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south-east Asia looked like a pipe dream.



Now there may be a chance of bringing peace
to that shattered region." The Economist
added that ". . . the greatest contribution
has been made by the American deployment
in Vietnam." I think there is this chance for
stability and peace, and I agree that this is
largely the achievement of our men in Viet-
Nam.

The need, now and in the future, is for
persistence and determination. There is a bit
of old Arabic philosophy which is pertinent:

Nothing in the world can take the place of per-
sistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common
than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not;
unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education
will not; the world is full of educated derelicts.
Persistence and determination are omnipotent.

What we have done in Viet-Nam, espe-
cially in the past year and a half, is to make
it possible for freedom to triumph. If we de-
termine to persist, the recent past can be
prolog to victory.



Correction

The Editor of the Bulletin wishes to call
attention to the following printer's error in
the issue of January 23, 1967.

The fifth paragraph in the first column on
page 137 should read:

" — There is doubt that America's vital inter-
ests are sufficiently threatened in Vietnam to
necessitate the growing commitment there."



192



DEPARTMENT OF STATE BULLETIN



Thailand and Southeast Asia



by Graham Martin
Ambassador to Thailand ^



It is very pleasant to be invited to talk
with you again at the beginning of the New-
Year. It is also appropriate to respond to the
request of this peculiarly representative in-
stitution, the American Chamber of Com-;
merce, to again review with you the year
that has closed. Also, at the request of some
of you, I will again venture a tentative ap-
praisal of what is ahead of us in the year
now beginning.

I am quite conscious of the necessity — as
the senior American in Thailand, carrying
the responsibility, as the President's repre-
sentative, for all that the United States does
here in its civilian and military programs —
to give as complete a report and as honest an
appraisal as I possibly can.

It is a very dii!icult thing, and it is often
an occupationally dangerous thing, to at-
tempt too much precision in one's estimates
of future events. For example, the phrase of
Winston Churchill, "a riddle wrapped in a
mystery inside an enigma," is certainly ap-
plicable to the convulsions we are witnessing
today in mainland China. One can only hope
that out of this agony of a people, with whom
our own nation has historic bonds of friend-
ship and mutual respect, may soon come a
regime which will permit the pragmatic and
creative genius of the Chinese people and
the vast richness of the Chinese cultural her-
itage to again become engaged in the cooper-
ative progress of the rest of mankind. It is



' Address made before the American Chamber of
Commerce at Bangkok, Thailand, on Jan. 18 (press
release 11 dated Jan. 23).



certain that this will happen eventually. It
may happen sooner than we now dare to an-
ticipate.

One can speak with much more certainty
about the underlying deep convictions of
one's own country and the courses of action
which will certainly flow from those convic-
tions. And this is possible despite the
stridency of the debate within our open
society which may momentarily obscure the
inevitability of our actions. Last year I said
we could accept certain basic realities as
constant. And as we look back, we find this
to have been true.

As you may recall, the stridency of a
highly vocal minority within our own coun-
try then had, in the minds of some of you,
brought into question the validity of the
American commitment in Southeast Asia.
I said last January that the American com-
mitment to assist the peoples of Southeast
Asia was a determined commitment, a solidly
dependable commitment, a commitment sup-
ported by the great majority of our people,
a commitment supported now even by those
who may have doubted, a decade ago, the
wisdom of our making it. For deeply in-
grained in our American heritage, as a part
of the fiber of our very being, is the memory
of that small and gallant band who, in
declaring their independence from an op-
pressive colonial rule, pledged not only their
lives and their fortunes but threw into the
scales another perhaps even more precious
possession, their "sacred Honor."

It is no more conceivable today than it



FEBRUARY 6, 1967



193



was in 1776 that our country would dishonor
such a commitment. We will grumble about
it. We will complain that we would much
rather be doing more constructive things,
but, as we have always done, in the end we
will do what is necessary to be done. We will
keep our word. We will honor the commit-
ment.

