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Bangkok is roiling tonight and remains under a state of emergency.
Anti-establishment hardliners, inciting what they call a "people's war" against Thailand's government, have finally drawn a fight out of the military and, to a lesser extent, the police.
Forgive this post's lack of context — yesterday's dispatch has plenty of background — and allow me to reflect on today's wildest scenes.
A roaring mob yanked a secreatary to the premier from his luxury sedan. They also surrounded the prime minister's Mercedez Benz, pelting it with rods and potted plants, before the car escaped. And right across the street from Thailand's most luxurious mall, Siam Paragon, protesters swarmed an armored vehicle and danced on it — all as commuters watched from an elevated train stop.
The "red shirt" protesters have thinned out, leaving behind those who see themselves as straight-up minutemen. The government is finally gearing up for a crackdown, posting tanks and armed personnel carriers throughout the capital.
Sounds intense, right? It is. But I feel obliged to point out that Bangkok isn't all Sarajevo right now. If friends asked if they should cancel upcoming Thai holidays, I'd actually encourage them to come despite the turmoil.
The protests are isolated. The violence is even more isolated. Having lived in Washington D.C., I can say I'd feel safer walking through a raging Thai protest at 2 a.m. than my old neighborhood.
So tonight, as the "people's war" dragged on, I had some burritos with a friend and enjoyed a few beers near one of Bangkok's more scenic downtown parks. Most people in Bangkok probably checked the news throughout the night, but otherwise pressed on with their lives.
Meanwhile, for some intense video of the hotel invasion that sent world leaders fleeing on Saturday, check out this Thai TV broadcast at minute 3:00.
You'll see protesters approach the resort building housing the prime ministers. They lift up their shirts and expose their lack of weapons...
... and then a crew of bodyguards forces them on their knees with shotguns and pistols.
Amazing that protesters pushed past hundreds of soldiers and police only to be backed down by a handful of no-nonsense guards. Not too long ago, I remember the Thai press encouraging U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to accept invites to these Association of Southeast Nations gatherings.
Not sure if Hillary's Secret Service detail reads this blog, but if so, I'd love to hear their thoughts.