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The United States and military government in Thailand, 1947-1958

Posted on:1994-06-23Degree:Ph.DType:Dissertation
University:Yale UniversityCandidate:Fineman, Daniel MarkFull Text:PDF
This dissertation analyzes Thailand-United States relations from 1947 to 1958. The period saw both the formation of an enduring alliance between the two countries and the establishment of a form of military government in Thailand that would last until 1973. Using Thai- and English-language primary sources in Thailand, England, and the United States, this study traces the connections between U.S. policy and the development of military government in Thailand.;The Thai military government arose primarily from indigenous sources, but American policy from 1947 to 1958 reinforced the trend toward military rule. Likewise, while the U.S. would have maintained friendly relations with the country whether civilians or soldiers governed it, the intimacy of the relationship depended on a firm military grip on power.;The U.S. initially opposed military involvement in politics but, by supporting the civilian opposition, unwittingly encouraged the army to overthrow the elected Pridi and Thamrong government in 1947. In 1950, military Prime Minister Phibun recognized the French-controlled Bao Dai government of Vietnam and sent troops to fight in Korea primarily to gain U.S. military assistance and improve his standing in the military. These decisions diminished the influence over foreign policymaking of civilians in the Foreign Ministry, the cabinet, and Parliament, most of whom strongly opposed the moves. Later, the alliance became military in emphasis, involving joint covert operations in neighboring countries such as Laos, Burma, and Vietnam and a massive, U.S.-funded expansion of Thai military capabilities. U.S. pressure to suppress leftists and communists contributed both to the establishment of nearly complete military control of government in 1951 and a harsh repression of political dissidents in 1952. By 1954, the U.S. had made the Thai military government the cornerstone of America's entire anti-communist strategy for Southeast Asia. But Phibun's democratic reforms of 1955 disrupted the alliance. They unleashed popular anti-Americanism, encouraged the three leading military figures, Phibun, Phao, and Sarit, to reach out for leftist support, and encouraged a shift toward neutralism. Only with the imposition of an absolutist military dictatorship in 1958 was the alliance stabilized.
Keywords/Search Tags:Military, Thailand, States, Alliance
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