476. Telegram From the Embassy in Thailand to the Department of State1

287. I have had 2 rather nebulous recent conversations on subject U.S. aid, one with Prince Wan and other with Phao. Each has referred vaguely necessity amending terms our aid agreements with Thailand with view providing larger proportion assistance in “soft goods” rather than military hardware and securing commitments for continuing U.S. assistance over period years.

I have reiterated to Wan and Phao Congress appropriates funds only on annual basis. I have also endeavored unsuccessfully obtain clearer idea type U.S. assistance Thailand Government would consider itself entitled and which is not or could not be made available under current arrangements. As yet, no specific formal requests have been presented through diplomatic channels to me.

My impression is that Thailand leaders moved by vague yearnings for situation not so embarrassingly organized into “programs” and in which funds would be dropped uncritically into their laps to be dispensed in their own enlightened way. Perhaps more importantly, they may also be troubled by some dim prospect Cold War may [Page 829] begin to thaw. Consequently it would behoove Thailand capitalize utmost on its bargaining position at this time.

Manifestations prevailing psychology reflected in amorphous programs for economic development and for development police and other internal security forces which have been recently outlined informally by Phao to representatives U.S. agencies directly responsible these fields. Thailand approach in recent conversations has been distinguished by willingness appraise their requirements in most sweeping and generous dimensions and by blithe determination not to be inhibited by lack serious studies and justifications with which substantiate such estimates.

Today Embassy received copy brochure being carried to Washington by Phao to lend substance to “Thailand’s need for supplementary assistance during F.Y. 56”.2 Summary requests a modest 136.7 million dollars for defense support, 105.6 million dollars for direct forces support; a neat total of 242.3 million. With regard improving security forces Phao has prepared program which over 10 year period estimated require investment 75 to 100 million dollars.

Since I suspect some richly orchestrated variations on aid theme will be rendered during forthcoming U.S. visit of Phao, I hope Mr. Hollister3 will find time see Phao when he is in Washington. In light fact Thailand Government advisers extremely knowledgeable regarding U.S. Government procedures Thais obviously have no serious hope gaining full acceptance programs this magnitude after Congressional consideration foreign aid appropriations concluded. Nevertheless, in my opinion, it would be extremely desirable at this point in international developments reassure Thailand, which remains keystone U.S. position Southeast Asia, of our continuing and sympathetic interest in development Thailand. I hope Phao will be told although it impossible make commitments magnitude which he may suggest we are nevertheless prepared consider jointly individual projects on their merits and within limitations funds now made available for F.Y. 56 it will be possible initiate those projects for which adequate engineering and economic justification can be made.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 792.5–MSP/8–255. Secret.
  2. No such brochure has been found in Department of State files.
  3. A memorandum of Phao’s conversation with Hollister is Infra.