Military Coups (letter to the BBC):

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Military Coups
Date: Wed, 20 Sep 2006 12:14:05 +0800
From: Trevor Batten <>
Reply-To: trevor at

Dear Newshour,

The coup in Thailand seems to be producing the usual kneejerk reaction -that
this is a technical fault and that normal "democratic" service should be resumed
as soon as possible.

This implies that the first rule of international law is: Those in power get to
keep it.

However, the coup in Pakistan resulted in close American cooperation -so the
second rule of international law seems to be that: However they came to power,
those supporting the US will be supported and those that oppose it will be
removed (by any possible means).

Of course, news media are supposed to remain neutral -although in practice, it
is almost impossible to remove value judgements that are both unconcious and

However, practical constraints also prevent a comprehensive study of the complex
undercurrents present in any political/social/economic system. The result is
that the news media probably collectively spend more time and energy discussing
strategy and performance of sports teams or pop stars than they spend on the
equivalent social and political problems in various countries. The image
reflected by the BBC of the Philippines, for example, does not quite seem to
correlate with the complexities of the constitutional question here: Nether does
the question of the complexity of recent alledged coup attempts -or the complexities
of the situation in Midanao. The BBC remains silent regarding Bolante -and yet he
could well prove to be a key background figure.

Nevertheless, on the basis of BBC (and CNN) reports in general, many perople
around the world make decisions -which in turn can have far reaching implications
(on a practical level) for many other people around the world.

In practice, it seems that news reporting of coups and other power struggles
seem to be -at worst, like a report of a football match (army 16, rebels 5) -or
at best a chess game (would Blair win the game if he resigned in August or would
it be better for him to wait until September)..... The more fundamental aspects
-the reasons why the rebels are fighting the army -or a discussion over the
advantages and disadvantages of having Blair in the first place, somehow seem to
get forgotten.

Today the focus is on Bankok -but yesterday it was angry Hungarians. One wonders
if there is a connection:

The problems in Hungary are supposed to be because of lies told to get into
power. Who knows what the real situation in Bankok is -but dissatisfaction with
those currently in power is presumably the key issue. So presumably it is
important to map how powerful these feelings of dissatisfaction and frustration
are, by which groups and why -if one is to have any serious understanding of the

However, outside the reasons for the dissatisfaction remains the problem of what
options do people (generally) have available to them in such cases.

From news reports -it would seem that no (major) leader can be trusted. That
once in power, power is generally used more for staying in power than for
serving the people who pay the bill. Apparently, in Politics, the piper calls
the tune and then decides how much they can get away with when presenting the
bill for playing it.....

On top of this -those in power that are willing to cooperate in order to develop
their power even further -have at their disposal international organisations
that are able to put pressure on opponents to conform to the wishes of the most
powerful players.

The system feeds on itself -and is only marginally affected by the consequences
the system has for the many millions outside -the lives of whom are directly
affected by how the system operates.

What could possibly happen to Bush that could match the suffering that he has
caused -in Guantanamo Bay, for example -let alone all his other policies?

It seems that not only do the news media have an awsome responsibility -it also
seems that we need to seriously reconcider the way the world is being run by the
so called "international community".....

Yours sincerely,
Trevor Batten