Sidelining democracy?: explaining the United States' response to Thailand's 2006 and 2014 coups d'état
Meelarp, Rugsithi Denny
Leavitt, Sandra R.
Mabry, Tristan J.
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To explain the United States' relatively mild response to Thailand's 2006 and 2014 coups d'état, this research analyzed the economic, security, and diplomatic conditions that existed before and after those regime-changing events. Shifts in bilateral relations were assessed using balance of power, alliance, and democratization theories. Thailand's most recent adventures with military rule, after nearly 15 years of democracy, affected U.S.-Thai relations but not in ways democratization theory would predict. More specifically, the United States took into consideration Thailand's stability and options with China, Russia, and regional partners. Therefore, balance of power theory offered the most convincing explanation in the security realm. The United States appeared to sideline its advocacy for democratization and took measured approaches to judiciously maintain its alliance with Thailand to preserve its strategic hegemonic influence in Southeast Asia. In the long run, a strong U.S.-Thailand relationship will maintain the United States' influence in Southeast Asia to counterbalance emerging economic, security, and diplomatic threats.
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