Talking About Thaksin

Elite-led coups overthrowing the choice of the people don't end well.

When Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, Saul Alinsky's most fervent disciples, tried to create chaos by overloading the system so that American voters would elect someone strong to seize power and restore order, they forgot that nobody would believe that Hillary was strong enough or capable enough to do that.

Someone who believed in transparent government leaked a Colin Powell email which pointed out that "Hillary Clinton 'screws up' everything she touches thanks to overwhelming personal hubris."  Other unkind persons pointed out that no place on Earth had been improved by all the taxpayer-funded frequent flier miles she racked up as Secretary of State.

In response to President Trump's business reputation for getting things done, the Left has tried to make the United States "ungovernable."  They seem to feel that if they create enough chaos, they can overwhelm the forces of law and order, particularly in liberal states where the cops tend to take the rioters' side against Mr. Trump's supporters.

There's a developing consensus in publications across the world that Brexit, Mr. Trump's rise, and the revolt against both French establishment political parties are the result of the political elites having lost touch with common voters.  They're so caught up in their one-world vision that they regard those of us who value our natal nations as deplorable hicks, either not realizing that we think they're traitors or (more likely) not caring at all what we think.

The Wall Street Journal wrote:

A recent survey on European attitudes found that while 65% of the European Union's population viewed their economic prospects with confidence, 53% saw globalization as a threat to their country's identity. Antipathy to the free movement of labor was a major, if not decisive, factor in Britain's decision to leave the EU.

According to a recent survey of Americans ... 68% of the white working class think that the U.S. is in danger of losing its culture and identity and that the American way of life needs to be protected from foreign influences. Sixty-two percent believe that newcomers from other countries threaten American culture. Forty-eight percent say that they often feel like strangers in their own country.

Our elites are making alliances with government employees, leakers, and many other groups who have their hands on the taxpayers' wallet in order to keep Mr. Trump from draining their highly profitable swamp.

Thanks to the wisdom of our founders and the inherent strengths of traditional American culture, we have never been in this position as a nation before.  In rebelling against the voters, our elites seem to have no understanding of the unpleasant backlash they're gambling with by trying to short-circuit the long, drawn-out process our Founders gave us for getting rid of a President.

As we see it, they're so eager to destroy Mr. Trump that they forget that he won the election precisely because so many voters regarded the prospect of another 4 years of Mr. Obama's policies with horror.  While it is possible that the anti-Trump forces could destroy him, if they do that without first convincing the vehement pro-Trump crowd that he's failed, they risk splintering the nation even further.  The Economist documented the perils of any sort of semi-legal coup against Mr. Trump:

Though pro-Trump sentiment is softening, the proportion of the country that is implacably opposed to him still falls some way short of a majority. A revealing poll taken in mid-May by YouGov—the CBS News 2017 Nation Tracker—found that 40% of Americans are convinced opponents of Mr Trump, while 19% of respondents are unwavering supporters and 22% will continue to back him if he delivers what they want. The final 19% would reconsider their dislike of Mr Trump if he "does a good job". The poll contains a further ominous note: when the president is criticised, 79% of his supporters also hear an attack on "people like me".

Being "citizens of the world," they ought to know about a disastrous international example with stunning similarities.  Let's see what can be learned from what happened when the military in Thailand deposed an elected official who had wide popular support but who represented a clear and present danger to the elites.  They didn't take the time to convince his supporters that he had to go or that they weren't targeting them, so their coup hasn't worked out the way they thought it would.

Thaksin Shinawatra - Entrepreneur Turned Politician

Wikipedia summed up Mr. Shinawatra's career quite neatly:

The former police officer founded the mobile phone operator Advanced Info Service and the IT and telecommunications conglomerate Shin Corporation in 1987, that made him one of the richest people in Thailand.  He joined politics in 1994, founded the Thai Rak Thai Party (TRT) in 1998 and, after a landslide electoral victory, became prime minister in 2001.

Shades of the Donald!  After becoming "one of the richest people in Thailand," he decided to go into politics as the tribune of the people and as a traitor to his class.  He served as the 23rd Prime Minister of Thailand from February, 2001 until September 19, 2006 when he was deposed in a military coup and forced into foreign exile.

He remained popular, however, because the voters realized that the coup leaders had no intention of benefitting them in any way.  His younger sister Yingluck Shinawatra was elected Prime Minister in 2011, the next time people were given a chance to vote.

