To some observers, Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha’s upcoming official visit to the United States in July is seen as a re-establishment of U.S.-Thailand relations. After all, the relationship took a hit following the 2014 coup to oust the Yingluck government. Washington had condemned the coup and urged the Thai military to restore civilian rule as well as respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. Many senior U.S. officials warned at the time that U.S.-Thailand relations could not return to normalcy unless full democracy was restored.
Prayut’s official visit to the United States, however, must not be taken as Washington’s full recognition of the coup and the military regime. Although Prayut’s visit arises from an invitation by U.S. President Donald J. Trump, it is unlikely to lead to America’s abandonment of its own fundamental values. The U.S. system, with its established institutions and values, is much bigger than the president. Nevertheless, Prayut could take this opportunity to establish a personal relationship with the current president, in the hope of encouraging future American support in Thailand’s domestic development and economic projects.
… Eugene Mark is a Senior Analyst with Singapore’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS). He has a deep interest in Thailand’s political and security affairs.
Last updated on 16/06/2017