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"Friendliest military coup ever": Thai coup leaders urge soldiers to smile
September 25, 2006 1:55 PM   Subscribe

Coup leaders urge Thai soldiers to smile Military coup leaders in Thailand — often called the "Land of Smiles" — apparently don't want to ruin that image. They've ordered soldiers to smile. Army radio broadcasts are reminding soldiers to be friendly and courteous, especially to children. Many Thais have described this as the friendliest coup ever seen in a land with a history of violent coups.
posted by dwarfplanet (45 comments total)

 
Maybe it's just the "friendliest" in that everyone is smiling, even as they shoot you.
posted by hermitosis at 2:06 PM on September 25, 2006


I wish I understood more about what's going on over there. Does anyone have links to good background?
posted by Malor at 2:09 PM on September 25, 2006


Friendly fascism is still fascism.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:11 PM on September 25, 2006


hermitosis writes "Maybe it's just the 'friendliest' in that everyone is smiling, even as they shoot you."

Have any shots been fired since the beginning of this coup?
posted by mr_roboto at 2:13 PM on September 25, 2006


Have any shots been fired since the beginning of this coup?

No.

I wish I understood more about what's going on over there. Does anyone have links to good background?

No better place to start than the 'pedia.
posted by loquax at 2:17 PM on September 25, 2006


I have no idea, I was just musing. The phrase "friendliest coup" is causing severe mental hiccups.
posted by hermitosis at 2:20 PM on September 25, 2006


I just remembered that the lady who runs The Underdogs, a (dying?) PC abandonware site, lives in Thailand, speaks the language, and has a blog. She's got a long writeup on what's going on there. She is extremely intelligent, and well worth reading.

Still not as much background as I'd like, but there's a lot of info here I didn't have before.
posted by Malor at 2:20 PM on September 25, 2006 [1 favorite]


were in ur capitol ______ your ______
VERB ENDING IN ING NOUN
posted by boo_radley at 2:21 PM on September 25, 2006


Military coup leaders in Thailand — often called the "Land of Smiles" — apparently don't want to ruin that image

...or use hyphenated clauses properly.

I parse because I love.

posted by poweredbybeard at 2:26 PM on September 25, 2006


We're in UR capitol smiling at all your dudes.
posted by delmoi at 2:31 PM on September 25, 2006 [3 favorites]


Intresting factoid: The general in charge of the Coup is a Muslim.
posted by delmoi at 2:32 PM on September 25, 2006


It was a bloodless coup. All stranglings.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:34 PM on September 25, 2006 [1 favorite]


I wish I understood more about what's going on over there. Does anyone have links to good background?


Here's a interesting message I stumbled across on Usenet.
posted by zorro astor at 2:36 PM on September 25, 2006


Wow, reading this article it sounds like she could be describing the U.S. Maybe not today but if things kept on going the way they're going, in like 10 years or so.
posted by delmoi at 2:37 PM on September 25, 2006


Remind me, when is overthrowing a democracy is good and when it is bad?

I guess this is the answer.
posted by bobbyelliott at 2:39 PM on September 25, 2006


Remind me, when is overthrowing a democracy is good and when it is bad?

When is 'democracy' axiomatically good? What good being able to vote when you don't have freedom of speech?

You're post reminds me of George Bush. Rambling on about "Freedom" and "Democracy" until they become synonyms for "good" and "nice" with no underlying meaning or substance.

Read this article on the situation and explain why what she's saying is wrong or why what's described doesn't justify overthrowing the government.

By your logic any government calling itself a "Democracy" is better then anything else no matter how cowed and manipulated the electorate is. By your logic, Iran is a bastion of wonderfulness.
posted by delmoi at 3:02 PM on September 25, 2006



And by fascism people mean a misused and abused term that formerly described a political philosophy characterised by extreme nationalism often based on ethnic identity and autocratic oppositionless rule but now refers to any government regardless of its ideology that we think may be 'bad'.

I miss when words had specific meanings.
posted by srboisvert at 3:04 PM on September 25, 2006


Would you rather live in Iran or Thailand? Afghanistan or China? Iraq or Jordan?
posted by delmoi at 3:08 PM on September 25, 2006


According to Orwell fascism means anything you don't like.
posted by delmoi at 3:09 PM on September 25, 2006


The Thai people want this though, so how's it a bad thing? The other thing that made me think it was a positive step was that the US condemned it.
posted by Liquidwolf at 3:18 PM on September 25, 2006


Overthrowing the current US "democracy" would be good.

The overthrowing of the functioning democracy we had prior to 2000 was bad.
posted by SBMike at 3:25 PM on September 25, 2006


It was a bloodless coup. All stranglings.

Damn you Astro Zombie, you always make me laugh at the most inappropriate things.
posted by quin at 3:42 PM on September 25, 2006


*reminds self to smile upon overthrowing government*
posted by languagehat at 3:55 PM on September 25, 2006


It was a bloodless coup. All stranglings.

