Military coup, Bangkok style!
The Bush Administration has billions for Lebanon, for Egypt, for the Palestinians, and for the UN...but has pulled the plug on helping Thailand's efforts to fight jihad in it's southern provinces.
The US State Department and Condi Rice just suspended American military aid to Thailand , including $16.3 million coming from a Pentagon program, launched this year, to train and equip foreign militaries in counter-terrorism operations.
The Thais, a long time US ally, have been battling Muslim jihad in the south of the country for over a year, and over 1,400 people have died. The official rationale for this insult to a long time friend of America was US `displeasure' at the recent coup.
This is patently ridiculous. The Thais have just appointed an interim Prime Minister and the leader of the bloodless coup who seized power with the backing of the royal family, Army chief General Sondhi Boonyaratglin has already pledged to hand over power to a civilian cabinet within two weeks and to hold a general election by October 2007. Patchara Kampitak, president of the Reporters’ Association of Thailand, said that journalists from several Thai media outlets visited General Sondhi today and received assurances "about freedom of the media". And General Sondhi told the Reuters today that the interim civilian Prime Minister will have a free hand in running the government after a new constitution comes into force on October 1.
"I can assure you it is impossible that we will control the government. We will be the government’s tool to keep peace," he said.
That doesn't appear to be good enough for the Bush Administration.Apparently only two-faced Muslim autocracies are good enough for the money of the American taxpayer.
Cutting off military aid to Thailand is a major coup for the jihadists. And even though the Bush Administration has pledged to renew the funds `after a democratically elected Thai government takes office' according to State Department spokesperson Sean McCormick, at the least it empowers the Muslim terrorists and needlessly insults a loyal ally in the war against jihad.
The new prime minister is somebody who has justified my wait and see attitude. He's General Surayud Chulanont, 62, a highly regarded retired officer. He's a nationally respected figure in Thailand,known for his effectiveness, honesty and incorruptibility. When he retirement in 2003, he was appointed to the Privy Council, the top advisory body to the king.
During his career he fought Thai communist insurgents and handled the sensitive situation along the embattled Cambodian border during the 1980s. He was regarded as close to the American military, which praised him throughout his career.
A devout Buddhist, Surayud spent time as a monk after leaving the army, and has often said he had no intention of entering the political fray.
Korn Chatikavanij, deputy general secretary of the Democrat Party, said earlier that Surayud was an "appropriate" choice. Although being a former general might give the outside world the impression the military was merely transferring power to one of its cronies, that is not true or relevant, he said.
"What is important is domestic reconciliation, and General Surayud is ideal for that." he told The Associated Press news agency.
The Thais were faced with a corrupt administration and a failure to deal effectively with a jihad directed against their country, and they took steps to deal with it.
Once again, more evidence that we're not serious about fighting this war yet.