Communist defeat in the Second Indochina War


  • Paul T. Carter is a doctoral candidate at Chulalongkorn University


Communist, Communist defeat, the Second Indochina War, Indochina War


Once I talked with them (his North Vietnamese captors) about captured soldiers at the front line. They asked me which front line? I was thinking of Plain De Jars and Sky Line Ridge, so I told them. They laughed and told me that’s not the front line. They said their front line was Thailand. (Thai Forward Air Guide CROWBAR, captured by the North Vietnamese in Laos in 1972 and kept captive for over four years.) (Warriors Association 333 1987, 6) 1


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1. Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training, U.S. Foreign Service, Thailand Country Reader,
with Paul P. Blackburn, interview November 18, 2002, p. 191; Richard A. Virden, interview 2011, pp. 248-250; G. Lewis Schmidt, interview 1988, p.257

2. Father Michael Shea interview with the author, January 17, 2019, Don Wai, Nong Khai, Thailand

3. Kasian Tejapira, Commodifying Marxism: The Formation of Modern Thai Radical Culture, 1927-1958 (Kyoto: Kyoto University Press, 2001), p. 135. Field Marshal and Premier Phibunsongkhram and Phao Siyanon, Director General of Thailand’s national police, secretly paid for the printing of a previously published Maoist class analysis of Thai society to raise the specter of communism. An early example of embellishment was in February, 1955 when Phibun, prior to the opening of the first SEATO Council meeting held in Bangkok, claimed the Chinese were massing 20,000 “Free Thai” troops near the northern Thai border.

4. CIA, Communist Insurgency in Thailand, “National Intelligence Estimate Number 52-66,” (Washington: July 1, 1966), p. 5. After communist violence erupted in 1965 in Thailand, the CIA acknowledged that events in Laos probably were the impetus for the growing threat to Thailand: “The Communist subversive campaign in Thailand is a longstanding one but first became significant in 1961 when Pathet Lao territorial gains in Laos opened the way for the Communists to establish guerrilla bases in the Northeast.”

5. Siam became Thailand in 1939 and has remained so except for a brief period in 1946-1948.??

6. In 1824 the King of Vientiane Laos, Prince Anouvong (Xaiya Setthathirath) allied with the Vietnamese, conducted a three-pronged surprise attack into
northeast Siam; the King of Champasak leading one thrust through Sisaket onto Korat, Viceroy Tisa through Kalasin, and Anouvong charging towards
Korat where all the forces would link up. In 1826 he was defeated, but it was not until January 1828 when betrayed by the Lao Prince Noi, was he captured
and taken to Bangkok, exposed and publicly shamed, dying seven days later. The Vietnamese king, upon learning of Noi’s betrayal of Anouvong, executed Noi.
For a modern reading of this account, see M.L. Manich Jumsai, A New History of Laos (Bangkok: Chalermnit 1-2 Erawan Arcade, Second Edition, 1971).

7. Initial broadcasts were from Yunnan, China, with later transmissions probably from Vietnam.

8. George Tanham, Trial in Thailand (New York: Crane, Russak, and Company, Inc. 1974), p. 56. “There was one report of a People’s Liberation Army platoon in the Northeast and the Thais claimed to have one defector from this platoon but this report is still questionable and not fully accepted as being factual.” A current Hmong researcher who spends time with the group in northern Thailand told me that according to the Hmong, the PLA sent a military unit of 250 soldiers into Thailand and at least one defected. The researcher spoke on condition of anonymity due to national and ethnic sensitivity. The unit’s exact mission remains unknown, but it was possibly related to countering the activities of its enemy, elements of the Kuomintang’s 93rd Division, China’s Nationalist Army which fled China after the communist takeover in 1949 and moved into Thailand.

9. The Economic and Technical Cooperation Agreement signed on September 19 and the Mutual Defense Assistance Agreement, signed on October 17.

10. For a definitive account of the BPP, PARU, and their nation-building efforts see Sinae Hyun, “Indigenizing the Cold War: Nation-Building by the Border Patrol Police of Thailand, 1945-1980,” Ph.D. Diss., University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2014.

11. According to Daniel Fineman (p. 133), Lair married the sister of Siddhi Savetsila, former Thai Air Chief Marshal, Foreign Minister, Seri (Free), and Privy Council member. Siddhi’s mother was from the influential Bunnag family, his paternal grandfather Henry Alabaster the British consul in Siam during the reign of King Rama IV, later advisor to King Rama V. According to the Air America Lair Interview (which I believe to be in error), Lair’s brother-in-law was PARU commander Col. Pranet Ritreutchai. University of Texas Archives, Special Collections, date incorrectly listed as July 3, 1933, p. 2, https://www.

12. Sources of Success in Counterinsurgency, previously cited; Paths to Victory: Lessons from Modern Insurgencies, previously cited; Ethnicity, Insurgency, and Civil War, previously cited; Thailand (ThailandRN1.2), Thailand, Random Narratives, 2005, previously cited.

13. Some film titles were Mohlam (message of Thai government assistance to villagers); Railroads of Thailand; The King’s Ordination; The Royal Tour of the
Northeast; Thai Buddhist Customs; Chaiya Camp (provincial police training); A Day in the Life of a Nai Amphur; The Trooping of the Colors; Agricultural
Extension; Friendship in the Northeast; American Field Service Student; New Aircraft (warplanes U.S. gave Thailand); Women of the Northeast (showing
midwives, teachers, housewives and others in various activities).

14. The USOM Hospital Improvement Project also assisted the Thai government in constructing 20 X-ray buildings for provincial hospitals, 11 surgical buildings and 22 other buildings such as nurses’ dormitories, physicians’ houses, laundries, generator plants, and hospital wards across the country. It also provided special training in the United States for 123 Thai doctors and nurses. (See USOM, U.S. Economic and Technical Assistance to Thailand, 1950-to date, Bangkok, May 1959, p. PD-54).

15. Through USOM, by 1996 more than 11,000 Thais had trained in the United States and more than 100,000 Thais had received in-country training, according to the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

16. Tony Zola multiple interviews with the author, Bangkok, 2018-2019.

17. Comparatively, Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam did not begin to reduce poverty rates until the early 1990s, and still maintain rates higher than Thailand.

18. Of note, USOM employed famed anthropologist Dr. Toshio Yatsushiro from 1962 to 1969 as a researcher for villager attitudes towards development and the Thai government. Yatsushiro developed a specialty working with local indigenous peoples from research projects at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cornell University, the Canadian Government, the U.S. Department of Interior, and the University of Hawaii. He and his research teams spent months at a time living among the locals conducting his research.

19. See USOM’s study Impact of USOM Supported Programs in Changwad Sakon Nakorn (Bangkok, May 1967), Thailand Information Center, Chulalongkorn University call number 00032, consisting of three studies, (1) conversations with seventy officials in Sakon Nakhon, (2) a survey among 1200 respondents in the three provinces and, (3) a four-month intensive village study in Sakon Nakhon and Maha Sarakham provinces.

20. As ethnographic researcher William Klausner observed in Thai villages, if villagers viewed government officials as trustworthy, “the chance of his program being accepted will be greatly enhanced, though the villagers have no real understanding or appreciation of its significance and relevance.” See Klausner, Reflections on Thai Culture (Bangkok: Siam Society, 1983), p. 67.




How to Cite

Carter, Paul T. 2020. “Communist Defeat in the Second Indochina War”. ASIAN REVIEW 32 (1):55-83.



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