811.20 (D) Regulations/2082: Telegram

The Minister in Thailand (Grant) to the Secretary of State

262. My telegram 257, May 3, 4 p.m.98 recent events involving high government and diplomatic circles indicate that a carefully planned campaign is under way to enlist us in the business of supplying Thailand not only with oil fuel for domestic purposes but oil products for an expanding military machine, iron and steel products, war planes, armaments, munitions and perhaps money with which to purchase these articles. The strategy of the campaign is to woo us with (1) references to the traditional friendship and good will between Thailand and the United States, (2) the alleged desire of Thailand to foil the “evil designs” of the Japanese by doing business with the democracies, (3) the alleged determination of the Thai to resist with force any Japanese military aggression in Thailand such as the marching of troops through the country and the establishment of air bases. The Thai high command hopes to maneuver the campaign to success through the assistance of the British Minister, Sir Josiah Crosby, who will approach Washington and London. In fact it would appear that steps have been taken to this end already. London will be asked to supply the funds and some oil through the Dutch East Indies and use its influence with Washington in obtaining from us those things which Great Britain cannot supply, i. e., war planes, armaments, munitions.

The above observations are based upon a series of incidents which have occurred recently including the local press propaganda, approaches made to me by Thailand officials, several of whom are heavily interested financially in the proposed operations, and to conversations which I have had with the British Chargé d’Affaires and with the British Minister who was requested to call to see the Prime Minister this week following the former’s return from Burma.

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In my conversation with Sir Josiah, subsequent to his conference with the Prime Minister, I elicited sufficient information to confirm me in my conclusions as to which way the wind is blowing. The British Minister quoted the Prime Minister as having stated he would resist Japanese military aggression on Thailand just as Greece and Yugoslavia had resisted the Axis and in order to accomplish this he must be strong. He therefore needed more war planes and armaments and money with which to purchase. The Prime Minister indicated further, according to Sir Josiah, that if he could not obtain these things from the democracies then he had no alternative but to get them from Japan. This is the same thesis which was advanced after we stopped the bombers at Manila last October and reiterated over and over again by the Thai publicity people with encouragement from the British and also certain local American business people who shut their eyes to everything except their own immediate profits. I have always believed in propaganda carefully designed for the purpose of establishing an alibi for the flirtation with Japan which culminated in active Thailandese collaboration with the Japanese in Indochina affair through the Tokyo “mediation” and also to keep us in the state of the benevolent Santa Claus towards Thailand. I believe the present effort of the Prime Minister and the men who surround him is in the same category. I do not believe for one moment that the Thai would resist the Japanese by force should the latter come marching in. All the present signs point the other way. However, my British colleague seems to be impressed with the thought. It is right in line with the policy which he has pursued almost from the beginning of the affair involving Thailand, Indochina and Japan. I am convinced that we should watch our [step?] lest we fall in the trap, assuming that we still believe in the maintenance of the status quo in this general area with all that this policy implies.

I trust that this telegram will be shown personally to the Secretary.

  1. Not printed.