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

2124. For the Secretary. At dinner last night for Australian FonMin Hasluck, Pote Sarasin took me aside and said he had reviewed with Thanom the conversation you had with them May 30 (Secto 27).2 Pote said he wished be sure that Thanom, whose compression of English has some limitations, had fully absorbed your remarks. (We understand that Thanom subsequently made personal reports on his conversation with you to the cabinet and the King.)

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Pote went on say Thanom placed greatest importance on advance US-Thai consultations and particularly valued your visit in that context. (This slant was given great emphasis in public statements by Thanom and Thanat after your visit. Embtels 2045, 2055 and 2065.)3 I reminded Pote you had instructed me see PriMin promptly upon return from Honolulu and I had done so.

Thanom is particularly anxious, Pote said, for assurance that we will keep up this practice and that he will not be faced, as was Sarit in 1962, with fait accompli and request for concurrence in action already announced by USG and in motion. I told Pote that before I left Washington last fall, I had received assurance from President Kennedy and you that the errors of 1962 would not be repeated. Pote seemed reassured but observed that his long experience with American scene led him to conclude that when decisions made by President, US military tended to act as if no further consultations with sovereign governments necessary. I assured him his concern needless and said that at Honolulu meeting I had made point of necessity of prior consultations with Thai, and that this completely understood by you, Secretary McNamara and General Taylor, Chairman JCS.

Point which Pote was at obvious pains to emphasize has been reiterated endless times in recent Embassy reporting. Yet on first emergency (see Embtel 2116),4 it was apparent that word had not trickled down to COMUSMACV and 2nd Air Division. I am completely confident I can secure Thai cooperation with extreme rapidity on any such emergency authorization required in situation as described ref Embtel: I am similarly confident of obtaining Thanomʼs approval for larger operations, provided always we can keep dialogue even a small step ahead of actions. Thai have in many ways conveyed their keen appreciation of current atmosphere of genuine mutual trust and consideration between US and Thailand. I am convinced that maintenance of this relationship is essential to continued Thai cooperation and is single most important feature of relations between two countries today. Allowance we have to make in US decision-making process to permit at least going through motions of advance consultation with Thai is relatively small price to pay for benefit gained.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 1 ASIA SE–US. Secret; Exdis.
  2. Document 272.
  3. Dated May 31, June 2, and June 3, respectively. (Department of State, Central Files, ORG 7 S, POL 27 LAOS, and POL 27 LAOS)
  4. The emergency concerned a U.S. request for the use of Thai-based aircraft (F–100ʼs and T–28ʼs) as protective cover for rescue aircraft attempting to retrieve a downed U.S. pilot in Laos. Martin suggested that had he not anticipated the use of Thai-bases and obtained Thai permission beforehand, the U.S. military would have used them without consulting the Thais. (Ibid., POL 27 LAOS)