361. Telegram From the Embassy in Thailand to the Department of State 1

Text of Cable From Unger (Bangkok, 1328)

This morning Deputy Chief of Mission Hannah and I called on Marshal Dawee so that we could dispose of some urgent business before his departure tomorrow morning for a three-week trip to Taiwan, Korea and Japan. After we had covered Dyemarker2 and troop contribution questions, I asked for a few minutes alone with Dawee, raised the question of Praphatʼs pleas for a forced reshuffle and asked him where this matter stood.

Dawee said that things were quiet again and that Praphat was no longer planning to force a change. According to Dawee, it was Thanomʼs unwillingness to cover up the Surachit case which had precipitated Praphatʼs anger in the first place. Dawee said that he had had several frank talks with Praphat telling him not to make his reputation worse by pressing for a whitewash of Surachit who everybody knew had been involved in corruption. Praphat accepted Daweeʼs arguments even though grudgingly and Dawee appeared confident that for the time being at least the kind of action reported previously will not be undertaken.

He also pointed out to me a comment of Prime Minister Thanom some days ago when it had been suggested to him that some of the Ministers were getting along in years and not as effective as they might be and he had acknowledged that he was considering some changes. Although Dawee did not specifically say so, it was my impression that he was telling me this to point out that Thanom has, in fact, indicated some willingness to make some concessions to Praphatʼs discontent about certain Ministers. (We will try to follow up and find out through other sources who it is Thanom may have had in mind.)

Dawee also told me that Praphat had done a good deal of grumbling and growling about the Constitution and elections and that even Thanom had expressed some doubts on this score. He said that he had pointed out to both of them that it was for the Assembly to decide on these matters and that it would not be proper for them to intervene. He left me with the impression that plans for the promulgation of the Constitution stand about as we have understood.

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Dawee said that an important element in Praphatʼs discontent and in some of the attitudes of other top officials was their uncertainty about the help they could expect from the U.S. to protect their own security at the same time they were making a contribution to Vietnam. If the U.S. can give affirmative responses on the important requirements which the Thais have put forward, the kind of plotting which had threatened earlier could be effectively kept under control. As reported earlier, the Hawks are one of the most important elements in the Thaisʼ thinking in this regard.

Our conversation was very frank and easy, and, although Dawee was obviously painting himself as the great force for good sense and moderation in the Thai leadership, I think he gave me essentially a straight story. I told him it was thought he had done well in all respects and had been very wise to work so hard to head off a development which would have put real difficulties in the way of our cooperation. Thailand has built itself an excellent reputation over recent years for its steady course and seriousness and good sense and I was very pleased that he had managed to keep things on an even keel. He looked pleased with himself and we agreed to stay in close contact after his trip.

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Thailand, Vol. VII, Memos, 8/67–7/68. Secret. The source text is a copy that was retyped in the White House. The Department of State copy, 1133Z, is not filed in the Central Files, but was sent to INR.
  2. Dyemarker was the code name for an anti-vehicular and anti-personnel campaign based on mines, sensors, and air strikes to prevent North Vietnamese infiltration down the Ho Chi Minh Trail.