Southeast Asia Treaty Organization

Southeast Asia Treaty Organization
SEATO flag
SEATO's flag
Map of SEATO members, shown in blue.
Abbreviation SEATO
Formation 8 September 1954
Extinction 30 June 1977
Type intergovernmental military alliance
Headquarters Bangkok, Thailand
Region served Southeast Asia
A picture of a few SEATO nation leaders in Manila in 1966
The leaders of some of the SEATO nations in front of the Congress Building in Manila, hosted by Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos on 24 October 1966

Picture of the 1966 SEATO conference in Manila
A SEATO conference in Manila

The Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) was an 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 long-standing effects in Southeast Asia. SEATO was dissolved on 30 June 1977 after many members lost interest and withdrew.


  • Origins and structure 1
  • Membership 2
  • Military aspects 3
  • Cultural effects 4
  • Criticism and dissolution 5
  • See also 6
  • Notes 7
  • References 8
  • Further reading 9
  • External links 10

Origins and structure

The Southeast Asia Collective Defense Treaty, or Manila Pact, was signed on 8 September 1954 in

SEATO was intended to be a Southeast Asian version of the Canberra,[7][8] with a council of representatives from member nations and an international staff. Also present were committees for economics, security, and information.[8] 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,[9][10] and as Prime Minister of Thailand from September 1957 to 1 January 1958.[11]

Unlike the NATO alliance, SEATO had no joint commands with standing forces.[12] 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).[13]


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, France, New Zealand, Pakistan (including East Pakistan, now Bangladesh), the Philippines, Thailand, the United Kingdom and the United States.[12]

The Philippines and Thailand were the only Philippines, and both faced incipient communist insurgencies against their own governments.[14] Thailand became a member upon the discovery of the newly founded "Thai Autonomous Region" (the Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture) in Yunnan Province (in South West China) - apparently feeling threatened by potential Chinese communist subversion on its land.[15] Other regional countries like Burma and Indonesia were far more minded with domestic internal stability rather than concern of communism threat,[14] and thus rejected joining it.[16] Malaya (including Singapore) also chose to not participate formally, though it was kept updated with key developments due to its close relationship with the United Kingdom.[14] The rest of Southeast Asia's countries: 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.[17] 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.[18] Cambodia, however rejected the protection in 1956.[19]

The majority of SEATO members were not located in

  • Copy of the Southeast Asia Collective Defense Treaty (Manila Pact); September 8, 1954, from Yale Law School
  • The short film Big Picture: Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) Nations is available for free download at the Internet Archive []

External links

  • Buszynski, Leszek. SEATO: The Failure of an Alliance Strategy. Singapore: Singapore University Press, 1983.
  • Haas, Michael (1989). The Asian Way to Peace: A Story of Regional Cooperation. Praeger.  
  • Dreisbach, Kai (2004). USA und ASEAN. Amerikanische Aussenpolitik und regionale Kooperation in Südostasien vom Vietnamkrieg bis zur Asienkrise (in German). Wissenschaftlicher Verlag.  

Further reading

  • Blaxland, John C. (2006). Strategic Cousins: Australian and Canadian Expeditionary Forces and the British and American Empires. McGill-Queen's University Press.  
  • Boyer, Paul; Clark, Jr., Clifford; Kett, Joseph; Salisbury, Neal; Sitkoff, Harvard; Woloch, Nancy (2007). The Enduring Vision (6th AP ed.). Houghton Mifflin.  
  • Encyclopaedia Britannica (India) (2000). Students' Britannica India, Volume Five. Popular Prakashan.  
  • Franklin, John K. (2006). The Hollow Pact: Pacific Security and the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization. ProQuest.  
  • Grenville, John; Wasserstein, Bernard, eds. (2001). The Major International Treaties of the Twentieth Century: A History and Guide with Texts. Taylor & Francis.  
  • Hearden, Patrick J., ed. (1990). Vietnam: Four American Perspectives. Purdue University Press.  
  • Jillson, Cal (2009). American Government: Political Development and Institutional Change. Taylor & Francis.  
  • Leifer, Michael (2005). Chin Kin Wah, Leo Suryadinata, ed. Michael Leifer: Selected Works on Southeast Asia.  
  • Maga, Timothy P. (2010). The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Vietnam War, 2nd Edition. Penguin.  
  • Ooi, Keat Gin, ed. (2004). Southeast Asia: A Historical Encyclopedia, From Angkor Wat to East Timor, Volume 2. ABC-CLIO.  
  • Page, Melvin E., ed. (2003). Colonialism: An International Social, Cultural, and Political Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO.  
  • Stephens, Alan (1995). Going Solo: The Royal Australian Air Force, 1946–1971. Australian Govt. Pub. Service.  
  • Tarling, Nicholas (1992). The Cambridge History of Southeast Asia: Volume 2. Cambridge University Press.  
  • Weiner, Tim (2008). Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA. Random House Digital.  


