Thursday, June 30, 2011

How much weight should be given to diplomatic cables

In an eye-opening article, Andrew MacGregor Marshall says all that can’t be said about the Thai monarchy. However, most, if not all of the article and its companion series are based on the Wikileaks cables. As much as I enjoyed the summary of the thoughts of U.S. based diplomats on Thailand, the question I have is how much weight should I place on them? After all, they are just thoughts (or are they more than that)? U.S. foreign policy may be based on opinions on the ground but sometimes these can be wrong.

The following also caught my eye:

Thailand's crisis also involves a class conflict in the rigidly hierarchical society, with the rural and urban poor broadly backing Thaksin against an establishment unwilling to allow the "uneducated masses" to decide who runs the country.

Hmmm... who else might have thought the same way? From a previous post:

His father, John Adams, and most of the other Founders had feared that republicanism would degenerate into democracy: that government of the people would become government by the people. Nothing in history disposed them to look hopefully on such a development, for never in history had ordinary people run their own affairs without very quickly running them into the ground. The elder Adams linked arms after the Revolution with those who sought to curb the popular excesses of the revolutionary era; at Philadelphia in 1787 they wrote a constitution that took power from the states and conferred it on the central government, and in doing so diminished the influence of the people in politics generally. As vice president and then president, John Adams continued to work to keep power out of the hands of the unlettered and incompetent, and in the hands of those best suited by education and experience to exercise it responsibly.
-Preface to Andrew Jackson, His Life and Times, by H.W. Brands -
(Emphasis mine)

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