“Thaksin is very good for us” – that was how the American ambassador in Bangkok described the Prime Minister of Thailand in March 2005, according to a cable released by Wikileaks. Six months later, the ambassador argued in a subsequent cable: “Thaksin is comfortable in the presence of Americans. With American visitors, he refers to himself as an ‘honorary Texan’”.
The United States have been involved with Thai politics for decades (the Embassy in Bangkok is one of the largest US diplomatic missions in the world), but US’s influence increased exponentially during Thaksin’s rise to power.
Recruited by the CIA during his studies at the Eastern Kentucky University, Thaksin became prime minister of a US puppet government in 2001. Never in the history of Thailand has the US had more influence over the Thai government. Thaksin catered to the interests of the US at Thailand's own expense.
Thaksin had long been backed by US interests and, as soon as he assumed office as prime minister, he began paying back the support he received.
During Thaksin’s premiership:
- The CIA was allowed to plan and lead secret operations in Thailand;
- The country hosted one of the infamous “black sites” where CIA secretly detained and tortured terror suspects;
- Thailand joined the US-led coalition and Thai troops were killed in Iraq;
- Thaksin acceded to a US request to exempt its citizens in Thailand from prosecution in the International Criminal Court;
- Thaksin attempted to secretly negotiate and unilaterally sign a US-Thai free trade deal without parliamentary approval.
Thaksin allowed CIA to carry out covert operations in Thailand. Thai territory was used as part of the CIA’s extraordinary rendition program. Thaksin authorized the secret CIA detention facility in Thailand codenamed "Cat's Eye" or “Detention Site Green”. CIA used this black site to torture terror suspects.
In June 2003, Thaksin made an unofficial visit to Washington. He held a personal meeting with President George W. Bush, son of Thaksin’s former employer George Bush Sr. was a regular guest at the Shinawatra mansion during the late 90’s, when the former US President and CIA director was heading the Board of Carlyle Group Asia.
During his 2003 unofficial visit to Washington, Thaksin was persuaded by his American backers to commit Thai troops to the US invasion of Iraq. Despite widespread protests from both the Thai military and the public, Thailand sent a battalion of army engineers and medical staff to Iraq. The result was catastrophic. Two Thai soldiers were killed in a car bomb attack in Iraq in December 2003.
Thaksin acceded to a U.S. request to exempt its citizens in Thailand from prosecution in the International Criminal Court (ICC). The ICC prosecutes individuals under international law for genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. The United States has opposed the empowerment of an international court that could prosecute US military for crimes such murder, torture, cruel treatment and sexual assault.
Thaksin also attempted to unilaterally sign a US-Thai free trade agreement without parliamentary approval. A negotiation for the deal started in June 2004, but foundered after Thai trade unions, farmers groups, civil society organisations, and academics protested against the secrecy with which the negotiations were being conducted.
CIA interference in Thailand didn’t stop after Thaksin was removed from power in 2006. He and his proxies, whether they called themselves red shirts, People's Power Party, Pheu Thai, Future Forward, Thai Raksa Chart, had and still have full support of the US global espionage network.