Paper $26.95 ISBN: 9781783608690 Published October 2017 For sale in North and South America only
Cloth $95.00 ISBN: 9781783608706 Published November 2017 For sale in North and South America only

Thailand

Shifting Ground between the US and a Rising China

Benjamin Zawacki

Thailand

Benjamin Zawacki

Distributed for Zed Books

448 pages | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 | © 2017
Paper $26.95 ISBN: 9781783608690 Published October 2017 For sale in North and South America only
Cloth $95.00 ISBN: 9781783608706 Published November 2017 For sale in North and South America only
Since the World War II, 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 American troops during the Vietnam War. In return, the United States has provided millions of dollars in military and economic aid, while staunchly supporting the country’s despotic regimes. However, recent decades have 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, and it represents a major setback to American efforts at curbing the spread of Chinese influence in Asia. It has also had a dramatic impact on Thailand itself, as the country’s ruling elite seek to follow the Chinese model of authoritarianism combined with neoliberalism.

In this up-to-date study of Thai foreign policy, Benjamin Zawacki provides a compelling account of Thailand’s modern history and its changing role in the world order, from the beginning of its alliance with the United States in 1945 to the 2014 coup and beyond. Featuring extensive interviews with more than seventy high-level figures in Thailand and the United States, including deposed prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, the book offers unprecedented insight into the inner workings of the Thai elite and their dealings with the United States and China. As the Sino-American rivalry escalates, Southeast Asia will become an increasingly important theater in global affairs. Understanding the current transitions of power in Thailand are essential for comprehending the profound implications of China’s influence, not only for the region, but for the wider world.
 
Contents
Foreword and Acknowledgements
Preface
 
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 (1980-2001)
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
 
Notes
Sources
Index
 
Review Quotes
Seth Mydans, Southeast Asia correspondent for The New York Times
“Presents a clear-eyed and well-informed analysis of a critical moment, in which ideals of democracy and human rights, never deeply rooted, are giving way as Thailand increasingly sees its future tied to a rising China.”
Tyler Giannini, Human Rights Program Director, Harvard Law School
“A must-read for those concerned by Chinese ascendency in Southeast Asia and its implications for human rights in the coming decades.”
Shawn W. Crispin, Southeast Asia Editor, Asia Times
“An important book at a pivotal moment. Zawacki brings clear eyes and rigorous research to one of America’s most complicated and historically important Asian relationships.”
Charlie Campbell, Beijing correspondent for TIME
“Zawacki skillfully tells the story of America’s oldest Asian ally, exploring how equivocation in Washington and dysfunction in Bangkok is allowing a resurgent China to extend its talons into a disturbingly authoritarian Thailand.”
Michael Herzfeld, Harvard University
“Zawacki’s carefully documented and balanced analysis lifts the curtain on a gradual, often invisible, but seemingly inexorable geopolitical shift. It provides a thorough explanation of the circumstances that have led Thailand, once seen as an unequivocally staunch US ally, to lean increasingly toward a pragmatic and strategically assertive China.”
Daniel Fineman, author of A Special Relationship: The United States and Military Government in Thailand
“Presents a powerful counter-argument to the conventional wisdom that China's economic rise alone explains Thailand's pivot from the US to China. In thoroughly researched detail, the book traces a sorry trail of US condescension and clumsy diplomacy.”
Jeffrey Race, author of War Comes to Long An: Revolutionary Conflict in a Vietnamese Province
“Now comes the rare American deeply informed of a ‘faraway country’ of whose people ‘we know nothing,’ in a profoundly disturbing study of how the world-changing US-China dynamic unfolds in Thailand. Read and weep.”
For more information, or to order this book, please visit http://www.press.uchicago.edu
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