I'm extremely not a Thailand expert, so may be *way* off here. But some caveated random thoughts. Among the most autonomous political militaries in Asia these days are Thailand, Pakistan, Myanmar. Each has a very different pattern of influence/rule right now:
1. Thailand as de facto military rule with very limited facade (PM was junta leader!). The striking thing to me about Thai mil. politics is its *extraordinary* factionalism alongside its continual influence. Many others factional militaries get sidelined eventually.
The obvious answer is its ties to the monarchy, which provides various kinds of resources that put the military in a distinctive political place compared to comparative cases, where we might expect a civilian party to maneuver into a dominant position (but I cd easily be wrong)
I just think about the fates of ABRI/TNI during and then soon after New Order Indonesia and AFP in '80s Philippines, in which factionalism opened up space for civilian/party actors to make lasting power plays, as a comparison. It's good to have a "network monarchy" on your side.
2. Pakistan has a far more cohesive military establishment that is aligned with a civilian party and exercises extensive power even without the kinds of formal/constitutional military prerogatives we see in places like Myanmar. Cohesion is not perfect, but *comparatively* high.
A blend of war-fighting preparation, internal cohesion, corporate/financial/institutional network reaching out into retired ranks, US/PRC backing, and extensive political manipulation skills/self-justifying narratives. Creates huge challenges to real lasting democratic transition
Not a great comparison in lots of ways, but reminds me a bit of Egypt - large military-corporate-state complex full of retired generals and ability to stay influential even after losing direct power. Vs. a case like Turkey, where civilian party able to shatter military autonomy.
3. Myanmar's tatmadaw shares relative cohesion with Pakistan, and some economic empire in common with both TH and PK. But much more formalized "red lines" established via direct institutional control of key ministries, even with AASK in formal power. Explicitly a hybrid regime.
Suggestive of the strength of the military during the transition - built its favored rules of the game directly into the constitution (including set-aside seats), backed by cohesive coercive force. Very very difficult to challenge in a Pakistan 2007-8/1968-9-esque way.
No idea what any of this means, but a reminder hopefully that 1) military politics hasn't gone away and 2) the subtleties and variations across praetorian militaries matter a lot in understanding the nature of their political power.
Plus 3) way more room for South/Southeast Asia comparisons of military politics (please spare me more India-Pak. comparisons - crucial for understanding path to 1958 but politically incommensurable since;
Indian retired generals seem to spend much of their RT-ing inspirational memes on twitter, while Pakistani retired generals help operate a sprawling parastatal establishment)
4) both the PL and TH militaries can chug along in the background even when hostile civilians are in charge, which is hugely important, but the sources of their political staying power seem quite different.
*PK* not PL.
5) compare 2 edited volumes:
2001, “Coercion and Governance: The Declining Political Role of the Military in Asia” sup.org/books/title/?i…
2011, “The Political Resurgence of the Military in Southeast Asia” amazon.com/Political-Resu…
(To be crystal-clear, I’d much rather have retired generals chilling on twitter than staffing a deep state)
6) The Thai monarchy's power seems to make that case sui generis; not any of your standard post-colonial civ-mil trajectories. But is that right - are there actually vaguely-plausible comparable cases?

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