Thursday, May 20, 2010

How can we predict political transformation

The previous day's post on the political crisis in Bangkok reminds me how little we can say on outcomes:

1. Why did some color revolution see little violence: e.g. the Rose Revolution or the Orange Revolution while others end more violently e.g. the Tulip Revolution or the Tiananmen Square protests? Is it that the opposition in some cases show cohesiveness and unity while in others there were internal opposition divisions?

2. The opposition divisions in the Thai political crisis were well documented: the more militant faction were more aggressive and advocated violence and use of armed resistance while the more moderate ones could not control these right wing extremists. How many extremists does it take to destabilize a political movement? Or the corrollary, how aggressive do the moderates have to be to restrain the extremists?

3. The Thai government has also labeled the extremists "terrorists". If it weren't for the U.S. global war terrorism this would not have been so. It's hard to say if they have made the situation worse but it remains to be seen what their next moves will be. Certainly, the U.S. goal of promoting democracy seems to contradict some aspects of its global war on terror. My sense is if democracy were a U.S. export, it would still sustain a deficit.

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