I recently came across a book from a very different period of global interest in Southeast Asian affairs. It is Daniel Wit’s Thailand: Another Vietnam? published in New York by Charles Scribner’s Sons in 1968. I thought New Mandala readers would be keen to digest the analysis. The book concludes, on page 191, with this reflection:
Is Thailand going to be another Vietnam? It does not have to be, as its many assets and strengths indicate. But it may nevertheless become one. As an essentially administrative state governed by a conservative bureaucracy, it may not be able to rise to the new challenges sufficiently because to do so requires a major and rapid self-transformation in the ruling oligarchy. One can only hope that the Communist pressure is limited enough, the traditional Thai cultural resistances to revolution still strong enough, the education of new bureaucrats modern enough, and the dedication of senior Thai elites to their country great enough to produce in time that societal development (above and beyond limited economic growth) which alone can prevent still another agonizing Southeast Asia catastrophe.