The Foreign Relations of the United States series presents the official documentary historical record of major foreign policy decisions and significant diplomatic activity of the United States Government. The Historian of the Department of State is charged with the responsibility for the preparation of the Foreign Relations series. The staff of the Office of the Historian, Bureau of Public Affairs, under the direction of the General Editor of the Foreign Relations series, plans, researches, compiles, and edits the volumes in the series. Secretary of State Frank B. Kellogg first promulgated official regulations codifying specific standards for the selection and editing of documents for the series on March 26, 1925. These regulations, with minor modifications, guided the series through 1991.

Public Law 102–138, the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, which was signed by President George H.W. Bush on October 28, 1991, established a new statutory charter for the preparation of the series. Section 198 of P.L. 102–138 added a new Title IV to the Department of State’s Basic Authorities Act of 1956 (22 U.S.C. 4351, et seq.).

The statute requires that the Foreign Relations series be a thorough, accurate, and reliable record of major United States foreign policy decisions and significant United States diplomatic activity. The volumes of the series should include all records needed to provide comprehensive documentation of major foreign policy decisions and actions of the United States Government. The statute also confirms the editing principles established by Secretary Kellogg: the Foreign Relations series is guided by the principles of historical objectivity and accuracy; records should not be altered or deletions made without indicating in the published text that a deletion has been made; the published record should omit no facts that were of major importance in reaching a decision; and nothing should be omitted for the purposes of concealing a defect in policy. The statute also requires that the Foreign Relations series be published not more than 30 years after the events recorded. The editors are convinced that this volume meets all regulatory, statutory, and scholarly standards of selection and editing.

Structure and Scope of the Foreign Relations Series

This volume is part of a subseries of volumes of the Foreign Relations series that documents the most important issues in the foreign policy of Presidents Richard M. Nixon and Gerald R. Ford. The sub-series presents in multiple volumes a comprehensive documentary record of major foreign policy decisions and actions of the administrations of Presidents Nixon and Ford. This specific volume documents [Page IV] U.S. policy towards three important countries of Southeast Asia: Thailand, the Philippines, and Indonesia, 1969–1972, a period when the future of Southeast Asia was a major concern of American foreign policy makers.

Focus of Research and Principles of Selection for Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, Volume XX

This is the last print volume to document U.S. policy towards Southeast Asia, other than those print volumes that document the Vietnam War during the Nixon–Ford administrations. For the January 1973 to January 1977 period, U.S. policy towards Southeast Asia (nations other than Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia) is covered in an electronic-only volume. The decision to cover Thailand, the Philippines, and Indonesia for 1969–1972 in detail in this print volume was based on the fact that each country was a key ally—either formally or de facto—of the United States during the Vietnam war, and each played a specific role during the conflict. Thailand sent troops to fight in Vietnam, provided bases for U.S. airpower in Southeast Asia, and secretly provided training, troops, and arms to support U.S.-backed guerrilla forces in Laos. The Philippines sent a 2,000-man civic action group to South Vietnam, and Filipinos made up many of the administrative contractors in South Vietnam. Indonesia provided key arms support to the Lon Nol government at a crucial time. In addition, Thailand, the Philippines, and Indonesia were important countries in their own right, with key U.S. military and economic assistance programs, large embassies, and close relations with the United States. In each country, the United States had a considerable interest in their government’s success.

The chapter on Thailand, the largest in the volume, has the most obvious and closest associations with the Vietnam war. A principal theme of this chapter is U.S. efforts to assure the Thais that unilateral withdrawal of U.S. troops from South Vietnam and a projected settlement of the war did not mean a lesser U.S. commitment to Thailand. These efforts were difficult due to congressional investigations into the U.S. relationship with Thailand and charges that there were secret understandings and commitments. Another development that concerned the Thais was the Nixon Doctrine of 1969, which led them to think that the United States was withdrawing from the area. A second key theme of the volume is the covert military role that Thailand’s military forces played in supporting the anti-communist forces in Laos and the potential role they could play in supporting the Lon Nol government in Cambodia. The presence of the Thai Division fighting in Vietnam and whether it could be used elsewhere is yet another related theme. As U.S. troops withdrew from South Vietnam, Thailand, after some consideration, moved to draw down its own forces. Other themes covered in the chapter are less directly related to the conflict in Indochina: the [Page V] fate of parliamentary government in Thailand, U.S. economic and military assistance, U.S. concern over the insurgency in northeast Thailand, rice sales, imports of Thai textiles to the United States, and efforts to prevent drug production and interdict drug trafficking in Thailand.

