Map of SEATO members, shown in blue.
|Formation||8 September 1954|
|Extinction||30 June 1977|
|Type||Intergovernmental military alliance|
States protected by SEATO
The Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) was an international organization for collective defense in Southeast Asia created by the Southeast Asia Collective Defense Treaty, or Manila Pact, signed in September 1954 in Manila, Philippines. The formal institution of SEATO was established on 19 February 1955 at a meeting of treaty partners in Bangkok, Thailand.The organization's headquarters were also in Bangkok. Eight members joined the organization.
An international organization is an organization established by a treaty or other instrument governed by international law and possessing its own international legal personality, such as the United Nations, the World Health Organization and NATO. International organizations are composed of primarily Member states, but may also include other entities, such as other international organizations. Additionally, entities may hold observer status.
Collective security can be understood as a security arrangement, political, regional, or global, in which each state in the system accepts that the security of one is the concern of all, and therefore commits to a collective response to threats to, and breaches to peace. Collective security is more ambitious than systems of alliance security or collective defense in that it seeks to encompass the totality of states within a region or indeed globally, and to address a wide range of possible threats. While collective security is an idea with a long history, its implementation in practice has proved problematic. Several prerequisites have to be met for it to have a chance of working. It is the theory or practice of states pledging to defend one another in order to deter aggression or to exterminate transgressor if international order has been breached.
Southeast Asia is a subregion of Asia, consisting of the countries that are geographically south of China and Japan, east of India, west of Papua New Guinea, and north of Australia. Southeast Asia is bordered to the north by East Asia, to the west by South Asia and the Bay of Bengal, to the east by Oceania and the Pacific Ocean, and to the south by Australia and the Indian Ocean. The region is the only part of Asia that lies partly within the Southern Hemisphere, although the majority of it is in the Northern Hemisphere. In contemporary definition, Southeast Asia consists of two geographic regions:
Primarily created to block further communist gains in Southeast Asia, SEATO is generally considered a failure because internal conflict and dispute hindered general use of the SEATO military; however, SEATO-funded cultural and educational programs left longstanding effects in Southeast Asia. SEATO was dissolved on 30 June 1977 after many members lost interest and withdrew.
In political and social sciences, communism is the philosophical, social, political, and economic ideology and movement whose ultimate goal is the establishment of the communist society, which is a socioeconomic order structured upon the common ownership of the means of production and the absence of social classes, money, and the state.
The Southeast Asia Collective Defense Treaty, or Manila Pact, was signed on 8 September 1954 in Manila,as part of the American Truman Doctrine of creating anti-communist bilateral and collective defense treaties. These treaties and agreements were intended to create alliances that would contain communist powers (Communist China, in SEATO's case). This policy was considered to have been largely developed by American diplomat and Soviet expert George F. Kennan. President Dwight D. Eisenhower's Secretary of State John Foster Dulles (1953–1959) is considered to be the primary force behind the creation of SEATO, which expanded the concept of anti-communist collective defense to Southeast Asia. Then-Vice President Richard Nixon advocated an Asian equivalent of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) upon returning from his Asia trip of late 1953, and NATO was the model for the new organization, with the military forces of each member intended to be coordinated to provide for the collective defense of the member states.
Manila, officially the City of Manila, is the capital of the Philippines and highly urbanized city. It is the most densely populated city proper in the world as of 2018. It was the first chartered city by virtue of the Philippine Commission Act 183 on July 31, 1901 and gained autonomy with the passage of Republic Act No. 409 or the "Revised Charter of the City of Manila" on June 18, 1949. Manila, alongside Mexico City and Madrid are considered the world's original set of Global Cities due to Manila's commercial networks being the first to traverse the Pacific Ocean, thus connecting Asia with the Spanish Americas, marking the first time in world history when an uninterrupted chain of trade routes circled the planet. Manila has been damaged by and rebuilt from wars more times than the famed city of Troy and it is also the second most natural disaster-afflicted capital city in the world next to Tokyo, yet it is simultaneously among the most populous and wealthiest cities in Southeast Asia.