I guess the meat's not kosher, then.
posted by sonofsamiam at 4:00 PM on September 25, 2006


*smile* Up against the wall you filthy running dog or I’ll grease the treads of my tank with your foul guts, please. *smile*
posted by Smedleyman at 4:08 PM on September 25, 2006


You know who else used to smile?
Oddjob!

posted by Smedleyman at 4:11 PM on September 25, 2006


Everybody's laughing
Yes everybody's laughing
They know that you and I are through
And everybody's laughing
I told the world you loved me
And bragged about it proudly
But since they know it's over
They're laughing at me loudly

posted by Smart Dalek at 4:33 PM on September 25, 2006


smile when you're crushing freedom
smile as you're rushing that bum
with a smile and a gun
thuggery's fun

if you smile while you're booting someone
smile so they'll laugh and run
maybe next day
they will see it your way

light up your face with gladness
as you disperse the feckless
scumbags who try
to make order die

that's the time
you must keep on marching
smile, 'cause the leader's watching
you'll find fascism is worthwhile
if you just smile

(apologies to charlie chaplin, john turner and geoffery parsons)
posted by pyramid termite at 4:43 PM on September 25, 2006 [1 favorite]


When is 'democracy' axiomatically good?

Exactly. We just received today some digital pics from a Thai friend. She has a one-year-old girl, so they're the usual baby photo stuff - holding onto mum's leg, some poses in a silly costume from a studio, driving around Bangkok with the child in a kiddie seat in the back of the car - except that in the last photo you can see a huge tank parked just outside the car window. She didn't mention the coup though, just 'Here's the latest photos.'
posted by carter at 5:02 PM on September 25, 2006


She didn't mention the coup though, just 'Here's the latest photos.'

Listen, don't mention the war. I mentioned it once, but I think I got away with it alright.
posted by The Tensor at 6:41 PM on September 25, 2006


The Thai people want this though, so how's it a bad thing?

Bangkokians -- the better-educated and middle-class Thais -- wanted it. But the majority of the country, the working class in the provinces, supported and still love Thaksin. The interesting conflict here is that these same people who voted for Thaksin (twice, both times to a landslide victory) also deeply love the king, who is clearly the man behind the coup.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 6:52 PM on September 25, 2006


And by fascism people mean a misused and abused term that formerly described a political philosophy characterised by extreme nationalism often based on ethnic identity and autocratic oppositionless rule but now refers to any government regardless of its ideology that we think may be 'bad'.

When the pandering to Islamic extremists stops, human rights violations and arrests of nonviolent protestors cease, when the tanks stop rolling through the streets, when a free press is allowed, and when voting will return, etc. I'll happily retract my comment.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:52 PM on September 25, 2006


I've been developing the thought lately that liberty is far more important than democracy. In the right conditions democracy is the surest path to liberty, but the two are not mutually exclusive. One can have a responsive, just, and humane unelected government that respects almost all the rights Americans have. I can assure you most Chinese I know don't feel the axe of government over their necks like Americans imagine. They freely speak politics with me... more often than not, they just don't care about politics.

With these kind of governments today there seems [disclaimer: I've only been in country for three months] an attitude of "don't tell us what to do and we won't tell you what to do" that cuts both ways. If most Thai's aren't too shaken up about it, the PM isn't even fighting it [he was going to step down]... then why should we get too worked up about it?


delmoi: Perhaps I read you wrong, but if not I'd invite you to read Homage to Catalonia or any number of his brilliant essays before blaming Orwell for the hijacking the word fascism. He was someone who dodged real bullets from real fascists in the pre-WW II battlefields of Spain when ideology still meant something.
posted by trinarian at 9:52 PM on September 25, 2006


mutually exclusive dependent. 1st paragraph.
posted by trinarian at 9:56 PM on September 25, 2006


I've been developing the thought lately that liberty is far more important than democracy.

Democracy is a shell -- a means to an end. Liberty is one such end, and if defined in such a way as to consider the liberty of each person as equal, a worthwhile end indeed.

Talk of "democratic" decisions automatically being good/moral decisions is nonsense. When a Spanish candidate promises his citizens that he will pull them out of Iraq and they elect him for it and he does so, that's terrible, cowardly (yet, shhhh, democratic). And as you point out, liberty can be achieved through non-democratic means. (though hmm... that's bestowing liberty, which is not quite the same thing, and of the same worth)

A democratic nation can decide to subjugate a portion of its own, curtain human rights in the most brutal fashion, or wage war on its neighbours for unethical reasons or no reason whatsoever and it could all be democratic.

I'm not sure why people haven't questioned this more, though the real puzzle for me is why the GOP would bother with this language at all, since the US has time and again destabilized uncooperative democracies in favour of cooperative despots. Kind of transparent, no?

