If history is any guide the rival sides in the snowballing conflicts in Asia, both domestic and international, have much more to lose from the continuing friction and stalemate. While Sino-Japanese rivalry risks upsetting the relatively stable international order, the boiling conflicts in Bangladesh and Thailand risk undermining the democratic institutions in each with lasting implications in each case.
With the outbreak of grisly conflicts in the Central African Republic and South Sudan, the year 2014 has been welcomed very bleakly in the African continent. As such, given the deadly combination of the legacy of an ugly and complicated colonial past and the present-day rush of every competing side to get the bigger pie of the mineral wealth, Africa is finding it rather difficult to dissociate itself from long running conflicts.
The intensification of the stalemate in each of the countries with increasing aggression of the opposition in Thailand before proposed polls and 'do or die' post-poll protests of the opposition in Bangladesh portends a rather grim future for the people in those countries.
With frank descent of Iraq into chaos and lingering uncertainty about future of Afghanistan, these battered societies have little to rejoice as things stand today. And the unwelcome news from elsewhere in Asia make the overall prospects of Asian societies rather much grimmer than they would otherwise be.
What basically failed in both Afghanistan and Iraq after the US invasion was the foundation of truly democratic institutions with practical legitimacy on which a majority of people could place their faith. Both the countries are now paying a heavy price for that failure with a substantial danger of snowballing conflict and insurgency threatening to make each of these countries very entrenched basins of a contagious sectarian strife.
This is the exact lesson the leadership, both ruling and the opposition, in Thailand and Bangladesh are refusing to learn by deliberately undermining the democratic institutions that can potentially hold the society and the country together in times of crisis and turbulence. While already in a bind for their own myopic deeds in the past, the ruling power in Bangladesh and the opposition in Thailand are trying to dig hard in the hope of forcing the situation in their favor. The rivals in each country are retaliating with measures that they think best serve their interests.
As the experience elsewhere shows, either of the conflicting sides in either country may get the net benefit when the present version of showdown ends but continuing stalemate in each is detrimental to the long term interest of the society. Moreover, a hurried and unjust compromise at the end of costly showdown may set a bad precedent for any future confrontations.
The best way left for the rival sides in each countries--the ruling side in Bangladesh and the opposition in Thailand in particular--is to swallow the pill of compromise before it gets more bitter. If they can defend the rule of the game this time around, victory may be only a defeat away from them.
Interestingly, the very conclusion applies in case of international confrontations including in Sino-Japanese rivalry. The earlier the working compromise, the better. If not the best, such a solution will be least of the staring evils.