There is a nagging suspicion among some Thai observers that the US gave the wink to the military coupmakers who in 2006 toppled Thaksin Shinawatra’s democratically elected and, perceived by some in Washington, a China-leaning government. The Thai military has since become a prominent force in politics and there are mounting concerns the top brass might suspend democracy altogether to ensure a smooth royal succession after King Bhumibol Adulyadej eventually passes from the scene.

Whether the US would be willing to downgrade its strategic commitment to Thailand in such an eventuality would be an important test of Obama’s proclaimed democratic commitment.

– Extracted from Shawn W. Crispin, “When allies drift apart”, Asia Times, 14 February 2009.