Socio-Cultural Aspects of Thai and United States Military Relations

By Baseel, John | DISAM Journal, March 2010 | Go to article overview

Socio-Cultural Aspects of Thai and United States Military Relations


Baseel, John, DISAM Journal


[This article is a condensation of selected sections of a thesis on Thai-United States military relations in the post September 11, 2001, era completed as part of a Master's in Arts in Regional Studies at Chiang Mai University, Thailand. The research techniques used were personal interviews of Thai and United States military, diplomatic, and academic experts; participant-observer field research at several combined exercises; and document research. This article is the sole work of the author and does not portend to express the views of the DOD, Department of State, or any other USG organization.]

Similarities between Thai and United States Military Sub-Cultures

My overall observation of relations between Thai and American servicemen was that interpersonal relations and professional interoperability were good. Despite the fact that the U.S. and Thailand are located halfway around the world from each other, the two countries' cultures share several key aspects which help Americans and Thais connect on an easier level when compared to other countries.

First and foremost, both countries place a high value on freedom and independence. Both countries are known as the "land of the free." Thailand takes justified pride in being the only Southeast Asian country never to have been colonized. The United States is of course a former British colony but has for the bulk of modern history been regarded as the model for liberty, democracy, and the personal freedom of its citizens.

Both countries are also very accepting of foreigners and of other cultures. As the world's most ethnically diverse country, most Americans are comfortable around people of different backgrounds and can adjust to new customs and manners. Thailand is also very open to other cultures and customs, perhaps due in part to not having the collective psychological resentment towards foreigners that some other countries have who have been conquered by foreign powers. Also, a high percentage of Thai military leaders have studied in the United States or other western countries and so are familiar with western culture.

Thai and American cultures also share the characteristic of emphasizing friendliness. In contrast to some other cultures which are highly reserved or where individuals take a long amount of time to get to know each other before opening up, Thais and Americans are usually more outgoing and can warm up to each other quickly. I have had several experiences of working with other countries' military forces in which dealings with my counterparts were stilted and highly awkward. But in the bulk of the observations I have made on Thai and United States military exercises, the two sides seem to connect easily; and most dealings between them seem much more natural.

Differences between Thai and United States Military Sub-Cultures

Despite the similarities noted above, there are some key differences between Thai and United States cultures than can cause misunderstanding and friction. I will touch on three areas: social protocol, rank and respect of seniority, and political correctness.

Social Protocol

American culture does not place the same value on socialization as Thai culture does. United States military culture emphasizes a hard-driving work ethic. This attitude can be taken to an extreme, where anything other than mission accomplishment is regarded as extraneous. The social aspects of our military dealings with the Thais are seen as frivolous at best, and most often as a complete waste of time. "Why can't we just get down to business?" was the opinion of one United States officer I spoke with.

On a macro-level, this attitude can be seen in America's poor record on high level visits and social protocol. This record is quite frankly dismal, especially when compared to other nations currently engaging the Thai military. All too often, it appears to the Thais that American leaders are more interested in other countries in the region, stopping in Thailand only infrequently. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Socio-Cultural Aspects of Thai and United States Military Relations
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.