Thailand's Secret War

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Thailand's Secret War

ตั้งหัวข้อ  sunny on Mon May 31, 2010 8:39 pm

Posted by Mitch Williamson at 11:23 PM
Thursday, January 21, 2010

A Complex Proposition: Thailand and the Allies in World War II

Compared to the campaigns in the Pacific, the Southeast Asian campaigns of World War II have received limited attention in military history (the possible exception being the campaign in Burma). In his second book on the role of Thailand in the war, Dr. Reynolds has provided a well-written and fascinating addition to the relatively small body of scholarship in this area. Reynolds first book, _Thailand and Japan's Southern Advance, 1940-1945_ (1994), provided an account of the Thai-Japanese relationship in the war. In _Thailand's Secret War_, Reynolds discusses the other side of the Thai experience in World War II--the courting of and surreptitious cooperation with the Allies.

Prior to the war, Thailand had maintained its independence through a combination of adequate defense against regional aggressors in Burma and Indochina, and skillful diplomacy that played the colonial powers of France and Great Britain off one another and kept the great neighbor to the north, China, at bay. At the start of World War II, a primarily military government sensed the winds of change and succumbed to Japanese pressure in acceding to an alliance and allowing the Japanese to use Thailand as a base for operations against Burma. In exchange, the Japanese allowed the Thai to maintain their government and armed forces and supported them in achieving some of their regional territorial ambitions.

Almost immediately after the start of the war, however, certain factions of the Thai government and of the large Thai population overseas, which was primarily in western countries, lobbied for and began forming ties to Japan's enemies. While some in the Allied countries saw this as opportunism, it merely carried on the tradition of policy that had kept Thailand independent for the previous centuries. Against a backdrop of internal political friction between Thai military and civilian government leaders, Reynolds' research reveals that the outreach to the Allies was complicated by the widely different goals and perceptions of those countries: the United States, Great Britain and China.

_________________
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sunny

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Re: Thailand's Secret War

ตั้งหัวข้อ  sunny on Mon May 31, 2010 8:39 pm

The tangled web that Reynolds unravels is worthy of a good spy novel; there are myriad plots and sub-plots. In the largest sense, the Thai situation highlighted fundamental differences between the Allies regarding the future of Southeast Asia after the war. The British wanted to regain their colonial holdings and saw Thai cooperation with Japan as a direct challenge. They did not trust or want to cooperate with emissaries from the Thai government. The United States, on the other hand, perceived the Thai efforts much more positively. It saw the Thai outreach in terms of its potential to assist the war effort in China and Burma. For their part, the Nationalist Chinese saw the opportunity to use the large ethnic Chinese population in Thailand and the historic Chinese-Thai relationship to extend their influence after the war. Within the struggles among the Allies, were subordinate struggles within the individual Allied camps. U.S. commanders and Office of Strategic Services (OSS) leaders based in China had differences with those based in India. The British Special Operations Executive (SOE) was hampered in its efforts to establish positive contacts with the Thais because of the policies that emanated from British political leaders and the Foreign Ministry.

Owing to the very positive cooperation between the U.S. State Department and the U.S. military (primarily the OSS), and to the fact that the Thai perceived the Americans as the party with the least regional ambitions, the United States had the most success in establishing a presence in Thailand during the war. OSS teams formed and trained Thai guerilla units and, through the Thai, gathered valuable intelligence on Japanese activities in the region. The lack of real U.S. interest during the war, however, resulted in an ironic situation after the war. When the civilian-led government, which was largely responsible for inviting the Americans in, was overthrown by the military, which had cooperated with the Japanese, the postwar United States embraced the military junta due to its strong anti-communist policies. The Thai leadership that provided strong support and basing to the United States during the Vietnam conflict represented this faction of Thai politics, not that of the "Free Thai" who fought side by side with U.S. operatives in World War II.

_________________
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มนุษย์อยู่ร่วมในสังคมเดียวกัน โดยความคิดเห็นที่แตกต่างกัน ย่อมสร้างผลกระทบต่อสังคมได้ฉันนั้น

sunny

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Re: Thailand's Secret War

ตั้งหัวข้อ  sunny on Mon May 31, 2010 8:41 pm

As previously stated, Reynolds' earlier book, _Thailand and Japan's Southern Advance 1940-1945_, covered the Thai-Japanese relationship in detail. I assume that is the reason that the Japanese are really in the background in _Thailand's Secret War_. It is not necessary to have read Reynolds' earlier book to understand his present book (this reviewer has not), but it probably is the only way a reader would obtain a complete picture of Thailand's unique role in the war. It would also help to have a general knowledge of the course of the war in Southeast Asia in order to place events in their proper context.