The Truman Doctrine was an American foreign policy whose stated purpose was to counter Soviet geopolitical expansion during the Cold War. It was announced to Congress by President Harry S. Truman on March 29, 1947, and further developed on July 4, 1948, when he pledged to contain threats in Greece and Turkey. Direct American military force was usually not involved, but Congress appropriated financial aid to support the economies and militaries of Greece and Turkey. More generally, the Truman Doctrine implied American support for other nations allegedly threatened by Soviet communism. The Truman Doctrine became the foundation of American foreign policy, and led, in 1949, to the formation of NATO, a military alliance that is still in effect. Historians often use Truman's speech to date the start of the Cold War.
China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia and the world's most populous country, with a population of around 1.404 billion in 2017. Covering approximately 9,600,000 square kilometers (3,700,000 sq mi), it is the third or fourth largest country by total area. Governed by the Communist Party of China, the state exercises jurisdiction over 22 provinces, five autonomous regions, four direct-controlled municipalities, and the special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau.
The organization, headquartered in Bangkok, was created in 1955 at the first meeting of the Council of Ministers set up by the treaty, contrary to Dulles's preference to call the organization "ManPac".[ citation needed ] Organizationally, SEATO was headed by the Secretary General, whose office was created in 1957 at a meeting in Canberra, with a council of representatives from member nations and an international staff. Also present were committees for economics, security, and information. SEATO's first Secretary General was Pote Sarasin, a Thai diplomat and politician who had served as Thailand's ambassador to the U.S. between 1952 and 1957, and as Prime Minister of Thailand from September 1957 to 1 January 1958.
Canberra is the capital city of Australia. Founded following the federation of the colonies of Australia as the seat of government for the new nation, it is Australia's largest inland city and the eighth-largest city overall. The city is located at the northern end of the Australian Capital Territory; 280 km (170 mi) south-west of Sydney and 660 km (410 mi) north-east of Melbourne.
Pote Sarasin was a Thai diplomat and politician from the influential Sarasin family. He served as foreign minister from 1949 to 1951 and then served as ambassador to the United States. In September 1957 when Sarit Thanarat seized power in a military coup, he appointed Pote to be the acting prime minister. He resigned in December 1957. Pote also served as the first Secretary General of the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization from September 1957 until 1964.
Unlike the NATO alliance, SEATO had no joint commands with standing forces.In addition, SEATO's response protocol in the event of communism presenting a "common danger" to the member nations was vague and ineffective, though membership in the SEATO alliance did provide a rationale for a large-scale U.S. military intervention in the region during the Vietnam War (1955–1975).
The Vietnam War, also known as the Second Indochina War, and in Vietnam as the Resistance War Against America or simply the American War, was a conflict in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. It was the second of the Indochina Wars and was officially fought between North Vietnam and South Vietnam. North Vietnam was supported by the Soviet Union, China, and other communist allies; South Vietnam was supported by the United States, South Korea, the Philippines, Australia, Thailand and other anti-communist allies. The war, considered a Cold War-era proxy war by some, lasted 19 years, with direct U.S. involvement ending in 1973, and included the Laotian Civil War and the Cambodian Civil War, which ended with all three countries becoming communist in 1975.
Despite its name, SEATO mostly included countries located outside of the region but with an interest either in the region or the organization itself. They were Australia (which administered Papua New Guinea), France (which had recently relinquished French Indochina), New Zealand, Pakistan (including East Pakistan, now Bangladesh), the Philippines, Thailand, the United Kingdom (which administered Hong Kong, North Borneo and Sarawak) and the United States.
Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands. It is the largest country in Oceania and the world's sixth-largest country by total area. The neighbouring countries are Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, and East Timor to the north; the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu to the north-east; and New Zealand to the south-east. The population of 26 million is highly urbanised and heavily concentrated on the eastern seaboard. Australia's capital is Canberra, and its largest city is Sydney. The country's other major metropolitan areas are Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, and Adelaide.
The Territory of Papua and New Guinea was established by an administrative union between the Australian-administered territories of Papua and New Guinea in 1949. In 1972, the name of the Territory changed to "Papua New Guinea" and in 1975 it became the Independent State of Papua New Guinea.
