Friday, January 29, 2010

Questions on Tactics & Civil War

I'm pondering the tactics of each side in the ongoing battle for political control of Thailand.

In the one corner we have Yellow (plus some Blue & Green available for assitance as and when required)
To me, the tactics of the Prem led royalist elite side are fairly predictable - now that they have engineered their team into power they will continue to use the military & judiciary tools at their disposal, combined with royalist symbolism to maintain control.
They will keep trying to paint the reds as anti-monarchy, anti-stabilty, anti-business, anti-nation, unthai etc, and have been laying the groundwork for (and acceptance of) a crushing of the reds should they attempt to make the final push that they keep threatening.
Prem's reference to Senator Chimsak Pinthong's 'important' 'must read' article make things very clear that the old guard are preparing to resort to the same old tricks one again.
(thanks to New Mandala, Political Prisoners Thailand, Bangkok Pundit and others for highlighting that significant development)

The PAD/NPP can be seen a a subset of this side, however rather than being about seeking or maintaining power and control for themselves, their main aim seems to basically be about bringing Thaksin down, now preventing any Thaksin aligned forces from getting into power (and if a Thaksin group ever did get back into power they would revert to the old undermining mode).
If the yellow side is ultimately victorious, expect the PAD/NPP to push for more specific, perhaps moralistic type goals, and its likely they may one day even end up an opposition force to the Democrat Party.

In the other corner we have Red.
The tactics on this side of the battle are much harder for me to read. This side is mainly comprised of Thaksin loyalists, but it also includes those who see Thaksin as the lesser of two evils.
At first glance one would think this side can just sit back and wait for the next election as it is unlikely that their electoral majority has diminished by much, if at all since the last election.
Apart from Abhisit & Korn, the current coalition government is the usual mix of ugly, corrupt and incompetent. One would think the corruption scandals will keep coming, and with the likes of Kasit as Foreign Minister, and Pornthiva as Commerce Minister, there are sure to be more embarrassments.
So one possible course of action for the reds is to just sit back, highlight the mistakes & problems of the coalition government and watch it eventually collapse.
But what then do we make of the regular calls for the final battle by the likes of Jatuporn?
Why the rush?
Is it only because the Shin asset seizure case is looming and Thaksin loyalists are in control of, and are the great majority of the protagonists, on the red side of the fence, or are there other reasons why the reds cannot sit back and wait for elections?

Rather than an inevitable collapse, is the current government consolidating power in a way that will make it difficult for the red side to gain power? (My guess is NO, and judging by his performance so far, the longer Abhisit stays in power the more ordinary Thai's will come to despise him)

By making a final push, would the red leaders be falling into Prem/Chimsak's trap, or is it possible they have some other plan to overcome it?

Prem has proven to be a good tactician over the years (IMO), but has he overstepped the mark and made it more difficult for his successor?
( like what some have argued one other highly influental and aging person on the Thai scene has done?)
The reds may not have completely discredited Surayud, but they certainly have taken the shine off him as Prem's successor, and their tactic of highlighting the double standards is a good one that hopefully they will continue even if Thaksin aligned forces regain power.

Has Thaksin's leadership role in the reds been maintained, or is there a chance that others can step up and inspire the Thaksin loyalist rump that this fight should be about much more than getting Thaksin back to power (or getting his money back)?

It's obvious that whoever controls the guns, controls Thailand
Thaksin, Samak and Somchai could not get the army under government control. So far, Abhisit has not had to face such problems, and despite looking like being in considerable trouble during the April 2009 riots, he came through that with flying colours (no doubt with a little help from those who know who owns the horses, and who are just jockeys)
Have things changed since then? Just how split is the military, and what can be made of the recent (unsubstantiated?) grenade attack at army headquarters?

Sorry, lots of questions - does anyone have the answers????

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