_Thailand's Secret War_ is well researched: a review of the sources indicates that Reynolds accessed both U.S. and British official sources, many western and Thai secondary sources, and has interviewed an impressive number of American, British and Thai participants. It is also a well-written book. Reynolds did an outstanding job in providing a clear narrative of what could be a very confusing story. In many cases, a western reader of Asian military history can get lost in long place and proper names that all seem to sound the same. This is not the case in _Thailand's Secret War_. I never had a problem tracking and differentiating between the many personalities and locales. A small criticism is that some locations mentioned in the text are not indicated on the maps provided.

This was a very engaging read. I've already mentioned its value in casting light on previously unheralded parts of World War II. It is also a valuable history to help understand the present state of Thailand and Southeast Asia. Thailand is now under a civil government, but is still a strong partner of the United States. Thailand currently faces many issues, including violence in the heavily Muslim southern provinces, and the rise (or taking the long Asian view, the reappearance) of China as a regional power. Southeast Asia is not a singular entity and Thailand especially is a unique country that has remained independent based on its ability to navigate among the great powers. _Thailand's Secret War_ is an excellent case study of such navigation during World War II. There is no reason to believe that Thailand will not follow a similar course when faced with future challenges.

_________________
ท้องทะเลและมหาสมุทร ไม่เคยปราศจากคลื่นฉันใด
มนุษย์อยู่ร่วมในสังคมเดียวกัน โดยความคิดเห็นที่แตกต่างกัน ย่อมสร้างผลกระทบต่อสังคมได้ฉันนั้น

sunny

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Re: Thailand's Secret War

ตั้งหัวข้อ  sunny on Fri Jul 23, 2010 1:09 pm

Hillary Clinton says U.S. an active partner with ASEAN


U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton attends the U.S. - ASEAN Ministerial Meeting during the 43rd annual ASEAN Ministerial Meeting in Hanoi July 22, 2010.
The U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said here Thursday that the United States is committed to being an active partner with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and advancing shared interests and values.

Clinton made the commitment at the ASEAN-U.S. Ministerial Meeting with participation of foreign ministers or their representatives from ten ASEAN member states and the United States.

"The ASEAN-U.S. Ministerial Meeting is an essential element of our increased engagement," said Clinton.

"The American future is intimately tied to that of the Asia- Pacific," she said. "The United States is a Pacific nation and we are committed to being an active partner with the ASEAN and with all of you."

The United States commits to assisting nations of the Southeast Asia to remain strong and independent and ensuring that each nation enjoys peace, stability, prosperity and access to universal human rights, said Clinton.

The secretary of state said that the U.S. is supportive and optimistic about the future of the region, as the ASEAN is America 's sixth largest export market and hosts more U.S. business and investment than China, she said.

Clinton is in Vietnam for the ASEAN-U.S. Ministerial Meeting and Friday's ASEAN Regional Forum. This is the second time for her to join the ASEAN Ministerial Meetings and related meetings.

She was at the annual meetings last year in Thailand and signed the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation on Southeast Asia (TAC) on behalf of the United States with ASEAN members. The move, according to Clinton, marked the return of the U.S. to the region and a leap forward towards greater engagement with the region.

The TAC is a regional security pact adopted by the ASEAN in 1976. As the role of ASEAN develops and their influence in the region grows, the TAC has seen wider engagement from countries outside Southeast Asia in recent years.

China joined the TAC in 2003, being the first country outside the region to accede to the TAC. A number of countries have also taken part in the TAC including India, Japan, Pakistan and Russia, among others.

To enhance influence in Southeast Asia, particularly amid competition from other partners of ASEAN, the United States has recently expressed interest to join the East Asia Summit (EAS), a regional macro-level dialogue platform gathering ten ASEAN member states and six partners including China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia, and New Zealand.

At the EAS Foreign Ministers' Informal Consultations here Wednesday, ministers expressed support for the United States to join the EAS and decided to present the issue at the 17th ASEAN Summit to be held later this year for a formal decision.

The ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Xinhua

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มนุษย์อยู่ร่วมในสังคมเดียวกัน โดยความคิดเห็นที่แตกต่างกัน ย่อมสร้างผลกระทบต่อสังคมได้ฉันนั้น

sunny

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