Making king

10 01 2013

Readers will find two quite different sources of interest on the broad topic of how the current monarchy was constructed.

The first is a recent post by Zen Journalist Andrew MacGregor Marshall that deserves attention. Earlier he posted on King Ananda’s death based on an account by Kenneth Landon, a  former missionary and U.S. government operative, who had a huge influence on U.S. policy to Thailand around WW2 and into the 1950s. In another snippet from that oral history, Landon has an intriguing account of an evening at the Grand Palace on 26 December 1945, for drinks with King Ananda Mahidol, Prince Bhumibol Adulyadej, and their mother Sangwan. Listen to it here.

The other source is a much more detailed account of the United States and its role in making the modern monarchy as part of a Cold War, anti-communist strategy. There are several instances in a new (to PPT anyway) set of interviews with diplomats, operatives and spies who served in Thailand over the period from the end of the Pacific War until the late 20th century. Be aware that clicking the link downloads a 900+ page document).

One snippet, of many, has Paul Good, a Junior Officer Trainee in USIS based in Ubol (1963-1965) and then a Field Support Officer in Bangkok (1966-1968). He says:Commies

We were in effect a PR (public relations) unit for the Thai government. We would pass out pictures of the king….

We were looking for dependable allies in the region. We were going to do everything we could to make sure that Thailand was one of those. We were constantly out while I was up in Ubol….

The purpose was to show the people that the King was thinking of them and taking care of them and interested in listening to what they had to say, on the theory that if the people were supportive of the King, that he would be the binding force, the focal point for all attention, and there wouldn’t be any susceptibility to the communist influence which was coming in on the Laotian and Cambodian sides from Vietnam. That was the theory. We pinned up a lot of pictures of the King, which were printed in our Manila printing plant….

Reading the interviews shows the many ways in which modern Thailand was shaped by the Cold War politics of the United States and that the monarchy became important in the U.S. strategy.


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13 01 2013
Cold War, CIA, universities « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] in the week, PPT posted a comment by a U.S. operative on the manner in which the Americans helped re-make the monarchy in […]

13 01 2013
Cold War, CIA, universities « Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] in the week, PPT posted a comment by a U.S. operative on the manner in which the Americans helped re-make the monarchy in […]