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

58624. For Ambassador.

We believe it is important for you to give Thai leadership an authoritative impression of the President’s view of the current situation in South Viet-Nam and the United States response to that situation. We wish you to seek appointment with Thanom, Praphat, and such others of Thai leadership whom you may consider appropriate to give them that impression as soon as possible.2
You may tell them that we regard this North Vietnamese attack as a clear-cut invasion across the DMZ, in which they have thrown away any pretense of “people’s war” tactics. Because they have committed their forces so heavily, we assume this is an all-out effort to discredit Vietnamization, to demoralize both the Vietnamese and the U.S. public, and to create a favorable military position from which they will hope to dictate favorable peace terms. We take this threat seriously, but we regard it as vulnerable on both political and military grounds.
From our initial assessments, we believe the South Vietnamese forces are reacting with confidence and with an effective plan to contain this initial thrust, while positioning themselves for additional attacks which they expect elsewhere in South Viet-Nam. Their civilian services are coping with the refugee flow and the other disruptions resulting from this attack.
President Nixon is determined that the North Vietnamese plan shall not succeed. He has already ordered a significant reinforcement of U.S. air and naval forces in the area. He is reviewing the situation carefully to determine what other actions may be necessary.
You may inform the Thai leaders that we appreciate the steadfast attitude they have displayed in the face of this threat to our common interests. You should express particular appreciation for their [Page 347]rapid and favorable responses to our requests for deployment of additional U.S. forces in Thailand.3
FYI: The President has just approved a recommendation for the deployment of additional U.S. air units (fighter-bombers) from the continental United States to Thai bases. You should not mention this fact to the Thai leaders but should stay in close touch with U.S. military authorities in anticipation of such action. End FYI.
We would welcome any views Thai leaders wish to express and will hope to continue consultations with them as the military action develops.
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL US. Secret; Immediate; Nodis. Drafted by Sullivan, cleared by Kissinger, Rush, and Robert M. Miller (S/S), and approved by Johnson. Repeated to Saigon.
  2. Telegram 4792 from Bangkok, April 6, reported that Unger met with Thanom, Praphat, and Dawee that day to deliver the message from the President. (Ibid.)
  3. In the WSAG meeting of April 10, called in response to the North Vietnamese attack, Admiral Moorer stated that the United States had “all types of aircraft in Thailand—tankers, B–52s, F–104s and F–105s.” CIA Director Richard Helms then called Thailand“the seventh carrier.” (Ibid., Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–116, WSAG Minutes, Originals, 1972)