740.00119 PW/l–2545

Memorandum by the Director of the Office of Far Eastern Affairs (Ballantine)20

British-American Policy Toward Thailand

I. The Problem

To attempt to persuade the British Government to harmonize its policy toward Thailand with our own.

[Page 1245]

II. Recommendations

It is recommended:

That the Department inform the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff of the disparity between American and British views in regard to Thailand, request them to use their influence on the Combined Chiefs of Staff in order to prevent the adoption of measures inconsistent with American policy toward Thailand, and ask them to furnish the Department with such pertinent information as they may deem consistent with military security and which might be of value to the Department in its further discussions with the British Government on the subject of Thailand. (There is attached a memorandum21 for possible use by the Department’s representative on the State-War-Navy Coordinating Committee.)
That we make a further approach to the British Government in which we suggest in general that agreements be sought between the Thai Government on the one side and the British, Chinese and United States Governments on the other, which would include at least the following basic considerations:
The Thai Government would agree:
To render military cooperation at such times and in such manner as may be requested by the appropriate military authorities.
To accept the territorial boundaries of Thailand as of January 1941 without prejudice to later peaceful negotiations for possible boundary adjustments and territorial transfers.
To assume the responsibilities of a sovereign nation in the pattern of an international security organization.
The British, Chinese and United States Governments would agree:
To respect the sovereignty and independence of Thailand.
To regard Thailand as an Ally, liberated or in process of being liberated from the enemy. (The Thai Regent as head of the state declares that the declaration of war against Great Britain and the United States is unconstitutional and hence null and void.)
To restrict military government to combat zones occupied by Allied troops and to restore such areas to the control of the Thai Government as rapidly as military operations permit.

III. Basic Factors

The American Position
The United States has adopted the policy of treating Thailand as an enemy-occupied state, and favors the restoration of prewar Thailand as a sovereign state under an independent government.
The British Position
Great Britain regards Thailand as an enemy and favors an extended occupation of the country after liberation from the Japanese, the establishment of an Allied Control Commission, and the imposition of economic and military conditions within an international system which might substantially impair Thai administrative control.
Urgency of the Problem
The problem is urgent because of the developing military situation in Burma and because daily American contact with the Thai Regent at Bangkok brings the information that the Thai underground (headed by the Regent himself) is well organized, and that the Thai desire to give military cooperation to the United Nations in the war against Japan, to be recognized as an Ally, and to be a sovereign independent nation again. A high Thai official representing the Regent is now in Chungking on the invitation of Chiang Kai-shek to discuss the establishment of a committee or a provisional government at Chungking which, if recognized by China, would seek recognition from Great Britain and the United States. (The Thai Regent is reported to believe that the Japanese are preparing to take over the government in Thailand and for this reason is considering a provisional government-in-exile.) Another representative of the Regent is shortly to be brought to the United States, and it is reported that a third agent is to be sent to London.
Occasion of the Problem
General Sultan22 has telegraphed the War Department for a statement of broad United States policies with respect to participation in matters involving Thailand to serve as a basis for the guidance of American officers in their negotiations with the British. (For additional basic factors see Annexes A, B and C.)23
  1. Approved by the Secretary’s Staff Committee on January 31 and sent to the State-War-Navy Coordinating Committee on February 9 under a covering memorandum by Mr. Ballantine dated the previous day.
  2. Dated January 25, not printed.
  3. Lt. Gen. Daniel I. Sultan, Commanding General of United States Army Forces in the India-Burma Theater.
  4. None printed.