|* BIBLIOGRAPHIC ESSAY *
This essay discusses a wide range of the secondary sources that have been used in researching and writing this dissertation. The essay is intended to survey existing scholarship on U.S. relations with Thailand, and to a lesser extent, American foreign policy elsewhere in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War era. It also serves to introduce to the reader some of the available secondary English language sources dealing with Thailand’s history, foreign relations, politics, culture.
A number of works provide helpful analysis of U.S. involvement in Southeast Asia since World War Two. Peter A. Poole, The United States and Indochina From FDR to Nixon (1973) is solid, but is now rather dated. So too are Russell Fifield, Americans in Southeast Asia: The Roots of Commitment (1973), and The Diplomacy of Southeast Asia 1945-1958 (1968). The best among more recent studies is Robert J. McMahon, The Limits of Empire: The United States and Southeast Asia Since World War II (1999), and Gary R. Hess, The United States' Emergence as a Southeast Asian Power 1940-1950 (1987), which unfortunately covers a limited time span. Similarly, Andrew Rotter, The Path to Vietnam: Origins of the American Commitment to Southeast Asia (1987), is very strong, but deals only with the late 1940s. Alan Levine, The United States and the Struggle for Southeast Asia, 1945-1975 (1995) offers a chronologically broad examination of American policy in the region. A good collection of essays dealing with American foreign policy in Asia can be found in Warren Cohen and Akira Iriye, eds., The Great Powers in East Asia 1953-1960 (1990).
Among the many excellent texts relating to American involvement in Vietnam, George Herring, America's Longest War: The United States and Vietnam 1950-1975 (1979) remains one of the most concise and readable. Along with his more recent LBJ and Vietnam: A Different Kind of War (1994), it has proved to be an invaluable resource in setting the "backdrop" for this thesis. Also very useful has been Michael Hunt’s Lyndon Johnson's War: America's Cold War Crusade in Vietnam, 1945-1968 (1996), which goes beyond the more traditional emphasis on national security developments in analysing the complex chain of events leading to U.S. involvement. Marilyn B. Young, The Vietnam Wars 1945-1990 (1991) is comprehensive and integrates many personal accounts of the wars from both the American and Vietnamese perspectives. Light at the End of the Tunnel: A Vietnam War Anthology (1991), edited by Andrew J. Rotter, offers an interesting collection of essays on a wide range of topics, including presidential decision-making, military policy, and the war at home. Vietnam: A History (1983), by journalist Stanley Karnow, remains one of the most adept studies of the conflict. Also informative are Anthony Short, The Origins of the Vietnam War (1989), and R.B. Smith’s three volume An International History of the Vietnam War (1983-1991). For a more military-oriented perspective, consult Colonel Harry Summers Jr., On Strategy: A Critical Analysis of the Vietnam War (1982), and Guenter Lewy, America in Vietnam (1978). Robert Buzzanco’s Masters of War: Military Dissent and Politics in the Vietnam Era (1996) attacks the notion that the U.S. military fought the war "with one hand tied behind its back." Instead, Buzzanco argues military strategy was entirely lacking, and that top military officials were more concerned with politics than the war. Additional worthwhile broad surveys of the conflict include Gary R. Hess, Vietnam and the United States: Origins and Legacy of War (1990); Paul Kattenburg, The Vietnam Trauma in American Foreign Policy 1945-75 (1980); Robert Schulzinger, A Time for War: The United States and Vietnam, 1941-1975 (1997); James Stuart Olson, Where the Domino Fell: America and Vietnam, 1945 to 1990 (1991), William Duiker, U.S. Containment Policy and the Conflict in Indochina (1994), and David L. Anderson, ed., Shadow on the White House: Presidents and the Vietnam War, 1945-1975 (1993), which demonstrates that primary assumptions regarding the crisis remained essentially the same throughout successive administrations.