Eh, but back to the matter at hand: Thailand. The change could be good for the people, sure. But does the method of change mean nothing to the stability of the country? How good is it if this is how the government gets replaced every couple of decades?
posted by dreamsign at 10:41 PM on September 25, 2006


Sorry, that was way too long.
posted by dreamsign at 10:41 PM on September 25, 2006


Intresting factoid: The general in charge of the Coup is a Muslim.

How so? From a former coworker that was born there, much of the country is muslim. I never asked how much of it was. However, I assumed a large number as after 9/11, he was afraid that people would be prejudiced against him because he was Thai, and therefore they would assume muslim.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 11:07 PM on September 25, 2006


he was afraid that people would be prejudiced against him because he was Thai, and therefore they would assume muslim.

That's an awfully strange idea, since Thailand is well-known as a Buddhist country, with an agitating Muslim population in the South. If I were to assume a Thai's religion (which I doubt I would do), I would assume Buddhist.

from the wiki:

According to the last census (2000) 94.6% of Thais are Buddhists of the Theravada tradition. Muslims are the second religious group in Thailand at 4.6%.

There are Buddhist monuments all over that country. Are you thinking, perhaps, of Malaysia?
posted by dreamsign at 11:23 PM on September 25, 2006


Blazecock: I see your point, but I'll also say that I don't think that all dictatorships are fascist, i.e.

A system of government marked by centralization of authority under a dictator, stringent socioeconomic controls, suppression of the opposition through terror and censorship, and typically a policy of belligerent nationalism and racism. -- American Heritage dictionary

I think this is one of those cases where the threat of illiberal democracy and clean authoritarianism is possibly tilting in favor of the latter. The gravest concern that I have is that, as with the Philippines, this could become a trend. Interruptions in the rule of law, however they come about, are always stochastic events that make it much harder for a society to re-establish democratic institutions.

(This being a country that had an average of 36 months between coups for most of the last century. The bar is lowered.)

In the short run, though, the de facto government is, well, the de facto government. So it's not like there's some sort of false choice here between this and Jeffersonian democracy. There just isn't.

So I'm just hoping that this remains a reform government and follows through on its promises to reestablish constitutional popular rule.
posted by dhartung at 12:25 AM on September 26, 2006


bobbyelliott : "Remind me, when is overthrowing a democracy is good and when it is bad?"

When the government after the overthrow is better than the government before the overthrow. Seems pretty obvious.

delmoi : "According to Orwell fascism means anything you don't like."

The internet seems to agree. Who knew everyone was so versed in Orwell?

trinarian : "Perhaps I read you wrong, but if not I'd invite you to read Homage to Catalonia or any number of his brilliant essays before blaming Orwell for the hijacking the word fascism."

I don't think he was accusing Orwell of hijacking the word fascism, but quoting Orwell in accusing others of hijacking the word fascism.
posted by Bugbread at 2:25 AM on September 26, 2006


Note: The above response to bobbyelliot is a generality, not a description of Thailand's case, because bobbyelliot's question was a generality, not specifically about Thailand. I don't know enough about Thailand to know whether in this case overthrowing a democracy was good or bad.
posted by Bugbread at 2:39 AM on September 26, 2006


KAC: [rural workers...] also deeply love the king, who is clearly the man behind the coup.

What I've read elsewhere suggests that while the King probably did give his tacit/implicit approval to the coup, he is unlikely to have directed/ordered/coordinated it. A cryptic aside about how it'd be nice if the political turmoil ended seems to be about as direct as he'd get. (IANA expert on Thailand in any sense)
posted by Luddite at 3:46 AM on September 27, 2006


Read this article on the situation and explain why what she's saying is wrong or why what's described doesn't justify overthrowing the government.

Because the military/royalty have absolutely no right to overthrown any democracy - that's why. You can't be selective about this. There's hardly a democracy in the world (including the US) that you could not make a convincing case to overthrow. But any democracy is inherently preferable to any military dictatorship.
posted by bobbyelliott at 11:47 AM on September 27, 2006


But any democracy is inherently preferable to any military dictatorship.

I'd be curious if Iraqi's agree with that sentiment [seriously - i don't mean it as a snark]
posted by srboisvert at 5:03 PM on September 27, 2006


bobbyelliott : "But any democracy is inherently preferable to any military dictatorship."

How so? "Most", "Almost all", "Generally", etc., I can understand, but "any"? So if you have a democracy where the 51% majority forces the 49% minority into slavery, daily torture sessions, and the wearing of embarassing novelty t-shirts, and then the military steps in, emancipates the minority, outlaws torture, and burns the "My other clothing is a tuxedo" t-shirt factory, you would argue that the first government is preferable to the second?
posted by Bugbread at 5:54 PM on September 27, 2006


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