38. Telegram From the Embassy in Thailand to the Department of State1

15793. Subject: Symington Subcommittee. Ref: State 193723.2

I briefed Foreign Minister Thanat today on the basis of reftel, giving him the text of subparagraphs 3 a, b, and c. I did not take up the questions and answers in paragraph 4 since those deal solely with the Philippines and would probably have alarmed Thanat prematurely since he would regard them as a harbinger of future questioning regarding the Black Panthers.
Even so, the relatively bland contingency guidance of paragraph 3 stimulated his blood pressure. He resented the necessity to deny the characterization “mercenary” and remarked that “if the senators are opposed to the presence of Thai forces in South Vietnam, we could very easily withdraw them and on quite short notice as well.” I tried to explain to Thanat that the focus of the subcommittee’s interest was quite different and that, if anything, some Senators had been critical of other east Asian countries for not having contributed to the [Page 85] Vietnam war, even though their security was at stake. However, this charge certainly could not be levied at Thailand, which had supported US in the war in countless ways, I had some difficulty making this explanation in the face of several interruptions from Thanat who was intent upon insisting that I report fully what he had said regarding the ability of the RTG to withdraw the Black Panthers, “if the Senate does not like them.”
I informed Thanat that the hearings were completed and that as far as I knew they had gone better in the latter part than during the first two days. Thanat quizzed me on the “sanitization process” which preceded publication of the report on the Filipino hearings. He is obviously fearful that the sanitization will not be very thorough and he clearly expects the worst when it comes to Thailand’s turn.
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 398, Subject Files, Symington Subcommittee, Vol. II. Confidential; Exdis.
  2. Telegram 193723 to Bangkok, Manila, and Seoul, November 17, reported that, in response to public transcripts and press releases by the Symington subcommittee implicitly criticizing Asian allies in Vietnam for needing U.S. assistance, the Department of State had contingency guidance “which could be used along general following lines: a) the United States provides equipment and supplies, training, overseas allowances, and other kinds of support. b) The contribution by these nations to the Vietnam conflict and the support they receive from the U.S. cannot be characterized as ‘mercenary’ in nature since each of the countries concerned decided on its own to contribute to a cause it supports by reason of its own national interests and security. c) All three countries (Thailand, Philippines, and South Korea) had needed military and economic assistance for years and would be obviously unable to finance an overseas force without assistance while still facing considerable challenges at home.” (Ibid.)