Memorandum Prepared in the Division of Southwest Pacific Affairs
Memorandum for the President
(for possible use in discussion with Mr. Churchill and Marshal Stalin)15
Subject: Future Status of Thailand.
British policies towards Thailand are divergent from ours. The British regard Thailand as an enemy and it is their view: [Page 1243]
- That Thailand’s postwar independence should be conditioned on its, acceptance of “special arrangements for security or economic collaboration …16 within an international system”.
- That the peninsula of Thailand from Malaya to about 12° north latitude should be considered a vital strategic area and its defense under international security arrangements be undertaken by a protecting power or by an international consortium. This is reported to be the opinion of Mr. Churchill. Such action might substantially impair Thai administrative rights in the area.
- That actual military government will not be needed, except perhaps in combat zones. However, they believe that an Allied Control Commission should be established in Thailand, which should be continued for some time.
- That they should not deal at the present time with any Thai Government.
In contrast, we do not regard Thailand as an enemy but as an enemy-occupied country. We recognize the Thai Minister in Washington as “Minister of Thailand” with a status similar to that of the Danish Minister. We favor a free, independent Thailand, with sovereignty unimpaired, and ruled by a government of its own choosing. Thailand is the one country in Southeast Asia which was still independent before the war. We believe that it would be prejudicial to American interests throughout the Far East if, as the outcome of the war in which we will have had the major part in defeating Japanese aggression, Thailand should be deprived of any of its prewar territory or should have its independent status impaired. The history of European pressure on Thailand and of European acquisition of territory in Southeast Asia is vivid in Asiatic memories. This Government cannot afford to share responsibility in any way for a continuance towards Thailand of prewar imperialism in any guise.
Within Thailand, the administration which first yielded to Japan and which was notoriously collaborationist has been replaced by an administration largely controlled by Pradist, present Regent, most respected of Thai leaders and opponent of Japan from the first. American contact has been established with Pradist who is actively aiding Allied intelligence work and who has expressed his desire that Thailand enter the war against Japan and that the Thai army fight by the side of the Allies.
It is the view of the Department that an effort should be made to persuade the British to alter their plans so that they are not inconsistent with our own. It is believed that if Thailand joins in the war against Japan she should be treated as a liberated country and her government be recognized, at least provisionally. Although there are disadvantages from a political viewpoint in having American troops, except where militarily essential, participate in the recovery [Page 1244] of European colonial areas, there would be advantages from a political viewpoint in having American troops under independent American command responsible for the liberation of Thailand, rather than in having Thailand occupied as enemy territory by British forces. Whether or not American forces should be used in Thailand, however, is a question which would presumably be decided in the light of overall strategic considerations.
Attached is a brief memorandum regarding the Regent Pradist.17
- President Roosevelt conferred at Yalta with British Prime Minister Winston S. Churchill and Marshal Iosif Vissarionovich Stalin, Chairman of the Council of People’s Commissars of the Soviet Union, February 4–11, 1945. For documentation on the Conference, see Foreign Relations, The Conferences at Malta and Yalta, 1945. There is no record of discussions on Thailand at Yalta.↩
- Omission indicated in the original memorandum.↩
- Not printed.↩