Since the Second World War, Thailand has positioned itself as a key strategic ally of the United States, serving as a bulwark against communism in Southeast Asia and as a base for US troops during the Vietnam War. In return, the US has provided millions of dollars in military and economic aid, and staunchly supported the country's despotic regimes. However, the twenty-first century has seen a striking reversal in Thailand's foreign relations, with China, once a sworn enemy, now treated as a valued ally by the Thai junta. This shift reflects China's growing status as a world power, but it has also had a dramatic impact on Thailand itself, as the country's ruling elite ape the 'Chinese model' of authoritarianism combined with rampant neoliberalism. In Thailand, Benjamin Zawacki provides a compelling account of Thailand's changing role in the world order, from the beginning of its alliance with the US in 1945 to the 2014 coup and beyond. Featuring extensive interviews with highly placed sources in Thailand and the US, including deposed prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, the book offers unique insight into the inner workings of the Thai elite and their dealings with the US and China.
Benjamin Zawacki is a visiting fellow in the Human Rights Program at Harvard Law School, and was Amnesty International's senior Southeast Asia researcher for five years. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and is a regular contributor to the media on politics and human rights in Southeast Asia.
Introduction: Points of Departure Part I 1. The Fog of Peace (1945-1949) 2. Means of Power (1949-1957) 3. War Comes to Thailand (1957-1973) 4. Experiments Interrupted (1973-1980) 5. Policy Drift (1980-1988) 6. The Thai Spring (1989-2001) Interface Part II 7. A Thaksin for Turning (Thailand and China, 2001-2006) 8. Another American War (Thailand and the US, 2001-2006) 9. China's Pivot (2006-2014) 10. Continental Drift