I also said last year aggression would not
be tolerated or accommodated in the inter-
ests of convenience and expediency. We have
made no such accommodation. I also said
that Mao's theory of "the people's war," or
as formulated elsewhere, "wars of just liber-
ation," could not prevail against our country
and its allies. It has not, and it will not. And
I ventured to forecast that as these realities
of the constancy of the American commit-
ment and of the American performance be-
came evident, we could anticipate that the
engagement of Asian energies in increasingly
effective patterns of regional cooperation
would startle all of us by their rapidly ac-
celerating momentum. And this we have cer-
tainly seen in full measure.

Failure of Hanoi's Propaganda Campaign

In the course of the past year we have
seen in Viet-Nam a maximum effort by the
North Vietnamese to inflict a Dien Bien Phu
type of victory on the forces of the Govern-
ment of South Viet-Nam and its allies. The
forces of Hanoi and the Viet Cong had de-
luded themselves into thinking that the time
had come to move to the classic third phase.
Having attempted to destroy the very fabric
of government and of society itself by an
incredibly callous and brutal campaign of
assassination and terror, one could move to
defeat the main forces of one's enemy. But
it just didn't work out that way.

Instead, South Vietnamese and American
forces crushed the North Vietnamese regular
forces and the Viet Cong wherever they
would stand and do battle. More than that,
the so-called redoubt areas, which had here-
tofore been their safe havens and their
storehouses of vast quantities of muni-
tions and rice, were progressively denied to
them. Their rice ration grows smaller and



their munitions more scarce. Instead of be-
ing welcomed, they are vigorously resisted
by the South Vietnamese. The result is an
increasing number of defectors each telling
his tale of the malnutrition, the hardships,
and the disillusionment that is setting in.

Whether under such circumstances it is
possible to gear back down to a lower phase
of insurgency is doubtful indeed. It is in-
creasingly evident that more and more of
the North Vietnamese soldiers in the South
are realizing the impossibility of attaining
the goal of their doctrinaire masters in
Hanoi.

When their masters in Hanoi will reach
the same conclusion is not yet clear. It seems
they are still counting on the efficacy of
their primary weapon: a propaganda cam-
paign so cleverly orchestrated on a world-
wide basis that some sincere and well-
meaning people have unwittingly become
involved in spreading an absurd collection
of distortions. Here again one can venture
a conclusion with confidence. It is that this
campaign cannot succeed. Our people have
an instinctive ability to cut through such
technique and to reject the phony. It takes
a little time, but in the end the reaction is
to cut through to the truth.

I do not, therefore, see in the propaganda
campaign a serious danger to the validity
of our commitment to Southeast Asia. I do,
however, see in it a source of encouragement
to Hanoi to hang on to what is clearly a
losing cause in the hope that propaganda will
persuade us to grasp defeat out of the mouth
of victory.

Validity of U.S. Goals in Asia

I have often thought that a curious side
effect of these distortions is that they some-
times obscure the validity of much simpler
goals of American policy than those of utter
perfection that are sometimes set for us by
commentators who do not have the responsi-
bility for achieving them.

This is best illustrated by a long conver-
sation I had recently with an eminent Euro-
pean journalist I had come to know well in
my 10 years in Europe. He had just returned



194



DEPARTMENT OF STATE BULLETIN



from a journey through Asia, including a
stay in Saigon. He said he never ceased to
be fascinated with the peculiar masochistic
attitude Americans adopted about their en-
gagement abroad. I started to bristle. He
said, "Don't argue yet — just listen." He went
on to say that listening from Europe to the
public dialog in the United States, one could
only conclude that Americans were on the
verge of disaster in South Viet^Nam, that
Americans were vastly unpopular in Asia,
that there was no clear aim to American
policy, that we were determined on an esca-
lation that would be uncontrollable. He said
that he could go on with such a list, but I
probably knew more items to include than
did he. I said I had heard a few more items.

