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Too many generals

Why are there so many Thai generals and admirals? That's a question no one in the Thai military will answer.

The United States has a population of 360 million people, and an active duty military force of 1,281,000 (including 210,000 women), with about 900 generals and admirals serving in all military branches. The US military is engaged in two combat missions (Afghanistan & Iraq) and several military support and peacekeeping missions in the Middle East and Africa.

In comparison, Thailand has a population of 66 million, with a military force of about 350,000. But the Thai military is burdened with over 1700 generals and admirals, which is more than their total number of warships, tanks, and aircraft put together! Over 300 of them work in Bangkok. And those senior officers have aides, not to mention conscript soldiers to do their household chores. And not one of those generals or admirals has seen combat since the Thai-Lao border skirmish in 1988.

There is a widespread belief that these countless Thai generals and admirals have just three main aims: to align themselves with politicians of the right political party; to ensure that they receive the best possible posting; and to enrich themselves and share their takings with their subordinates thus ensuring their loyalty. Some critics have contended that, in reality, the Thai armed forces serve two main functions: a) internal security: to safeguard ruling class hegemony from challenges by mass movements to expand the democratic space, and b) to satisfy the self-enrichment goals of the upper echelons of the Thai military and their friends and supporters.

I won't even touch on the subject that general stars are bought. But I once had a dear friend who was a retired Thai army colonel. He spoke fluent English and was a graduate of the American Army War College in Alabama. When I asked him why he didn't get promoted to general he replied that he refused to pay money to get that promotion.

What is already clear to everyone is that Thailand looks ridiculous having so many field grade officers considering that this is peacetime, and Thailand can't afford this. And I don't believe that so many of these senior Thai military officers can be so lucky to have married women that are so spectacularly good at business.

I hope that the political parties set to run in the next election consider these points in laying out their political platform policies. Because if something isn't done to reform the Thai military there will never be an end to these democracy killing coups.

Johnny Waters

Agrotoxins pose threat

Re: "Worse things than pesticide", (PostBag, Sept 2).

Magpie suggests I have "missed the point" and if we would simply teach farmers how to properly apply agrotoxins everything would be hunky dory.

Our tendency is to presume we are separate beings, but in truth we are not. It takes just two weeks for the vast majority of the chemical constituents which make up our bodies to be exchanged with chemicals from the environment; in a year more than 98% of us is new. Part of the breath you take in now was on the other side of the earth less than a week ago.

Magpie thinks we should be more concerned with sugar, salt, tobacco and alcohol rather than industrial chemicals whose sole purpose is to destroy life. Absolutely everyone is being continuously exposed to agrotoxins. We must be given the right to stop it, and stop it now.

Michael Setter

Most US wars unjust

In response to my letter about John McCain, some people have said that I'm a pacifist. I am not a pacifist and I believe sometimes going to war can be morally justifiable. But I believe that America has not been morally justified in most wars it fought in since World War II (which was justifiable).

Most American wars have caused horrible suffering while benefiting the wrong people.

Eric Bahrt

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