Thailand has since 2004 formed an exception to the general peace trend in East Asia. An insurgency in its deep south has cost several thousand lives. Thailand has also engaged in a deadly border conflict with Cambodia and there have been violent incidents in Bangkok, as part of a polarized struggle for power between bitterly opposed political factions. Why does Thailand go against the regional grain? We seek an explanation to the Thai exception by investigating to what extent the southern conflict, the border dispute and the struggle over government are causally interlinked. The latter, we suggest, has been the determining factor, and the main explanation for the upsurge of conflict in Thailand is the lack of civilian control with the military, which has weakened state capacity and made it possible to topple elected governments in coups, court decisions and street-based campaigns.