He said most of the rest of the world
looked at it quite differently. He said the rest
of the world assumed our primary objective
to be the denial of Southeast Asia to Com-
munist Chinese hegemony. He said it was
quite clear to everyone except ourselves, and
possibly Hanoi and Peking, that we had
already achieved this objective. He said he
thought historians would quite likely regard
what we had done in Viet-Nam as the crucial
turning point in the life of the developing
two-thirds of the world. He said that if Com-
munist China had succeeded in this attempt,
it would have led to such a complete valida-
tion of "the thought of Mao Tse^tung" that
a nuclear confrontation might have become
inevitable. He said that our firm stand in
South Viet-Nam has led directly to the al-
most complete elimination of Communist
Chinese influence from Africa and Latin
America. He said that Mao believed that the
techniques of the "war of just liberation"
could not be contained by the most powerful
nation the world had ever known. Had Mao
been proved correct, then Africa and Latin
America as well as Asia would have certainly
been engulfed by this technique.

Anyway, he said, whether Americans real-
ize they have already achieved this goal or
not, it is quite evident that all Asia realizes
it and is already acting on this conviction in
the creation of a new Asia — a free Asia with



increasingly effective patterns of cooperation
in economic and social fields. These would, he
thought, lead inevitably to a closer political
cohesion which in turn would provide the
patterns for an Asian security arrangement
that would allow them to handle their own
security.

He went on to say that American policy in
Asia and the Pacific was on the verge of a
success as great as in Europe in the fifties.
He reminded me that the same sort of at-
tacks were made by Americans on American
policy then as are being made now. He said
he still found it fascinating that while Amer-
icans were sometimes irritating in their in-
sistence on their superiority in so many
ways, they consistently underrated their ac-
complishments abroad. As a matter of fact,
he said, America has handled its unequaled
power with great imagination, its vast mili-
tary strength with ingenuity and with enor-
mous restraints. Its leaders have somehow
begun to master the most difficult lesson of
those who are chosen to govern — the ability
to tightly control a vast mechanism which,
historically, has often developed a momentum
and direction of its own.

The most important thing of all, he said,
is that in validating your commitment in full
as you are doing, you are insuring the credi-
bility of your commitments elsewhere. And
in so doing it is obvious that your people
have acquired the patience to see the job
through. He concluded his monolog by saying
that destiny has apparently chosen your
country to lead, for a while at least. And it
begins to look as if you might be worthy
of the choice.

• • • • •

I agree with him that the last year has
brought a great change to the situation in
Viet-Nam and Southeast Asia. The Commu-
nist aggressor once struggled for a victory
which he could not obtain. He is now strug-
gling to avert a defeat he cannot avoid.

While there is much grim work still to be
done in South Viet-Nam, the issue is now
certain. And those of us who live in Bangkok
have had the good fortune to watch the birth
of the new Asia of which my friend spoke.



FEBRUARY 6, 1967



195



Asian Cooperative Efforts

I believe history will record more fully
than do our media the important contribu-
tion made by our friend and colleague here
in Bangkok, His Excellency U Nyun, Ex-
ecutive Secretary of ECAFE. Among his
many accomplishments for the welfare of
the peoples of Asia will be recorded his pa-
tient, determined, and persistent diplomacy
which was primarily responsible for bringing
into being the new Asian Development Bank
and which is now pushing the Mekong de-
velopment scheme into an accelerating mo-
mentum.

Within the year, we saw here in Bangkok
the months of patient work by the Commit-
tee of Ambassadors under the leadership of
the Thai Foreign Minister which led to the
meeting in Seoul where nine Asian nations
formed the Asian and Pacific Council. We
shall see this new organization hold its
second meeting here in Bangkok this year.

It was here in Bangkok that we saw the re-
activation of the Association of Southeast
Asia, founded in 1961 but interrupted by the
difficulties between Indonesia and Malaysia.

That meeting could not have taken place
without the prior settlement of these difficul-
ties which had also led to strained relations
between Malaysia and the Philippines. The
reconciliation of Indonesia and Malaysia, pro-
moted by the patient, infinitely skillful and
selfless diplomacy of Thailand, climaxed In-
donesia's rejection of communism and the
return of reason to that nation's internal
and foreign affairs.

It was here in Bangkok this year that the
Foreign Minister of Thailand, joined by his
colleagues from the Philippines and Malay-
sia, launched the first wholly Asian move to
settle the Vietnamese war. It was in this con-
text that there was the first Asian call for
Japan to begin to assume a political role in
Asian regional affairs commensurate with its
abilities and economic strength.

