Bangkok, Thailand – 9/20/2006; Washington, D.C. – 9/20/2017

Bangkok, Thailand – 9/20/2006; Washington, D.C. – 9/20/2017

It was early in the morning in Bangkok on September 20, 2006.  Thaksin Shinawatra, the billionaire telecom entrepreneur who had become Prime Minister of Thailand to order to increase his own wealth, had been deposed in a military coup only hours before.

The widespread speculation was that his base of loyalists – poor, rural, non-urban – would descend on the capital and riot in support of his return.  The fear in the lobby of the Hilton at 4 AM was palpable and Americans and Europeans were looking for a way out of the country.  I returned to my room on the 26th floor and rearranged the furniture in case I needed to quickly barricade myself inside.

Fast forward almost 11 years.  The Thaksin loyalists did not descend on the capital that day.  (Thaksin’s sister became Prime Minister, but has herself also been deposed in the wake of corruption allegations and has also landed in Singapore).

Meanwhile, in our own country, we have a President who has taken control of power in a democratic coup d’etat similar to the one where Thaksin gained control, and with similar objectives.  More importantly, he is relying on a similar base, one that at this point feels disaffected from the mainstream and is largely rural and small town angry men and women.  He is playing the same card that he played to seize the election, and he is hoping that this base will create such chaos in order to defend him and his empire when the military stages its counter revolution and restores the U.S. democracy as a law-based state.  A group of 50 KKK members rioting against the removal of Robert E. Lee statutes and screaming “Jews will not replace us” may cause great consternation and may be very visible in the modern media.  However, as with Thaksin, let’s hope that they will not be coming into the capital to defend the “emperor” when the process begins.

The best we can hope for right now is that this will end without incident just like September 20, 2006 ended in Bangkok. 

Image: Millenium Hilton Bangkok

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