120. Letter From the Ambassador to Thailand (Unger) to the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs (Johnson)1
You may remember a rather special operation which was conducted here in 1968 and early 1969 on a very limited basis, [2 lines of [Page 252] source text not declassified]. Most correspondence with Washington was carried on [less than 1 line of source text not declassified], with a code word [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] and I can give you in that connection a specific reference to my close-out message on the subject which was [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] of about February 10, 1969.2
The reason I am raising this matter is because [name not declassified] has again come to me with a request [less than 1 line of source text not declassified]that we engage in a similar operation, involving about the same magnitude of funds and serving the same general purposes. In this case, the purpose is not quite so immediately related to the elections which are not due to take place here until 1973, but rather to building up of the government political party, the Saha Pracha Thai (United Thai People’s Party), having those elections, of course, ultimately in view.
[name not declassified] reviewed many of the same considerations he had put forward before, such as that [1 line of source text not declassified] do not want the government party to become beholden to wealthy businessmen for funds lest they run into the kinds of problems currently faced by, among others, the Philippines. Neither do they want to make improper use of RTG budgeted funds. [21/2 lines of source text not declassified] said he has and would continue to be putting some of his own money into this as would the others who were able to do so; however, the requirements were beyond their resources.
[name not declassified] emphasized how enormously useful our help had been previously. On the political side he said that [11/2 lines of source text not declassified], the government party can provide stability in Thailand for some time to come. He referred to many years of close cooperation with the U.S. and the assurance that this would continue and the strong implication that our interests would also be served by the continuing dominance of the local political scene by the government party.
Obviously [name not declassified] approach raises two questions: Do we have a means of providing help [less than 1 line of source text not declassified], and do we consider it in the U.S. interest to do this? The first point can only be answered in Washington. As for the second, I have my doubts.
In the first place, this is a very delicate business to be engaged in and should it ever become public knowledge there would be acute embarrassment [Page 253][less than 1 line of source text not declassified]. It is quite true that the last time the matter was handled successfully without any leaks whatsoever, but you can never be sure. In the second place, I strongly suspect that if money is really needed, some of the well-heeled government party supporters [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] could find the money without getting it from us. Finally, I think it is probably inadvisable for us at this time to be making such an implied political commitment to the government party. To be sure, our close working relationship is of great importance to us, particularly as long as we have thousands of servicemen still in-country and the need to use Thai bases. I don’t, however, see our cooperation as hanging on whether we do or don’t provide this help, nor do I think this help is likely to be critical to the success or failure of the government party in the next election.
[name not declassified] asked me [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] to support his request in Washington. I told him only that I would report it, mentioning that I would probably be in touch with you in the first instance. [21/2 lines of source text not declassified] I would appreciate at least your preliminary reaction at an early date. I am sending copies of this to Marshall Green [less than 1 line of source text not declassified];3 you will know whether or not you wish to discuss it with the White House.