379. Telegram 1667 From the Embassy in Thailand to the Department of State, January 30, 1974, 1248Z.1 2

TELEGRAM
Department of State
BANGKOK 1667

R 301248Z JAN 74

FM AMEMBASSY BANGKOK TO SECSTATE WASHDC 0200
INFO AMEMBASSY JAKARTA
AMEMBASSY KUALA LUMPUR
AMEMBASSY MANILA
AMEMBASSY PARIS
AMEMBASSY PHNOM PENH
AMEMBASSY RANGOON
AMEMBASSY SAIGON
AMEMBASSY SINGAPORE
AMEMBASSY VIENTIANE
AMCONSUL CHIANG MAI
AMCONSUL UDORN
USSAG NKP
13TH ADVON UDORN
CINCPAC
DIA

BANGKOK 1667

E. O. 11652: GDS
TAGS: PFOR, TH

SUBJ: ASSESSMENT OF TRENDS AND DEVELOPMENTS IN THAILAND

CINCPAC FOR POLAD

SAIGON PLEASE PASS ASSISTANT SECRETARY INGERSOLL

INTRODUCTION: THE FOLLOWING REPORT IS IN RESPONSE TO ASSISTANT SECRETARY INGERSOLL'S LETTER OF 20 DECEMBER 1973 CALLING FOR PERIODIC ANALYTICAL REPORTING OF TRENDS AND DEVELOPMENTS.

SUMMARY: THE SUCCESSION OF EVENTS FOLLOWING THE OCTOBER OVERTHROWN OF THE THANOM GOVERNMENT PRECIPITATED AN UPSURGE OF ANTI-AMERICAN SENTIMENT. THERE HAVE ALSO BEEN A SPATE OF CONFLICTING RUMORS ALLEGING US/CIA INVOLVEMENT IN PLOTS TO ASSASSINATE THE KING, TO OVERTHROWN THE SANYA GOVERNMENT, AND TO BRING BACK TO POWER ONE OR MORE OF THE OUSTED TRIO. OTHER FAMILIAR SENSITIVITIES TO THE AMERICAN MILITARY PRESENCE REEMERGED WITH NEW VIRULENCE, TO WIT COMPLAINTS OF TAX FREE PX IMPORTS, AND ALLEGATIONS THAT AMERICAN BASES INFRINGED ON THAI SOVEREIGNTY AND HINDERED THAILAND'S FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT TOWARDS IMPROVING RELATIONS WITH THE DRV AND PRC. ANTI-AMERICAN COMMENTARY ON THESE THEMES ALSO FOCUSED ON AMBASSADOR KINTNER'S FORMER BRIEF AND ALLEGED CURRENT CIA CONNECTION AND HIS MILITARY BACKGROUND. JUST WHEN IT APPEARED THAT THE FEVER WAS ABOUT TO BREAK, THE SAKON NAHON LETTER INCIDENT PLAYED DIRECTLY INTO THE HANDS OF OUR CRITICS AND STIMULATED AN OUTBURST OF VITUPERATIVE ANTI-AMERICAN HOSTILITY THAT SEEMS UNLIKELY TO SUBSIDE IN THE NEAR FUTURE. THE MOST RECENT AMERICAN FAUX PAS, INVOLVING AMERICAN TEENAGE VISITORS CLIMBING ON A SACRED BUDDHA IMAGE, PRESENTS THE SO FAR UNEXPLOITED POTENTIAL OF EXACERBATING ANTI-WESTERN CULTURAL PARANOIA AMONG THE THAI AND ADDING TO OUR PROBLEMS HERE. THE KING, THE PRIME MINISTER AND HIS CIVILIAN MINISTERS, AND THE MILITARY PLACE HIGH VALUE ON THE MANIFOLD ASPECTS OF THE AMERICAN RELATIONSHIP. YET THE SANYA GOVERNMENT, RELUCTANTLY GRAPPLING WITH A HOST OF PROBLEMS LIKE INFLATION, THE ENERGY CRISIS, THE PORK SHORTAGES, IS BEING BUFFETED BY CONTINUING STUDENT PROTESTS AND A CRITICAL PRESS WHICH FOCUS, INTER ALIA, ON THE ALLEGED BANEFUL IMPACT OF THE UBIQUITOUS AMERICAN PRESENCE ON THAI CULTURE, SOVEREIGNTY, AND EVEN INDEPENDENCE. THE PRIMARY SOURCE OF THIS HARPING CHORUS LIES IN A COMBINATION OF NATIONALISTIC UNIVERSITY AND TEACHER TRAINING COLLEGE PROFESSORS, SOME STUDENT LEADERS, AND A FEW JOURNALISTS. FINANCIAL AND INTELLECTUAL SUPPORT MAY WELL REINFORCE THIS CAMPAIGN, BUT WE CANNOT YET IDENTIFY THE SOURCE. AT THE SAME TIME, WE HAVE MANY FRIENDS IN THAILAND WHO WANT TO MAINTAIN A SPECIAL US-THAI RELATIONSHIP. IF WE HEED THE NOW ABUNDANT AND SOMETIMES VULGAR HANDWRITING ON THE WALL BY LOWERING OUR PROFILE, WE OUGHT TO BE ABLE TO RIDE OUT THE CURRENT STORM AND ALLOW THE STRONG INSTITUTIONAL FACTORS FAVORING CLOSE BILATERAL COOPERATION TO REASSERT THEMSELVES. IF HOWEVER SOME OTHER PUBLIC RELATIONS CALAMITY BEFALLS US BEFORE THE PRESENT WOUNDS ARE HEALED, IT COULD CREATE A CRISIS FOR THE RTG WITH SERIOUSLY ADVERSE CONSEQUENCES FOR OUR INTERESTS IN THAILAND.

END SUMMARY.

  1. Source: National Archives, Record Group 59, Central Foreign Policy Files. Secret; Limdis. Repeated to Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Manila, Paris, Phnom Penh, Rangoon, Saigon, Singapore, Vientiane, the Consulates of Chiang Mai and Udorn, USSAG at Nakhon Khanom Royal Thai air force base, the 13th Advanced Echelon at Udorn, CINCPAC, and DIA.
  2. The embassy assessed developments in Thailand.