And so what? The Thai military fist is indeed wrapped in a velvet glove. While Thailand remains under martial law, it is applied gently. The streets are not running with blood. Reds are not vanishing from the streets in a campaign of disappearances. There are no tanks on the street corners. There are no military massacres here. Ms. Mairs again quotes her CFR expert, who states that “Thai-style democracy … would not fit the definition of electoral democracy at all.”
Again, I ask: and so what? It may come as a stunning revelation for these alleged experts, none of whom live here, and fewer who are actually Thai, but Thai elections have repeatedly failed to seat governments that could rule with the consent of the governed. We make a fetish of elections in the West, and we wage an insufferable and hypocritical imperialism that insists that elections are the lone mechanism that can legitimize governments. Thailand is evidence that this is not true. Indeed, Thailand is proof that coups d'etat can be popular and legitimate in the only way that truly matters. In this case, the coup d'etat of May 2014 expressed the will of the people.
It is demagoguery to insist that legitimate governments can only hatch as the result of elections. The Red machine in Thailand demonstrated that money, in this case, Thaksin’s money, could usurp elections, and handily impose an elected dictatorship time and again. Everybody agrees that elections are preferable mechanisms for the orderly transition of power, but the fact is that they are just one means. There are many paths to "democracy," however you define it. When elections are systematically suborned and their results are manifestly undemocratic, only lunatics would insist upon them. The Thai people are not lunatics, and the military regime under General Prayuth enjoys more legitimacy and popular support than all of the divisive and doomed kleptocracies perpetrated by Thaksin Shinawatra and his cronies.The U.S. Government needs to keep its nose out of Thai affairs and let the Thais work things out in their own way.