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Since U.S. President Barack Obama's ascent to the White House, Thailand has plunged deeper into a public debate about the kingdom's democracy.
America and Thailand are dear old pals — a former monarch once offered to ship over some elephants during Abraham Lincoln's tenure — but you won't hear much opining from Camp Obama about this kingdom's struggle to settle internal grievances over democracy.
After protesters paralyzed Bangkok this month, the U.S. State Department issued a bland-as-oatmeal condemnation of this "unacceptable violence." When Thailand's foreign minister met Hillary Clinton in Washington, D.C. last week, he emerged claiming Hillary "expressed her confidence" in the direction the government was "leading Thai society."
Thais, still enamored with Obama 100 days deep, should expect this sort of muted diplomatic language until the political crisis is tamed.
Much more fascinating will be Camp Obama's pending formulation of a policy towards Burma, Thailand's not-so-democratic next-door neighbor. When Hillary swings through Bangkok this summer for a Southeast Asian summit, Thailand will likely urge her to limit sanctions against the junta-run country as other powerful voices urge her to take a harder line.
Meanwhile, in these distressing economic times, Obama is indirectly providing job security for at least one Thai balladeer in coastal Thailand.