358. Memorandum From the Presidentʼs Assistant (Jones) to President Johnson1
- Meeting with Secretaries Rusk and McNamara, Leonard Unger and Walt Rostow
Secretary Rusk opened the meeting by noting that Leonard Unger has been given the job of determining the situation in Thailand concerning a potential coup by Praphat. Rusk pointed out it is always a problem of what to do. Praphat is personally corrupt. [1 line of source text not declassified] Rusk said we may not succeed in heading him off but we should try. Unger will want to talk to the King and it may be possible to head it off. From our point of view, in normal times we could take chances on a coup but we canʼt have a coup now with Vietnam going on. We must try to keep this in the icebox, Rusk said.
The President asked what our chances are in light of the prediction.
Rusk said “the First Army around Bangkok decides coups. The head of the First Army has been in touch with Praphat. Both Praphat and Thanom have entry into the Armed Forces. The worst thing would be for [Page 796] the First Army to propose it and the other military forces to oppose it and then we would get into a civil war.”
Unger said “Praphat is trying to line up support. The Thais are like anyone else and want to be on the winning side. Martin wants us to show some confidence in the kinds of jobs they are doing and for non-corruption and good government.”
McNamara said “General Dawee is one of the keys to this. General McConnell is close to him and we have taken good care of him and had him in a hospital over here. We can have McConnell visit Thailand and he could find out if Dawee is behind this and if so could turn him around.”
The President said do you have influence with the military aide … “check and see what we need to do and I will do what any prudent diplomat like Rusk would recommend.”
Rusk said “we will proceed on that recommendation.”
Rusk pointed out in 1965 we provided [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] money and this has not been called on yet.
[Here follows material unrelated to Thailand.]
- Source: Johnson Library, Meeting Notes Files, Folder 4. Top Secret.↩