Saturday, November 29, 2008

Forgotten War? Yes. Policy Change? No.

* photos copyright*
The view above Yala province courtesy of a helicopter flight with the 4th Army August 2008.

Most of what is in the International Crisis Group's (ICG) latest article about the insurgency in the southern border provinces is not really news.

ICG claims:

"Thais, numbed by the repeated atrocities and in any case unsympathetic towards the grievances of Malay Muslims in the south of Thailand, have lost interest."

And, in light if the chaos in Bangkok, it is obvious that Thais have lost interest.

What is more interesting is the idea of what they call a 'policy vacuum' in the South.

"It may seem unrealistic to argue that the Thai government should undertake a serious policy initiative on the south at a time when it is locked in deep political conflict in Bangkok. But unfortunately, waiting for an end to Bangkok's political crisis may mean waiting a very long time. The south cannot afford to wait."

This is utter nonsense. And uncharacteristic for an organization which I hold in high regard.

Since the 2006 coup d'etet, there has been very little in the way of concerted policy originating from Bangkok.

Surayud's government apologized, but failed to address long stranding grievances in the South.

Samak's government, besides being antagonistic and inept, did not have the time or inclination to do more than try to secure their own administration in the face of the growing challenge from the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD).

And, honestly, Samak was such a belligerent animal so far removed from concepts of peace and reconciliation that it should not simply be a surprise that policy did not change but is a thankful surprise that he did not declare all out war against the country's minority Malay Muslims.

And now Somchai's wounded and dying government has been 100% consumed with maintaining power and utterly unconcerned with policy, let alone the South.

Really, how can anyone really think that policy can emerge from a country that is now stumbling along without a functioning government?

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