Alliance Internalized: The Securitization of Thai-US Relations

As the bedrock of the treaty alliance between Thailand and the United States was outward-oriented against the common external threat of communist expansionism, relations between Bangkok and Washington understandably became adrift after the end of the Cold War. Bilateral ties sunk to an unprecedented low during Thailand’s existential economic crisis in 1997-98 but perked up in new realignment in 2003, when Bangkok was designated a US major non-NATO ally (MNNA). Since then, two-way relations have been mired in the vicissitudes and machinations of Thailand’s domestic politics and the US’ moving balance between foreign policy interests and values. The Thai-US alliance has entered a new phase under the new reign from 2016 whereby Thai national security conception, practice and enforcement have broadened. As internal security to protect and promote Thailand’s ruling regime becomes paramount, the “securitization” of Thai foreign relations is likely to determine Thailand’s dealings abroad indefinitely.

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