The FT's Gideon Rachman is reliably entertaining and insightful; I've had him on our blogroll from day one. However, I must say tsk-tsk for him missing the most interesting point concerning the recently derailed ASEAN summit: How is it that a thousand lousy protesters can shut down a major international conference? Contrary to Rachman's description, this was far from a "mass demonstration." Aside from the Southeast Asian crew, there was Chairman Hu Jintao of the "G2" (US and China); Prime Minister Kevin Rudd of Australia; and Prime Minister Taro Aso of Japan. They came, they saw, they went home.
Granted, the Thai protesters weren't your humdrum anti-globalization regulars. These diehard Thaksinites (followers of exiled former leader Thaksin Shinawatra) weren't targeting the meetings' participants aside from PM Vejjajiva. A few days ago the Times of London ran a feature on protests that made an impact (unlike the lame G-20 ones); I suppose they should add this one.
Our Thai friends are rightly proud about never having fallen under foreign occupation. Make no mistake: supposedly pacifist Buddhists can spring into action when required. Although I am decidedly unhappy about the outcome of delaying a very important meeting for regional participants, I certainly see how anti-globalization flunkies can copy this example. Unity of purpose and organization count for something, no? To some extent, this summit being scuttled may be more a reflection of Vejjajiva being wet behind the ears at a relatively young 44--not so much in command of the all-important military. But still...a mere 1000 protesters. It boggles the mind. If you want to cause a ruckus, that's the way you do it.