Jim Moore’s free world politics and policy carries a local account of the coup in Thailand:
I know that “coup d’etat” sounds dramatic and makes Thailand appear a banana republic (or, as my political scientist friend calls Thailand, a banana monarchy), but in fact Bangkok is a very firt-world city, and this coup seemingly a very white-collar maneuver. Sure, it’s no surprise that a lot of the politicians are corrupt, and that there’s dissent in the ranks, but the issues have been playing out more on the stock exchange and Op-Ed page than the streets — that the military has taken control seems a bizarre response to the situation. It would be as if Enron middle-management had staged a coup.
The wild card, of course, is the king. The general who’s taken over doesn’t really want to retain power for himself and has declared his allegience to the king; even the tanks circling Government House are wearing yellow ribbons, the symbol of the monarchy.
But, the king isn’t a substitute for a prime minister, and he isn’t a replacement for Thaksin. A few months ago, when the dubiously-called elections were found to be dubiously-monitored and Thaksin the dubious winner, some of the opposition asked the king to intervene and appoint a prime minister. The king went on national television and scolded them: this is a democracy, he said, and a democracy holds elections. (To that point, Thaksin has been legitimately elected twice by an overwhelming majority.)
It seems to me with this coup that the general is now forcing the king’s hand, making him intervene and perhaps appoint someone else. Or, declare his support for Thaksin, which may be in the best interest of democracy but does not seem to be in keeping with the king’s personal taste.
It’s a curious kind of coup that a) declares allegience to someone else; b) puts that someone else in an impossible position; c) justifies itself by saying the country is too divided under the current leader, and a coup is therefore required to restore harmony; d) apologizes to the citizens for the inconvenience.