In April the Conference on Asian Develop-
ment was convened in Tokyo at Japanese
initiative. It, like the Asian and Pacific
Council, will continue to meet regularly in



other Asian capitals. It is characteristic of
virtually all these newly organized regional
projects to broaden participation by sharing
responsibility for the planning and hosting
of conferences.

It was in Bangkok, for example, that the
first group of Southeast Asian Ministers of
Education met during November of 1965 to
explore the possibilities of regional coordi-
nation of educational programs and the shar-
ing of facilities. They met again last month
in Manila, where they approved formation of
a permanent secretariat. The dozen cooper-
ative educational projects which they voted
to support include the creation of an Asian
Institute of Technology, to be located in
Thailand; an Agricultural Institute, to be
located in the Philippines; and an Institute
of Tropical Medicine.

These are but a few of the many coopera-
tive projects which have been instituted or
given new momentum under Asian leadership
during the past year. Some, like the gigantic
Mekong River development project, are well
established. Others are but exploratory stir-
rings of the rising Asian urge to get on with
the business of orderly regional growth
through the collective engagement of Asian
resources. The breadth of these activities is
as impressive as it is little known. These new
cooperative efforts extend not only into such
fields as irrigation, hydroelectric power,
transportation, communication, natural re-
sources exploration, scientific and technical
research, experimental agriculture, and qual-
ity manufacturing controls but also into the
fields of coordinated economic planning and
cooperative fiscal policies.

I know of no more succinct assessment of
the meaning of these developments than that
voiced last July by the President of the
United States. In a speech reviewing Asia's
remarkable rate of recent progress, Presi-
dent Johnson said: ^

. . . this is the new Asia, and this is the new
spirit we see taking shape behind our defense of
South Viet-Nam. Because we have been firm, be-
cause we have committed ourselves to the defense



' For text, see BtiLLETiN of Aug. 1, 1966, p. 158.



196



DEPARTMENT OF STATE BULLETIN



of one small country, others have taken new heart.
... we never intend to let [them] down. America's
word will always be good.

The trend has been revealed with great
clarity also by His Excellency Thanat Kho-
man, the Foreign Minister of Thailand, who
last October, in New York City, said:

The smaller nations in Southeast Asia have felt
the need of getting closer with one another. If
division has been the characteristic of the past and
had brought about g^rievous losses of freedom and
independence and had allowed interference and
pressure by outside powers, the future aims should
be for closer and more fruitful cooperation and
integration. While such cooperation should be basi-
cally regional, it is not in our interest to make it
exclusive. Outside elements may have a role to play
but not a domineering or dominating role. If any-
thing, it will be a cooperation on the basis of equal-
ity and partnership.

If this then is the prevailing mood and
outlook of the new Asia, let us give credit
where credit is most assuredly due:

First, to the people and the leaders of
Asia, because they have upheld both their
values and their resolve through long years
of uncertainty and disorder.

Second, to those American leaders who
have perceived that Asians want nothing
more from us than the opportunity to deliver
themselves not only from the age-old, im-
mobilizing fear of Chinese exploitation but
from poverty, illiteracy, sickness, and shriv-
eled opportunities.

There is no mistaking what accounts for
the upsurge in feelings of good will and con-
fidence toward the United States throughout
the Asian region. It has been America's ex-
tension of more imaginative, more meaning-
ful assistance and support for Asia's own
initiatives, Asia's own solutions, Asia's own
priorities, and Asia's own defenses.

Nothing illustrates better the effect of this
approach than the responsiveness evoked in
the course of President Johnson's recent
Asian tour. For it brought forth from mil-
lions in this region great waves of spon-
taneous affection toward the man whose
words and actions have come to be associated
with their own advances toward a better life.



The President's visit gave the people of
Asia an opportunity to confirm the essential
rightness of American policy in Asia. They
seized that opportunity by rendering him a
unique welcome. I do not hesitate to predict
that historians will record it as an illumi-
nating, catalytic event which raised the cur-
tain on an era of unprecedented, mutually
advantageous cooperation between Asia and
the West. For what was demonstrated by the
warmth and public enthusiasm of the Presi-
dent's reception everywhere, and what was
underscored repeatedly for all the world to
see, is that the forces of neutralism, anti-
colonialism, and regional dissension are no
longer significant factors in Asian affairs.
The argument, by Americans oddly enough,
that U.S. involvement in the Vietnamese war
would make it hated throughout Asia was
shown to be wholly false.

