Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Dark Side of the Bangkok Post (Obama's policy on Laos and Cambodia)

Bangkok Post Editorial

The latest decision on Southeast Asia by US President Barack Obama is the second disturbing action by Washington affecting this region. Late last Friday, after the main news cycles for the week had elapsed, Mr Obama announced a major new policy initiative. The low-level statement that he was declaring Laos and Cambodia eligible for major US loans and trade concessions took the rest of the region by surprise.

What is the big deal? This is good news. It means this ugly part of the Cold War is over. I thought it was actually one of the better things Obama has done foreign policy wise.

The first visit to Southeast Asia by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton largely ignored the longest and strongest US allies. Now, the decision to give special treatment to Laos and Cambodia came as a bit of shock, including in Thailand.

Hillary Clinton ignored Thailand probably because Thailand has been a political basket case lately--or maybe it just wasn't on the itinerary.

In these almost identical statements, Mr Obama declared that Laos and Cambodia are eligible to be beneficiaries of US Export-Import Bank loans for American businesses in those countries.

Who cares? Why is the Bangkok Post interfering with America's relationship with Laos and Cambodia? It should be welcoming normalization instead of condemning it.

Mr Obama was apparently not concerned with the nuances of Marxist evolution. It was mandatory to declare Laos and Cambodia were not communist countries in order to achieve his true goal - to provide millions, and perhaps billions, of investment capital for American businesses to set up, operate in and trade with the two neighbouring countries.

And what is wrong with that? Thailand has an import-export bank that supports international trade with its neighboring countries and beyond.

Mr Obama did not explain why he set this goal. Indeed, the manner of the announcement was to keep all questions and justification to a minimum.

Typical crap Thai journalism. Look for conspiracies without showing an evidence that one exists.

This apparently was to stifle the negative reaction of political groups in the US who are appalled at the treatment of Hmong tribespeople by Laos.

What about Thailand's horrible treatment of the Hmong people? Maybe the Bangkok Post should consider that normalization of relations with Laos will help the Hmong people. They are certainly not helped rotting away in Thai refugee camps.

A more important result, however, is that Mr Obama has created negative fallout in Thailand and the region.

The only negative fallout is in the minds of the right-wing nut cases at the Bangkok Post.

The US Exim Bank rarely is involved with Thailand, and generally supports one-time sales rather than investment.

In 2003, it provided support for sales of Boeing 747 aircraft to Thai Airways International, and there are occasional cases where the bank has backed smaller deals. As the Thai economy has developed, the US Exim Bank has been an ever-smaller presence.

So what? Nothing unusual about this.

That is why Mr Obama's unexpected support for Laos and Cambodia disappointed many in Thailand. For years, Thai businesses have expanded into these countries. The overseas business expansion - ironically with the frequent support of the Exim Bank of Thailand - has been a major engine of Thai growth. This in turn has led to decreasing dependence upon foreign help and special programmes by Washington.

Funny, all these supposedly disappointed people don't care about China and Vietnam's expansion into Laos and Cambodia. The Bangkok Post has really lost it. Thailand doesn't have an exclusive right to trade in Laos and Cambodia.

The sudden entry of the US Exim Bank into these Thai markets will affect Thai trade and the economy. By failing to warn and prepare Thai authorities and businesses, the Obama administration has created a shock that will have negative implications, at least at the start.

Why should the US have to answer to Thailand or Thai business? The US is a sovereign country that can have relations with whomever it wishes in any manner it wishes, just like Thailand has the same right. If Thailand has an economic agreement with Canada or Mexico, does Thailand run to Washington DC and American Chamber of Commerce to notify them? No, that is just stupid.

This problem could easily have been avoided had the White House warned of the coming decision and allowed time for diplomatic talks and business preparations. Failing to do so again begs the question of whether the United States is seriously engaged with its long-time allies in this region.

This last paragraph is even more stupid.

These editors at the Bangkok Post reveal a very ugly side of the Thai mentality when it comes to Laos and Cambodia.

These delusional editors actually believe that Laos and Cambodia are part of the ancient Siamese Empire and that any farang who wants to do business with Laos and Cambodia must go to Bangkok and get permission first.

Which century do these Bangkok Post editors live in?

Somebody need to shake those dolts and inform them that Laos and Cambodia are sovereign countries that can determine their own economic futures, and no foreigner need to bow down to the Chinese-Thai elite in Bangkok before doing business in the region.

1 comment:

fall said...

This problem could easily have been avoided had the White House warned of the coming decision and allowed time for diplomatic talks and business preparations. Failing to do so again begs the question of whether the United States is seriously engaged with its long-time allies in this region.

I fully agree with you on this one, Fonzi. What f*cking problem does the Bangkok Post referring to? And the last I heard, we have a Free Trade Agreement with US, not Allied Only Trade...

The Bangkok Post should be ashame on printing this piece of trash. Let whiteman f*ck other countries' poor. Thailand have enough half-mix to fill up the celebs spot already.