Michael's Dispatches

US threatens to cut $10 million aid to Thailand (not a joke)


10310957 10152149086570665 8928350597989348957 nUS Ambassador to Thailand, Kristie Kenney

23 May 2014

[Taken from Michael Yon's Facebook page]

This is like threatening to trim a single hair off an elephant. Thailand will not notice that $10m any more than Florida would miss a cloud in the sky.

More important is the silly posturing by the United States Government, threatening Thailand, along with what might be the most idiotic US Ambassador ever, anywhere.

US Ambassador Kristie Kenney has unilaterally alienated millions of otherwise friendly Thai citizens. She makes us look like buffoons with her daily tweets, childish videos, selfies, and missives with jewels such as describing how she woke up late.

Folks who have followed my work for many years already know that my outlandish claims today end up being truth a few years down the road. Please take this not as a caution, but as a Warning: The United States Government -- using Ambassador Kenney as its point-person -- is severely damaging relations with Thailand. You might not see it yet, but I surely do. I deal with many of the top people in this country, and spend time every day with average people. They are angry. And they are right.

Please remember when I was writing from Afghanistan in 2006 that the war was being lost and practically nobody believed it -- but I saw it clearly from the ground. A good friend at CIA, with much Afghan experience, immediately rebuked me after seeing me on televisions saying we were losing Afghanistan. Even the CIA could not see it for what it was. The Brits and Canadians were no better.

My fingers are on the pulse in Thailand even more than they were in Afghanistan. Thailand is becoming primed to turn its back on the United States.

Thailand is suffering severe internal problems now that the US Government does not understand even in general terms.

A friend of mine -- a powerful person in Thailand -- met with the senior CIA person at the Embassy, and after the meeting that day, I asked how much she (CIA lady) actually knows about the situation, on a 1-10 scale. My friend said the CIA lady rated about a 5.

Now, keep in mind that just days ago the USG published that it does not expect a coup d'état, and not 48 hours later there was a coup d'état. Yesterday.

Our CIA is clueless. Our Department of State is clueless. Our Ambassador sided with a criminal regime, and behaves like a bimbo whose calling was Hollywood.

But do not take my word for it. Web search for Kristie Kenney Twitter, and Kristie Kenney Instagram, and go to YouTube and web search for US Embassy Thailand videos. You will be appalled at how we are being represented, and how condescending our government is to Thailand.

$10 million. Right. This is a hair on the elephant's backside, but it angers the elephant when we slap it.

10365620 10152149057520665 6199014012772405804 o

Say something here...
You are a guest ( Sign Up ? )
or post as a guest
People in conversation:
Loading comment... The comment will be refreshed after 00:00.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    James F. McClellan · 7 years ago
    Is there any chance that the USA could ever again have learned, professionals in government service?
    Are we doomed to an ever widening gulf between political groups who's sole aim is party promotion instead of preserving our nation?
    Based on the fact that 27% of voter in a primary election this week voted for a deceased candidate ... I think not.
    • This commment is unpublished.
      John - Capt in ANG · 7 years ago
      I cringed when I saw the email from the White House to YouTube during the Benghazi incident. How does the nation's top office make two spelling mistakes in an official correspondence? It smacks of laziness, ignorance (really, you can't spell YouTube?), and immaturity. I think professionalism as a whole is taking a hit in the military, government and civilian sectors.
      • This commment is unpublished.
        gachong84 · 7 years ago
        Sadly, I've seen the same--in civilian, gov't., and military endeavors from personal experience in Iraq through the Pacific islands. Irrespective of political party. The naivete' and narcissism is remarkable and and prodoundly dangerous. . . and seems deeply rooted in our society.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Neil · 7 years ago
    Thanks Michael. Thaksin is a thief and a thug, he has much in common with our current leadership in Washington DC. Stay safe, watch your back.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    chris78 · 7 years ago
    I'm not american... but from what I understand the cut in the aid is just... the effect of the law, the US law governing the aid given by US government to other countries.

    No ?

    Furthermore when you say that the US were "clueless" by saying that it was not a coup... Well... what else they could do when their "ally" told them and everybody else that it was not a coup.
    But just "martial law" ?

