This article was written by a Westerner who lives in Thailand and has intimate and extensive knowledge of the country. He has asked to remain anonymous.
The Muslim Threat in Thailand
Thailand’s losses in its war with Islamofascism are causing massive suffering. The puzzle is why the Thais tolerate this heartbreaking tragedy, instead of putting an end to it.
What follows is an attempt to clarify the nature of the problem, the Thai responses to it, and the prospects for the future.
I. The Suffering
First we need to grasp the scale of Thailand’s agony. Here are a few numbers collected from the CIA’s website, a Bangkok English-language wannabe newspaper, and an anti-Iraq-war website. Some of these data are certainly wrong, but not by much.
Date of US invasion of Iraq: 20 March 2003
Beginning of recent cycle of violence in southern Thailand: January 2004
Dead US military, due to combat, since Iraq invasion: 2,619.
Dead Thais, due to southern violence, since January 2004: 2,088
Note: Thai deaths may include terrorists killed by police and military units, but my sources are unclear on that question.
Recent trend in southern Thai violence, reported in The Nation (Bangkok “newspaper”): “… the number of deaths per month soared from 49.2 before the coup to 64.6 after the coup.” The military seized power in Bangkok on 19 September 2006. (Reference: Nation, 19 March 2007, page 1A.)
Population of USA: 298.4 million
Population of Thailand: 64.6 million
For every Thai, the USA has 4.5 people.
The US military adventure in Iraq has been going on for just about a year longer than the Muslim insurrection in the south of Thailand. But in the shorter history of the Thai violence, the total number of dead there is fairly close to the USA’s military combat losses in Iraq, and seems to be closing the gap.
Can we compare the effects of the Iraq and Thai insurgencies? Probably. The population disparity between the USA and Thailand means, in my opinion, that the impact on Thailand of a single death in the southern insurrection is almost five times as great as the impact on the USA of the death of a single US warrior in Iraq. If we multiply Thai deaths by 4.5 in order to show what is happening to Thailand, we can see how the suffering of the two nations actually compares:
Adjusting for population size allows us to get some insight into the true level of Thailand’s misery.
Now consider the duration of each conflict, remembering that the USA has been in Iraq almost a year longer than the violence in Thailand has persisted:
USA, actual deaths per month, four years: 55 Thailand, adjusted deaths per month, 37 months: 253
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II. Contrast Provides Perspective
Thailand is bleeding at a pitiable rate. Islam is literally savaging the nation. Yet the Thai response to the systematic murder is a bizarre calm — a passivity that is much easier to see if it is contrasted with how another nation would cope with the same problem.
Consider these facts:
|1.||Iraq is on the other side of the earth from the USA.|
|2.||Thailand’s increasingly bloody conflict with Muslims is taking place entirely within the borders of the country.|
|3.||In Iraq, many Muslims are fighting alongside the USA, trying to establish a decent government. The USA is clearly not at war with Islam.|
|4.||Islam is at war with Thailand. In Thailand, the only peaceful Muslims are the tiny minorities that live in the midst of overwhelmingly Buddhist populations. That superficial tranquillity is imposed on Muslims in, say, Bangkok by sheer numbers of non-Muslims, not by Muslim sentiment and the teachings of the Koran and the Hadith. In the south, virtually everyone opposes the police, the military and all attempts to safeguard the small Buddhist minority. It appears that Muslim death squads are now attacking schools in an attempt to infuriate the locals, who are told (and believe) that the people killing their children are soldiers and policemen.|
What do you suppose the reaction of the US government and population would be if the Thai insurrection were raging in parts of Texas, Arkansas and Oklahoma? What would happen, and why?
If you were born and reared in the USA, you are qualified to answer that question. If you are a Thai, you are not qualified.
I insist that the US response to the nightmare scenario presented above would be immediate and definitive.
In Thailand, however, the insurgency is being permitted to win.
III. The Failures
The Thais literally do not know what to do. Some bleat about irrelevant economic factors; some complain about injustice, shoddy public administration, incompetent civil servants and bad policing, all of which exist everywhere in Thailand; others ruminate on cultural isolation and “second-class citizenship.” The religious character of the war remains unacknowledged, for Thais consider all religions “peaceful” and “good.”
