Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 10/2009

Diverging Roads: 21st-century U.S.-Thai Defense Relations

Lewis M. Stern

June 2009

Institute for National Strategic Studies


The 175th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Amity and Commerce in 2008 was seized by both Thailand and the United States as a reason for celebrating a long and mutually beneficial treaty alliance. This alliance has been defined by the shared though not uncomplicated commitment to democracy and human rights, and the common interest in free and fair trade, all of which inform the tradition of bilateral cooperation. For the last 50 years, Thailand supported a continuous U.S. presence in the region, offered unfettered access to port and airfield facilities to the American military, and provided unparalleled training opportunities for U.S. forces. Since the 1980s, Thailand has hosted and participated in strategically important exercise opportunities, which have given substance to a continuous Thai commitment to interoperability with the U.S. military.