What should we do with the useful idiots? The BBC’s Jonathan Head has an interesting article on some of the PAD supporters at a recent meeting. They are people who are very firm in their beliefs – even though those beliefs are completely wrong. The PAD, as is heavily-documented, was a violent, anti-democratic movement aimed at disenfranchising the poor and other groups who had threatened the status quo under which the rich and powerful in Thailand had gained their positions. Numerous crimes were committed by PAD members and evidence is clear – so much is obvious.
Yet the PAD people continue to claim, apparently in good faith, that the movement was aimed at protecting the monarchy, exposing corruption and human rights abuses. Seemingly undeterred by the evidence, it would appear that the PAD would return to the streets if its leaders had some other cause to promote. Even if they all return to private life and we never hear from them again, there are still thousands of people whose opinions are, in my opinion, not just wrong but inherently dangerous.
What, if anything, should be done?
It is easy to talk about negotiation and education as the answers but these are of little help to people who refuse to accept evidence or to question their own beliefs. If PAD ringleaders are ever prosecuted for their numerous crimes, then the useful idiots will presumably fancy those ringleaders to by martyrs or political prisoners and their many media backers will continue to broadcast propaganda on their behalf.
We have seen in all too tragic detail how neighbouring countries have treated those who did not accept political change – look at Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and China and the treatment meted out by their governments to dissidents. No one is suggesting those measures will be considered here here but is it reasonable to think that Thai people think so very differently from their neighbours?
At the moment, many (perhaps most) people seem content to let the PADemocrat government have a few months in power – if only because it will give them enough rope to hang themselves and remind people why, in 2001, they swept the incompetent and corrupt Chuan Leekphai government out of office and then repeatedly voted for the Thai Rak Thai party and its successors. This is partly because of the unwillingness of rational people to resort to violence to settle political decisions – an unwillingness clearly not felt by those who now hold power and the useful idiots who will not recognise violence when it is used in front of them by their fellows.