France, officially the French Republic, is a country whose territory consists of metropolitan France in Western Europe and several overseas regions and territories. The metropolitan area of France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, and from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean. It is bordered by Belgium, Luxembourg and (Germany) to the northeast, Switzerland and Italy to the east, and Andorra and Spain to the south. The overseas territories include French Guiana in South America and several islands in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans. The country's 18 integral regions span a combined area of 643,801 square kilometres (248,573 sq mi) and a total population of 67.02 million. France is a unitary semi-presidential republic with its capital in Paris, the country's largest city and main cultural and commercial centre. Other major urban areas include Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Lille and Nice.
The Philippines and Thailand were the only Southeast Asian countries that actually participated in the organization. They shared close ties with the United States, particularly the Philippines, and they faced incipient communist insurgencies against their own governments.Thailand became a member upon the discovery of the newly founded "Thai Autonomous Region" (the Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture) in Yunnan (in South West China) – apparently feeling threatened by potential Chinese communist subversion on its land. Other regional countries like Burma and Indonesia were far more mindful of domestic internal stability rather than any communist threat, and thus rejected joining it. Malaya (including Singapore) also chose not to participate formally, though it was kept updated with key developments due to its close relationship with the United Kingdom.
The states newly formed from French Indochina (North Vietnam, South Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos) were prevented from taking part in any international military alliance as a result of the Geneva Agreements signed 20 July of the same year concluding the end of the First Indochina War.However, with the lingering threat coming from communist North Vietnam and the possibility of the domino theory with Indochina turning into a communist frontier, SEATO got these countries under its protection – an act that would be considered to be one of the main justifications for the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. Cambodia, however rejected the protection in 1956.
The majority of SEATO members were not located in Southeast Asia. To Australia and New Zealand, SEATO was seen as a more satisfying organization than ANZUS – a collective defense organization with the U.S.The United Kingdom and France joined partly due to having long maintained colonies in the region, and partly due to concerns over developments in Indochina. Last but not least, the U.S. upon perceiving Southeast Asia to be a pivotal frontier for Cold War geopolitics saw the establishment of SEATO as essential to its Cold War containment policy.
All in all, the membership reflected a mid-1950s combination of anti-communist Western nations and such nations in Southeast Asia. The United Kingdom, France and the United States, the latter of which joined after the U.S. Senate ratified the treaty by an 82–1 vote,represented the strongest Western powers. Canada also considered joining, but decided against it in order to concentrate on its NATO responsibilities.
Average of contributions to civil and military budgets between 1958 and 1973:
Secretaries-General of SEATO:
|Pote Sarasin||5 September 1957||22 September 1957|
|William Worth (acting)||22 September 1957||10 January 1958|
|Pote Sarasin||10 January 1958||13 December 1963|
|William Worth (acting)||13 December 1963||19 February 1964|
|Konthi Suphamongkhon [ de ]||19 February 1964||1 July 1965|
|Jesus M. Vargas||1 July 1965||5 September 1972|
|Sunthorn Hongladarom [ de ]||5 September 1972||30 June 1977|
After its creation, SEATO quickly became insignificant militarily, as most of its member nations contributed very little to the alliance.While SEATO military forces held joint military training, they were never employed because of internal disagreements. SEATO was unable to intervene in conflicts in Laos because France and the United Kingdom rejected use of military action. As a result, the U.S. provided unilateral support for Laos after 1962. Though sought by the U.S., involvement of SEATO in the Vietnam War was denied because of lack of British and French cooperation.
Both the United States and Australia cited the alliance as justification for involvement in Vietnam.U.S. membership in SEATO provided the United States with a rationale for a large-scale U.S. military intervention in Southeast Asia. Other countries, such as the UK and key nations in Asia, accepted the rationale. In 1962, as part of its commitment to SEATO, the Royal Australian Air Force deployed CAC Sabres of its No. 79 Squadron to Ubon Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand. The Sabres began to play a role in the Vietnam War in 1965, when their air defence responsibilities expanded to include protection of USAF aircraft using Ubon as a base for strikes against North Vietnam.
