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

SUBJECT

  • Thai Relations

Ambassador Unger recently reported his concern2 that the Thais were seriously considering moving towards the Soviets in reaction to a perceived reorientation of U.S. policy away from strong support of Thailand.3 You will recall that on Saturday last you would not clear [Page 107]State’s proposed response which is attached at Tab A4 and states, inter alia, that:

  • —Thailand faces an uncertain future security environment.
  • —U.S. posture in east Asia in the 1970’s will be different and inevitably affect U.S.-Thai relations.
  • —The U.S. policy trend represented by the Guam Doctrine will continue in a direction emphasizing Asian self-reliance and more rigorous definition of U.S. security commitments.
  • —Reductions in U.S. general purpose forces indicate that the executive branch must be more conservative than before in considering contingencies in which it would risk armed conflict.
  • —U.S.-Thai relations are likely to be affected by “continuing, even increasing, stringency in economic and military assistance appropriations.”
  • —U.S. intentions will not require a relationship with Thailand as close and dependent [on Thailand’s part]5 as in the past. Some loosening of our relationship would be healthy.
  • —In the process of moving to a more independent stance Thailand could become less closely aligned with the U.S. and more involved with the Soviets, which would not necessarily be an undesirable development. Thai initiatives to the Soviet Union are viewed without alarm.
  • —If the Thai relations became less one-sided the Soviets might be willing to contribute to multi-lateral institutions.
  • —The U.S. should no longer expect the degree of exclusiveness in U.S.-Thai relations that grew from the early cold war period and special conditions of the Vietnam War. More flexibility in Thai foreign policy is desirable.

Because you would not clear the message I have some indication that State is making its views known to Unger via back channel messages. Under the circumstances, there is every reason to expect Unger to become totally confused about your actual policies. Therefore, I would like to send a letter to Ambassador Unger 6 giving him a clear interpretation of what is meant by the Nixon Doctrine.7

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 561, Country Files, Far East, Thailand, Vol. III. Secret; Exdis. Sent for action.
  2. Telegram 1333 from Bangkok, January 30, reported Unger’s conversation with Thanat on January 29, in which the latter spoke with deep pessimism about the future of the U.S.-Thai relationship and of SEATO. (Ibid.) Unger reiterated his concerns in a February 2 letter to Kissinger; attached but not printed.
  3. In the conversation reported in telegram 1333 from Bangkok, Thanat concluded that the Church amendment, a legislative ban on the introduction of U.S. combat troops into Laos and Thailand, originally proposed by Senator John S. Cooper (R–Kentucky), later modified by Senator Frank Church (D–Idaho), and passed by Congress on December 18, 1969 (H–PL 91–171), would force Thailand to rethink its positions and policies and perhaps base its security on a pre-World War II, “or perhaps even pre-World War I,” model. Unger told Thanat that it was his conviction that the United States Government “would respond to a situation such as that envisaged in SEATO article IV–1 and would have the support of the Congress. Circumstances at the time would dictate the nature of the response and whether or not it needed ground forces.” Thanat replied that he could not ask his country to base its policy on “what decision that body (Congress) would take when his country might be about to be engulfed.” (Ibid.)
  4. Attached but not printed.
  5. Brackets in the source text.
  6. An attached draft telegram to Unger bears the notation OBE.
  7. Nixon initialed the approve option.