471. Memorandum From the Acting Secretary of State to the President1


  • Call of the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces of Thailand

Field Marshal Sarit Thanarat (Srisdi Dhanarajata), Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces of Thailand, is calling on you Wednesday, May 7, at 9:30 a.m. He will be accompanied by His Excellency Thanat Khoman, Ambassador of Thailand, who will interpret, and The Honorable Walter S. Robertson, Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs. Sarit saw you informally when he visited Washington in July 1954.

Sarit is Thailand’s chief leader, in fact but not in title. He publicly opposes Communism and supports the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization. However, he and his colleagues have been susceptible to leftist pressures in Thailand and are not well informed regarding the methods of International Communism, particularly the popular front technique.

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Sarit wishes to thank you personally for medical treatment received at Walter Reed Army Hospital, which he knows has prolonged his life. He has apparently had a rapid recovery during his convalescence at Hollywood, Florida, during the past month. He has been informed that you are interested in his health.

It has been emphasized to Ambassador Khoman that this is a courtesy call, but Sarit may nevertheless bring up substantive matters. His letter to you2 expressed a desire to discuss cooperative efforts to meet the Communist danger in Southeast Asia, and we have recently learned that he is empowered to speak to you on the Thai Government’s behalf with a view to further strengthening cooperation between Thailand and the United States, particularly in the economic and military fields. Appropriate officers of the Department of State are prepared to discuss such matters with him. It would be helpful if you would comment approvingly on his public stand for the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization in the face of propaganda attacks on the Organization by Thai leftists and neutralists.

Biographic material regarding Field Marshal Sarit and Ambassador Khoman is enclosed.3

Christian A. Herter4
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 711.11–E1/5–258. Confidential.
  2. A copy of this letter, dated April 8, is in a collection of briefing materials for the discussions held by various U.S. officials with Sarit during May 1958. (Ibid., 792.5–MSP/5–1358)
  3. Not found attached.
  4. Printed from a copy that bears this stamped signature.