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New Left Review I/71, January-February 1972

Daniel Lee

The Thai Coup

On 17 November, 1971, the praetorian clique that has ruled Thailand for the past 13 years declared a total military dictatorship, less than one month after General Lon Nol had made a similar declaration in Cambodia. This was not a surprising step; it was indeed a logical one in the face of increasingly antagonistic contradictions within Thai society. It should be seen against the background of the crisis of the ruling classes in Indochina since the turning point of the 1968 Tet offensive, the subsequent Nixon doctrine, and the admission of China to the un on 25 October, 1971. The Thai constitution has been abrogated; the cabinet and both houses of the National Assembly dismissed; and military law established throughout the country. The King of Thailand, a shadow head of state manipulated without much show of unwillingness by the military, is reported as having given his blessing to the dictatorship. The composition of the ‘National Executive Council’, and Ministries controlled by the military junta are indicated below:

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