Thailand in the Cold War

Matthew Phillips

Research output: Book/ReportBook

3 Citations (SciVal)


Although Thailand formally allied itself to the United States from the start of the Cold War, Thai political leaders initially remained keen to present themselves as independent political actors. Nevertheless, throughout the 1950s Thailand became increasingly subservient to the United States. Politically, foreign policy was tied explicitly to a Cold War logic that presented communism as the principal threat to the country. Economically, Thailand became integrated into the US sphere of influence and Thai policy makers adopted much of the development agenda that firmly positioned Thailand as a third world economy. However, as this book argues, while state actors were responsible for seeing through this shift, it was Thailand’s cosmopolitan urban communities that ultimately championed it. Committed for over a generation to developing a modern, consumerist lifestyle, it was this class that was instrumental in securing US hegemony in the country. Considering popular culture, including film, literature, fashion, tourism and attitudes towards Buddhism, this book shows how an ideology of consumerism and integration into a “free world” culture centred in the United States gradually took hold and became firmly established. This ideology, which emphasised popular ideas about what should be considered Thai culture, was fundamental in determining Thailand’s international political alignment during the period.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherTaylor & Francis
Number of pages234
ISBN (Electronic)9781315780962
ISBN (Print)9781138014169, 1138014168, 9781138476097
Publication statusPublished - 01 Oct 2015

Publication series

NameRoutledge Studies in the Modern History of Asia


  • Thailand
  • Cold War
  • Propaganda


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