The fear of losing face is normally considered an Asian trait, but Asia does not hold exclusive rights to this perceived weakness.
Admitting one’s mistakes and taking responsibility for the consequences shows enormous strength of character and the ability to think clearly without being cowed to toe the party line. Western countries that have been critical of Thailand since the coup were being politically ultra-correct in denouncing the overthrow of a democratically elected government by the military. This was the only reaction that could be expected from Western governments, many of whose leaders have difficulty in understanding the nuances of the political complexities and cultures of other countries. Since the coup, the junta has taken positive steps to enhance the security of Thais and address problems that have plagued Thailand for so long, as well as laying out plans to return the country to democracy under an elected government.
Is it really asking too much of Western leaders to reassess their comments in light of the positive actions by the junta? Does any Western leader have the courage to say words to the effect, “We do not agree with the coup but have reviewed what the junta has done. These actions are considered positive and we are prepared to assist in whatever way we can to ensure democracy is returned to Thailand as soon as practicable.”
Of course, it won’t happen. Western leaders don’t have the courage to deviate from their script – which merely reinforces the conclusion that they are just as prone to the fear of losing face (or their jobs) as are Asian politicians and leaders.