The Foreign Relations of the United States series presents the official documentary historical record of major foreign policy decisions and significant diplomatic activity of the United States Government. The series documents the formulation of policies, including the events which contributed to that process, and includes evidence of supporting and alternative views to the policy positions ultimately adopted.

The Historian of the Department of State is charged with the responsibility for the preparation of the Foreign Relations series. The staff of the Office of the Historian, Bureau of Public Affairs, plans, researches, compiles, and edits the volumes in the series. This documentary editing proceeds in full accord with the generally accepted standards of historical scholarship. Official regulations codifying specific standards for the selection and editing of documents for the series were first promulgated by Secretary of State Frank B. Kellogg on March 26, 1925. These regulations, with minor modifications, guided the series through 1991.

A new statutory charter for the preparation of the series was established by Public Law 102–138, the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Years 1992 and 1993, which was signed by President George Bush on October 28, 1991. Section 198 of P.L. 102–138 added a new Title IV to the Department of State’s Basic Authorities Act of 1956 (22 USC 4351, et seq.).

The statute requires that the Foreign Relations series be a thorough, accurate, and reliable record of major United States foreign policy decisions and significant United States diplomatic activity. The volumes of the series should include all records needed to provide comprehensive documentation of major foreign policy decisions and actions of the United States Government, including facts that contributed to the formulation of policies and records that provided supporting and alternative views to the policy positions ultimately adopted.

The statute confirms the editing principles established by Secretary Kellogg: the Foreign Relations series is guided by the principles of historical objectivity and accuracy; records should not be altered or deletions made without indicating in the published text that a deletion has been made; the published record should omit no facts that were of major importance in reaching a decision; and nothing should be omitted for the purposes of concealing a defect in policy. The statute also requires that the Foreign Relations series be published not more than 30 years after the events recorded.

The editors of this volume are convinced that it meets all regulatory, statutory, and scholarly standards of selection and editing. Although [Page IV] this volume records policies and events of more than 30 years ago, the Foreign Relations statute allows the Department until 1996 to reach the 30-year line in the publication of the series.

Structure and Scope of the Foreign Relations Series

This volume is part of a triennial subseries of volumes of the Foreign Relations series. The subseries documents the most important issues in the foreign policy of the 3 years (1961–1963) of the administration of John F. Kennedy. In planning and preparing the 1961–1963 triennium, the editors chose to present the official record of U.S. foreign affairs toward Southeast Asia in a volume separate from Vietnam and Laos. For the first year and a half of the Kennedy administration, Laos was the most pressing crisis in Southeast Asia. After the conclusion of the Geneva Conference on Laos in July 1962, events in Vietnam came increasingly to dominate the administration’s policy toward Southeast Asia. Nevertheless, the Kennedy administration maintained an active and important relationship with the rest of Southeast Asia as reflected in this volume.

To understand fully the Kennedy administration’s total policy approach to Southeast Asia, this volume should be read in conjunction with the four volumes on Vietnam for 1961–1963 (volumes IIV) and volume XXIV, Laos Crisis. This is especially true for this volume’s compilations on Thailand, where the introduction of U.S. armed forces into Thailand was in response to events in Laos; the Southeast Asia region with its emphasis on the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization’s inability to respond effectively to the Laos crisis; and Cambodia, Vietnam’s and Laos’ neighboring state.

The Foreign Relations statute requires that the published record in the Foreign Relations series include all records needed to provide comprehensive documentation on major foreign policy decisions and actions of the U.S. Government. It further requires that government agencies, departments, and other entities of the U.S. Government cooperate with the Department of State Historian by providing full and complete access to records pertinent to foreign policy decisions and actions and by providing copies of selected records. The editors believe that this volume generally meets the standards and mandates of this statute, although access to some records was limited, as noted below.

Sources for the Foreign Relations Series

The editors have had complete access to all the retired records and papers in the Department of State: the central files of the Department; the decentralized (“lot files”) of the Department at the bureau, office, and division levels; the files of the Department’s Executive Secretariat, which contain the records of international conferences and high-level official visits, correspondence with foreign leaders by the President and Secretary of State, and memoranda of conversations between the President [Page V] and Secretary of State and foreign officials; and the files of overseas diplomatic posts.

