811.20 (D) Regulations/3627

Memorandum, by the Adviser on Political Relations (Hornbeck) of a Conversation With the British Minister (Butler)

Reference Bangkok’s 262, May 8, 10 p.m. At dinner last evening at the Australian Legation I was seated beside Mr. Butler of the British Embassy. I did not at that time know that the Department had received the telegram above under reference.—Mr. Butler asked me why the American Government is so “standoffish” about giving assistance to Thailand toward “holding Thailand in line”; he said that he had the impression that we feel that Thailand cannot successfully be wooed. I replied that in my opinion his impression is in accord with the facts; in regard to his question “why”, I said that we—some of us at least—are of the opinion that the present unsatisfactory situation as regards Thailand is in no small part due to the course which has been followed by British diplomacy; I said that as I understand it the British Minister at Bangkok had, when first the Thailanders began to talk of getting back territory from the French, suggested that the British and the American Governments stand pat and advise the Thailanders to exercise self-restraint and not raise issues, and that soon thereafter the said British Minister had given encouragement to the movement by the Thailanders toward bringing pressure to bear on the French and regaining some of Thailand’s lost territory. I said that the American Government had suggested to the Thai Government at the outset that it would be better not to raise new issues at this time and to await a moment at which there might be given full consideration, by peaceful processes, to a great many questions of possible readjustments—and that we had throughout and consistently adhered to the attitude and view thus expressed. I said that the Thailanders, having with some British encouragement and substantial Japanese assistance made gains at the expense of the French, are in our opinion now very much under Japanese influence; that the situation is one in which potential use of armed force is the most influencing factor; that the Thailanders can hope for little from and need stand little in fear of Great Britain or the United States, whereas Japan can offer much in the way of rewards and in the way of penalties. Mr. Butler said that Thailand does not want to come under Japanese [Page 149] control. I replied that Thailand does not want to come under any other country’s control but that Japan can play more effectively upon Thailand’s hopes and Thailand’s fears than can, at present, Great Britain or the United States. Mr. Butler said that by conveying upon Thailand economic benefits, we might hold Thailand. I replied that in my opinion the Japanese, by virtue of their proximity, their armed force in the offing, the number of their nationals present in Thailand, their propaganda, and the various and sundry methods which they employ, have the inside track in Thailand now; that if the British believe that they can hold Thailand in line by supplying commodities and funds it might be well for the British to do the gup-plying without calling upon us—we being skeptical at least—to participate in that procedure; I said that the British have oil available and the amount of money called for is not large, so, if they wish to go into such a speculative venture, why should not the speculation be theirs, leaving us out of it. We are trying to avoid interfering with Thailand’s normal commercial requirements. I said that materials sent into Thailand might easily be seized and be used by the Japanese. I said that I felt and I hoped that in the carrying out of our general program of defense and security, including aid to Britain and other countries, the United States can make sounder investments of its influence and practical aid than seem inherently possible in the situation which now prevails in Thailand.

At that point there came an interruption, and discussion of this subject was not resumed.

S[tanley] K. H[ornbeck]