The former ruling elites felt so threatened by the ongoing voters' revolt that on May 22, 2014, the Wall Street Journal described another military coup:

Thailand's military forcefully removed the nation's elected government two days after declaring martial law, posing new risks to a U.S. ally that is rapidly losing appeal to the investors and tourists who have fueled its economic growth.

Army leader Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha made formal his power grab Thursday, taking over the duties of prime minister after failing to broker an end to a seven-month feud pitting the government against protesters who sought to replace it with a royally appointed administration.

On Jan 29, 2015, the Economist summed up the situation:

LESS than two years ago Thaksin Shinawatra, a former prime minister of Thailand and something of an establishment outsider, appeared to be winning his bitter battle against the traditional elites in Bangkok, the capital. They, led by the army, had toppled Mr Thaksin in a coup in 2006. But Pheu Thai, the party he directs from self-imposed exile in Dubai, rocketed back to power in 2011 with his sister, Yingluck, at the helm. And in November 2013 Ms Yingluck's government promised a blanket amnesty wiping out a corruption charge preventing Mr Thaksin from returning.  [emphasis added]

The pledge proved a colossal mistake, for it galvanized Mr Thaksin's enemies. Last May Ms Yingluck was ousted by the constitutional court and, shortly after, the army seized power in another coup.

Be careful what you wish for, lest it come true

Thai elites had to push hard to regain control because Thai peasants have revered their monarchy for generations.  They saw Thaksin as carrying out the king's responsibilities by starting programs that helped rural peasants at the expense of city dwellers, just as Mr. Trump appealed to "flyover country" instead of to the coastal big-city elites.  Thailand has rocketed into the modern world from a very recent past of peasantry; however, as with nearly all second-world rapidly-developing countries, the gulf of wealth between the shimmering cities and the still-dirt-poor countryside is vast.

The rural voters, not without reason, believed that corrupt ruling elites had stolen resources which their beloved king wanted to use to take care of them.  When the military deposed the prime minister they'd elected and who had defended them against a "rigged system," they demanded that the king appoint a government to bring back their jobs, protect their culture, and give them what was rightfully theirs.

In this they echoed the traditional Chinese peasants' lament, "If only the emperor knew."  Villagers often noticed that local officials were corrupt and abusive, and hoped that the emperor who embodied national virtue would correct the situation.  Sometimes that happened, but when virtue was put off for too long, society collapsed, swept away the elites, and started over.

The attempt of common Thai voters to overthrow their elites through the ballot box has failed thanks to military intervention, but it cost the elites dearly.  Thailand hasn't returned to normal because the many Thaksin supporters understandably refuse to accept military rule as legitimate.  On May 22, 2017, the Wall Street Journal reported:

A bomb exploded at an army-run hospital in Bangkok on Monday, the third anniversary of a military coup, and authorities said more than 20 people were wounded. ...

Since the 2014 coup, at least six explosions have occurred in Bangkok.

Globalist elites aren't totally blind to discontent among the masses.  The ultra-globalist magazine Foreign Affairs said:

But for all of the [liberal world] order’s success, its institutions have become disconnected from publics in the very countries that created them. Since the early 1980s, the effects of a neoliberal economic agenda have eroded the social contract that had previously ensured crucial political support for the order. Many middle- and working-class voters in the United Kingdom, the United States, and elsewhere have come to believe-with a good deal of justification-that the system is rigged[emphasis added]

The Donald Versus the Swamp

The parallels with Thailand are interesting.  A political novice was elected to high office.  He was wealthy enough to be part of the elite, but his proposed programs such as denying federal tax deductions for state income tax and building the wall will help ordinary citizens and hurt high-income states where Democrats rule.

Our ruling elites have found their very existence threatened and are fighting back.  As Peggy Noonan put it, "... what’s pertinent to today's Washington is that this cadre of federal employees, accountable to no one, is actively working from within to thwart Donald Trump's agenda."

Our Washington crowd feels the same way the Thai elites felt and doesn't plan to accommodate voters' preferences any better.  The Wall Street Journal quoted a Beltway lobbyist, "I now am ready to believe that the partisanship is so unhinged that it's a threat to the Republic."

This Washington hysteria comes at a time of full employment, booming stocks, relative peace and technological marvels like an electronic robot named Alexa who fetches and plays for you songs of your choice. What's the fuss about?  ...  Donald Trump ...

The "threat" that has Washington quaking is the first serious effort in a long time to curb federal regulatory power, wasteful spending, and a propensity to run up mountainous budget deficits and debt. ...

