Ladies and gentlemen, you can call the Red Shirt/Yellow Shirt battle in Bangkok right now. The moment of truth arrived and the Yellows were found wanting.
In any struggle, cultural, economic or military, there is a critical point when all the talking is set aside and you either can or cannot back the talk with action.
In the arena of strong man governments versus street protesters, there is one eternal moment of truth: if the government unleashes the troops and can’t clear the streets immediately, its power is broken.
This rule has been proved time and again for at least the last 60 years.
It was true in the Philippines in 1986 when CIA pinup boy and all round tough guy Ferdinand Marcos told the marines to step to with protestors led by hilariously named Cardinal Sin who was calling for peace, love and a bit less political assassination.
As soon as you saw a bunch of nuns send the marines scurrying back to base with extra homework and promises to say ten Hail Mary’s before bed time, you could tell old Ferdie would be “the former President” before you could say “Bloodless coup”.
What was true in Manilla in ’86 was true in Russia in '91. Few even remember the pathetic coup d’etat the old hardliners tried to pull in the dying days of the Soviet Union. Long story short, the head of the KGB,Vladimir Kryuchkov, and seven other supposed soviet heavy hitters managed to seize power from Mikhail Gorbachev.
However, when push came to shove on the streets of Moscow, their armour columns were stared down by Boris Yelsin (presumably in a rare moment of sobriety) and his unarmed crowd.
Wasn’t long before the plotters were in gaol and the Soviet Union was an historical footnote. Uncle Joseph must have turned in his grave that day.
You can fast forward through the Orange, Rose and every other colour revolution of the 90s for more proof.
Interestingly, the contra rule is also largely true: if the government tells the army to fire on civilians and the troops comply, it’s the end of the protest.
The Czechs and Slovaks were allowed to mess around for most of Spring and Summer of 1968, thumbing their noses at the Soviets. But when the hammer came down on 21 August, the 200,000 Russian troops executed their orders and cleared Prague in a single night.
Same same 20 years later in Tian'anmen Square. The Chinese Communist Party didn’t flinch in June 1989 and neither did the soldiers of the 27th Army. 21 years later, the CCP still rules the roost in Beijing.
And so it went in Iran last year. Turned out live fire and mass arrests trump Twitter and Facebook.
It's the last act of a desperate government to order troops to blast their opposition into submission. You fail to do that, and its all over red rover.
By sending in the troops, the government of Thailand's Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva rolled for the whole game. Tonight the troops are back at base and the Red shirts are still on the streets.
The Yellow shirts just came up craps.
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