6 - Contact at last  pp. 196-252

Contact at last

By E. Bruce Reynolds

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The OSS China group's failure to infiltrate Thailand in expeditious fashion came at a time when Anglo-American policy differences made direct contact with Regent Pridi Phanomyong a high priority for both the State Department and the OSS. Accordingly, the OSS leadership turned its attention to Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten's Southeast Asia Theater as an alternative base from which to dispatch agents by sea or air to Thailand. Force 136 hoped that the shift of American focus to a British command would facilitate coordination of Thailand operations, but the OSS continued to resist integration, and the rivalry between the clandestine warfare organizations only intensified.

London's failure to state forthrightly its postwar policy toward Thailand contributed greatly to the problems between the Allies. This silence left the OSS and State Department searching for clues about British intentions in unofficial proposals and casual remarks by British officials. For example, a speech – later published as an article – by former British Minister to Thailand Sir Josiah Crosby drew much American attention even though Crosby had been severely criticized for pursuing an excessively “pro-Thai” policy in prewar Bangkok and in retirement had little influence. Speaking at Chatham House on 1 July 1943, Crosby advocated a form of international tutelage in postwar Thailand, not unlike the old system of foreign advisors, to avert a recurrence of the prewar rise of the army.


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