116. Memorandum From John H. Holdridge of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1

SUBJECT

  • Strengthening Thai Forces for Defense

At Tab A is a telegram from Ambassador Unger 2 reporting his April 15 conversation with Thai Prime Minister Thanom and his senior advisors. Unger was called in by the Prime Minister to clarify questions that had arisen during the Thai Government’s consideration of our proposal.3 The main points of Ambassador Unger’s message follow:

  • —The Thai questioning centered on the relationship of the proposed PL–480 program to on-going military and economic assistance programs and revealed considerable Thai misgivings on the proposed program.
  • —The Thai challenged what they considered to be the requirement for “double consultation” (on both the economic and military sides) for the same fund contribution. Unger was subsequently told that Thanom has decided to set up separate civilian and military groups to plan implementation of the proposal with us. Discussions will start next week.

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Comment: Ambassador Unger believes that the Thai understand the dimension of our proposal. Their attitude toward the size of the new resources available and toward the complications of the interlocking military and economic programs was reserved but Unger believes that Thai suspicions and concerns, at least in part, are due to the difficulty they are having in grasping the new concept of indirect assistance.

The Thai view that the new program constitutes a double intrusion into their budget process is also an obvious irritant. However, Unger believes that in practice the Thai will adapt to this system and he hopes that this new military assistance tool, Baht resources, will enable the U.S. to get the program under way.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 563, Country Files, Far East, Thailand, Vol. VI. Secret. Sent for information. Kissinger initialed the memorandum, indicating that he had seen it.
  2. Telegram 5202 from Bangkok, April 16, reported on the “RTG’s consideration of STFD proposal.” Attached but not printed.
  3. The U.S. proposal consisted of allocating new increased PL–480 funds to Thailand for its social and economic programs, with Thailand thus able to divert funds from its budget to handle the increased military expenditures that the United States was encouraging. The proposal and the Thai reaction to it are described in telegram 5202.