The editors of the Foreign Relations series also have access to the papers of President Kennedy and other White House foreign policy records. Presidential papers maintained and preserved at the Presidential libraries include some of the most significant foreign affairs-related documentation from other federal agencies including the National Security Council, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Department of Defense, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. All of this documentation has been made available for use in the Foreign Relations series thanks to the consent of these agencies and the cooperation and support of the National Archives and Records Administration.

Department of State historians have also enjoyed full access to records of the Department of Defense, particularly the records of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Secretary of Defense and his major assistants.

As noted above, the Foreign Relations statute requires that the editors have full and complete access to all records pertinent to foreign policy decisions and actions. Since early 1991, the Central Intelligence Agency, in cooperation with the Department of State, has provided expanded access to Department historians to high-level intelligence documents from those records still in the custody of that Agency. Department historians’ expanded access was arranged by the History Staff of the Center for the Study of Intelligence, Central Intelligence Agency. This access arrangement coincided with the research of volumes for the 1961–1963 triennium. As Department of State and CIA historians have continued to work out the procedural and scholarly aspects of this access, the quality and variety of documentation made available and selected for publication in the volumes has improved.

Principles of Document Selection for the Foreign Relations Series

In preparing each volume of the Foreign Relations series, the editors are guided by some general principles for the selection of documents. Each editor, in consultation with the General Editor and other senior editors, determines the particular issues and topics to be documented either in detail, in brief, or in summary. Some general decisions are also made regarding issues that cannot be documented in the volume but will be addressed in a microfiche supplement or in bibliographical notes.

The following general selection criteria are used in preparing volumes in the Foreign Relations series. Individual compiler-editors vary these criteria in accordance with the particular issues and the available documentation. The compiler-editors also tend to apply these selection criteria in accordance with their own interpretation of the generally accepted standards of scholarship. In selecting documentation for publication, the editors give priority to unpublished classified records, rather [Page VI] than previously published records (which are accounted for in appropriate bibliographical notes).

Selection Criteria (in general order of priority):

Major foreign affairs commitments made on behalf of the United States to other governments, including those that define or identify the principal foreign affairs interests of the United States;
Major foreign affairs issues, commitments, negotiations, and activities, whether or not major decisions were made, and including dissenting or alternative opinions to the process ultimately adopted;
The decisions, discussions, actions, and considerations of the President, as the official constitutionally responsible for the direction of foreign policy;
The discussions and actions of the National Security Council, the Cabinet, and special Presidential policy groups, including the policy options brought before these bodies or their individual members;
The policy options adopted by or considered by the Secretary of State and the most important actions taken to implement Presidential decisions or policies;
Diplomatic negotiations and conferences, official correspondence, and other exchanges between U.S. representatives and those of other governments that demonstrate the main lines of policy implementation on major issues;
Important elements of information that attended Presidential decisions and policy recommendations of the Secretary of State;
Major foreign affairs decisions, negotiations, and commitments undertaken on behalf of the United States by government officials and representatives in other agencies in the foreign affairs community or other branches of government made without the involvement (or even knowledge) of the White House or the Department of State;
The role of the Congress in the preparation and execution of particular foreign policies or foreign affairs actions;
Economic aspects of foreign policy;
The main policy lines of U.S. military and economic assistance as well as other types of assistance;
The political-military recommendations, decisions, and activities of the military establishment and major regional military commands as they bear upon the formulation or execution of major U.S. foreign policies;
The main policy lines of intelligence activities if they constituted major aspects of U.S. foreign policy toward a nation or region or if they provided key information in the formulation of major U.S. policies;
Documentation that illuminates special decision-making processes that accomplished the policies recorded in particular volumes;
Diplomatic appointments that reflect major policies or affect policy changes.

Scope and Focus of Documents Researched and Selected for Foreign Relations, 1961–1963, Volume XXIII

In planning and preparing this volume documenting U.S. foreign policy toward Southeast Asia during the Kennedy administration, the research and editing of which was completed in 1990–1991, the editor undertook research in the records of various agencies and individuals. The records of the Department of State constitute one of the most important sources for the published record. Certain intelligence-related files maintained in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research were unknown to the Department historians at the time this volume was compiled, but arrangements have been made for Department historians to have access to these records for future volumes.