The second largest chapter in this volume documents U.S. policy towards the Philippines. The relationship between President Ferdinand Marcos and the Nixon administration is the dominant theme of this chapter. U.S. officials had to assure Marcos that they were neutral in the 1969 Philippines presidential elections and discourage his desire for a special channel to Washington. Corruption in the Marcos government, Marcos’s desire to revise the constitution to his benefit, and his eventual declaration of martial law in September 1972 in the face of student riots caused U.S. officials in Manila and Washington to assess whether he was the best man to lead the Philippines from the U.S. point of view. It was in Washington’s interest to have “more flags in South Vietnam,” so the fate of the Philippines Civic Action Group in South Vietnam was a key issue between Washington and Manila. The Group’s fate was affected both by general U.S.-Philippines relations, the unilateral U.S. troop withdrawals from Vietnam, and U.S. congressional hearings on U.S. commitments in Southeast Asia. Other themes that are documented in the chapter are ones that predate the Vietnam war, such as preference for Philippines exports to the United States, U.S. benefits for Filipino veterans who served in the Second World War, and U.S. bases in the Philippines. The seriousness and threat of insurgency in Central Luzon was an emerging concern. Finally, President Nixon’s insistence that U.S. armed forces stationed in the Philippines be drastically cut caused considerable bureaucratic and political difficulties.

The final chapter in the volume deals with Indonesia, officially a non-aligned nation, but under strongman General Suharto, a de facto ally of the United States. The principal themes of this chapter are the question of Indonesia’s international debt left over from the Sukarno years and U.S. support for multilateral Indonesian debt relief among international lending organizations. A related theme is the amount of U.S. bilateral aid provided to Indonesia. Because Indonesia’s armed forces used Soviet equipment, the United States asked Indonesia to provide AK–47 rifles and ammunition to Cambodian armed forces, which were also armed with Soviet small arms, at a point when the Lon Nol government was fighting against North Vietnamese troops. In return, the Indonesians gained from Washington an expanded— although still small—U.S. military assistance program. Generally U.S.-Indonesia relations were good, and Indonesia enjoyed the kind of stability that the Nixon administration appreciated. There was, however, a dawning realization among the President and his key foreign policy [Page VI] advisers that they too often took Indonesia for granted. As a result, the Nixon administration made a special effort to consult periodically at a high level with Suharto and other key Indonesian government officials.

Like all recent Foreign Relations volumes, the emphasis of this volume is on policy formulation and on important issues, rather than the day-to-day implementation of policy. President Nixon and his Assistant for National Security Affairs, Henry Kissinger, still dominate the policy process, but the role of Secretary of State William Rogers and, in the case of Thailand, Vice President Spiro Agnew, are significant. In Southeast Asia, with the exception of issues relating to the Vietnam war, the Secretary—and Department of State—was granted a larger policy role by the President.

While the editors believe that this volume stands on its own through the use of annotation and especially editorial notes relating to other volumes, this volume is best read in conjunction with the four Nixon Vietnam volumes for January 1969–January 1973, volumes VI–IX.

Editorial Methodology

The documents are presented chronologically according to Washington time. Memoranda of conversation are placed according to the date and time of the conversation, rather than the date a memorandum was drafted. Documents chosen for printing are authoritative or signed copies, unless otherwise noted.

Editorial treatment of the documents published in the Foreign Relations series follows Office style guidelines, supplemented by guidance from the General Editor. The documents are reproduced as exactly as possible, including marginalia or other notations, which are described in the footnotes. Texts are transcribed and printed according to accepted conventions for the publication of historical documents within the limitations of modern typography. A heading has been supplied by the editors for each document included in the volume. Spelling, capitalization, and punctuation are retained as found in the original text, except that obvious typographical errors are silently corrected. Other mistakes and omissions in the documents are corrected by bracketed insertions: a correction is set in italic type; an addition in roman type. Words or phrases underlined in the original text are printed in italics. Abbreviations and contractions are preserved as found in the original text, and a list of abbreviations is included in the front matter of each volume.

Bracketed insertions are also used to indicate omitted text that deals with an unrelated subject (in roman type) or that remains classified after declassification review (in italic type). The amount and, where possible, the nature of the material not declassified has been noted by indicating the number of lines or pages of text that were omitted. Entire [Page VII] documents withheld for declassification purposes have been accounted for and are listed with headings, source notes, and number of pages not declassified in their chronological place. All brackets that appear in the original text are so identified in footnotes. With the exception of Presidential recordings transcribed in the Office of the Historian for this volume, all ellipses are in the original documents.

