429. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Thailand 0

1230. Deliver soonest to Foreign Minister text of following letter from Secretary:

“Dear Mr. Minister:

I have been following with interest and increasing concern Ambassador Young’s reports of his recent conversations with you and with His Excellency, the Prime Minister, with respect to SEATO and relations between our two countries. While I know that Ambassador Young has fully presented our views to you, I desire in this way directly to review and discuss these matters with you.

[Page 910]

On the part of the United States Government, we deeply value the friendship and support of the Royal Thai Government and, regardless of developments elsewhere, we on our part desire to do all we can to make certain that this friendship is not disrupted through any lack of mutual understanding. We regard the security of Thailand of the highest importance and, in the words of the SEATO Treaty, recognize that aggression against Thailand would endanger our own peace and safety.

Now, with respect to SEATO, I desire to make several points we consider fundamental. First, in spite of any imperfections which it may be considered to have, I think it clear that it has been successful in deterring overt Communist aggression into the Treaty area. While this is not the answer to all of the security problems of the countries in the Treaty area, I would hope that you would agree with me that it is important to maintain this deterrent.

The next point that I would like to make, which perhaps we have not made with sufficient clarity in the past, is that we regard a multilateral collective security pact, such as that of SEATO, as not being less but rather greater than the sum of its parts. By this I mean that we believe that collective arrangements of this nature must support and strengthen the individual efforts of the various signatories rather than weaken them.

Finally, I want to make it clear that the SEATO Pact is the essential and only instrument by which our obligation with respect to the security of Thailand is, within our Constitutional system, given legal validity and substance.

We have, since your visit to Washington last October, given full and careful consideration to your suggestions with respect to a change in the voting procedure of SEATO, as well as to the proposal in this regard Thailand submitted to the Council of Representatives. I appreciate the motives and spirit in which those proposals have been made. However, after a full study of the matter, we doubt whether they would in fact contribute to that increased sense of security and confidence which I know that Thailand is seeking.

As I stated above, we regard the SEATO Treaty as not being less but rather greater than the sum of its parts, as well as the, essential Constitutional instrument for undertaking obligations for Thai security. From this is derived the solemn statement which Ambassador Young has made to your Government, that the United States would give full effect to its obligations under Article 4, Paragraph 1, of the Treaty. In our view, this obligation is not subject to the prior consent of any other signatory to [Page 911] the Treaty.1 Let me point out that our bilateral treaties in the Pacific area are expressed in precisely the same terms. However, I am sure that Thailand would share our view and hope, if unhappily circumstances arose calling for implementation of this Article of the Treaty, that it would be important and of great advantage that as many as possible other members of SEATO also participate in the action.

While at this stage these assurances should remain confidential, I would be prepared to consider with you a suitable form by which they could best be publicly expressed.

With respect to our attitude concerning possible Communist aggression against Thailand by means other than armed attack, I hope that your Government will fully note the actions of the United States in South Viet-Nam. In that country, which has demonstrated the will and capacity of the people and their Government to resist indirect aggression, there have been present the essential conditions for effective support. Although we have not proposed collective SEATO action in that country, we have regarded our commitment to the Treaty area under the SEATO Pact as providing an important basis for our own actions there. It is important to this Government that this basis not be destroyed. Obviously there is no reason to believe that the United States would, in the event of necessity, do less in the case of Thailand than it has in the case of South Viet-Nam.

The President and I would welcome the opportunity of further discussing these matters with you and hope that you might find it possible shortly to come to Washington for this purpose. In the meanwhile, I am inclined to feel that it might be preferable at this time to postpone the SEATO Council meeting now scheduled for Paris in April and am making this suggestion to our fellow Council members.

With kind personal regards and my respects to His Excellency, the Prime Minister, I remain

Sincerely yours, Dean Rusk”.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 379/2–1662. Confidential; Niact. Drafted by U. Alexis Johnson; cleared by Harriman, Chayes, Rusk, Nitze, and McGeorge Bundy (who cleared it with the President); and approved by Johnson. Repeated niact to Djakarta for Robert Kennedy and Unger and to CINCPAC POLAD, Canberra, Karachi, London, Paris, Wellington, and Manila.
  2. See footnote 4, Document 427.