In addition to joint military training, SEATO member states worked on improving mutual social and economic issues.Such activities were overseen by SEATO's Committee of Information, Culture, Education, and Labor Activities, and proved to be some of SEATO's greatest successes. In 1959, SEATO's first Secretary General, Pote Sarasin, created the SEATO Graduate School of Engineering (currently the Asian Institute of Technology) in Thailand to train engineers. SEATO also sponsored the creation of the Teacher Development Center in Bangkok, as well as the Thai Military Technical Training School, which offered technical programs for supervisors and workmen. SEATO's Skilled Labor Project (SLP) created artisan training facilities, especially in Thailand, where ninety-one training workshops were established.
SEATO also provided research funding and grants in agriculture and medical fields.In 1959, SEATO set up the Cholera Research Laboratory in Bangkok, later establishing a second Cholera Research Laboratory in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The Dhaka laboratory soon became the world's leading cholera research facility and was later renamed the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh. SEATO was also interested in literature, and a SEATO Literature Award was created and given to writers from member states.
Though Secretary of State Dulles considered SEATO an essential element in U.S. foreign policy in Asia, historians have considered the Manila Pact a failure, and the pact is rarely mentioned in history books.In The Geneva Conference of 1954 on Indochina, Sir James Cable, a diplomat and naval strategist, described SEATO as "a fig leaf for the nakedness of American policy", citing the Manila Pact as a "zoo of paper tigers".
Consequently, questions of dissolving the organization arose. Pakistan withdrew in 1972, after East Pakistan seceded and became Bangladesh on 16 December 1971.France withdrew financial support in 1975, and the SEATO council agreed to the phasing out of the organization. After a final exercise on 20 February 1976, the organization was formally dissolved on 30 June 1977.
Despite the dissolution of the SEATO in 1977, the Manila Pact remains in force and, together with the Thanat-Rusk communiqué of 1962, constitutes the basis of U.S. security commitments to Thailand.
The foreign relations of Laos, internationally designated by its official name as the Lao People's Democratic Republic, after the takeover by the Pathet Lao in December 1975, were characterized by a hostile posture toward the West, with the government of the Lao People's Democratic Republic aligning itself with the Soviet bloc, maintaining close ties with the Soviet Union and depending heavily on the Soviets for most of its foreign assistance. Laos also maintained a "special relationship" with Vietnam and formalized a 1977 treaty of friendship and cooperation that created tensions with China.
The Warsaw Pact, formally known as the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance, was a collective defence treaty signed in Warsaw, Poland between the Soviet Union and seven Eastern Bloc satellite states of Central and Eastern Europe in May 1955, during the Cold War. The Warsaw Pact was the military complement to the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (CoMEcon), the regional economic organization for the socialist states of Central and Eastern Europe. The Warsaw Pact was created in reaction to the integration of West Germany into NATO in 1955 per the London and Paris Conferences of 1954, but it is also considered to have been motivated by Soviet desires to maintain control over military forces in Central and Eastern Europe.
French Indochina, officially known as the Indochinese Union from 1887 and the Indochinese Federation after 1947, was a grouping of French colonial territories in Southeast Asia.
The domino theory was a theory prominent from the 1950s to the 1980s that posited that if one country in a region came under the influence of communism, then the surrounding countries would follow in a domino effect. The domino theory was used by successive United States administrations during the Cold War to justify the need for American intervention around the world.
The Central Treaty Organization (CENTO), originally known as the Baghdad Pact or the Middle East Treaty Organization (METO), was a military alliance of the Cold War. It was formed in 1955 by Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Turkey and the United Kingdom and dissolved in 1979.
The Laotian Civil War (1959–75) was a civil war in Laos fought between the Communist Pathet Lao and the Royal Lao Government from 23 May 1959 to 2 December 1975. It is associated with the Cambodian Civil War and the Vietnam War, with both sides receiving heavy external support in a proxy war between the global Cold War superpowers. It is called the Secret War among the CIA Special Activities Division and Hmong veterans of the conflict.
The First Indochina War began in French Indochina on December 19, 1946, and lasted until July 20, 1954. Fighting between French forces and their Việt Minh opponents in the south dated from September 1945. The conflict pitted a range of forces, including the French Union's French Far East Expeditionary Corps, led by France and supported by Bảo Đại's Vietnamese National Army against the Việt Minh, led by Hồ Chí Minh and the People's Army of Vietnam led by Võ Nguyên Giáp. Most of the fighting took place in Tonkin in northern Vietnam, although the conflict engulfed the entire country and also extended into the neighboring French Indochina protectorates of Laos and Cambodia.
