The Thai Military’s Internal Security Mission

Infiltrating Society. The Thai Military’s Internal Security Affairs is authored by Puangthong Pawakapan, and published  by the ISEAS–Yusof Ishak Institute. It is reviewed for JCA by Kevin Hewison.

It was widely held that the anti-military uprising in 1992 “marked the decline of the force as a political master and ushered in modernisation theory’s “professionalisation,” transforming political thugs into technocratic defenders of national boundaries.” As Infiltrating Society makes clear, “this was a false assumption” and “downright dangerous.”

The military is back. Well, sort of. As this book shows, it never went away and its return to political power owes much to its efforts to inculcate itself throughout society. The author demonstrates how the military’s “Cold War society-focused units and countrywide mass organisations, has created networks through which it shapes politics and society.” Funded by huge amounts of taxpayer money, and reinforced by an alliance with the monarchy, this network is “a powerful, ideologically strong, deeply conservative, and anti-democratic political alliance.”

Infiltrating Society is said to be “revealing of the military’s ‘national security’ mission as undermining electoral democracy and elected politicians. This mission is enthusiastically supported by conservative royalists.” The revival of critical scholarship on the military is welcomed.

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