Sometimes Thais insist that a few hotheads in the south have been indoctrinated with fake Korans and other hoax texts. The solution was obvious: once every Muslim in the south has the real Koran, the evil teachings will be exposed and peace will prevail. This nonsense springs from Thai ignorance of the Koran. That document contains all the incitements to mass murder needed to inspire fanaticism.
Former — now deposed — prime minister Thaksin was accused of trying to deal too harshly with the insurgents; true, some of his policies did upset them and their allies. In fact he tried just about everything, beginning with his instinctive attempt to buy them off. Thaksin was, after all, a typical Thai politician, which means he knows everybody can be bought. So he promised the south populace handouts, a tactic that had bought him millions of votes in the rural north and northeast of the country. When the Muslims ignored his bribe, he was utterly baffled.
Thaksin’s gentle measures included sending an astronomical number of origami birds to the south, dropping them from airplanes. No, really. He also excused the slaughter of the insurgents’ sympathisers, and approved a failed program of assassinations that may or may not have survived his time in office. Nothing worked.
The current government removed Thaksin and initiated its southern policy by apologising to the people in the south — well, just to the Muslims, but not to the Buddhist minority, whose safety the government had not been able to and still can not ensure. That demonstration of weakness produced knowing smiles in the Muslim community. Then violence rose sharply. Islamists, smiling or not, do not fear apologies and do not respect weakness.
(For details on the insurgency and the Thai political/military situation, see the excellent post at the Counterterrorism Blog)
So the Thai government is stymied. While some of the military and police are achieving limited success rounding up suspects and locating a few weapons caches, overall the situation is deteriorating.
IV. The “Reasons”
The proximate causes for this catastrophic failure to deal with Islamofascism are visible. They include:
|1.||Militant ignorance. Thais literally do not want to know what Islam is.|
|2.||Denial. If they are confronted with the text of the Koran and the teachings of Islam, Thais refuse to believe that any major religion could be so intolerant and bloody. Anyone who provides the facts is branded a “Muslim-hater.”|
|3.||Fear. Effective military measures will anger the southern Muslims, Thais claim, and only make things worse.|
|4.||Resort to magic. Thaksin’s voodoo-like origami and the faith that bureaucratic reorganization of the Bangkok regime will cool Muslim tempers are manifestations of an irrational mindset.|
V. Examples of Thai Self-Deception and Incompetence
|1.||On page 4A of the same issue of the “newspaper” I quoted above, we find this fascinating item:
Malaysia to hang terrorists
Malaysia has introduced a new tough anti-terror law… mandatory death penalty… those convicted… of giving financial aid to… terrorists, would meet the same fate (hanging)… If there is no death (caused by terrorists), the convicted persons would be liable to (sic) a jail sentence of between seven and thirty years… Malaysia is currently holding over 100 people in detention under the (security law), more than 80 of whom are described as suspected Islamic militants. (Agence France-Presse)
This does not square with the officially-released statement of the Malaysian foreign minister that all Muslim nations should consider sending arms and other aid to Hezbollah, assisting that organization materially in its effort to exterminate Israel and the Jews. That Malaysian statement was strictly censored from the Thai news media (at the time, Thaksin was still in power). Thais were not allowed to learn just how bloodthirsty and hostile their southern neighbour is. Now we have Malaysian claims of total opposition to Islamic terrorism.
Censorship fosters ignorance, and that in turn makes people gullible. Even though I live in Thailand, I was aware of the ominous news from Malaysia (the Thai government was unable to block all the news websites that carried the report), so I don’t believe this recent story in the local “paper.”
Who is lying: the Malaysians? After all, they are telling the world that some folks, who may just be political opponents of the current regime, are in prison because they are Islamofascist terrorists. Is that claim true? (Hah!) Or is the Thai government misrepresenting yet again the nature of the government of overwhelmingly Muslim Malaysia? Did the generals in Bangkok plant a fake article in the press? Or how about the media giant Agence France-Presse? Can that outfit be trusted? Was it even involved at all?
I don’t know. I can only provide some guesses and ask a question.