    The US made a mistake, clearly : to believe the thai generals lies.

    As for the letter of Onwimon... it's the classic thai (cheap) rethoric.

    It's a nonsense to link the 10 millions cut... with the "8 billions" stolen by Thaksin ! I mean there is no logical link whatsoever.

    I lived in Thailand, I worked with Thais... and it's a perfect example of their rethoric. It works very well with poor minds... but come on.

    And as usual, he coats his rant with the regular "farangcannotunderstandus".

    Aren't they tired of this old trick ?

    I mean... it's going on like this for years, and years.

    It was easy before to hide behind the fog of war, and the huge distances, the "mysteries of the Far East"...

    But now with Internet, cheap travels... I believe foreigners understand VERY WELL what's going on, what are the stakes, the history, the issues and the thai mind and culture....
    • This commment is unpublished.
      คนไทย · 7 years ago
      Military taking over from the government in Egypt, you were happy and called it intervention to restore the democracy.
      Military taking over from the government in Thailand, you were disappointed and claimed no justification to for this military coup.
      Have we asked for your comments??
      I don't think so!!!
    • This commment is unpublished.
      Comma · 7 years ago
      Some people don't understand things because they don't understand the language!!
      However, some people just don't understand things because they don't have RIGHT judgement. Please try to use your brain to judge right from wrong, not to use it to separate your 2 ears!!!
    • This commment is unpublished.
      Nan · 7 years ago
      I think you should re-read Dr. Omwinon's comments until you get the intended messages. His statements are very clear and direct to the point. Work with Thais does not guarantee that you understand Thai and the situation. You are one of the examples of Foreigners who know so little things about Thais and use foreign eyes to judge the things.
    • This commment is unpublished.
      Freshy · 7 years ago
      So what do YOU really understand VERY WELL?
    • This commment is unpublished.
      LOWH · 7 years ago
      You are the great example of Farang who don't understand, Mr. :-*
    • This commment is unpublished.
      lake · 7 years ago
      The letter of Onwimon is not a rhetoric but a clarification of actual political crisis in Thailand. And the US administration is not innocent to not know what the real problem here is about. There is some hidden agenda here. And that's one of the reasons why we don't care the reaction from the US. What's left behind is a handful of persons like you that even living here, has never understood the stiutation which is so naked as no interpretation is needed. What a waste.
    • This commment is unpublished.
      Natty · 7 years ago
      After read your comment, i'm wondering if you have other better solutions for this kind of sitution which nobody willing to accept each other . please don't just only complain and have a bad attitude to other people who try to do the best for the Thai people.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Max Doner · 7 years ago
    The clueless foreign policy of the Obama administration in Thailand is indicative of the incompetence of the foreign policy of this administration throughout the world. This country is run by buffoons and incompetents, and this is just a microcosm of the bigger picture. America elected a foolish boy to do a wise man's job.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    ros jj · 7 years ago
    To anyone who attempts to butt in Thailand

    Before you judge and blame us on the current political situation, please answer this question:

    Three choices of the following, which one will you choose?

    1 Coup d’ tat (military forces temporarily seize the state power and return this power to their people after the reformation)
    2 Civil war (which will bring in the unfathomable loss of lives, brave men die to sacrifice a political system)
    . Failed state (which goes bankrupt due to the capitalist exploitation –poverty in majority ended with war-like riots like some countries e.g. Argentina, etc.)

    Please listen to us. Many Thais are very happy that the coup d’etat was applied. And you will definitely label us as “the country of coup d’ etat”.For us, it makes more senses than putting ourselves into the civil war.
    You, Americans might choose civil war to attain your freedom and equity (as seen in the previous history. We never blame you for this. But you regard this as a heroic actions whereas coup d’etat as the devil’s- this is not quite fair. It is your judge without true understanding of us. In Thailand, military forces’ main role is to protect the country, to guard the country from any harms, and to stop any threats to people’s lives from all kinds of conflicts. Now it is their time to bring peace to the country again, as the negotiation was failed with no solution. I bet you will see that Thai forces will eventually return this power to all people when things are reset with the better policy.

