INR–NIE files

1

No. 395
Special Estimate 2

secret
SE–45

Thailand’S Ability To Withstand Communist Pressures Or Attacks Through Mid–1954 3

the problem

To estimate the political, economic, and armed strength of Thailand, with particular reference to Thailand’s ability to withstand external or internal Communist pressures or attacks, through mid–1954.

conclusions

1.
Thailand’s relative freedom from Communist pressure has probably been ended as a consequence of the recent Viet Minh incursion into Laos.
2.
The regime in Thailand is not on the whole vulnerable to Communist subversion in the absence of strong external Communist pressures. However, there are weaknesses in Thailand’s internal political situation which might become aggravated under increased external Communist pressures.
3.
We believe that the Thai Government will be able to cope with Communist pressures on the scale which can be expected to develop in the immediate future.
4.
However, within the period of this estimate, the presence of Communist guerrilla forces along Thailand’s northeastern border will considerably increase Communist capabilities for subversion and for the development of a dissident movement among the Vietnamese in northeastern Thailand. As Communist strength increases on the border, Communist pressure on Thailand will grow. The anxiety of Thai leaders will increase proportionately, and they will almost certainly request assurances of increased support from the US.
5.
While we believe that invasion of Thailand by regular Viet Minh forces is not likely during the period of this estimate, the situation would be drastically altered if the Communists should consolidate a position on Thailand’s borders and threaten to invade Thailand in force. In that event, the resistance Thailand would make to the Communists would depend on whether Thailand’s leaders believed sufficient external assistance could be counted on. Specifically, they would demand a US commitment to support and defend Thailand. If they were given such a commitment and were convinced that US help would be immediate and effective, we believe that the Thai leaders would stand firm against Communist pressures. If, on the other hand, it did not appear that the necessary amount of US aid would be forthcoming, Thailand’s leaders would probably yield to Communist demands.

[Here follows the “Discussion” section of the paper, comprising paragraphs 6–21.]

  1. Files of National Intelligence Estimates, Special Estimates, and Special National Intelligence Estimates, retained by the Directorate for Regional Research, Bureau of Intelligence and Research.
  2. Special Estimates (SE’s) were high-level interdepartmental reports presenting authoritative appraisals of vital foreign policy problems on an immediate or crisis basis. SE’s were drafted by officers from those agencies represented on the Intelligence Advisory Committee (IAC), discussed and revised by interdepartmental working groups coordinated by the Office of National Estimates of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), approved by the IAC, and circulated under the aegis of the CIA to the President, appropriate officers of cabinet level, and the National Security Council. The Department of State provided all political and some economic sections of SE’s.
  3. According to a note on the cover sheet: “The following member organizations of the Intelligence Advisory Committee participated with the Central Intelligence Agency in the preparation of this estimate: The intelligence organizations of the Departments of State, the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, and the Joint Staff. The Intelligence Advisory Committee concurred in this estimate on 26 May 1953. The FBI abstained, the subject being outside of its jurisdiction.”