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'Bamboo in the wind': United States foreign policy and Thailand during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, 1961--1969

Posted on:2001-09-24Degree:Ph.DType:Dissertation
University:University of Toronto (Canada)Candidate:Kislenko, ArneFull Text:PDF
This dissertation examines relations between the United States and Thailand from 1961 to 1969. During the administrations of John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson the United States deepened its involvement in Southeast Asia, becoming embroiled in the Laotian and Vietnamese conflicts. At the time the spectre of communist expansion in the region seemed very real, and believing in the so-called "domino theory", Washington sought to contain this threat by increasing its military and economic support of states in proximity to Laos and Vietnam where a vulnerability was perceived.; Chief among these states was Thailand, which since the late 1940's had gradually become a major American ally. Thailand was the only country in Southeast Asia to have never been colonised, in part due to the traditional flexibility of Thai diplomacy. After World War II, developments in Thailand led to the entrenchment of military government, which the U.S. reinforced to gain anticommunist support in the region. This relationship intensified as the situations in Laos and Vietnam worsened, and by the mid-1960's Thailand was a vital centre of American military operations in Southeast Asia.; Using material from archives in the U.S., Britain, and Canada, including recently declassified American government documents, this study traces the dynamics of American policy towards Thailand during the 1960s. The factors affecting the formulation and implementation of American policy and the consequences of that policy are the principal focus of analysis. However, attention is also given to the nature of Thai political culture and foreign policy.; Although never Washington's focal point, and frequently lacking co-ordination between various government agencies, U.S. policy towards Thailand during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations was ultimately successful. Thailand was a "domino" that did not fall, and while this owed more to the nature of Thai society itself than American actions, the connection to the U.S. was undeniably an important factor. Whereas U.S. policy in Indochina met with failure, Thailand remained out of communist hands, even after the withdrawal of American forces by 1975. The relationship between the U.S. and Thailand in the 1960s, while far from being ideal, proved to be mutually beneficial.
Keywords/Search Tags:Thailand, United states, Policy, Administrations, Kennedy, Johnson
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