    Before you blame us or poke your nose into us, respect our choice. Thailand is not America. It is our own choice to deal with conflicts.
    • This commment is unpublished.
      Arparat · 7 years ago
      Superb! I am totally agree with you! ;-)
    • This commment is unpublished.
      Dave B · 7 years ago
      the foreigners should butt out of thai internal affairs, let the Thai's sort it out. it is their country not ours and if you don't like their policies you can always to back to that cess pool run by the village idiot!
    • This commment is unpublished.
      Siri · 7 years ago
      thank you for helping a lot of us Thais explaining the situation...
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Mike1957 · 7 years ago
    Quite possibly the US ambassador is an embarassment; unfortunately many are, as they are not professionals, but political appointees (but some political appointments are quite good, e.g. Caroline Kennedy in Japan).

    However, the author is clearly seeing only his side of the story. Yes, there is/was corruption under Taksin. But seriously, was it any less than before (or after) him? Different, different benefactors, but still common.

    The elites are truly clueless about how to win the votes of the rural poor; democracy, and pandering to them, is not perfect, but as I believe Churchill said, it is still the best form of government versus the alternatives.

    I love Thailand and find it disappointing that the elites are so hard of hearing that they can't listen well enough and give in some, so that there can be a well run democracy in Thailand.
    • This commment is unpublished.
      Paul · 7 years ago
      The argument that corruptions by another administration justifies Thaksin's regime level of corruption is hardly a logical argument. The British rejection of the Jews in WWII was not a justification for the German's massacre.
      Democracy is just a form of public administration. It is just a mean, not the end. Society evolves. China has proved that it does not need democracy to forge ahead. It may evolve to become democratic when it is ready but not before.
      If Churchchill were to live long enough, he might just add the phrase, when it is mature enough to do so.
      As for the rural poor, I wonder how they manage to procure so large the quantity of weaponry of war with their level of wealth.
      It is not the elite against the poor, but it is more like another group of filthy rich people exploiting the rural ignorants and use them to wrestle political power for commercial gains!
    • This commment is unpublished.
      LOWH · 7 years ago
      Never before that corruptions in Thailand history has been ever greater and bigger than the corruptions by Shinawatra family has ever done to us.

      It's not common to corrupt. And we're making sure of that. Anyone think the corruption is common, they would be threat to any nations they're living.

      There's a bigger problems than 'how to win the votes of the rural poor'

      I'm sure I'm a lot younger than you, but you seem to have a lot to learn.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    A&N · 7 years ago
    Mike...We've been your followers and friends for years. We believed in you way back when and we believe in you now. You tell the truth. Unfortunately Thailand is being treated the same as is the rest of the world by this present Administration. They have supported evil governments instead of our friends in the world without failure. Our Government is full of Kristie Kenneys now. Our own Country, that both you and we love, has deteriorated to a point you would not recognize now I fear. We all suffer under this "regime", Americans and the world. You are right....people don't listen to the truth. They bury their heads in the sand now days lest they be called racists or bigots or right wing nuts or worst of all....Christian terrorists. I've watched this all unfolding for many years now and like you have warned about what is happening but Mike, their are none more blind that those who refuse to see. God help Thailand.....and God help the United States. Dictators are dictators.....tyrants are tyrants no mater what label they put on themselves....and sadly fools are fools no matter in what part of the world they live. But we will not surrender....we will continue to tell the truth and expose the propaganda as long as we have breath. Freedom is our cry. Our prayers are with you and yours as we fight for that freedom both in Thailand and the USA... Thank you Mike.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Richard5 · 7 years ago

    Been reading you for a long time and I've been trying to follow the situation in Thailand.

    Question: Although the Thaksin regimes have been corrupt and are by no means paragons of good governance, what electoral reforms can the Army make and do you expect things to move more smoothly now?

    It appears that although the opposition is strong enough to deadlock the country and force change they are no strong enough to win a general election. How will the situation change if they still can't win a countrywide election when and if the Army transfers power back to the populace.

    What would you suggest the USG do in the face of a coup, and what reforms do you expect from the Thai Army (if any at all) before a transfer back to democracy?

