Office of the Historian
The Department of State released today Foreign Relations of the United States, 1969-1976, Volume XX, Southeast Asia, 1969-1972. This volume presents documentation on U.S. relations with Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines, three nations that were key U.S. allies during the Vietnam war.
Thailand played a major role during the Vietnam war, particularly as the launching point for U.S. bombing campaigns in Southeast Asia. In addition, Thai volunteer troops joined U.S.-backed Lao guerillas in a fierce secret war between Laos and the North Vietnamese. For its part, the United States provided substantial economic and military assistance and training to Thailand. Also covered in the Thailand chapter of this volume is the growing congressional criticism of U.S. commitments to Thailand, both secret and open, and the role of Thai troops fighting in South Vietnam. Another theme of the chapter is U.S. concern about an indigenous insurgency in northeast Thailand, and U.S. encouragement of Thai leaders to focus on it. As the United States withdrew its troops from South Vietnam, Thailand began to reevaluate its security relationship with the United States.
Although officially non-aligned since the overthrow of Sukarno, Indonesia under Suharto had close and warm relations with the Nixon administration. The chapter on Indonesia demonstrates this relationship through accounts of personal meetings of high-ranking Nixon administration officials, including the President himself, with Suharto and other Indonesian leaders. This formal face-to-face communication was bolstered by a special channel between Kissinger and Indonesian military leaders, which was designed to expedite communication on bilateral relations, especially U.S. military assistance and training. For its part, Indonesia played an important role in providing the Cambodian armed forces with AK-47s and ammunition in their fight against the North Vietnamese and their Khmer Rouge allies. Finally, the chapter documents the U.S. role in spearheading an international effort to reschedule Indonesia’s vast debt, a legacy of the free spending Sukarno years.
The final chapter documents U.S. policy towards the Philippines, and the focus is on the government of Ferdinand Marcos and his wife, Imelda. U.S.-Philippine relations were close because of the two nations’ shared history, the extensive U.S. military presence in the Philippines, the Philippine contribution of an engineering battalion to the conflict in South Vietnam, a special tariff preference for Philippine products in the United States, and a host of connections resulting from U.S.-Philippine military cooperation during the Second World War. Although the United States and the Philippines had a close relationship, they also had their differences. Marcos and his supporters worried that the United States was secretly supporting his opponents, notwithstanding U.S. denials. Marcos had his critics in the U.S. Congress and within the Department of State, who believed that his regime was both corrupt and becoming increasingly dictatorial. However, Marcos enjoyed the confidence of the Nixon administration, which while not approving of Marcos’s methods—especially his imposition of martial law—did nothing to prevent, and little to ameliorate, them.
This is the last print volume to document U.S. policy towards the non-Indochinese states of Southeast Asia during the Nixon and Ford administrations. For the period from January 1973 to January 1977, U.S. policy towards Southeast Asia (nations other than Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia) will be covered in an electronic-only volume.
The volume and this press release are available at the Office of the Historian website athttp://www.state.gov/r/pa/ho/frus/nixon/xx. Copies of this volume can be purchased from the U.S. Government Printing Office at http://bookstore.gpo.gov (GPO stock number 044-000-02582-5; ISBN 0-16-076696-6). For further information, contact Edward Keefer, General Editor of the Foreign Relations series, at (202) 663-1131 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.