184. Memorandum From John H. Holdridge and Richard T. Kennedy of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1
- Message to the President from Field Marshal Thanom
Field Marshal Thanom, Chairman of the Thai National Executive Council, has sent a message to the President dealing with the situation in Indochina and U.S.-Thai relations (Tab A).2
The letter congratulates the President on his re-election and for the leading role which he and his staff have played in bringing the Vietnam conflict to the brink of a settlement3 in keeping with “peace with honor.” Thanom then goes on to point out, though, that the continued presence of large North Vietnamese combat forces in Laos and Cambodia does not augur well for the prospect of immediate peace in Southeast Asia, notes the damage which the externally-supported Thai insurgency has caused to his country’s national development, and speaks of Thailand’s consequent “continual need of effective weapons and budgetary resources.”
Thanom goes on to say that “with regard to the question of a general peaceful settlement of all conflicts in Southeast Asia, it is our opinion that if such a settlement were to be contingent upon the terms dictated by the aggressive forces then it is neither satisfactory nor in consonance with your noble goal of ‘peace with honour’.” He adds that a durable peace in Vietnam also requires that the questions of indirect aggression and externally supported insurgency in the immediate neighboring states must be properly dealt with and included in the terms of the eventual settlement.
Turning to the Thai role in support of U.S. actions in the Vietnam war, Thanom calls attention to Thai base facilities which have been made available “gratuitously” to the U.S. armed forces stationed on Thai soil— with consequent great savings to the United States—this despite grave risks and heavy criticism, including criticism from U.S. quarters.
In conclusion, Thanom expresses the belief that the U.S. continues to bear a great responsibility for the preservation of the power equilibrium in the Asian-Pacific region and for helping to bring prosperity to the nations of the region. Citing the “vital concern” to Thailand of the questions he has raised, Thanom declares that for some, preventive measures should be taken immediately; for others, exchanges of views are necessary. He therefore suggests that “confidential discussions at a high level between our two countries would be mutually beneficial,” and asks that this suggestion receive the President’s urgent attention.[Page 392]
Clearly, the matters uppermost in Thanom’s mind are:
- —The nature of the settlement which will be worked out for the war in Indochina;
- —Whether or not this settlement will safeguard Thai interests;
- —The dimensions of the quid pro quo which the Thai should receive from the U.S. in return for the large contributions which they have made to the U.S. war effort.
These matters are indeed ones which we would expect the Thai to be concerned about, and to want to receive the President’s urgent attention. Accordingly, Thanom will probably be considerably put out if the visit to Saigon by the Vice President and General Haig is not extended to include Bangkok. We believe that it in fact would be highly desirable for them to touch base with Thanom, even though additional consultations with Prime Minister Souvanna and President Lon Nol might then also be necessary.
- Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 565, Country Files, Far East, Thailand, Vol. IX. Secret; Sensitive. Sent for information. A notation on the memorandum indicates that Kissinger saw it.↩
- Attached at Tab A but not printed was telegram 17465 from Bangkok, December 12, which transmitted Thanom’s December 12 letter.↩
- The United States and North Vietnam reached an agreement on a cease-fire in late October, but ratification was put on hold due to South Vietnamese objections to the North Vietnamese being allowed to remain in place within South Vietnam. The agreement was not ratified until January 1973.↩