The US, the War in Vietnam and Regional Development

I neglected to mention in yesterday’s posts the importance of the US involvement in the Second Indochinese War (the Vietnam War, if you prefer) and its role in regional development in Thailand. This was primarily manifested in the development of transportation infrastructure linking the capital with important military installations in U Tapao and in Isan, as well as the port facilities and Pattaya. In addition, the threat of a communist insurgency also encouraged the road network that enabled military forces to be moved around the countryside more conveniently.

The relationship between the Thai governing elites and the US military and government also acted to entrench further the role of the Thai military in society, not least through providing pretexts for the enormous budgets it receives. It also meant that a commitment to capitalist development was also reinforced, as well as providing demand for goods for the military action and the provision of markets for manufactured consumer goods. This aspect of the relationship is most commonly and vividly witnessed in the development of Bangkok and Pattaya as rest and recreation centres for American (and allied) troops. This resulted in the industrialization of the already existing sex and drugs industries, which had also occurred in locations such as Seoul, Taipei and Okinawa and which has continued to act as a principal part of the Thai tourism industry subsequently.


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