The first footnote to each document indicates the document’s source, original classification, distribution, and drafting information. This note also provides the background of important documents and policies and indicates whether the President or his major policy advisers read the document.

Editorial notes and additional annotation summarize pertinent material not printed in the volume, indicate the location of additional documentary sources, provide references to important related documents printed in other volumes, describe key events, and provide summaries of and citations to public statements that supplement and elucidate the printed documents. Information derived from memoirs and other first-hand accounts has been used when appropriate to supplement or explicate the official record.

The numbers in the index refer to document numbers rather than to page numbers.

Advisory Committee on Historical Diplomatic Documentation

The Advisory Committee on Historical Diplomatic Documentation, established under the Foreign Relations statute, reviews records, advises, and makes recommendations concerning the Foreign Relations series. The Advisory Committee monitors the overall compilation and editorial process of the series and advises on all aspects of the preparation and declassification of the series. The Advisory Committee does not necessarily review the contents of individual volumes in the series, but it makes recommendations on issues that come to its attention and reviews volumes, as it deems necessary to fulfill its advisory and statutory obligations.

Presidential Recordings and Materials Preservation Act Review

Under the terms of the Presidential Recordings and Materials Preservation Act (PRMPA) of 1974 (44 U.S.C. 2111 note), the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) has custody of the Nixon Presidential historical materials. The requirements of the PRMPA and implementing regulations govern access to the Nixon Presidential historical materials. The PRMPA and implementing public access regulations require NARA to review for additional restrictions in order to ensure the protection of the privacy rights of former Nixon White House officials, since these officials were not given the opportunity to separate their personal materials from public papers. Thus, [Page VIII] the PRMPA and implementing public access regulations require NARA formally to notify the Nixon Estate and former Nixon White House staff members that the agency is scheduling for public release Nixon White House historical materials. The Nixon Estate and former White House staff members have 30 days to contest the release of Nixon historical materials in which they were a participant or are mentioned. Further, the PRMPA and implementing regulations require NARA to segregate and return to the creator of files private and personal materials. All Foreign Relations volumes that include materials from NARA’s Nixon Presidential Materials Staff are processed and released in accordance with the PRMPA.

Declassification Review

The Office of Information Programs and Services, Bureau of Administration, conducted the declassification review for the Department of State of the documents published in this volume. The review was conducted in accordance with the standards set forth in Executive Order 12958, as amended on Classified National Security Information and applicable laws.

The principle guiding declassification review is to release all information, subject only to the current requirements of national security, as embodied in law and regulation. Declassification decisions entailed concurrence of the appropriate geographic and functional bureaus in the Department of State, other concerned agencies of the U.S. Government, and the appropriate foreign governments regarding specific documents of those governments. The declassification review of this volume, which began in 2002 and was completed in 2004, resulted in the decision to withhold 19 documents in full, excise a paragraph or more in 7 documents, and make minor excisions of less than a paragraph in 48 documents.

The Office of the Historian is confident, on the basis of the research conducted in preparing this volume and as a result of the declassification review process described above, that notwithstanding the number of denied and excised documents, the record presented in this volume provides an accurate and comprehensive account of U.S. foreign policy towards, and significant relations with, Thailand, the Philippines, and Indonesia.


The editors wish to acknowledge the assistance of officials at the Nixon Presidential Materials Project of the National Archives and Records Administration (Archives II), at College Park, Maryland. The editors wish to acknowledge the Richard Nixon Estate for allowing access to the Nixon presidential recordings and the Richard Nixon Library & Birthplace for facilitating that access. Special thanks are due [Page IX] to Scott Koch, formerly of the Historical Staff of the Central Intelligence Agency, who was extremely helpful in arranging full access to the files of the Central Intelligence Agency. John Haynes of the Library of Congress was responsible for expediting access to the Kissinger Papers. The editors were able to use the Kissinger Papers, including the transcripts of telephone conversations, with the kind permission of Henry Kissinger. The editors would like to also thank Sandy Meagher for her valuable assistance in expediting the use of files of the Department of Defense.

Daniel J. Lawler collected the documentation for this volume, made the selections, and annotated the documents under the supervision of Edward C. Keefer, then Chief of the Asia and Americas Division. Susan C. Weetman coordinated the declassification review. Kristin L. Ahlberg prepared the list of names and abbreviations and terms. She and Vicki E. Futscher performed the copy and technical editing. Breffni Whelan prepared the index.

Marc J. Susser
The Historian
Bureau of Public Affairs

November 2006