Keeping Thailand’s Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej away from Preah Vihear may be key to averting a war between Cambodia and Thailand. That war may be anything from closing the border crossings to actual combat.
Samak Sundaravej has repeatedly demonstrated he is no politician by his inability to answer simple questions from journalists without exploding. To place him in a situation that requires him to be diplomatic is like placing a bull in a fine china shop. Samak just has not demonstrated the ability to maintain a level of maturity needed to deal with the Preah Vihear issue. As a result Samak’s attitude certainly invites conflict.
The overlapping of assumed territory is once again the issue here, and unless that can be resolved by level headed people conflict is likely. The American embassy in Bangkok has already reported a Thai soldier has been hurt by a land mine. Cambodia is known to be littered with land mines, and it is unknown if this was an old mine or one just planted as a result of this conflict. At any rate the American Embassy warned it’s citizens to stay clear of the area.
So what is being read in the news is no doubt a watered down version of the true level of tension in this situation. What it comes down to is fighting over land, and that is the basis for every war. Normally sending someone like the Foreign Minister would be the proper plan of action if you are seeking a diplomatic solution, however it was the now resigned in disgrace Noppodon Pattama Thai Foreign Minister that brought all of this on. So Samak has sent the Army commander-in-chief General Anupong Paochinda instead. From the perspective of the fly on the wall, that is not who you send if you seek a diplomatic solution, that is who you send to show your ready to fight.