Military Assistance Advisory Group (MAAG) is a designation for United States military advisers sent to other countries to assist in the training of conventional armed forces and facilitate military aid. Although numerous MAAGs operated around the world throughout the 1940s–1970s, the most famous MAAGs were those active in Southeast Asia before and during the Vietnam War. Typically, the personnel of MAAGs were considered to be technical staff attached to, and enjoying the privileges of, the US diplomatic mission in a country. Although the term is not as widespread as it once was, the functions performed by MAAGs continue to be performed by successor organizations attached to embassies, often called United States Military Groups. The term MAAG may still occasionally be used for such organizations helping promote military partnerships with several Latin American countries such as Peru and the Dominican Republic as well as in African countries such as Liberia.
The Indochina Wars were a series of wars fought in Southeast Asia from 1946 until 1989, between communist Indochinese forces against mainly French, South Vietnamese, American, Cambodian, Laotian and Chinese forces. The term "Indochina" originally referred to French Indochina, which included the current states of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. In current usage, it applies largely to a geographic region, rather than to a political area. The wars included:
The United States Air Force (USAF) deployed combat aircraft to Thailand from 1961 to 1975 during the Vietnam War. Today, US military units train with other Asian militaries in Thailand. Royal Thai Air Force Bases are an important element in the Pentagon's "forward positioning" strategy.
A defense pact is a type of treaty or military alliance in which the signatories promise to support each other militarily and to defend each other. In general, the signatories point out the threats in the treaty and concretely prepare to respond to it together.
Pactomania was a period of treaty making by the United States during the early Cold War. During the Presidency of Dwight D. Eisenhower, the United States, mainly through the efforts of Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, formed alliances with 42 separate nations along with treaty relations with nearly 100, which observers described as "pactomania." These pacts sometimes permitted military interventions pursuant to the provisions for collective self-defense in Article 51 of Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter.
United States–Vietnam relations refers to international relations between the United States of America and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. After a 20-year hiatus of severed ties, then-U.S. President Bill Clinton announced the formal normalization of diplomatic relations between the United States of America and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam on July 11, 1995. Subsequent to President Clinton's normalization announcement, in August 1995, both countries upgraded their Liaison Offices opened during January 1995 to Embassy status, with the United States later opening a consulate general in Ho Chi Minh City, while Vietnam opened a consulate in San Francisco, California.
The United Front for the Liberation of Oppressed Races was an organization in Vietnam whose objective was autonomy for the Degar (Montagnard) tribes. Initially a political nationalist movement, after 1969 it evolved into a fragmented guerrilla group that carried on insurgencies against, successively, the governments of South Vietnam and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. Opposed to all forms of Vietnamese rule, FULRO fought against the communist Viet Cong and capitalist ARVN at the same time. FULRO's primary supporter was Cambodia, with some aid sent by China.
The Military history of Laos has been dominated by struggles against stronger neighbours, primarily Thailand and Vietnam, from at least the 18th century.
North Vietnam, officially the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV), was a country in Southeast Asia from 1945 to 1976.
Jesus M. Vargas served as Secretary of National Defense and chief of staff of the Philippines. In his later years, he was the Secretary General of Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) which was based in Bangkok, Thailand.
In the northern-hemisphere summer of 1940 Germany rapidly defeated the French Third Republic, and colonial administration of French Indochina passed to the French State. In September 1940 Japanese troops first entered parts of Indochina; and in July 1941 Japan extended its control over the whole of French Indochina. The United States, concerned by Japanese expansion, started putting embargoes on exports of steel and oil to Japan from July 1940. The desire to escape these embargoes and to become self-sufficient in resources ultimately contributed to Japan's decision to attack on December 7, 1941 the British Empire and simultaneously the USA and at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii). This led to the USA declaring war against Japan on December 8, 1941. The US then joined the British Empire, already at war with Germany since 1939, and its existing allies in the fight against the Axis powers.