In my opinion, Malaysia is certainly deceitful, and Thailand is willing to enable that malicious policy. Who benefits?
|2.||On 20 March 2007, another English-language would-be newspaper, The Bangkok Post, published an article (page 2, section 1) summarised here:
New Islamic bill ready for cabinet
A new bill aimed at restructuring Islamic organisations… has been drafted… “We believe that when the draft bill becomes law, it will not only help douse the flames of the southern violence but also make Islamic organizations… more united,” said Mr. Nideh Waba (advisor to the prime minister) “… and chairman of the private religious schools association in the three border provinces… “
(Thai officials) “are convinced that elected Islamic leaders had failed in their duty to create a better understanding about religious principles… and spread the true teachings of Islam… “ (A government spokesman) “said the present batch of Islamic leaders were neither united nor cooperative, and that the Islamic provincial committees have never had any clear policy directions from them for the South.”
Words fail me. The breathtaking stupidity revealed in this straight-faced news item is hard to characterise; my thesaurus is not up to the challenge.
The meddlesome, bureaucratic Thai attitude toward religious congregations is not merely irrational — it approaches outright lunacy. First Thais fail to comprehend Islam, and then they propose to deal with a vicious Islamist insurrection as if it were a question of how to bring tax legislation up to date.
Would the US Congress draft legislation called “Roman Catholic Organizational Restructuring Act of 2007”? Imagine, if you can, a headline in a US paper that reads, “President to sign Presbyterian bill today,” or “Congressional committee told Orthodox rabbis are uncooperative, new legislation likely.”
Why is the “unity” of any religious community a proper matter of concern to the Thai government?
Why should pastors, rabbis, priests, monks or imams be scolded for not being “cooperative” with the government? The absurdities multiply every time I re-read this news item.
I have often said that Thais, like most people in the so-called “developing” nations, do not believe in freedom of speech or in freedom of the press. Now I must add that Thais do not understand or believe in the value of freedom of religion. Their claims to the contrary, they do not share the evolved Western conceptions of these three freedoms. Confusion and ignorance — and a failure to recognise that both are present — characterise the Thai view of freedom.
Muslims, however, are very clear on freedom.
VI. The Puzzle
Unpleasant reality seems not to impress the Thais, who cherish a short-term value system and a crippling desire to avoid conflict. No one admits that Islam is invading Thailand. Yet if the present ineffectual policies remain in effect, the flight of Buddhists from the south will grow, and the border of Thailand will be redrawn. The insurgents will eventually deprive Thailand of at least three of its provinces.
Thais cannot believe that will happen, nor can they face the fact that their implacable enemy is a death cult that will never tolerate Buddhism. Simply being a Buddhist is a capital offence, according to the Koran. Thailand has yet to learn this, let alone believe it and take it into account.
Even though I can describe these irrational responses to the horror in the south, I admit I cannot explain why the Thais prefer them over common sense.
I can only provide this absurdly inadequate explanation: there is something in Thai culture, some pernicious maladaptation, that shrinks from reporting, facing or coping with bad news. Call it denial, call it a hatred of confrontation and conflict, call it the Thai misunderstanding of the Buddhist scriptures (the local version of Buddhism is profoundly infused with Hinduism, superstition and animism) — whatever you call it, I call it insanity.
Ultimately, I can not answer the question, “What in the world is WRONG with these people?” It seems to me that whatever the flaw, it may be fatal.
VII. The Future
All will not be well when the rebellious southern provinces are torn away. For many years, Muslim men have been literally colonising the rural regions of the country north and northeast of Bangkok, taking advantage of poverty. They collect desperately poor multiple Thai “wives” (polygyny is not legally sanctioned but widely practiced) and establish mosques and Islamic schools for the resulting swarms of Muslim children. As we see in Europe, the ultimate Islamofascist weapon is demographic. The seeds of tomorrow’s insurgencies are being planted.
Islam takes the long view. Recall that Osama bin Laden is still upset by “the tragedy of Andalusia,” the expulsion of the Moors from the Iberian peninsula five hundred years ago. He remains infuriated by the crusades. If it takes centuries, Islam intends to consume Thailand, the soft target inhabited by people whose religion qualifies them for decapitation.
Of course the Thais could easily prevent that tragedy. Islamic conquest is nowhere inevitable; it can succeed only when and where it is permitted to. Whatever happens, I believe Thailand’s fate will provide a lesson for the West.