Though used sparingly in this thesis, David L. Anderson, Trapped By Success: The Eisenhower Administration and Vietnam, 1953-1961 (1991), and James R. Arnold's The First Domino: Eisenhower, the Military, and America's Intervention in Vietnam (1991), are reliable accounts on decision-making in the 1950's. In Approaching Vietnam: From World War II Through Dienbienphu, 1941-1954 (1988), Lloyd C. Gardner contends that Eisenhower cast his Vietnam policy within the context of an American “liberal empire”, determined to “liberate” Indochina from French mismanagement. Both Gardner and Arnold stress the influence that Eisenhower’s Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles, had on shaping American foreign policy, and both argue that the decisions Eisenhower made on Vietnam inevitably led to the subsequent Americanisation of the conflict. John P. Burke, et al, How Presidents Test Reality: Decisions on Vietnam, 1954 and 1965 (1989), deftly deals with the parallels and dissimilarities between Eisenhower’s and Johnson’s approaches to decision-making at critical junctions in Vietnam. The military’s role in influencing policy towards Vietnam during the Truman and Eisenhower administrations is also discussed in Ronald Spector, Advice and Support: The Early Years of the U.S. Army in Vietnam, 1941-1960 (1985).
Examinations of presidential decision-making regarding Vietnam in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations are plentiful, and have been extremely useful in understanding the broad context of U.S.-Thai relations. John Newman, JFK and Vietnam: Deception, Intrigue, and the Struggle for Power (1992) portrays a reluctantly interventionist President, who desperately searched for a peaceful solution. Less convincing, however, is Newman’s speculative contention that Kennedy would have pulled the U.S. out of Vietnam altogether. William J. Rust, Kennedy and Vietnam: American Foreign Policy, 1960-1963 (1985), offers a more balanced analysis, and agrees that Kennedy was at least preparing for American military disengagement from Vietnam. On the other hand, two excellent essays on Kennedy and Vietnam - one by Lawrence J. Bassett and Stephen E. Pelz in Kennedy's Quest for Victory; American Foreign Policy, 1961-63 (1989), edited by Thomas Paterson, and the other by Gary R. Hess in Anderson, Shadow on the White House - contend that JFK was more of an interventionist. Additional worthwhile assessments of the Kennedy administration with considerable discussion of Vietnam include Richard Reeves, Profile of Power (1993), and Herbert S. Parmet, JFK: The Presidency of John F. Kennedy (1983).
Two seminal works that pay close attention to decision-making with respect to Vietnam during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations are George McT. Kahin, Intervention: How America Became Involved in Vietnam (1986), and Leslie H. Gelb and Richard K. Betts, The Irony of Vietnam: The System Worked (1979). The latter is particularly useful in establishing the domestic political and social context in which decision-makers worked. In Paying Any Price: Lyndon Johnson and the Wars for Vietnam (1995), Lloyd C. Gardner avoids addressing the question of what Kennedy might have done in Vietnam had he lived, and instead focuses on the legacy he left Johnson. Gardner contends that Johnson was always mindful of comparisons between himself and Kennedy, especially with respect to foreign policy, and in this way was often obsessed with the idea that JFK would have avoided the quagmire in Vietnam. Johnson stressed the continuity in Vietnam policy between himself and his predecessor in an attempt to combat perception that he was solely responsible for the U.S. intervention. However, the more he struggled to make the connection between his own policy and JFK’s, the less room he allowed himself to change course. In this way, Gardner argues, JFK contributed to the tragedy in Vietnam even more than he did in life.
Among additional scholarly works examining the Johnson administration and Vietnam is Larry Berman, Planning A Tragedy: The Americanization of the War in Vietnam (1982), which offers a detailed account of LBJ’s decision-making on military intervention during 1965. Berman, Lyndon Johnson's War: The Road to Stalemate in Vietnam (1989), carries forward his analysis to 1968. Brian VanDeMark,
Into the Quagmire; Lyndon Johnson and the Escalation of the Vietnam War (1991), and Herring, LBJ and Vietnam: A Different Kind of War (1994) are also very solid, and should not be overlooked. Lyndon Johnson Confronts the World: American Foreign Policy 1963-1968 (1994), edited by Warren I. Cohen and Nancy Bernkopf Tucker, offers a collection of interesting essays on Johnson’s foreign policy with respect to other countries and regions in the world, as well as Vietnam.
