Developments in Americas Relations with Thailand since the Reign of King Rama III

Developments in America’s Relations with Thailand since the Reign of King Rama III

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Thailand and America have had strong relations that date back to more than 175 years ago (Lombaerde, Tussie & Bilal, 2013). Thailand and America started relating officially in the period of King Rama III, with the signing of the Treaty of Amity. Shared friendships and interests have characterized the relations between Thailand and America over the years. While America enjoyed having a colony and trade partner in East Asia, Thailand saw Americans as friendly people who would help them counter the ill motives of the Europeans. Other factors like cultural, economic and political engagements strengthened the relationship.

The year 1852 saw the first American missionary in Thailand, Andrew Jackson. In the same year, Edmund Roberts and American emissary witnessed the signing of the treaty of Amity (Lombaerde, Tussie & Bilal, 2013). America eyed a colony in East Asia, as well as, a trading partner. On the other hand, Thais saw America as a good power to use to counter the moves of the British. In addition, there were friendly Americans in Thailand, who further facilitate the relationship by making Thais develop a trust for the Americans. An example of such is Dan Beach Bradly, who participate in introducing technology to Thailand.

When king Rama IV rose to power in 1856, America wanted to renew the Treaty of Amity. As a result, the Harris Treaty of 1856 was born, through America’s emissary, Townsend Harris. The American President by then sent gift to the king of Thailand and the king in return sent gifts of silverware, brass and elephant tusks to the American President. In 1859, President Buchanan sent books to the king, and the king gave gifts of gold swords ad elephant tusks (Lombaerde, Tussie & Bilal, 2013). In 1879, President Grant paid a visit to Thailand. Through to the World War II, Thailand was the closest American ally in East Asia. Indeed, the US supported Thailand in the Korean War. In 1960, Thai’s king Rama 9 visited the US and made a speech in Washington DC. The relationship was again strengthened in 1966, through a visit by Lady Bird Johnson, who was a wife to President Johnson. Richard Nixon and Roselyn Carter also visited Thailand in 1969 and 1979 respectively. Recently, America supported Thailand greatly in tackling the flood in 2011. In the year 2013, President Barrack Obama visited Bangkok, signifying the strong ties that exist between Thailand and America to the present.

The strong relationship between America and Thailand was seen during the Vietnam War. The close relationship between the two countries developed after World War II, where America assisted Thailand to deal with the crusaders of communism (Kislenko, 2004). While Thailand enjoyed protection from communists by the US, the US boasted of a non-communist state in a communist dominated region. Further, the US servicemen used Thailand as a rest point, a strategic base for prosecutions, and an economic model of a third world economy. Kislenko (2004) observes that, during the Vietnam War, more than 80% of the American bombs to the north were set through airbases in Thailand. In addition, many operations of the war were carried out in Thailand, with direct involvement of the Thai forces. Thai’s relation with the US thus strained its relation with the immediate neighbors, especially due to its direct involvement in the Vietnam War.

In sum, America and Thailand have related officially since the witnessing of the treaty of Amity. Cultural, economic and political factors have played a great role in the interactions. The greatest mark of the relations was during the Vietnam War. Up to date, the US and Thailand have strong ties.

ReferencesKislenko, A. (2004). A not silent partner: Thailand’s role in covert operations, counter-insurgency, and the wars in Indochina. The Journal of Conflict Studies, 24(1).

Lombaerde, P., Tussie, D., & Bilal, S. (2013). Asymmetric trade negotiations. Farnham, UK: Ashgate Publishing Ltd.