13. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon 1


  • Appointment with U.S. Ambassador to Thailand Leonard Unger

Ambassador Unger will pay a brief courtesy call on you at 11:15 a.m., Friday, June 20.2 He is currently on home leave from his post in Bangkok and will be returning there for a second tour.

Ambassador Unger has three major points to raise with you. They are:

Insurgency in north and northeast Thailand: While the Thais have been fairly effective in dealing with insurgency in the northeast, their effort in northern Thailand has been discouragingly poor. There has been some consideration to a greater U.S. involvement, but Ambassador Unger feels strongly that U.S. forces should not become involved in counterinsurgency operations. If the Thai cannot do the job, it will not be done, and excessive U.S. involvement tends to weaken the Thai sense of responsibility. Preferably, we should continue to advise and assist the Thais, but let them conduct counterinsurgency operations.
The U.S. presence in Thailand: Ambassador Unger is concerned over the need both to reduce the U.S. presence in Thailand and make it as little visible as possible. He would particularly like to see some military units, no longer essential to the Vietnam war effort, withdrawn at an early date. At your direction, we have asked the Under Secretaries Committee to study this question and come up with recommendations to you.
Fuller consultations with Thailand: Ambassador Unger suggests there is a need for fuller consultations with the inner circle of the Thai Government on both withdrawals from Vietnam and U.S. military deployments in Thailand after the Vietnam conflict. He believes this can be done with minimal risk of public leakage. He will be bringing a letter to you on this subject, a copy of which is attached at Tab A,3 in view of the short time available for discussion with you.

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Talking Points

I recommend that:

You encourage Ambassador Unger in both efforts to avoid direct U.S. involvement in counterinsurgency and to reduce the U.S. presence in Thailand.
Indicate your support in principle for fuller consultations with the Thais, if this can be done without breach of security and without becoming enmeshed in the process of clearing specific troop replacements with the Thais.
Ask him to convey to Prime Minister Thanom your appreciation of Thai determination to continue the close cooperation with us for common objectives in Southeast Asia. (We have recently received a copy of Thanom’s letter to you expressing appreciation for your recent messages to him. This is attached at Tab B.)4

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 560, Country Files, Far East, Thailand, Vol. I. Secret. Sent for information. Drafted by R. L. Sneider on June 19. The memorandum is unsigned but bears Kissinger’s handwritten initials in the upper right-hand corner.
  2. No other record of this meeting has been found.
  3. See Document 12.
  4. Nixon had sent Thanom several courtesy messages in advance of his May 14 and Midway Island Vietnamization speeches; attached but not printed. Attached at Tab B but not printed is Thanom’s undated letter thanking Nixon for his messages received on May 14 and 22. Telegram 115643 to Bangkok, July 12, asked the Embassy to thank Prime Minister Thanom for his letter of May 29 and for his assurances of continued cooperation between Thailand and the United States. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 27–14 VIET)