792.5 MSP/5–953: Telegram
The Ambassador in Thailand (Stanton) to the Department of State
2235. Joint Embassy–STEM message. Reference Deptel 2074.1 As reported, Viet Minh invasion Laos has alarming long-term implications for Thailand but do not believe any immediate danger incursions into northeast Thailand even though Viet Minh able gain complete control Northern Laos.
Recommendation economic measures to be taken in Northeast must await finding various observers, both Thai and American now in area. Prime Minister and Generals Phao and Sarit presently in Northeast with intent develop Thai plans based on first hand observation. US Assistant Military Attaché just returned, Embassy Political Officer now in area and Chief STEM planning personal inspection before departure Washington. Until results these trips known, too early for Thai Government to have special measures planned except those already reported with respect movement portion Vietnamese minority and certain police and army preparations. Although these preliminary measures have full Embassy MAAG approval possible contribution of an economic program not yet clear.
So far as economic measures are concerned we visualize developments somewhat along the following lines:
- Ambassador and Chief STEM2 will confer with Prime Minister as soon as possible upon his return from Northeast and will suggest to him joint Thai-US high-level extraordinary committee be appointed develop specific economic measures cover mutually agreed upon weak spots discovered during observation trips or otherwise identified. Embassy and STEM believe that separate program will probably evolve, covering measures meet specific identifiable dangers in specifically identifiable areas caused by Viet Minh [Page 674] activities in Laos. We believe present small STEM program in Northeast and elsewhere should proceed as planned and that such additional measures we may propose be considered as extra and above present STEM activities. Believe unwise disturb present STEM program since it would give Thailand impression US is nervous concerning security Northeast and new approach, preferable to merely expanding present projects Northeast. To have prompt psychological effect a new approach should be developed cover specific soft spots as they are identified by area and type. Expansion present activities merely to show US interest and concern would not accomplish these results although some expansion present activities probably will merge as part of separate emergency program.
- New efforts in Northeast should probably initially be concentrated in area along border from North to Nakorn Phanom. The extra economic program for Northeast would be limited to danger area and designed cope with special problems specifically giving promise immediately psychological effect. Expect program would take form gearing into Thai Government plans as they develop and hitting other danger spots we uncover by independent observation.
- We are fairly confident we can sell the Thai on this approach and jointly work out a Northeast emergency program emphasizing psychological effect and danger spots within two to three weeks. Unable now estimate additional economic funds required fiscal year 1953 or 1954 but desire go on record that in our considered opinion additional funds will be necessary even after cutting back proposed $6 million STEM program fiscal year 1954 to maximum extent possible.
Brief summary current major projects Northeast follows:
a. Tank irrigation—as of 31 March 36 irrigation tanks located throughout entire Northeast complete, 58 additional under construction and 40–50 additional to be started first three months 1954. Project proceeding as fast as equipment operators can be trained.
b. Extension—agricultural extension activities expanded North-east all fields. 12 experiments and 121 farm demonstrations in fertilizing rice conducted that area 1952 with results ranging from 76 to 500 percent increase in yield. Extension meeting Ubol now going on.
c. Malaria—malaria campaign in three years reaching 1 million people throughout entire Northeast. Most favorable reactions observed.
d. Rural health—Goal Ministers of Health properly equipped 679 first and second class rural health centers and increase number of centers to 2000 with first priority Northeast being implemented. Lateness arrival supplies and equipment delaying project. Transportation [Page 675] rural health officers supplied in order increase ability reach increasing numbers of people.
e. Hospitals—program emphasizes assistance Northeast provincial hospitals, ambulance supplied each hospital.
Transportation, et cetera
f. Railways—construction carriage and wagon repair, ship and locomotive wash-out shop Korat to be completed by end fiscal year 1954 resulting in greatly improved rail transportation Northeast and consequent ability move Northeastern products Bangkok.
g. Highways—amounts MSA supplied highway equipment in one location vary from season to season. Equipment has helped construction, repair and maintenance over 1500 kilometers of trail-ways, 5000 kilometers highways with priority in Northeast. Procurement under way for base repair shop equipment Korat tied in with Thai Government commitment build and equip field shop Khonkaen for machinery repair and maintenance resulting great need highway construction.
h. Substantial benefits observed during recent visits Udorn and other cities Northeast directly resulting from training teachers have received at Phachoengsao.
- Telegram 2074, May 5, requested a joint Embassy-STEM evaluation of the situation in northeast Thailand, recommendations of economic measures to undertake to meet the threat of an invasion from Laos, a summary of projects currently underway in the northeast, and any special measures planned by the Thai Government. (792.5 MSP/5–253)↩
- Austin F. Flegel, Jr.↩