The No-State Solution

Are Buddhist Thais oppressing Palestinian Arabs? If not, why are Islamic “insurgents” murdering them? I referred in my last post to Mark Steyn’s piece on the subject. Click above to view the piece in its entirety.

An excerpt:

It was about three years ago that I began following events in southern Thailand – the old Sultanate of Pattani, to us Mad Dogs and Englishmen. It was the numbers at first: Muslim “insurgents” were murdering over a hundred people a month, which seemed rather on the high side. Then I started looking for the bloody details behind the statistics: the two Laotian-immigrant farm workers beheaded for …well, for what? The Thai government isn’t occupying Palestine or invading Iraq or stationing troops in Saudi Arabia. And for a while I took to citing the country’s southern provinces as a bit of list filler to demonstrate the splendidly ecumenical nature of the jihad: Muslims vs Jews in the West Bank, Muslims vs Christians in Nigeria, Muslims vs Hindus in Kashmir, Muslims vs Buddhists in Thailand.

Aside from bringing up the rear in my planetary generalizations, what’s going on? The International Herald Tribune, in a brief story on the daily barrage of bombings and beheadings, decided it made no sense:

The insurgency is all the more difficult to combat because it does not show its face. Unlike similar movements around the world, this one has not set out its demands or published a manifesto. It is a collection of violent groups without an identifiable central leadership.

You don’t say. Now why would that be? When the Herald Tribune refers to “similar movements around the world”, it seems to be harking back to the good old days of 1960s nationalist movements. Your old-school insurgent got into the insurgency game against the state because he wanted to be the state: the object was to have your flag fluttering from the palace and swear yourself in as President-for-Life. A generation or so back, there were such groups running around Pattani promoting a more or less conventional Malay-Muslim secessionist movement. But, as in other parts of the globe, the disaffected have become co-opted into something bigger. Who wants to settle for being Minister of Transport when you can be part of a new caliphate that overthrows the entire global order?

To modify the Palestinian peace-process cliches, these “collections of violent groups” are in favor of a no-state solution. In Thailand, they target the lowest officials of the kingdom – schoolteachers, policemen and municipal functionaries. The object is to emphasize that not only can these people not protect you but that associating with them is likely to endanger you, too. If the state reacts with a bloody crackdown on Muslims, that’s good news for the insurgents. If the state instead dithers uncertainly, that works, too. The Buddhist villages in the south are emptying out, week by week, remorselessly.

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