    I visited Thailand back in 2011 and saw a peaceful Red Shirt protest. I loved the country and can see why you've been drawn to it.

    Thanks for any and all responses. Keep up the good work over there you doing the gruntwork long before people took notice.
    • This commment is unpublished.
      Vee · 7 years ago
      Redshirt and Peaceful, it's your big mistake that link these 2 words together. Peaceful redshirt has never existed in Thailand. Where was you in Bankok in 2011? Just wondering what part of redshirt protest you have seen. Strong evidence, mostly in Youtube, have you ever watched it. Open you mind and eye wide open please. you are hurting us who suffered from the Redshirt. Thank
    • This commment is unpublished.
      Nan · 7 years ago
      Peaceful red shirt protest in 2011!!!! My office is on the opposite side of the red shirt protest and next to a hospital. They made noises, intentionally blocked all cars to the hospitals, threw rocks at the hospital all day and night until head doctor decided to evacuate all patients (some were also in a comma stage) to other hospitals. Our head monk was in the hospital and he was moved to another hospital too. There were bombs everyday to those who were against the red shirt. Streets were burned, one big department store were burnt down. They acted like a mafia. Police did not do their job to protect people.

      Do you call it a peaceful protest?
    • This commment is unpublished.
      Chai · 7 years ago
      peaceful red shirt protest!!!! so funny. i don't think you will understand this situation as you don't even know what happened in 2011
  • This commment is unpublished.
    France · 7 years ago
    Onwimon is such an old thai mind...

    We.... the "foreigners"... we understand perfectly well the situation, the thai history and the stakes.

    And probably better than most of the thai themselves !

    The proof ?


    The article of the Economist says it all.

    So to our thai friends: stop thinking that farangs are stupids and dont have a "clue".

    Use instead your energy to try to solve the problem : your problem.
    • This commment is unpublished.
      Comma · 7 years ago
      France, thx for your perfect understand in our situation, history and the stakes. Sometimes, people still believe that u are smart as long as u don't make any SMART comment.
      We believe different countries & cultures have different ways to solve their issues.
    • This commment is unpublished.
      Paul · 7 years ago
      You follow the wrong channel. That forum was a real red shirt propaganda.
    • This commment is unpublished.
      NNP · 7 years ago
      Wow, you make me believe that by reading articles from some journalists you are the truely expert who really understand our situation more than most of us who live here for our entire life.

      Yes, it is our problem, and we are the one who must solve it.

      So, you expert, please stop putting your nose in our business!

      BTW, just FYI, Thailand already have electricity and water for quite sometimes. We also have Internet too...just in case you may fail to notice.
      • This commment is unpublished.
        France · 7 years ago
        Your answer is typical of 2 irritating traits of Thais :
        -and strong complex of inferiority

        It's a powerfull mix, very common in third world countries.

        But you are not. A third world country I mean.

        This is why you should stop using such old rethoric.

        By pointing the fact that some foreign analysts have a good understanding of the "untold", related to thai events... I'm not implying that Thailand is an african country, with no water, nor electricity.

        But, still, that's exactly what you say.

        It's a non sense.

        Stop being arrogant and stop playing inferiority, like a poor victim.

        At least, I hope you will agree with me on one point, because it's an irrefutable fact :

        -people outside Thailand have more freedom to talk about the real issues, the real situation, hence they have a better understanding.

        But you can't.
        You can absolutly not, because of very powerful special laws.

        So in a way, the best thing to do for you is to... stay silent.

        Leave us with the real analysis.
    • This commment is unpublished.
      lake · 7 years ago
      The Economist made a huge mistake for sure once when Taksin was in his term. As a foreigner in Thailand, to learn about this decade of disruption in Thailand development, you learn it from the Economist? And suggest people who have no clue to learn it from the Economist? There is no short cut of learning history. And the old mind is those people who still think they can get away with corruption. So yes, many farangs here don't have a clue.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Farangist · 7 years ago
    You're right of course, Thailand won't notice the $10 million. The move is pure symbolism. Meaning it is designed to send a message to Thailand about the US position, but also to other countries and elements of the US government, particularly the military.

