The problem with a political bombshell like the coup in Thailand is that a pundit never knows where to start

Paul Bograd

Posted on September 25, 2006

I temporarily cede my authority to pontificate (a little white lie)

You know the problem with a political bombshell like the coup in Thailand is that a pundit never knows where to start. I mean the possibilities for pontification, punditry and pomposity are endless. Democracy, Freedom, Censorship, Militarism, Monarchy, Stability, Economics… Ahhh!!! Enough already. I temporarily cede my authority to pontificate. The concepts are so big; too big to contemplate. Require too much thinking! Too much explaining; Too much careful language so that the new Thai authorities don’t ban the website. So I won’t even try right now.

So let me share just a few short observations:

This Was A REALLY, REALLY Well Managed Coup.

From the time of the first military movements, to the scheduled control of mass media, and even the next 36 hours of allowing CNN and BBC back on the cable systems but censoring out just those parts of the reports on Thailand that were critical. Very, very efficient. Troops were assigned, motivated, and organized. The key bureaucracies had seamless functional transitions. Plans and information about key governmental functions like schools, banking, transportation and even prisons, were clearly and efficiently communicated. Even the national budget was certified within 36 hours.

And the credibility of those in charge was also made very clear. Many of the transitional public bureaucratic leaders had Royal titles attached to their names.

Authority and zero tolerance for opposition to the coup was made clear at the same time that troops were literally given orders to “keep smiling.”

I was also struck by an anecdotal comparison between the September 19th coup in Thailand and the July 27, 2003 coup in the Philippines. In Thailand, troops and armor immediately secured key governmental buildings, the Royal Palace, the airport, railway station, key intersections and mass media, as well as Thaksin’s home and offices and the headquarters of his political party.

In the July 27 Philippine coup, rebels secured a four-star serviced apartment hotel and the Glorietta 4 entrance to one of Manila’s upscale shopping malls… That tells you something.

Even In The Age Of Internet, SMS And Global Communications, Local Broadcast TV And Radio Still Is King.

As much as I preach to my clients about the equalizing power of non-traditional and global communications, in societies like Thailand the traditional broadcast media still are the fundamental short-term means of communications and legitimacy. For online and SMS types of communications to be alternatives to politically controlled means of communications, the mass population has to want to make considerable efforts to use them.

Hypocrisy is a global ailment.

I used to always have a chuckle to myself when Chinese and Middle Eastern political leaders would assail the United States for “Hypocritical” and “Arrogant” foreign policies, as if hypocrisy and arrogance were capital offenses. Yes, “hypocrisy and arrogance” are required subjects in most American school curriculums, but so what? Accusing politicians of “hypocrisy and arrogance” is like accusing the French of being “phobic” about body deodorants. Yea, you don’t like it. And you avoid sharing an elevator with them in the summer, but it is who they are, so get over it and enjoy the company.

But the Coup in Thailand really globalized hypocrisy. Philippine President Gloria Arroyo and Russian President Vladimir Putin lecturing the Thais about democracy and demanding a restoration of same! Now that’s some real hypocrisy. Take a hypocritical lesson from that George W.

So there are a few observations. More monumental treatises on the meaning for global democracy and class status can wait for a more motivated time… unless you want to read between the lines.

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