Many top officials from the Kennedy and Johnson administrations have written of their experiences, and shed additional light on the Vietnam War era. Vietnam and Laos, though not Thailand, receive considerable attention in Robert McNamara, In Retrospect: The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam (1995), and Dean Rusk, As I Saw It (1990). William H. Sullivan, Obbligato 1939-1979: Notes on a Foreign Service Career (1984), and U. Alexis Johnson (with Jef O. McAllister) The Right Hand of Power (1984), are more informative on Thailand because of the authors’ long and intimate association with Southeast Asia.. Roger Hilsman, To Move A Nation: The Politics of Foreign Policy in the Administration of John F. Kennedy (1967) is much less worthwhile on Thailand. George Tanham, who served as a counter-insurgency chief in Thailand and Vietnam, offers some interesting personal insight in Trial in Thailand (1974), but there are no startling revelations.
Existing scholarship on U.S.-Thai relations since 1945 is relatively thin, no doubt mainly owing to the preoccupation with Vietnam. Still, very valuable studies do exist. The United States and Thailand: Alliance Dynamics, 1950-1985 (1986), by R. Sean Randolph, is certainly at the forefront. Arguing that national security interests were at the heart of both countries' policies throughout the Cold War, it focuses on Washington and Bangkok's anti-communist efforts. Three other works, also published by the University of California at Berkeley's Institute of East Asian Studies, adopt a similar approach. All are collaborations by Thai scholar Wiwat Mungkandi with American political scientists: Thailand-U.S. Relations: Changing Political, Strategic, and Economic Factors, with Ansil Ramsay (1988); U.S.-Thailand Relations in a New International Era, with Clark D. Neher (1990); and United States-Thailand Relations, with Karl D. Jackson (1986). Despite sometimes ahistorical analysis, all are essential reading, and complement the Randolph text well. A number of earlier studies on U.S.-Thai relations, though now superseded, are still worth examining. Frank Darling, Thailand and The United States (1965); Donald E. Nuechterlein, Thailand and the Struggle for Southeast Asia (1965); and David A. Wilson, The United States and the Future of Thailand (1970).
A variety of works provide more detailed analyses of specific aspects of U.S.-Thai relations. R. Sean Randolph, in collaboration with W. Scott Thompson, explored the dynamics of the indigenous communist movement in Thailand in Thai Insurgency: Contemporary Developments (1981). In Unequal Partners: Philippines and Thai Relations With the United States 1965-75 (1975), W. Scott Thompson provides an excellent overview of American policy towards Thailand within a comparative framework. Robert J. Muscat, Thailand and the United States: Development, Security and Foreign Aid (1990), and J. Alexander Caldwell, American Economic Aid to Thailand (1974), both written by former USOM agents, cover their subjects very well, although the former is much stronger in providing detail and setting the historical background.
Daniel Fineman's 1993 Yale doctoral dissertation, “The United States and Military Government in Thailand 1947-1958,” and his subsequent monograph, A Special Relationship: The United States and Military Government in Thailand, 1947-1958 (1997) offer an excellent in depth analysis of the dynamics of the relationship between the U.S. and Thailand during a crucial formative period, and in doing so also provide interesting insight into both the Truman and Eisenhower administrations' decision-making with respect to all of Southeast Asia. Fineman’s work, which draws on Thai as well as American sources, has been ground-breaking and has significantly contributed to this thesis, particularly in establishing major themes and in providing historical background.
Surachart Bamrungsuk, U.S. Foreign Policy and Thai Military Rule 1947-1977 (1988), is less detailed and broader in chronological scope than Fineman’s book, but presents a similar interpretation; it too has been important in setting some of the themes of this dissertation. T. Nok Xoomsai, Thailand's Policy Towards the U.S., 1950-1976 (1984), deals with similar themes, but from a different, occasionally nationalistic, perspective. By dealing with Thai decision-making in the context of the Cold War as a whole, he skirts the issue of military authoritarianism and its entrenchment through the American relationship. He supports the view that the United States "used" Thailand to prosecute the war in Vietnam, and that its withdrawal from the region left a legacy of drugs, graft, and prostitution. Adulyasak Soonthornrojana's doctoral dissertation, “The Rise of U.S.-Thai Relations 1945-1975” (University of Akron, 1986), is more balanced. However, it covers a much broader time frame and, consequently, lacks detail on the period covered in this thesis. Still, it offers a scholarly Thai perspective, and in this regard is an important overview.