    Once the government withdraws aid, that makes it clear to the US military that Thailand is hot, that contact will have to be curtailed.

    The real question is who needs whom the most?
    Does Thailand need the US to counterbalance China a rising superpower that is becoming increasingly aggressive toward it's neighbors; asserting control over Philippine fishing waters, drilling for oil in Vietnamese waters and attempting to seize uninhabited islands from the Japanese and laying the groundwork for claims on Okinawa?

    Does the Thai military depend on US made parts for its F16s, Bells, and UH-1s, not to mention almost all of their A2A, A2G, S2A missiles and radars? (The 12 Gripens in the 701st are not going to cut it on their own)

    Or does the US need Thailand as a bulwark of regional stability (in addition to South Korea and Japan), a base for forward storage of material, potential air bases and as a source of human and signals intelligence? Does the Asian pivot mean we need them more? Or does the humble foreign policy mean we need them less?

    If Thailand comes under the thumb of the Chinese who will lose more? The Thai military and its elites? Or the US? It would weaken us, but we would still have other regional options.

    I think it's clear we need each other, but to the extent they value their independence, the Thais need us more, particularly in the short term. That's why this message is effective.

    It says, go ahead, do what you need to do, ensure internal stability, but don't embarrass us. Don't pull a Tienanmen, don't pull an Indonesia, don't pull a Burma. Go back to the barracks as soon as you can.
    • This commment is unpublished.
      Paul · 7 years ago
      The US has such a foul habit of giving dictation to others. In this case, should we remind you that the US opinion is merely that of the present Democrats Party's , not necessary the view points that of general American public.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Atipong · 7 years ago
    Response to response from Somkiat Onwimon

    Dear Khun Somkiat,

    It is true that $10 million aid means very little to the country, but if you truly believed that this is about the money, I am beginning to suspect that you may not be a legitimate and credible public figure. This issue has never been about money, it is about reputation and credibility. Getting the aid cut means we are falling to rock bottom of the international community. And if you affirm that those things do not carry enough weight for us to care, then I guess the suspicion I described above would no longer be just a suspicion as it would turn into a confirmation.

    You claimed that the you and the people were 'fiercely fighting for full democracy' while in truth you are supporting aristocracy. There is always a chance that losers view a fair competition as biased, especially the sore and incompetent ones. Ultimately, the society that you are trying to create drifts even further away from what Alexis de Tocqueville described.

    Finally, the crisis in Thailand is not beyond their grasp, as they know full well the history of transition from aristocracy to full democracy. What is beyond your grasp is how true democracy are already taking action in those country, and I am sure time and more education will improve your understanding in that area.

    Atipong Pathanasethpong
    Khon Kaen, Thailand
    2 May 2014

    Note from author: Anybody is free to redistribute this response, as long as it is redistributed in its entirety.
    • This commment is unpublished.
      lake · 7 years ago
      Full Definition of ARISTOCRACY
      1. government by the best individuals or by a small privileged class
      2a. a government in which power is vested in a minority consisting of those believed to be best qualified
      2b. a state with such a government
      . a governing body or upper class usually made up of a hereditary nobility
      Taksin falls perfectly into one of the definitions of Aristocracy. This old word has its transiton along with world history. Seems like you try to break free from one Aristocracy to another. Are you truely believe that there is a full democracy anywhere in the world? Does your message imply that leaving Thailand in the hand of Taksin masterminded administration is the path to Democracy? I think you know the answers very well in the back of your mind.


      : the aggregate of those believed to be superior
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Sutatip · 7 years ago
    F* kenney,

    Do not muddle in my country business. You...Lizard, dog ticks! Like being in others people's business and wait to take advantage from others!

    [profanity removed], black robber! Mind your own business. Cheater!!!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Peter Alexander · 7 years ago
    Dear Writer,

    I note your statement :

    "Thailand is suffering severe internal problems now that the US Government does not understand even in general terms"

    Honesty, considering CIA and NSA revelations of late ... who are you kidding ?? Maybe the US government knows more then you. Did you know that it was the US government back in the 1960's that sanctioned the "Yellow" shirt movement of today to quell the growing tide of communism in Indo China ??

