467. Telegram From the Embassy in Thailand to the Department of State 1

2832. Embassy now preparing despatch summarizing and evaluating threat posed by leftist movement in Thailand and role played by Pridi and his supporters here and in Red China.2 In spite results last two elections, this leftist threat is a very real one and is enhanced by insularity and lack of political sophistication on part of most Thai leaders. These qualities result in opportunistic willingness to deal with Communist China covertly and to cooperate with leftists within Thailand in attempt to gain momentary political advantages particularly as against Democratic Party for present ruling group. While this is thus far less evident that [than] in case of preceding group it nevertheless is continuing problem.

I am convinced that key figure in this dangerous situation is Sarit who remains even after a prolonged absence nearest thing to a powerful and forceful political leader within ruling group. I understand he unfortunately shares ignorance of world events and lack of sophistication regarding world Communism characteristic of his colleagues. Since we now have Sarit in US where it is possible to talk with him informally and at length in manner which will be impossible once he returns Thailand, I strongly recommend we seize opportunity, particularly during his stay in Florida, informally and adroitly to brief him on results efforts in other countries to work with and “use” their internal Communist movements. Believe this could be done effectively by some person such as General Erskine who is already known and highly respected by Sarit, probably with assistance from a Department representative. In latter connection Department might desire to consider Ambassador Yost if now available since he well-informed on Communist tactics, including SEA and Middle East, and has had experience in Thailand.

Suggest this proposal be discussed with [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] may have additional ideas to contribute.

Johnson
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 792.00/4–358. Secret; Limit Distribution.
  2. Reference is to despatch 754 from Bangkok, April 28. (Ibid., 792.00/4–2858) It is summarized in telegram 2902, infra .