Richard Randolph Sogn’s dissertation, “Successful Journey: A History of U.S.-Thai Relations, 1932-45” (University of Michigan, 1990), identifies major aspects of the relationship that remained pertinent to the 1960's. Dhanasarit Satawedin's thesis, “ Thai-American Alliance During the Laotian Crisis, 1959-62” (Northern Illinois University, 1984), gives an interesting account of how developments in Thailand's "little brother" shaped relations between Washington and Bangkok. Written from a political science perspective, it is a "case study" of small-state leverage with a superpower. In Mercenaries and Lyndon Johnson's "More Flags": The Hiring of Korean, Filipino and Thai Soldiers in the Vietnam War (1994), Robert M. Blackburn argues that Thailand's contribution to American efforts in Indochina depended upon considerable military and economic aid from the U.S., and that without such aid, its participation in any anti-communist front would have been nearly impossible. As this thesis has contended, obtaining U.S. military and economic aid was not Thailand’s sole or primary motivation for siding with the U.S.. Nonetheless, Blackburn offers an interesting and well-written comparative analysis of Asian contributions to the American war effort, among which Thailand's was the most important.
Works written during the 1960s and early 1970s about Thailand, and in particular about the insurgency there, are worth close examination. Donald E. Weatherbee was among the first to study the origins and structure of the communist movement in his The United Front in Thailand: A Documentary Analysis (1970). Similarly, in China and "People's War" in Thailand, 1964-1969 (1971), Daniel Lovelace investigated the connections between Beijing and the Thai insurgency. Thailand: The War That Is, The War That Will Be (1967), by Louis E. Lomax, concluded that Thailand might be the next "domino" after Vietnam on the basis of an interesting, though superficial, comparison of the political situations in the two countries.
Studies of Thai history, culture, and politics have been extensively used in this dissertation, and surely one of the best among them is David Wyatt, Thailand: A Short History (1982). Detailed and comprehensive, Wyatt's work traces the central themes in Thai political history from the 19th century, with ample attention to developments in the post-World War II era and particularly the country's role in the Cold War. Wyatt makes a convincing case that Thai culture has shaped, and continues to be integral to, the country's foreign relations, but he does not overlook other factors, such as national security and economic considerations. Another informed overview is Thailand: Society and Politics (1981) by John S. Girling, whose nearly thirty year academic association with the country ranks him as the dean of Thai studies. He is perhaps rivalled only by Charles Keyes, Isan: Regionalism in Northeastern Thailand (1967), and William Skinner, Leadership and Power in the Chinese Community of Thailand (1958), both of whom pioneered sociological research on Thailand. Keyes focused on Buddhism, ethnic identity, and regionalism in the Northeast, and Skinner on the Chinese in Thai society. The contributions of both are essential to understanding the complex dynamics of Thai society, which has direct bearing on the threat that communism posed to the country during the 1960s.
The perspective found in Richard West, Thailand: The Last Domino (1991), is somewhere between that of an academic and an intrepid backpacker. It is a melange of sound historical analysis and recollections gleaned from personal travels throughout the country. Central to West's thesis is that Thai culture has endured as the primary dynamic in the country's external relations, and that for this reason, Thailand has avoided the fate of many neighbours in the region. William Klausner, Reflections on Thai Culture (1981), is also useful, although lacking in historical perspective. An important source on cultural and ideology, with specific reference to Thailand's political history, is Patterns and Illusions: Thai History and Thought (1993), edited by Gehan Wijeyewardene and EC Chapman. Craig J. Reynolds, ed., National Identity and Its Defenders (Thailand 1939-1989) (1991), offers valuable insight into nationalism and the roots of military authoritarianism. On Thai politics, Likhit Dhiravegin, Thai Politics: Selected Aspects of Development and Change (1985), is indispensable. Authored by one of Thailand’s leading academics, it includes key documents as well as informative analysis on just about every feature of the country's political landscape. Other valuable works on Thai politics are Thak Chaloemtiarana, ed., Thai Politics: Extracts and Documents 1932-1957 (1978), and the authoritative Government and Politics of Thailand (1987) edited by Somsakdi Xuto.
