360. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Mr. Bergerʼs Meeting with Mr. Colby, September 21, 1967
[Page 799]


[less than 1 line of source text not declassified] said that he had done some further thinking on the reports that Praphat intended to shuffle the cabinet, thus getting rid of Thanom and Pote. As a result, he had concluded that Dawee had not only put the bug in Praphatʼs ear but had started the series of rumors and reports that were now coming in and which the Ambassador had commented on in a roger telegram.2 In [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] view, Dawee thought that Praphat would take over the government, but would shortly see that he was unsuited by reputation to hold it, and would ask Dawee to take over, since Dawee was “clean”. Dawee had always claimed that the King liked and trusted him and probably believed that he could count on the Kingʼs support.

Asked by Mr. Spear what could be done to discourage Praphat, [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] proposed that Thanom come to the US on an official visit; this would be a sufficient signal to Praphat that we disapproved of the plotting now going on. Mr. Spear noted that Ambassador Unger was going to indicate to Dawee our approval of Thanom.

Mr. Berger suggested that [3–1/2 lines of source text not declassified].

Mr. Berger noted that one of the objectives of the rumored turnover in government was the ejection of Pote. If Pote were as competent and efficient as we believe him to be, why would Praphat or Dawee want to get rid of him? [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] said that he was not at all sure that Pote was as efficient as the American community liked to believe, and pointed out that Poteʼs relative honesty tended to close down some of the avenues for graft—something that Praphat deplored.

Mr. Colby said that he believed that an even more important question involving Thailand today was the question of the control of the counterinsurgency effort. Since the declaration of martial law in the northeast, it appeared that the counterinsurgency effort would pass from civilian to military control. [1 line of source text not declassified] and that, as Ambassador Martin desired, both the Thai and the United States armies be frozen out. Perhaps we could indicate in some way that there were dangers in overly militarizing counterinsurgency techniques. It was necessary, first of all, to assure civil support for the effort. This could be done more easily if actions taken were under police control. The military should take part only when the police required their support.

Mr. Berger agreed that it was desirable to assure civilian control [1 line of source text not declassified].

  1. Source: Department of State, INR/IL Historical Files, Thailand 1966–1967. Secret. There was no drafting information on the source text.
  2. See footnote 3, Document 356.