Paper by the Psychological Strategy Board

Paper by the Psychological Strategy Board  (1976) 
by National Security Council (United States)


No. 403
Paper by the Psychological Strategy Board[1]


Washington, September 14, 1953.

U.S. Psychological Strategy Based On Thailand


NSC Action No. 8842[2]
NSC Action No. 9003[3]

Summary of PSB D–23, “U.S. Psychological Strategy Based on Thailand”

I. Mission

To determine the psychological implications and consequences of communist strategy in Thailand and adjacent areas, and to establish a sound U. S. psychological strategy based on Thailand.

II. Conclusions

1. Communist expansionist activity threatening Thailand and adjacent areas is growing in potency. Developments in communist strategy in the area constitute a threat to Thailand which must be met rapidly by the Thai authorities with an effective political-psychological program backed by increased military preparations, or the people of Thailand may accommodate themselves to communist pressures, and all Southeast Asia may be placed in jeopardy without overt intervention by the Chinese Communist armed forces.
2. A French policy toward Indochina in accord with the aspirations of the Associated States must be considered a major factor in the overall effectiveness of the resistance effort based in Thailand. Conversely, expanded U.S. programs for strengthening Thailand could assist in making our effort with the French more effective, and would support Indochina by maintaining Thailand as an important flank and secondary base. However, Indochina remains the principal theater of resistance to communist pressure in Southeast Asia, and consequently U.S. assets and resources cannot be diverted therefrom.
3. Subject to the above:
a. Thailand’s political and geographic circumstances make feasible the initiation and development there of substantial U.S. psychological operations designed in the first instance to reduce Thailand’s vulnerability to communist pressures.
b. U.S. support and activation of Thailand-based psychological operations must utilize and exploit fully the normal channels of contact with native elements by placing highly qualified individuals in important posts in Thailand and utilizing every suitable operation to prepare the minds and emotions of the people to collaborate in the effort; this support must relate to synchronized … efforts including assistance to the Thai Government in its conventional military preparations and expanding its para-military operations.
4. Thailand’s economy, basically agricultural, is at present strained by measures necessary for the national security. This situation, occurring at a time when increased communist pressure is imminent, calls for economic aid and programs at approximately the level of FY ‘53 at least, to support beneficial long-range projects, and to reduce the danger of dissidence in northeast Thailand.
5. Through the stimulus of appropriate psychological programs, the ethnic bonds of the Thai peoples scattered through Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Burma, and China may be able to contribute at the proper time to the psychological and military effort to prevent communist expansion and weaken its focal centers in China, Indochina, and elsewhere.
6. The proposed expansion of U.S. activities based on Thailand is feasible in the light of that country’s capabilities, providing emphasis is placed initially on reducing Thailand’s vulnerabilities, consequently the recommended psychological strategy plan should be divided into two phases:

Phase 1

Programs aimed at strengthening Thailand’s will and ability to resist communist aggression or subversion, with only such necessary supporting programs in the information field in adjacent areas as are consistent with the existing pattern of inter-Allied relationships;

Phase II

Expanded para-military and other programs beyond the borders of Thailand, to be launched if circumstances warrant, including acquiescence, where appropriate, by the French, the British, and the Southeast Asian Governments involved. In projecting U.S. leadership, however, we must work with and through indigenous leadership wherever possible.

III. Proposed Psychological Strategy Plan

1. Phase I—In coordination with U.S. military assistance programs, consolidate Thailand as a secure base, by increasing its stability and making its frontiers more defensible.

a. Psychological Objectives

(1) Stimulate, crystallize, maintain, and coordinate the active resistance in Thailand to communist aggression, subversion, and oppression.
(2) Throughout all of Southeast Asia maximize the favorable aspects, and minimize any unfavorable aspect, of U.S. support to Thailand.
(3) Development of the common interests of the people of the area on the one hand and the U.S. on the other in sound and steady economic, political, and social advancement as the firmest basis for cooperation of all kinds.

b. Basic Tasks

(1) Maintain at approximately the present scale, and possibly increase beyond the FY ‘52 and FY ‘53 level, the economic aid and technical assistance program.
(2) Wherever possible in cooperation with local governments and making use chiefly of indigenous outlets, develop or expand U.S. overt information programs directed to Thailand and the adjacent area.
(3) Tactfully, and on a realistic basis, induce the Government of Thailand to carry out measures intended to reduce Thai vulnerabilities to communist subversion.
(4) Assist the Thai Government to develop, expand, and accelerate to the greatest extent sound programs for indigenous guerrilla and para-military forces capable of effective active defense against communist invasion and infiltration of Thailand.
(5) Stimulate and support effective overt and covert information activities of the Thai Government in support of objectives compatible with national policy.
. . . . . . .
(7) Strengthen and make obligatory educational courses for all official U.S. personnel, designed to give them a background of the [Page 691]history, culture and languages within which they will work in Southeast Asia, particularly Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia.
(8) Encourage the Thai Government to strengthen orientation programs for indigenous military personnel, and suitable information programs for the general public, taking into account local cultural attitudes.
. . . . . . .
2. Phase II—Utilization, if and when conditions warrant, of Thailand as a base, on the understanding that before Phase II becomes operable it will be reviewed and the views sought of the appropriate American Embassies, of the Southeast Asian Governments involved, particularly Thailand, and of the British and French Governments which have a large interest in the implications and possibilities of such a plan. The decision to initiate Phase II shall be made by the National Security Council upon recommendation by the Operations Coordinating Board.

a. Psychological Objectives

(1) As in Phase I, with the additional objective as follows:
(2) When the Thailand base has been adequately strengthened, and other conditions permit, extend U.S. influence—and local acceptance of it—throughout the whole of Southeast Asia, associating it as closely as possible with appropriate indigenous anti-communist and non-communist forces so as to increase the national self-confidence of these forces, thus gradually creating a climate of victory. It is recognized that Southeast Asia is not a political entity but that each nation is an entity basically different from the others and requires special treatment.

b. Basic Tasks

(1) Develop overt … information programs in furtherance of objective 2.a.(2) above, and continue the programs specified in Phase I.
(2) Amend overt … information programs and activities as above to correspond with the preceding.
(3) Extend programs for guerrilla and para-military forces composed of Thai and related groups.

[Here follows the full-length paper, “U.S. Psychological Strategy Based on Thailand,” of which the above is a summary, and two annexes: Annex “A”, consisting of SE–45 (Document 395), and a Financial Appendix.]

  1. The summary portion of this paper was approved by the National Security Council on Sept. 9; see Document 400. A note by George A. Morgan, Acting Director of the Psychological Strategy Board, Sept. 14, attached to the source text, indicates that the paper includes the sentence which the National Security Council added in approving the summary portion
  2. See footnote 4, Document 398.
  3. See footnote 9, Document 400.

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