Two works by Corrine Phuangkasem, Determinants of Thailand's Foreign Policy Behaviour (1986), and Thailand's Foreign Relations 1964-80 (1984), provide a good starting point for understanding Thai foreign policy. Written from a political science perspective, they include pertinent historical discussion. Less useful is Gangnath Jna's Foreign Policy of Thailand (1979). A very good study on the early relationship between Beijing and Bangkok is Anuson Chinvanno, Thailand's Policies Towards China 1949-54 (1992), which pinpoints some of the enduring themes in Sino-Thai relations right up to the present. Sukhumbhand Paribatra, From Enmity to Alignment: Thailand's Evolving Relations with China (1987), covers the period after 1954. These two works are required reading, not only on Thailand's relations with China, but on Thai foreign policy in general. R.K. Jain, ed., China and Thailand, 1949-1983 (1984) is an interesting documentary history, and useful in exploring this crucial topic. Thailand's experiences in World War II were extremely important in laying the groundwork for its post-1945 foreign policy. Charivat Santaputra offers a good overview of this period in Thai Foreign Policy 1932-1946 (1985). However, the best study is Edward Bruce Reynold's doctoral dissertation, “Ambivalent Allies: Japan and Thailand, 1941-1945”, (University of Hawaii, 1988), which subsequently formed the basis of his book, Thailand And Japan's Southern Advance, 1940-1945 (1994).
English language studies of Sarit Thanarat, Thanom Kittachakorn, or Pridi Phanomyong are regrettably scarce. However, in Field Marshal Plaek Phibun Songkhram (1980), B.J. Terwiel presents a well-researched and even-handed, sometimes even sympathetic, assessment of Thailand's most controversial leader. Phibun and his legacy are also addressed by both Edward Bruce Reynolds and Daniel Fineman in their works. Another commendable biography is David Van Praagh, Alone on the Sharp Edge: The Story of M.R. Seni Pramoj and Thailand's Struggle for Democracy (1989), which covers over a half-century of developments in Thai politics.
An understanding of the Laotian crisis is vital to an understanding of U.S.-Thai relations in the late 1950s and 1960s. One of the best works on the crisis is Norman B. Hannah, The Key to Failure: Laos and the Vietnam War (1987) which, as the title suggests, puts the crisis in a much larger context. Hannah’s analysis benefits from his own personal experiences while serving in the American diplomatic missions in Laos and Thailand. Another work worth consulting is Laos: Beyond the Revolution (1991), edited by Joseph J. Zasloff and Leonard Unger, the former Deputy Mission Chief and later Ambassador in both Vientiane and Bangkok.
The best study of the origins of the crisis in Laos is Geoffrey C. Gunn, Political Struggles in Laos, 1930-54 (1988). Two older works are Arthur J. Dommen, Conflict in Laos: The Politics of Neutralization (1971), and Charles A. Stevenson, The End of Nowhere: American Policy Towards Laos Since 1954 (1972). American military involvement in Laos is the focus of Timothy Neil Castle’s, At War in the Shadow of Vietnam: U.S. Military Aid to the Royal Lao Government, 1955-73 (1993). In One Day Too Long: Top Secret Site 85 and the Bombing of Vietnam (1999), Castle meticulously details covert operations in Laos, and the U.S. government’s efforts to cover them up. Jane Hamilton-Merritt, Tragic Mountains: The Hmong, the Americans and the Secret Wars for Laos, 1942-1992 (1993), should be compulsory reading for any student of modern Southeast Asia. For a solid general history of Laos, see Martin Stuart Fox, A History of Laos (1997).
The best introductions to Cambodia’s painful and complex history are A History of Cambodia (2nd Edition, 1992), and The Tragedy of Cambodian History: Politics, War and Revolution Since 1945 (1991), both authored by David Chandler, a leading academic expert on that country who once served in the American diplomatic corps there. Chandler's Brother Number One: A Political Biography of Pol Pot (1992) is also essential in comprehending a tortured period in Cambodian history. So is Arnold Isaac, Pawns Of War: Cambodia and Laos (1987), which also offers an illuminating overview of Indochinese history since 1945. Milton Osborne, Sihanouk: Prince of Light, Prince of Darkness (1994) is an excellent biography, which gives a useful perspective on Cambodia's relations with the U.S. during the Vietnam War.