The editor of this volume fully researched the papers of President Kennedy and other White House foreign policy records, the other key source for documentation on Southeast Asia. Other sources of documentation were also important, although not on the scale of the Department of State or the Kennedy Library records.

The editor had complete access to the papers of General Maxwell Taylor at the National Defense University, which proved on occasion to provide important documents. The Harriman Papers at the Library of Congress were also valuable. Department of Defense files, especially those of Secretary of Defense McNamara and the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, provided crucial documentation on Southeast Asia. Records of the Joint Chiefs of Staff were also used to supplement the record, as were cables of the Secretary of Defense as maintained by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Historical Office. The Lyndon B. Johnson Library provided additional documentation on Southeast Asia, especially after November 22, 1963.

For this volume, the CIA historians made relevant intelligence files available to the editor. The records of Director of Central Intelligence John A. McCone were a particularly useful source. White House foreign affairs files were the principal source of intelligence documentation included in this volume. Copies of important CIA documents are maintained at the Kennedy Library where Department of State historians enjoyed full access, thanks to the cooperation of the CIA History Staff. Copies of other CIA documents were found in Department of State files.

In selecting documents for inclusion in volume XXIII, the editor focused on the actions of President Kennedy and his immediate advisers at the White House and elsewhere in the government in formulating policy with respect to Southeast Asia. This volume documents the meetings of the President with his advisers from the White House, the Department [Page VIII] of State, and other agencies, as well as the written advice to the President from these advisers. The editors have also included the major internal U.S. Government policy recommendations and decision papers relating to Southeast Asia.

In the compilation on Indonesia, the role the United States played in expediting the transfer of West New Guinea from the Netherlands to Indonesia meant that much of the documentation printed relates to consultations with the two parties to the dispute. In the case of the confrontation between Indonesia and the British Commonwealth over the formation of Malaysia, consultations with the British and Australians become equally important. In the compilation on the Philippines, the role of the U.S. Congress is highlighted.

Intelligence assessments regarding Southeast Asia are reflected in documents selected for publication here. The capabilities of Indonesia and the Netherlands in a potential conflict over West New Guinea was a key intelligence question. Thailand’s ability to meet the threat of Communist insurgency in its northeast region was another. Cambodia’s orientation vis-à-vis the West and East was still another. The editor did not, however, attempt to document the details of operational activities by intelligence authorities in connection with Southeast Asia.

Editorial Methodology

The documents are presented chronologically according to Washington time or, in the case of conferences, in the order of individual meetings. Incoming telegrams from U.S. Missions are placed according to time of receipt in the Department of State or other receiving agency, rather than the time of transmission; memoranda of conversation are placed according to the time and date of the conversation, rather than the date the memorandum was drafted.

Editorial treatment of the documents published in the Foreign Relations series follows Office style guidelines, supplemented by guidance from the General Editor and the chief technical editor. The source text is reproduced as exactly as possible, including marginalia or other notations, which are described in the footnotes. Texts are transcribed and printed according to accepted conventions for the publication of historical documents in the limitations of modern typography. A heading has been supplied by the editors for each document included in the volume. Spelling, capitalization, and punctuation are retained as found in the source text, except that obvious typographical errors are silently corrected. Other mistakes and omissions in the source text are corrected by bracketed insertions: a correction is set in italic type; an addition in roman type. Words or phrases underlined in the source text are printed in italics. Abbreviations and contractions are preserved as found in the [Page IX] source text, and a list of abbreviations is included in the front matter of each volume.

Bracketed insertions are also used to indicate omitted text that deals with an unrelated subject (in roman type) or that remains classified after declassification review (in italic type). The amount of material not declassified has been noted by indicating the number of lines or pages of source text that were omitted. Entire documents withheld for declassification purposes have been accounted for and are listed by headings, source notes, and number of pages not declassified in their chronological place. The amount of material omitted because it was unrelated to the subject of the volume, however, has not been delineated. All brackets that appear in the source text are so identified by footnotes.

The unnumbered first footnote to each document indicates the document’s source, original classification, distribution, and drafting information. The source footnote also provides the background of important documents and policies and indicates if the President or his major policy advisers read the document. Every effort has been made to determine if a document has been previously published, and this information has been included in the source footnote.

