Volume XI- Number 2

Joanne Kramer


The U.S. and Thailand have sought to strengthen military ties due to the Cold War and the outbreak of hostilities in Vietnam. For the American leadership, playing an expanded role in the security of Southeast Asia has been framed as an essential effort in the struggle against communism. Thailand, on the other hand, sees the American presence as a necessary bulwark against a potential communist insurgency taking root in its poorest, most isolated communities. Yet, these concerns are both based on false premises. Indeed, the so-called “domino theory” guiding American foreign policy in Southeast Asia fails to account for Thailand’s unique history and cultural attitudes. Rather than providing security for the Thai regime, America’s growing military presence in the country makes the country more vulnerable to communist insurgency by fueling leftist propaganda narratives. Deeper ties between Thailand and America are increasingly framed as tacit submission to an imperial power and a subversion of Thailand’s independent national character. This article instead argues in favor of Thailand taking regional security back into its own hands by bolstering its emergent regional partnerships like SEATO and ASEAN. 


Key Words: Thailand, Vietnam War, Domino Theory, Southeast Asia


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