Foreign Relations of the United States, 1964–1968, Volume XXVII, Mainland Southeast Asia; Regional Affairs

  • Edward C. Keefer
General Editor:
  • David S. Patterson


This compilation concentrates on the increasingly close and personal relations between President Johnson and the Prime Ministers of Australia and New Zealand. It also documents at the highest level the growing concern by Australia and New Zealand about the defense of Malaysia and Southeast Asia after the projected British withdrawal from East of Suez. There are no bilateral compilations for Australia and New Zealand, but the most important bilateral issues are raised in this compilation when President Johnson and Secretary of State Rusk met with the Australian and New Zealand Prime Ministers and Foreign Ministers. Some documentation on commercial relationships with these two countries is included in Foreign Relations, 1964-1968, volumes VIII and IX. In addition, the compilation on Indonesia in Foreign Relations, 1964-1968, volume XXVI, contains documentation on Australian and New Zealand concern about the Indonesian confrontation with Malaysia.

The other regional compilation has two primary themes: the increasing inability of SEATO to respond to the war in Southeast Asia and the effort by the Johnson administration to foster economic development in Southeast Asia. In documenting U.S. concern with SEATO, the formal meetings have been treated in summary fashion. The economic development theme is presented primarily through the work of former World Bank President Eugene Black, President Johnson's Special Adviser on Southeast Asia.

The compilation on Burma focuses on Ne Win's visit to Washington in September 1966 and the Johnson administration's principal initiative to keep Burma non-aligned, independent, and at least partially engaged with the West. The Cambodia compilation documents a bilateral relationship that increasingly felt the strain of the expanding war in Southeast Asia. The steady deterioration of the U.S. relationship with Prince Sihanouk resulted in the May 1965 break in diplomatic relations. Another focus of the compilation is the growing concern in the U.S. Government about the Viet Cong use of Cambodian sanctuaries. The Cambodian Navy's capture of U.S. soldiers in 1968 provided a hostage negotiation situation that the Johnson administration feared might become another Pueblo crisis. The resolution of this issue is documented along with the periodic U.S. attempts to explore reestablishment of diplomatic relations with Cambodia.

The compilation on Thailand focuses on the collaboration between the United States and Thailand in the face of wars in Vietnam and Laos and hostility toward both countries from Cambodia. The compilation highlights the deliberations leading up to the decision not to send U.S. troops to Thailand (as was done in 1962), joint U.S.-Thailand military planning, cooperation in Laos, the U.S. interagency debate over the scope of U.S. military assistance to Thailand and the orientation of Thailand's armed forces, the need to combat potential insurgency in Thailand's northeast, Thailand's contribution to the war in Vietnam, and the stirrings of Thai political life in anticipation of elections in 1969.