Wed, 09/02/2011 - 11:31 | by prachatai
Holding on to narrow nationalism means Thais have no recognition of how "terrorising Thailand were to Cambodia" over the centuries, said noted historian Benedict Anderson, a renowned expert of Southeast Asian history, just hours before the two kingdoms found themselves in a deadly military clash again on Friday.
Anderson, who taught for decades at Cornell University and now spent months in Bangkok every year since his retirement said while many films have been produced to repeatedly remind Thais of historical invasions by the Burmese, there is no film produced by Thais about how Siam and Thailand have acted agressively against Cambodia.
"This is how narrow Thai nationalism is. I don't see anything about Thais invading Cambodia or destroying Angkor," he said, in an exclusive interview with this writer.
Anderson's list is long and it includes "repeated" invasions of Cambodia by Siam in the 19th century, the assitance in overthrowing King Sihanouk by then dictator Field Marshal Sarit Thanarat in the 1960s and the support of the Khmer Rouge by the Thai government.
"[Bangkok] supported the Khmer Rouge along with Beijing and Washington," Anderson pointed out.
What's more, Anderson suspects that there is an element of Thai "inferiority complex" in the conflicts between Thailand and Cambodia.
"Nothing Thais built is close to Borobodur [in Java], Angkor, or Pagan [in Burma]. Ayutthaya is really nothing," he said, adding that if Preah Vihear temple were to belong to Thailand, it would easily become the "most impressive" historical structure in the kingdom.
An authority on modern nationstate, Anderson said territorial intergrity has been regarded as "sacred" by modern nation states and suggested that Thailand and Combodia settled the border dispute by swapping lands of roughly equal size like what Burma and China did along its common border in the 1950s and 1960s.
Anderson also criticised the Santi Asoke Buddhist sect and the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) for playing nationalist card.
"The question is why Bodhirak has decided to get into this game. It's clearly a political move and a dubious one," he said, referring to the sect's leader.