For the anti-Thaksin Shinawatra faction, the end-game is a regime change, to bring down what they term the Thaksin regime and usher the Democrats back into power. All the street protests right now are but an effort to mount an opposition to achieve this.
They fear the eventual monopolisation of power by the Thaksin faction. Whether this pending monopolisation is real or imagined is one issue. More pertinent to the current political struggle is that the fear is real.
For the Thaksin monopoly to become a fact, a few things must happen. Thaksin must receive amnesty, return to Thai soil and resume power. The House of Representatives and the Senate must be dominated by Thaksin loyalists. The Constitution Court and the military must be swayed over to their camp.
An argument can be made that Thaksin can achieve this monopoly without having to ever return to Thailand. This is possible. But the victory would simply be less sweet, and a bit bitter. Then, of course, there is that which we will not talk about, because we cannot talk about, and so we won’t talk about.
Street protests are but political noises that do not necessarily bring about a regime change. In 2006 and 2008, street protests created situations for change. First, the military staged a coup against Thaksin and the Thai Rak Thai government, and in December 2008 the Constitution Court dissolved Thaksin’s nominee party, the People’s Power Party.
In both cases action begets reaction, or perhaps they were concerted plans from the beginning.
On the other hand, the 2009 and 2010 street protests against the Democrat government did not lead to a regime change. This is an important history lesson in that to actually make a regime change, the tanks and the court play a key role.
But there is an alternative, democracy may play a key role. Hence we had a regime change following the July 2011 general election, where Pheu Thai unseated the Democrats. The current street protests have a clear objective, but there may be one or two strategies for a regime change.
The democratic strategy is to use street protests as a tool for political communication, to persuade and convince, so that come the next general election the Democrats may unseat Pheu Thai through the popular vote.
Then there’s the dangerous and undemocratic strategy. This is to create massive street opposition that would lead to chaos, which would require the military to intervene and unseat the Pheu Thai government. See Egypt, for example.
This is not an accusation against the anti-Thaksin faction – there is no evidence which strategy they are employing. This is just to outline a scenario, and to caution against such a dangerous strategy.
We live in a world of causality. Action begets reaction. Revolution begets counter-revolution. If the dangerous strategy plays out, then supporters of the Thaksin faction may hit the streets in the tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands.
There could be widespread clashes in the streets. It may come to a point that there might be a split in the military.
As we all realise, from the ranks of generals down to the files of privates, Thaksin loyalists known as watermelon soldiers (green outside, red inside) have a credible presence in the military.
If the military splits, then mob violence becomes a full-fledge civil war. See Syria, for example. This is the straw that could break the buffalo’s back.
The road to hell is paved by good intentions. No doubt the anti-Thaksin faction believes their current actions are morally just. But in the Game of Thrones we must think three or four moves ahead, to consider causality and recognise consequences, to not get stuck in emotion and the desire for immediate results.
In the popular TV series, King Geoffrey’s fatal move was to impulsively order the execution of Ned Starks. Instead of putting an end to political struggle, it plunged the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros into full blown civil war. Yes, there is much Thailand can learn from Egypt, Syria and HBO.
Looking into the future, some may hope for “the prince that was promised” and some may dream of Daenerys Targaryen, Stormborn, rightful ruler of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros, Khalisi of the Dothraki, Breaker of Chains, Mother of Dragons and one hot babe.
But at the end of the day, we should realise our hopes and dreams at the voting booth, rather than hanging our hopes and dreams, or fears and nightmares, on any one person.
Then there is the true purpose of this column, which is simply to say, George RR Martin, please hurry up and finish writing the next installment to this fantastic series. The wait is so long… too long…