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When Corrupt Demagogues Destroy Democracy

His quiet departure after a fresh election might indeed be best for Thailand. But for the present, and while he keeps everyone guessing, the country is on edge. There have been disquieting rumours of plots to overthrow or even assassinate the prime minister. In late August police arrested a junior army officer in a car packed with explosives, near Mr Thaksin’s home.

His critics accuse Mr Thaksin of staging the bomb plot in order to win sympathy from voters. They are also reporting rising unrest in the army over his attempts to secure promotion for his chums in the annual shuffle of military commanders. According to one popular theory, these moves are part of a power struggle between Mr Thaksin and a rival group led by Prem Tinsulanonda, a retired general who is King Bhumibol’s senior adviser. If true, the consequences could be nasty. ~The Economist

Little wonder, then, that some of the Thai military reacted as it did.  They had some reason to resent Thaksin abusing his position to make preferments for his friends in the military.  Given the man’s alleged corruption, this is not at all surprising, and makes him even more responsible for what has happened in Bangkok than I had thought.  Moreover, if this is the fruit of a rivalry between the PM and the king’s senior adviser, the coup almost certainly must have taken place with the king’s knowledge and consent.  Good for King Bhumibol.  Thaksin had become an embarrassment and a disgrace to his country, and he should have stepped down earlier this year when calls for his resignation began coming in.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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