The reality of the situation, as we have
seen, is quite the contrary. The trend is
toward greater willingness to move in con-
cert with others to devise a lasting, essen-
tially Asian counterweight to Chinese power
in the area. The motivating force for this is
not Asian self-aggrandizement. It is simply
the impatience of Asians for a peace in which
to build their nations, provide for their fam-
ilies, plot more satisfying lives, and lift the
horizons of future generations.

Asian efforts to unify and fortify the re-
gion have begun to move so fast, in fact, that
the danger now exists that American and
Western adjustments to such dramatic and
constructive change will fall behind. Free
Asia has reached the point where it is pre-
pared to associate itself with new Western
initiatives which complement its own. But
how many nations are prepared to propose
and follow through on the wholly equitable
terms a self-reliant and united Asia right-
fully will demand ? Westerners cannot expect
to operate in Asia in the future on terms
that existed in the past. But it would be a
pessimist indeed who could not see the newly
compelling opportunities for fruitful coopera-
tion which Asians are providing in the course
of coordinated regional reformation and de-
velopment. The question now is whether



FEBRUARY 6, 1967



197



America and others have mastered the tech-
nique of full and equal partnership in Asia.

Pattern of Thai-American Relations

As America and others in the West look
for answers to that question, I would hold
that the pattern of Thai-American relations
offers a sound basis on which effective for-
mulas can be devised. It has been the tradi-
tion of Thai-American relations, for over a
century and a half, to set exemplary stand-
ards in terms of the mutual understanding
and respect which are essential in contacts
between nations, particularly between those
whose disparities in their size and power
are significant.

As the Foreign Minister of Thailand ob-
served last May, "Our relationship stands
out as a remarkable example of how a small
nation can work with a great power without
being dominated or indeed losing its iden-
tity."

It was his hope, he emphasized, that Thai-
American collaboration would become what
the Foreign Minister termed "a model to an
orderly and peaceful development of the rela-
tionship between nations, large and small, in
this part of the world — relationships which
will not entail subservience of one to the
other, but rather mutually trustworthy and
fruitful partnership and cooperation."

I share completely the opinions of my Thai
colleague on the techniques of enlightened
diplomacy and international cooperation.
Nothing is more important in the modern
world than the psychological relations be-
tween nations, particularly the patterns of
style, attitude, and behavior which become es-
tablished in the solution of common problems
through intimate, complex, and sensitive as-
sociations. The basis on which Thailand and
the United States conduct their relations
takes those considerations into full account.
We practice earnest solicitation and consider-
ation of each other's opinions on all matters
of common concern. We acknowledge mutual
responsibility for the outcome of joint efforts.
And, most importantly, we cultivate an at-
mosphere of full trust within a genuinely
equitable partnership.



Now, there are no doubts among you here
in Bangkok as to whether Thailand brings as
much to that partnership as she receives.
There are a great many voluntary and recip-
rocal actions which could . be cited. To ex-
amine only one of them, we might choose
Thailand's contribution to the military effec-
tiveness of her American and South Viet-
namese allies, which is a part of her ongoing
heavy support of SEATO objectives.

As you know, the Royal Thai Government
has permitted the use of its bases by ele-
ments of the United States Armed Forces en-
gaged in carrying out defensive measures
under the obligations both Governments had
assumed under the SEATO treaty. These
bases at Korat, Ubon, Nakom Phanon,
Udorn, Takhli, and U-Tapao have been a
major contribution to the Allied war effort.

It is impossible to estimate how many thou-
sand Allied lives have been saved in South
Viet-Nam as a direct result of Thailand's co-
operation. But one needs only to sample the
enraged stream of propaganda protests
beamed at Thailand by Peking and Hanoi to



Online LibraryUnited States. Dept. of State. Office of Public CoDepartment of State bulletin (Volume v. 56, Jan- Mar 1967) → online text (page 38 of 90)