Monday, June 2, 2014

The 2014 Thai Coup

The 2014 Thai Coup Thailand's had some weird problems of late, but one can't learn all that much by reading elsewhere about them.
Over 200 days of protests, with many of the protesters receiving not only food, but cash - how much money was that? And the meaningless election, how many votes were bought, for how much? Surely we're not going to know exactly, but some things we can figure. Thousands of protesters, paid $10 to $30 (in baht, naturally) and sometimes even more per day (Red Shirts paid more than Yellow Shirts, maybe over twice as much per person), "community radio" stations with a variety of workers, protest guards, cooks and support facility workers (someone put up the port-a-johns, someone emptied them)... the Reds issued ID cards, contracted for buses, set up paramilitary camps... there'd also have been payments for gas and electricity used. In all, the two factions, in the time of protests against PM Yingluck, must have cost (to some someones, somewhere, or, more likely, some groups, hard to locate) well over 220 million US$. Yingluck's big brother Thaksin didn't pay half or even a quarter of that out of pocket, he's simply not that kind of man, to spend what? maybe 5% of his fortune, in less than a year, especially while knowing more heavy expenditures would soon be required also? The election alone cost a fortune in bribes (millions got the equivalent of $10 or more), and Thaksin must have anticipated that more would be needed for the next one too. More importantly, he needs money for the protection of himself and his family, having acquired so much hatred and so many enemies. Money is what he's been doing all this for! So, no, most of it what was spent on support of the Red Shirt faction wasn't Thaksin's money, and it didn't come from donations, like at least some Yellow Shirt money did (certainly not all - they too must have had extremely well-heeled outside support). And if it had, might not one expect that reports of the influx of funds from him would have been announced by the new government by now?
But who else, with an interest in the outcome of that extensive charade, could have afforded to finance it? Some like to insinuate that it was rivals within the palace, so royal money, but I find that absurd. That's also a subject unwise to pursue, and I find it no more than a red herring. There's something else that makes too much more sense.
Ever since WWII, there's been a lot of mystery money flowing around Thailand, and extensive documentation points to the CIA behind a lot of it. The US secret services, sponsored as much by Wall Street moguls as by Congress, if not more so, have been desperate to contain not only the "communist menace" but the influence of "overseas Chinese" - those brilliant money-men who have done so much to create lively economies in Southeast Asia. Ex-PM Thaksin can be seen as as much Chinese as Thai, but his money is newer money, his people a rival to more established Chinese groups who also find themselves in a position of rivalry to US business interests (both "above-board" and illicit).
After much thought, I have decided that elements intimately associated with the CIA paid the Red Shirts, and others intimately associated with triads, or tongs, or even legitimate Chinese businessmen of international stature, the Yellows. The problem was never simply a struggle between classes of Thais, between Bangkok high society and Isaan peasantry, as so repetitively portrayed in the media. That idea is absurd, and easy to dispense with. Who was most hurt by Shinawatra policies? Clearly, Isaan farmers, who weren't given promised payments for their rice. So why did they support the Reds? Not because, as often claimed, of improved health care, but because of cash payments - for votes, for protest activity, for proclamation of Red Villages. They were poor, hungry and bought. It's as simple as that.
Thaksin, from what I read, close to the Carlyle Group and supportive of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which most non-1%ers (Wall St associated super-elites) who are aware of it are NOT, has had support from those who have bought the USA government. And they, certainly, have plenty of money to pursue their agenda. But clearly, some on their silent services payroll realized that they were backing the wrong side, much to the detriment of the possibility of achieving their goals (for instance, containing China). The populist while pro-GlobalCorp policies of the Shinawatra administrations had most certainly not helped. And so, somehow, payments slowed to a near stop, and "coincidentally" just afterwards, the Thai army ended the protests, without violence or even much vociferous complaint (certainly compared to the heavily vociferous complaints common here for at least five years now). A few still protested at Bangkok's prominent protest spots, but oddly, there were only about 4 "protesters" to every Western "journalist" - and many of the very few hundred remaining "protesters" were noticeable drunk, feeble or clearly confused. But somehow the "journalists" didn't much report on that, or, indeed, on anything. For they, too, were only going to say what they were paid to say. And they certainly haven't been paid to say that extra-national influences are to blame for the whole debacle; no, most certainly not helped what was meant to be a showpiece economy.
Thailand is supposed to be a shining beacon of hope, an example of the superiority of the "Western" way over travesties like the "Burmese Road to Socialism" or whatever THAT was. But the Thai economy has never added up, hidden forces have clearly been at play, and the problems that resulted in the "Thaitanic" collapse of 1997 were about to recur. No more are lots of nice little restaurants to be found, instead, there are a plethora of easy-to-establish small-businesses requiring but little expertise, only lots of ready cash (relatively lots, for the people involved, anyway; cash from too easy credit, or, I suspect, from money washing): "coffee shops", laundromats, opticians, copy shops, bakeries and hand-phone shops, while also a tremendous boom in construction of shop-houses, just like before 1997. Household debt is unsustainably high, and once again, lending institutions look to be precariously positioned. Something HAD to be done. People's expectations had been raised. The plethora of cash had been around for a while, when suddenly, at a time when some people were openly calling for revolution or secession, and violence had already been happening, the boom was over. Someone, somewhere, noticed, and payments to Red Shirt protesters suddenly, abruptly dried up. Then almost overnight, after years of economic folly, Thailand had a government clearly willing to utilize economic sense. Is that not to Wall Street's advantage? Maybe not as much as to the advantage of their Chinese rivals. But the babbling verbiage of John Kerry and the pretend "US ambassador to Thailand" (who wouldn't meet with coup leaders when other foreign dignitaries invited did, due to a "previous engagement") are just for show, for a pretend consistency (you know, for "democracy" and "freedom" and against military coups). Puppets have been putting on an act, the act must change, and not only the US is destined to come around.
What's most offensive is an apparent belief that all of the above would somehow escape notice, as if the oft-repeated platitudes of popular media would be enough to satisfy. But they aren't. They simply are not. Enquiring minds demand to know, and the information is out there, for those who can do a bit of simple arithmetic. It's been a battle between gigantic economic foes.
But now justice is winning in Thailand. Not "democracy" (which has become simply too often just about money anymore). Justice.