Editorial notes and additional annotation summarize pertinent material not printed in the volume, indicate the location of additional documentary sources, provide references to important related documents printed in other volumes, describe key events, and provide summaries of and citations to public statements that supplement and elucidate the printed documents. Information derived from memoirs and other first-hand accounts have been used when appropriate to supplement or explicate the official record.

Advisory Committee on Historical Diplomatic Documentation

The Advisory Committee on Historical Diplomatic Documentation, established by the Foreign Relations statute, reviews records, advises, and makes recommendations concerning the Foreign Relations series. The Advisory Committee monitors the overall compilation and editorial process of the series and assists with any access and/or clearance problems that arise. Time constraints prevent the Advisory Committee from reviewing all volumes in the series.

This volume has not been reviewed by the Advisory Committee.

Declassification Review

The declassification review of this volume in 1992 and 1993 resulted in the decision to withhold about 1.5 percent of the documents originally selected. Only three documents were denied in full, and most of the other excisions were very limited. The remaining documentation provides a full account of the major foreign policy issues confronting and the [Page X] policies undertaken by the Kennedy administration toward Southeast Asia.

There were no important excisions in the regional compilation. The few substantive excisions in the Burma compilation relate to matters of privacy. In the Cambodia compilation, the question of derogatory personal characterization arose. The solution was to release a fair portion of the unflattering comments so that readers would realize the mind-set of those responsible for policy while excising personal characterizations that might give undue offense. Also in the Cambodia compilation, documentation on neighboring countries’ support of Khmer dissident movements has been excised.

The Indonesia compilation’s excisions related mostly to the aftermath of the 1958 rebellion and the outside support the rebels received. The Malaysia compilation’s excisions are almost exclusively sharp expressions of disagreement and an apparent misunderstanding between the United States and its allies over the implied and agreed obligations of the United States to support the British Commonwealth’s position in the Federation of Malaysia. In the Philippines compilation, the limited documentation on U.S. intelligence operations has been excised and, in one case, a document has been denied. Finally, the Thailand compilation has excisions and two documents denied. The substantive deletions and excisions concern the Thai role in Laos, a communication from Prime Minister Sarit not sent through normal diplomatic channels, and a conversation between the Director of Central Intelligence and Thai officials. In all these compilations, names of hitherto unacknowledged CIA personnel, references to stations, and certain CIA internal recordkeeping information have been excised.

The Division of Historical Documents Review of the Office of Freedom of Information, Privacy, and Classification Review, Bureau of Administration, Department of State, conducted the declassification review of the documents published in this volume. The review was conducted in accordance with the standards set forth in Executive Order 12356 on National Security Information and applicable laws.

Under Executive Order 12356, information that concerns one or more of the following categories, and the disclosure of which reasonably could be expected to cause damage to the national security, requires classification:

military plans, weapons, or operations;
the vulnerabilities or capabilities of systems, installations, projects, or plans relating to the national security;
foreign government information;
intelligence activities (including special activities), or intelligence sources or methods;
foreign relations or foreign activities of the United States;
scientific, technological, or economic matters relating to national security;
U.S. Government programs for safeguarding nuclear materials or facilities;
cryptology; or
a confidential source.

The principle guiding declassification review is to release all information, subject only to the current requirements of national security and law. Declassification decisions entailed concurrence of the appropriate geographic and functional bureaus in the Department of State, other concerned agencies of the U.S. Government, and the appropriate foreign governments regarding specific documents of those governments.


The editor wishes to acknowledge the assistance of officials at the John F. Kennedy Library, in particular Suzanne Forbes, who assisted in the collection of documents for this volume.

Under the supervision of former Editor in Chief John P. Glennon and former Division Chief David Mabon, Edward C. Keefer collected, selected, and edited all the material presented in this volume. General Editor Glenn W. LaFantasie supervised the final steps in the editorial and publication process. Rita M. Baker and Vicki E. Futscher did the copy and technical editing and Barbara-Ann Bacon of the Publishing Services Division (Natalie H. Lee, Chief) oversaw the production of the volume. Breffni Whelan prepared the index.

William Z. Slany

The Historian Bureau of Public Affairs

July 1994