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Wednesday, May 19

Finally, a glimmer of truth about Thailand mess. Implications for Pakistan and Mexico -- and Iran. CIA, please take notes.

UPDATE
Thai army storms Red Shirt Bangkok camp -3:22 AM Reuters report.
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Here's an entry from the Reuters live blogging page, datelined 3:45 AM Bangkok time, by Randall Maxwell (emphasis mine):
I worked for a well known news organization for years. I have owned property in Bangkok for 20 years. Let's get some facts out. The Military is in BUSINESS. They own banks, rubber plantations, rice plantations, hotels etc. They are partners with the business elite.

Unlike the USA military, the Thai military is not 100% taxpayer funded. It partially funds itself. It has been a force in Thailand for over 6,000 years. In the past, efforts by Thailand's military to significantly expand its business ventures have met stiff resistance, especially from [former] Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

Thaksin then attempted to fragment the military and started to woo factions of the Military over to himself. He was trying to create a faction of the military 100% loyal to HIM PERSONALLY. The Generals decided to COUP his ass for stopping their business expansions and trying to divide the Military.

Thaksin wooed the rural poor knowing full well it would cement his power due to sheer numbers. Does he care about the Red Shirts? Not a chance. He's funding this protest in order to hopefully create a government more sympathetic to HIM. He wants the $1.4 BILLION he stole while in power released.

The government offered elections in November of this year!!! [1] Thaksin does NOT want that. It is not soon enough. He needs a new election before the Military Leader shake-up in September. As is the case, the wealthy Generals rise to the top and cement partnerships with the business elite running Thailand now. Thaksin will have no chance after September. The military sees no advantage in a Thaksin Red Shirt regime. It is bad for their businesses. In this case, democracy has nothing to do with this protest. This is a power play at the highest level with the "red shirts" as pawns.
by Randall Maxwell at 5/19/2010 3:44:35 AM 11:44 PM
I have so much to say about the news that Thailand's military partially funds itself that I don't know where to begin. Maybe with my March 1, 2005 post titled, Paw, a Revenuer's at the door. "Quick Abdullah, put on your tribal headdress!", in which I did much ranting and explaining about the measly tax base in a lot of 'developing' countries, and the implications.

Or maybe I should start by digging up some of my old posts on Mexico, in which I ranted about President Vicente Fox's persistent failure to collect taxes from the elite that put him in power. That was a point Andrés Manuel López Obrador -- the man who narrowly lost to Felipe Calderón in Mexico's last presidential election -- harped on.

When President George Bush advised President Fox that he should really think about raising taxes just a tad, López Obrador said it wasn't necessary to raise taxes: just collect taxes from the rich. For that, Washington labeled López Obrador a deranged left-wing radical.

Then perhaps I should find a recent comment from one of my readers discussing the fact that Pakistan's military owns many of Pakistan's businesses. I think that would also be true for the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) since Mahmoud Ahmadinejad came to power.

So the question is how much the tax base in those countries supports the militaries; if the answer is "Not so much," there's no mystery about why those militaries are so terribly corrupt and why they muscle into the nation's business sector.

1) Pundita note: the Red Shirts waffled about the offer, then made at least one unreasonable counter-demand, causing the government to rescind the offer.

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