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by Tom


Wednesday, December 03, 2003

 B  is for BYE FOR NOW.

After almost a month, you've probably figured this out by now. (Anyone still there?) Sorry for waiting so long before making it "official".

I started this blog because I have things to say and want people to hear them. My main goal is to do what I can to help bridge the yawning gulf of understanding between Thai people and the rational world.

(e.g. Thai people: There's virtually NO oil in Afghanistan and the Iraq war was NOT a "direct-sale product demo" for US weapons. If your media told you otherwise, that's because it totally stinks. Rational World: Your media, while not stinking, is mostly way off the mark about Thai politics. The Economist is particularly bad on this account: "Chuan's reformist zeal" sounds just like Gray Davis's charm or Bill Clinton's chastity. And don't you think it rather weird that the Thaksin government is simultaneously accused of populism and being beholden to Big Business? On a different note, you should keep in mind the scandalously low journalistic and academic standards in Thailand (and other countries like it) the next time you hear someone says "the whole world" thinks this or "the whole world" is against that.)

Nothing about that has changed. My goal is far from achieved and I still feel as strongly about it as ever. What's more, I'm very happy with this blog and with having taken a step, however small, toward my objective. Overall, this has been very positive experience.

Each enterprise, however, is not justified by net benefits alone. Because of opportunity cost, its benefits must be weighed against those of other options. I'm speaking here not as a blogger, but as a reader. The last couple months have seen an emergence of several excellent Iraqi blogs (like this and this). In comparison with those, my blog seems downright trivial, and of all frivolities (many of them on the net) that waste your time and mine everyday, I'd rather this not be one. Briefly put, as things are now, I wouldn't read my own blog.

This blog will resume if and when I have something worthwhile to say on a daily basis. Until then, I'll just sit back and try to limit my blog consumption to half an hour per day.

Thank you having read me up to now. Till next time.


P.S. I really should leave it at that but can't help it when the Bunkum Post has, for the second time, published my letter (third from top) with all the scare quotes removed! Here's the original version:

Dear Editor,

Citing a source in the Task Force 976, the Bangkok Post reported that Camp Lima, where the Thai contingent is based, is being attacked because the “locals” are “badly treated” (Nov. 30).

Indeed. You go round up criminal suspects (for a fatal assault on coalition troops, by the way), tying their hands and covering their heads (quelle horreur!) and the innocent locals have no choice but to rain 82mm mortar shells on the people who treat their sickness, build their schools and police their neighborhoods. There, that’s for treating us so badly!

This report is typical of the Thai media in failing miserably to acknowledge the differences among Iraqis—between whose houses were raided and those whose tips made the raids possible; between the criminals (not necessarily Iraqi, actually) who blew up police stations and the Iraqi officers and civilians who perished as a result; and between those who would commit the wickedest outrages in order to frustrate the coalition’s efforts (just as they did to prolong Saddam’s regime) and those who swore vengeance on such thugs. According to our “news” professionals, Iraqis simply stand together on one side and the coalition, on the other.

With one emphatic exception being our Thai contingent. Despite growing hostility, the reports go, our soldiers, unlike “the others”, are well loved. While “the others” are violent and boorish, we are gentle and civil. We’re here to help, treating patients and building schools (unlike “the others”?) and Iraqis appreciate that. Look, of more than a hundred thousand foreign troops now in Iraq, it’s only to the 443 of us that children say sawasdee and khob khun!

And the attacks? According to the Post story, that’s fine by us as long as the perpetrators are “selective”. Shells, it’s the others!

Sanpaworn Vamvanij

And of course, the all-important last sentence, cut in the Post version, wouldn't make sense to those ignorant of the reference it's making. Didn't I tell you our media stinks? (Okay, okay, maybe it's my fault that I had in mind the direct translation of "L'enfer, c'est les autres" instead of "Hell is other people" which is a lot more current.)

P.P.S. Now it's the real goodbye.

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