    Today the coup belongs to Suthep and his folks in the judiciary and military.

    The only caveat is that it gives more credence and vindication locally and educates the greater public to power cliques which dominate political circles in greater Bangkok.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Pippin · 7 years ago
    Unbelievable! There're still lots of uneducated people in the western countries.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Paramanee · 7 years ago
    About this topic I very wondering why the US chaotic in many country. I am a part of my country i am Thai people and i think from the situation now we can cope deal with this problem. Military has done in the most accurate at this time. Please do not interfere. Important i agree with Mr. Somkiat Onwimon
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Teya · 7 years ago
    Gasoline in Thai Gulf where US government is about to set a Naval Base. Of course they wouldn't like the coup that comes in the way as they're about to lose this it !!!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    louis · 7 years ago
    Michael, I just got back from four months in Thailand but have been involved in the country for 27 years with frequent trips and correspondence. I think you are completely correct about the inadvisability of the direction the official US comments are taking towards Thailand. It is clear the the official lines of communication are presenting only one side of the conflict to the administration. The president and the nation are being poorly served by this.
    My personal opinion is that we would be better served if our government did not express uninformed opinion.
    Unlike you, I think, I find some of the arguments made by Red Shirts have some merit. My opinion generally sides Yellow however. Thank you for posting.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Carl F. W. Adamec · 7 years ago
    Michael Yon is an experienced photographer and writer who actually lives by choice in the country of Thailand. His insight is more profound than many who have visited or merely read about the issues. It should go without saying, but appears to need to be said, that in any dispatch the position of the person posting should be considered. Monarchy as a unifying factor exists in other lands. The affection felt by much of the Thai population for their King is not outmoded. They may choose to transition always with this potent unifying symbol as part of their country. America rejected kings as part of its formation since an overseas king was governing without good insight into the needs of the American colonists. This does not mean that all kings are bad, or that they cannot play a vital role in a democracy by providing unity. The Tsar of Russia served to unify his country until he made the mistake of stepping into the day-to-day operations of the First World War. Then he became just another ruler, and no longer the spiritual leader to the mass of the Russian people. America should seek to maintain good relations with all countries which respect the rights of others to be free and productive. I am not aware of any initiative by Thailand aimed at weakening or destroying America.
    We hope for the best for all of the Thai People as they deal with the present difficulties.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Jerry · 7 years ago
    I very much agree with the gentleman who wrote that this is an internal problem for Thailand to solve. Personally, I think the coup may have been the right move, but I'm no political heavy. I do know that the American government is embarrassing itself with it's childish threats and posturing. Hopefully our next president will appoint a Secretary of State who understands international politics and will dispatch an Ambassador who both understands and respects the Thai people and Thai culture.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Roger Stroh · 7 years ago
    Evidently these 2 live an *extremely" lavish lifestyle that they don't want people to know about:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-26 8 52/How-future-queen-Thailand-wearing-tiny-G-string-let-poodle-Foo-Foo-eat-cake-As-coup-rocks-Bangkok-video-reveals-royal-couples-decadent-lifestyle.html

    -Roger in CA
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Elle · 7 years ago
    Thank you Wallstreet Journal.... You've done the job more professionally and even better than someone sent to Thailand by the US gov... :P
    http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702 0 749904579579 91545402298
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Nev Smith · 7 years ago
    It's about time America stood up for it's ideals, they should do more than this it's a joke.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    thao · 6 years ago
    :P i grew up in asia so i know about thailand, they never engaged war because they smart. In this point us economy fall into recession, us provided aid to them so they turn to china, that kind person it not true friendship.

Reader support is crucial to this mission. Weekly or monthly recurring ‘subscription’ based support is the best, though all are greatly appreciated.  Many methods are available to keep the work rolling. Click the image for a more info.



Quick Link to Paypal

Recurring Donation

QR Code

QR Code


To support using Venmo, send to:


My BitCoin QR Code

Use the QR code for BitCoin apps:


Or click the link below to help support the next dispatch with bitcoins: