123 Stanton, Edwin F.: Telegram

No. 381
The Ambassador in Thailand (Stanton) to the Department of State


1537. Embtel 1503, Jan 122 re my statement. Dept may be interested in both press and personal reactions which fairly extensive. Fellow-traveller, pro-Commie, and ultra nationalist Thai and Chinese press used statement primarily to indicate US interference in Thai internal affairs; other anti-govt press naturally favored statement and offered mild veiled criticism of govt; pro-govt press attempted pass off statement by saying I had been away for long time, was not currently informed on recent events, and only speaking personally as true friend of Thailand. Govt-controlled Eng language Bangkok Tribune Jan 17 stated since Thailand fully supporting democratic world it “ought to have, long before this, been removed from range of suspicion”. Article concluded that country being attacked by “sporadic waves of criticism cooked up by pessimists”, and that “road leading to further criticism of this country should be completely blocked”.

[Page 648]

Reaction former Pridi-ites,3 free Thai, Democrats, Royalists and many conservative personalities both within and without govt thus far favorable. They perhaps hope for follow-up by US which might curb dictatorial powers of 1947 Coup group.4 Majority of those critical of govt however do not feel that statement in itself will make lasting impression among present govt leaders. Both FonMin5 and Premier cordial during Jan 14–15 conversations and friendly in brief comments to press inquiries. Both avoided commenting on specific points in statement and merely attempted explain Nov 29 Coup necessary wipe out corruption and Communism. First army C-in-C Sarit Thannarat6 informed American official I had been away too long, but Premier had explained situation and matters set straight.…

Personal comment by Brit and other diplomatic colleagues very favorable. Brit Amb7 says he made precisely same points in conversation with PriMin shortly after events Nov. 29.

Comment: Believe statement useful as indicating our concern over recent events which reflect degree political instability and preoccupation of military with politics to detriment of effective implementation of our mil aid program. Fear of possible curtailment of mil aid may also tend restrain irresponsible military leaders who now control govt. I hope also statement may make clear that US is aiding Thailand and not necessarily 1947 Coup group.

  1. Telegram 1503 reported the coverage in the Bangkok press of a statement Stanton had issued on Jan. 10 upon his return to Bangkok. (123 Stanton, Edwin F.) In the statement, Stanton expressed concern about the events of Nov. 29–30, 1951, when military leaders forced the resignation of the Pibulsonggram Cabinet, dissolved Parliament and appointed a new one, announced the abolition of the constitution and the restoration of the 1932 constitution, and formed a new Cabinet, also headed by Pibulsonggram. (For related documentation, see Foreign Relations, 1951, vol. vi, Part 2, pp. 1638 ff.) In his statement, sent to the Department of State on Jan. 11, Stanton declared that Thailand’s good friends in the United States were greatly disturbed at recent events, which had aroused doubts about the political situation in Thailand and uncertainty about the future. (Telegram 1501; 123 Stanton, Edwin F.)
  2. Pridi Phanomyong, leader of the Free Thai underground resistance movement against the Japanese during World War II and Prime Minister of Thailand from March to August 1946, had led an unsuccessful attempt to overthrow the Pibulsonggram government in February 1949 and had been in exile since that time.
  3. The military leaders who controlled the Thai Government were known as the Coup Group since their seizure of power in a coup d’état in November 1947.
  4. Worakan Bancha.
  5. Gen. Sarit Thanarat, Commander in Chief of the Thai First Army and Deputy Minister of Defense.
  6. Geoffrey Arnold Wallinger.