The overwhelming majority of people in Thailand are Buddhist, but about ten percent of the population is Muslim. Southern Thailand is where most Muslims live and this area is becoming increasingly hostile to the government which it claims discriminates against non-Buddhists. During the past three years there is a growing tempo of violent attacks on Thai soldiers and military outposts.
Last week dozens of Muslims were caught infiltrating from Cambodia in order to join southern Muslim insurgents. But, Thailand is only part of the rising radicalization of southeast Asia. The Bush administration has no grasp as to how the fiasco of Iraq has international ramifications. Iraq has become a training ground for disaffected Muslim youth. Recently, a group of radicalized young college students who belong to Jemaah Islamiyah returned from the Middle East determined to institute similar operations in Singapore. Fortunately, authorities caught wind of their plans and arrested the group.
The next president of the United States has to be concerned with more than getting out of Iraq. She/he must begin to think globally on how can the United States organize a new coalition of nations committed to ending poverty, discrimination, and creating societies in which people believe they can fulfill their individual aspirations. A critic might argue that my words are simplistic liberal thinking. However, tough minded conservative words and actions created the mess in Iraq which is spawning dozens of similar groups all over the world.