Infiltrating Society: The Thai Military’s Internal Security Affairs

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John Berthelsen, Asia Sentinel,, 2020.

"It has long been axiomatic that Thailand's military has largely run the country between desultory bouts of democracy since 1932, when the first coup ended the reign of King Prajadhipok, writing the finish to nearly 800 years of absolute monarchy under the Siamese kings. But that conjures an image of the generals marching in periodically to run affairs until they withdraw to the barracks. That is a simplistic view of a country where the military for decades have provided the very endoskeleton on which government is overlaid, year in, year out, no matter what kind of government is in power. 

As Puangthong Pawakapan points out in this book, whether or not Thailand is under military rule, the bureaucracy of internal security is always present on a routine basis. 

Puangthong is a gutsy associate professor at Chulalongkorn University who in this slim volume has set out to detail just exactly how deeply the military is embedded in Thai society and government. As she says in her preface, she lived as a child near Bangkok's Ratchadamnoen Avenue, the center stage then and now for many of the significant events in modern Thai politics. Even before the generals would announce another of their 22 coups - 13 of them succssful - she knew they were coming because the phones would go dead and the area would be swarm with military trucks."

About the Publication

"Thai politics is driven by actors and actions of paradox such as anti-election movements for accountability or independent, partisan organizations. This lucidly written book uncovers the 'military-led civil affairs' that earn the armed forces the omnipotent role in Thai society. It enriches our understanding of the Thai military in both empirical and theoretical ways. Empirically, the book illuminates how the soldiers have been intensively involved in supposedly civic activities ranging from forest land management to poverty reduction. Such long-lasting and extensive involvement means the military could mobilize the organized mass of over 500,000 strong when necessary. Theoretically, readers will learn how an ideological discourse ('threats to national security') has been continuously redefined to serve the military’s evolving political and rent-seeking missions from the Cold War era to the twenty-first century. It also traces the persistence and mutation of this highly adaptable organization, the one that knows when to roar and when to camouflage. Still waters run deep; Thai military operations run deeper and wider."
Veerayooth Kanchoochat, Associate Professor of Political Economy, National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS), Tokyo  

“A truly monumental work about Thailand’s military from the 1960s until today, this solid study focuses upon the armed forces’ internal security role across Thai society, how the military has succeeded in legitimizing itself and boosting its power as a counterinsurgency force, guardian of monarchy and engine of development. The book also valuably looks at the military’s establishment of mass organizations beginning during the Cold War and mobilization of royalists since 2006. The book thus illustrates how the military has been able to enhance and sustain its overwhelming influence and is thus a valuable study for anyone wanting to understand key power-brokers in Thailand.”
Dr Paul Chambers, Center of ASEAN Community Studies, Naresuan University, Thailand


PDF e-book files for this publication are available as detailed below.

Infiltrating Society: The Thai Military’s Internal Security Affairs [Whole Publication, ISBN: 978-981-4881-72-2], by Puangthong Pawakapan, author 9.90 USD
20.00 USD
Preliminary pages with Foreword by Michael J. Montesano Download
1. Introduction Download
2. Rationale, Legitimacy, and Development 5.00 USD
3. The Making of the Development Military 5.00 USD
4. Establishing State-Dominated Mass Organization 5.00 USD
5. Remobilization of the Royalist Mass Since 2006 5.00 USD
6. Conclusion 5.00 USD
Bibliography Download
Index Download
About the Author Download

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