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

SUBJECT

  • Your Meeting with Ambassador Unger, November 6

You have a brief meeting scheduled with Ambassador Unger on Thursday.2

Unger remains a “big commitment” man to the last; his soul is rooted firmly in the days before the Guam doctrine. He is not happy with much that is going on now, and in recent weeks his mission has orchestrated a set of messages to support his line:

  • —It has cited declining Thai foreign exchange reserves and an alleged new Thai grasp of Thailand’s problems to argue that “we should broaden our support to Thailand’s efforts” (in counterinsurgency).
  • —It has reported in extenso (and I think over-interpreted) a Bangkok Post article to the effect that Thailand may have to make policy “readjustments” in view of US policy changes.
  • —It has dwelt upon evidence of the expansion of insurgency on the Malaysian border and of Communist re-grouping in the Northeast.

Unger’s present preoccupations are stated in a recent Nodis cable (Tab A).3 He cites recent US decisions (including the instruction on USIS operations in Thailand)4 as evidence of an “accelerating disengagement” by the US. He warns that this disengagement will raise Thai doubts as to whether we share common objectives, and that these doubts may lead to an “agonizing reappraisal” by the Thai of their relations with us.

Unger is here to testify before the Symington Sub-Committee, and he is most concerned that the Hearings—and release of the testimony— will further damage Thai/US relations.

Suggest You Say:

  • —We are readjusting our policy, and it is natural and desirable that the Thai also engage in “readjustments.” (e.g. broadened international [Page 77]contacts; self-reliance in counter-insurgency; social and economic measures to avert disaffection; planning to live within their economic means)
  • —You wonder what the content really would be of a Thai “agonizing reappraisal.” Would the Thai leadership seriously think they could go over to the Communists? Or would they more likely seek means and redouble their efforts to maintain Thai independence and their own positions by making limited accommodations as necessary with Communist China but continuing to fight Communist subversion at home?
  • —On the USIS issue, you wish to make clear that you heard the Thai themselves express the feeling that popularization of the Thai King and Government should be done by the Thai. The President feels this very strongly, and has instructed that we look not only at Thailand but at our USIS operations elsewhere to see whether they are over-involved in the internal affairs of host countries.
  • —On the Symington hearings, you agree heartily with Unger’s concerns. You hope that he will make his point forcefully in State. You are looking now at possible ways of controlling Senate release of confidential materials which damage our international relations.
  • —(Unger has not indicated whether he has asked the King about his views on the timing of a visit to the US.) Ask whether Unger has had a chance to raise the question of a visit to the US with the King.5

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 560, Country Files, Far East, Thailand, Vol. II. Secret; Nodis. Sent for action. A notation on the memorandum indicates Kissinger saw it.
  2. No other record of the KissingerUnger meeting has been found.
  3. Document 33.
  4. The USIA instruction was, according to Holdridge, very preemptory and allowed no time for winding down this operation. [Handwritten footnote in the source text.]
  5. No record of a U.S. visit by the King or of the NixonUnger meeting has been found.