THE STUDENT REVOLUTION
One of the few certainties for Thailand at the beginning of the 1970s was that the generals ruling the country were confused, out of touch with their people, and giving in to an inertia they neither understood nor could correct.
This was only partly because the Thai attempt to build a working democracy, going back four decades, had been stymied three times in the last two decades. The narrow-minded military bureaucrats who carried out the third coup from within in November 1971 gave no sign of realizing that Thailand's time-frame had changed sharply since the last such episode in 1958. Since 1947, in fact, when the military first intruded after World War II on the nation's political development, conditions in Thailand and in the world around Thailand had changed in ways that undercut the very assumptions of traditional Thai existence.
Despite the retrogressive politics afflicting them, the Thai people were making phenomenal economic and educational strides. Far from following the old fashion of playing off foreign powers against each other and keeping its distance from them, Thailand had entered into an ever closer embrace with one power, the United States.
To Seni Pramoj, "American participation in our country is a consequence of the Free Thai movement—we've got to rely on someone— it was a question of safety."
The special relationship growing out of the two countries' perceiving a common danger, however, can be viewed as following only formally on the Thai-American connection that Seni had helped forge during the war years. Similarly, the exigencies of World War II were different from those that induced the Thai government to recruit American foreign-policy advisers, most of them from the Harvard Law School, from 1903 to 1940. Although the first Asian country