If so, this deal makes the scenario of a possible civil war that we’ve discussed over the past two weeks all the more unlikely.
While there have been 23 military coups over the past 80 years in Thailand, that’s one every three years or so, the present is not the past, especially since the last one, in 2006, failed to achieve its goal -- in 2013 a Thaksin Shinawatra nominee party is still in charge.
This is mere speculation, not proven fact, but if we were to connect the dots then we may conclude that the deal between the Thaksin political machine and the military is - ‘’you don’t mess with us, we don’t mess with you’’.
Don’t involve the military in criminal cases over the deaths during the political chaos in recent years, and the military would stay out of politics, at least in so far as not rolling tanks out onto the streets against the Pheu Thai government.
The reality is that time and time again the electorate has favoured the Thaksin political machine. Bringing out the tanks will not solve the Thaksin/electoral riddle, unless the goal is to establish an appointed government for good. Otherwise, once the military return power to the people, logic has it that another Thaksin nominee party will win. How many times can a country go through this charade?
In the meantime, the process engenders the possibility of a civil war, which could prove disastrous for all parties concerned. The Thai military and political players may be many wonderful and shameful things, but they are also pragmatic and realise the value of the bottom line. This pragmatism has kept Thailand afloat over the past 80 years, tripping and stumbling though it might have been.
Again, this is connecting the dots, not a proven fact – this deal is but a first step in a partnership that is being forged between the institution, the military and the Thaksin political machine – a triumvirate, as opposed to the dual regime of the institution and the military that has ruled the kingdom over the past 80 years.
There is no permanent enemy or permanent friends in politics, there is only permanent interests – the bottom line, money and power, those interests can be shared. Players who understand this hold the advantage to coming out on top.
As we have discussed in several columns over the years, this is but a natural political/social evolution of when democracy meets capitalism. Like in western democracies, slowly but surely the feudal lords have to give way to the money merchants. But unlike in western democracies, the military will continue to have a presence in politics, while the structural governance remains feudalistic – at least for the near future.
There’s a joke inherent in the American presidency. The president, in theory the most powerful person in the world, at the end of the day, whether Democrat or Republican, has to answer to the Wall Street bankers, the oil merchants, the arms dealers and the rest of the money merchant gang. In Thailand, a particular money merchant gang is forming a triumvirate, and may very well take over entirely in the future.
There’s good a reason why smiling pictures of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, army chief Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha and Privy Council president Gen Prem Tinlasulanonda are frequently in the news. With the reality of mortality, retirements and reshuffles, logically speaking there’s no reason for this relationship to not be cemented further.
As well, those pictures are meant to communicate a political message, one that says there’s peace and stability between the Thaksin regime and the military, however delicate this peace and stability may be at the present time. So if the tanks won’t roll, the civil war scenario is then all the more unlikely.
But in the meantime, things are delicate, and the players must proceed carefully. The game could change at any time if a certain player blunders.
The ball is now in Thaksin's court; how he proceeds may determine the future. The straw that might break the buffalo’s back and lead to chaos and possibly a civil war is his amnesty and a return that comes ‘’too soon’’.
If Thaksin exhibits patience, plays his cards right – when that which we will not talk about, because we cannot talk about, so we won’t talk about happens – he may lay down a Royal Flush. In five to ten years, the one-party monopoly, the democratic dictatorship of Thaksin that we have discussed in the Aug 22 article might be fully realised – and no civil war to muck it up.
But this isn’t all about Thaksin. As much as we have made the struggle out to be one cult of personality versus another, the reality is cults are but political tools and personalities come and go. It is the reality of political/social evolution of when democracy meets capitalism that perpetuates.
Even if Thaksin is out of the picture today, the wheel is already in motion, the triumvirate is forming, and with time, the money merchants will come out on top. This is simply because after thousands of years of human civilizations, the present and the (near) future are where democracy meets capitalism.
This is no longer the age of kings and emperors, generals and warlords – and while ideology speaks louder than money, it’s money that gets things done. The winners are those who know how to play the game, the Democrats will be thus left out in the cold.
But even while the US president, Democrat or Republican, answers to the money merchants, he or she is never entirely beholden. This is because the mechanisms of democracy and the checks and balances are still working, if arguably getting rather rusty.
As such, we should make sure that the Thai government isn’t a one-party democratic dictatorship beholden to one group of money merchants. In this, the Democrat Party must be a credible and viable counter balance, which over the past two years it has been anything but. Unintentionally and unwittingly, it may even be helping the Thaksin political machine achieve its goals.
We shall discuss this issue on Sunday in the final installment of the civil war series.
Today we end with this thought: the politician, the professor and the people each say that in a democracy the power belongs to the people. One actually believes this is true. One knows this is only true in theory. One is trying hard not to burst out laughing. Which is which?