* NOTE ON PRIMARY SOURCES *
This dissertation relies mainly on research at several major archives in the United States. I conducted research at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston, Massachusetts periodically over four years from 1992 to 1996. I examined materials at the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library in Austin, Texas in 1994 and 1995, and at the National Archives (Archives II) in College Park, Maryland during the summers of 1995 and 1996, and early in 1998. Archival research also included visits to the British Public Records Office in London, England and the Library of Congress in Washington, as well as to a number of other depositories in Canada and the United States. While regrettably many official U.S. records dealing with U.S.-Thai relations during the 1961-1969 period remain sealed, ample research material exists for this study. In some instances I have been among the first researchers to examine newly declassified documents relating to the subject of this thesis.
Much of the research in primary materials for this study has focused on the U.S. State Department. The General Records for the Department of State, RG 59, for the period 1961-1968 that are available to researchers include the "Lot Files" for the period prior to 1963; the Alpha-Numeric series for 1963; and the Subject-Numeric, central foreign policy series for 1964-66 and 1967-69. Documents in RG 59 for the 1964-66 and 1967-69 periods were examined early in 1998, shortly after they opened to researchers, but many duplicated materials were already available at the Johnson Library. The records of the Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs, also at the National Archives, proved invaluable. Several other series at the National Archives, including the top secret files of the Regional Planning Adviser, were declassified and opened virtually as I arrived in the summer of 1995.
A good deal of military and intelligence information is in the latter collection, which to a large extent compensates for the dearth of records available from the Defense Department and the CIA. The country files of the State Department were indispensable for information not found in the decimal and alpha-numeric files, while the subject and name files shed some light on the nature of decision-making. National Security Agency files open to researchers are heavily censored, and deal with the U.S.-Thai relationship only infrequently.
The Kennedy and Johnson presidential libraries contain much useful material for this study. The Johnson library has a fairly comprehensive record of telexes and memoranda between Washington and Bangkok up to 1969 in the National Security Files, country series. Both the Kennedy and Johnson libraries have a variety of departmental and personal staff collections which offer valuable insight into the nature of the U.S.-Thai relationship throughout the decade. Roger Hilsman's papers at the Kennedy library are particularly helpful in this regard.
The presidential libraries also contain a wide range of oral histories, mostly for notable figures who served Kennedy and Johnson in senior appointments. Georgetown University's Foreign Affairs Programme has compiled a valuable collection of oral transcripts from lesser-known but more directly involved career diplomatic corps personnel. Similarly, the personal papers of Kennedy's Ambassador to Thailand, Kenneth T. Young, located at Harvard University’s Pusey Library, offer an interesting perspective on the U.S.-Thai relationship, particularly with respect to decision-making dynamics on the American side, as do Averell Harriman's papers at the Library of Congress.
I conducted research in the British Public Records Office (P.R.O.) primarily in the Fall of 1993, and again briefly in the summer of 1996. Especially informative for my purposes was material for the 1961-1963 period. The country file on Thailand offers revealing perspectives, especially on the Laotian crisis in which Great Britain played an important role as mediator.
While never garnishing the attention given to events in Vietnam, the U.S.-Thai relationship occasionally made the headlines in major American newspapers. The New York Times and Washington Post offered the most frequent coverage, and the former has been particularly useful to this study. English-language Thai newspapers have also been consulted, as have a wide array of periodicals and scholarly journals from the period. The Thai Foreign Ministry's publication during the 1960's, Foreign Affairs Bulletin, is especially useful in establishing the official Thai viewpoint on developments.
No study dealing with the crisis in Vietnam would be complete without reference to documentary compilations such as Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS), the Department of State Bulletin, or the Pentagon Papers. The best organised and most readable edition of the latter is that by Senator Gravel (1971). Other published documentary sources of value include Vietnam and America: A Documented History (1995), edited by Marvin E. Gettleman, et al. It builds upon Gareth Porter, Vietnam: A History in Documents (1979), and the much earlier Gettleman, Vietnam: History, Documents, and Opinions On A Major World Crisis (1965). Transcripts of the tape recordings of Lyndon Johnson’s Oval Office conversations during the first two years of his presidency have been compiled and edited by Michael Beschloss in Taking Charge: The Johnson White House Tapes 1963-64 (1997). The conversations regarding Vietnam are revealing, and well-worth examining.