Saturday, May 2, 2009

Rethinking Strategy

I've never really been a student of wars, civil wars, peace outcomes and such, however I was listening to a radio conversation about the Sri Lankan situation where the concepts of just war, premature peace, and lasting peace were considered.

The contention is that peace is more lasting if one side has an overwhelming victory, and civil wars that settle through compromise have a greater chance of re-erupting (30% from memory, compared to 12% for the wars resolved with an overwhelming victory to one side)

That got me thinking to the Thailand political situation, and made me ponder the following questions:

- Is there a chance that a smoothing of tensions now would be a premature peace?

I suppose it would depend on what form the smoothing (compromise) took - if it was a mere settlement with Thaksin, then it is fairly obvious the conflict would inevitably return as the underlying inequalities would remain.

- Is either side capable of an overwhelming victory?

I think this time the old guard cannot win unless they go the Burma/Nth Korea route, in which case there would be NO real winner

Without Thaksin as their leader, the reds (presumably the masses) have a just cause, and if Thailand wants to remain part of a globalized world, then it is clear they are the only side that is capable of ultimate victory.

- Who is reading this long game correctly?

Abhisit and the Democrats seem to be throwing olive branches on aspects of political reform, but at the same time are imposing more draconian measures on dissent.
To me it looks like they are still trying to win the war using the old methods that have been succesful in previous battles, just refined a little for the current times - IMO, those methods will no longer work unless the country has very large resources that the rest of the world wants, a very large population (closer to billions than tens of millions) or nuclear weapons.

On the other side there are conflicting signals:

Thaksin (whether of his own volition or that of his 'paid advisers' :) lately is distancing himself from the role of leader of the revolution - he seems to be reading the long game, and obviously hopes to regain the spoils from the expected ultimate victory by the masses.

Then there is Jakrapob sniping away talking about revolution including possible new strategies using violence & weapons....he too seems to be reading the long game, and seems set on trying to forge a name for himself - I still am having trouble foretelling how he will go down in history: It could be as a great freedom fighter, a paid lackey of a master manipulator, or even a well intentioned fool - only time will tell!

I think the question of premature peace is an important one in the Thailand political situation, and hope my shallow thoughts here can give the deeper thinkers something to ponder.
Sorry, no deep analysis from me as that's somehing I am not capable of - too intellectually lazy, and am in awe of my fellow bloggers on the Thai situation (the only thing we have in common is that we blog, and the fact that they are capable of analysis shows the real difference between an 'opinionated nobody' and a good blogger or an academic)