exercise each year, has just finished. That's in Thailand every year, Thaksin or no Thaksin.