The Washington community knows how to fight back when it feels threatened. Leakers are having a ball, even if it has taken a lot of journalistic imagination to turn the most notorious leaks into "scandals." Almost everyone in town has a stake in fending off the Trump threat: government workers and the businesses that serve them, public unions, lobbyists and their clients, owners of posh hotels and restaurants that cater to well-heeled visitors seeking government favors, journalists whose prestige derives from the power center they cover, academics who show politicians how to mismanage the economy, real-estate agents feeding on the boom-to name a few. It's a good living, and few take kindly to a brash outsider who proclaims it is his mission to drain the swamp[emphasis added]

Our establishment is fighting Mr. Trump with every ounce of ink at their command.  It's possible that they haven't realized that there is a way for him to trim the bureaucracy without violating civil service laws.  Foreign Affairs agrees with the Beltway lobbyist that the current "liberal world order" is in danger:

Without dramatic change to their messages and approach, established political parties will fade away altogether. An outsider has already captured the Republican Party; the Democrats are cornered on the coasts. In Europe, the British Labour Party is imploding and the traditionally dominant French parties are falling apart. To adapt, establishment parties must begin to frame their ideas differently. As the social psychologist Jonathan Haidt has argued, progressives must learn to speak of honor, loyalty, and order in addition to equality and rights.  [emphasis added]  We find it noteworthy that they don't mention "duty."  History shows that emphasizing rights without duty leads to social fragmentation driven by selfishness.

For the traditional parties to change that much would force thousands upon thousands who profit by feeding off taxpayers to change their ways.  Thai elites and government employees did not want to give up their comfortable lives; neither do any of the others anywhere in the world.  The Journal summed it up:

Mr. Trump is on the attack and Washington is fighting back. Is the Republic in danger? Another question is how much danger will it be in if Mr. Trump loses?

History shows what happened in Thailand when voters pushed back against rulers who had rigged the system against them.  Fortunately, our longstanding tradition of keeping the military out of politics means that it won't be as easy for our elites to launch a military coup.

The US military swears an oath to upload the Constitution, but as we've seen, the Constitution is subject to interpretation and we don't know how our generals see it.  We are not comforted by the fact that Obama heavily purged the ranks of our senior military officers and replaced them with people more in keeping with his political and social views.  That's one reason we were glad that Mr. Trump summoned a victory-minded retired general to run the defense department.

Trump supporters are generally well aware of the importance of knowing how the Constitution will be interpreted.  The Hillary campaign promised to legalize all the illegals within their first 100 days which was anathema to anyone who valued the American dream.  What's more, Hillary promised to appoint a supreme court justice who would undo both the Citizens United free-speech decision, and the Heller decision which stated that the Right to Keep and Bear Arms was an individual right.

Just one more leftist Hillary appointee to the Supreme Court would have made it OK to confiscate guns owned by people who were not members of the National Guard.  Instead, President Trump has appointed a justice who believes in the Second Amendment; this won the hearts of the pro-gun crowd, and he's spoken favorably about further protecting religious freedom.  Persuading all these people that it was correct to remove Mr. Trump from power would be difficult.

What's more, nobody knows how our "cold, dead fingers" Second Amendment fans would react if the elites were to stage a coup by short-circuiting the political process.  As a pro-gunner said a few months before the 2016 election,

Legal Gun Owners Have Over 200M Guns... And 12 TRILLION Rounds Of Ammo. Seriously People... If We Were A Problem, You'd Know It.

Will Offensicht is a staff writer for and an internationally published author by a different name.  Read other articles by Will Offensicht or other articles on Foreign Affairs.
Reader Comments

I am disappointed by this quote:

"...Legal Gun Owners Have Over 200M Guns... And 12 TRILLION Rounds Of Ammo. Seriously People... If We Were A Problem, You'd Know It..."

Mathematical illiteracy is one of our problems. Does anyone believe for each gun, there is 60,000 rounds of ammo? A false statement does not help the cause of people who believe in truth.

I am sure the true numbers would be highly impressive. For one thing, I am wondering whether the true number of guns in America might be much higher. My family has about 5 per person. But the ammo is somewhere around 100 rounds per gun, and that includes some bricks of .22 ammo which are simply a commodity.

July 24, 2017 9:36 AM

We were quoting someone else. I suspect it's closer to 1 trillion which would mean 6,000 rounds. It's clearly greater than a billion, which would be only 6 rounds per gun.

Either way, if gun w\owners were a problem, everyone would know it. observes that gun ownership is increasing rapidly, particularly among minorities and women. Yay!!

July 24, 2017 7:40 PM
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