Black deals II

It seems that if a diplomat is posted to Thailand, he or she is not inoculated against foot-in-mouth disease. This affliction is rife amongst the members of Thailand’s military dictatorship and it highly contagious.

The US ambassador appears to have caught it.

In a revealing story at the Bangkok Post, Ambassador Glyn Davies has decided to “shed light on US President Donald Trump’s invitation to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to visit Washington, saying people have a ‘misconception’ that Washington halted diplomatic relations with Bangkok following the coup.”

There’s no need to shed light on Trump’s invitation. He’s invited Prayuth and Philippines President Duterte, praising the latter’s murderous war on drugs. Everyone understands what Trump’s doing and that he feels better when cosied up with right-wing fascists. The only place he has made a claim for “democracy” is in rolling back Obama’s changes on Cuba.

And, Trump is demanding trade deals to even things up, so let death’s traders do their work.

Davies goes further, saying that he and presumably the administration in Washington have decided that the junta is civilianizing. As we said a very long time ago, that’s all the US wanted.

But to deny that “the US stance towards Thailand under a military government has changed recently, particularly after Mr Trump in April invited Gen Prayut to meet him at the White House” is a bit like the military dictatorship denying it uses torture. Both are fabrications and distort that thing known as truth.

Then Davies adds more on the military relationship with the junta, saying that “despite the past criticism of the military government, the relationship has continued as usual, citing the sale of military equipment to Thailand this year.”

Of course, the “as usual” bit is a gross exaggeration. But he’s been told that Trump wants to get back in Thailand, so Davies stuffs and garnishes his exaggerations: “Our military ties have been strong. We have sold almost US$1 billion (about 34 billion baht) worth of arms to Thailand just over the last ten years…”.

Ten years means since 2007. He then says the “Thai government bought Black Hawk and Lakota helicopters from the US after the coup.”

We are not sure this is accurate. We recall orders in 2009 and 2011, and deliveries in 2013 and then in August 2014. We are not sure that is a purchase of Black Hawks after the coup. We think the Lakota sale goes back to 2013, with deliveries after the coup. Readers can look up these and more at the Defense Security Cooperation Agency.

His claim that in “2017 alone, US$261 million worth of military deals are in the works…” is probably accurate, although “in the works” is elastic.

We are pleased that Davies clarified that the reduced cooperation and assistance after the military coup was just something to do with law and that it was a minor impediment.

Now he’s really sounding like the military dictatorship, saying: “Our laws state that when a civilian-elected government is overturned by a military coup, certain aid must stop…”. But that’s trifling says the ambassador: “a few million dollars of aid could not be compared with the kind of cooperation that has continued between the countries.” Yahoo! That law is nothing and we deal with dictators.

We all knew that, it’s in the DNA of the relationship between Thailand and the USA.

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