  1. ^ Leifer 2005
  2. ^ a b c d Franklin 2006, p. 1
  3. ^ Jillson 2009, p. 439
  4. ^ Ooi 2004, pp. 338–339
  5. ^ "Nixon Alone," by Ralph de Toledano, p. 173-74
  6. ^ Boyer et al. 2007, p. 836
  7. ^ Franklin 2006, p. 184
  8. ^ a b c Page 2003, p. 548
  9. ^ a b Franklin 2006, p. 186
  10. ^ Weiner 2008, p. 351
  11. ^ "History of Thai Prime Ministers". Royal Thai Government. Retrieved 22 April 2011. 
  12. ^ a b c d Encyclopaedia Britannica (India) 2000, p. 60
  13. ^ a b c Maga 2010
  14. ^ a b c d e "Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO), 1954". Office of the Historian. U.S. Department of State. Retrieved 3 October 2012. 
  15. ^ US PSB, 1953 United States Psychological Studies Board (US PSB). (1953). US Psychological Strategy Based on Thailand, 14 September. Declassified Documents Reference System, 1994, 000556–000557, WH 120.
  16. ^ Nehru Has Alternative To SEATO. (1954, 5 August). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 1. Retrieved 3 October 2012.
  17. ^ "The Final Declaration of The Geneva Conference: On Restoring Peace in Indochina, July 21, 1954". Wikisource. 
  18. ^ a b c d Blaxland 2006, p. 138
  19. ^ a b c d Grenville 2001, p. 366
  20. ^ W. Brands, Jr., Henry (May 1987). "From ANZUS to SEATO: United States Strategic Policy towards Australia and New Zealand, 1952-1954". The International History Review. No. 2 9: pp. 250–270.  
  21. ^ a b Hearden 1990, p. 46
  22. ^ Tarling 1992, p. 604
  23. ^ Stephens 1995, p. 36
  24. ^ Independent Review Panel (9 July 2004). Report to the Minister Assisting the Minister for Defence. Retrieved 1 May 2011. 
  25. ^ a b Franklin 2006, p. 183
  26. ^ a b Franklin 2006, p. 188
  27. ^ a b Franklin 2006, p. 189
  28. ^ Franklin 2006, pp. 189–190
  29. ^ Boonkhachorn, Trislipa. "Literary Trends and Literary Promotions in Thailand". Retrieved 24 April 2011. 
  30. ^ "Sir James Cable". (Telegraph Media Group). 13 October 2001. Retrieved 29 March 2011. 
  31. ^ "Thai given mandate to dissolve SEATO". The Montreal Gazette. 25 September 1975. Retrieved 8 July 2012. 
  32. ^ "Thailand". Army Logistics University.  


A picture of a U.S. postage stamp bearing the SEATO emblem
A U.S. Postage Stamp for SEATO

See also

[32][12] Consequently, questions of dissolving the organization arose. Pakistan withdrew in 1972 after the

Though Secretary of State Dulles considered SEATO an essential element in American foreign policy in Asia, historians have considered the Manila Pact a failure and the pact is rarely mentioned in history books.[2] In The Geneva Conference of 1954 on Indochina, Sir James Cable, a diplomat and naval strategist,[30] described SEATO as "a fig leaf for the nakedness of American policy", citing the Manila Pact as a "zoo of paper tigers".[2]

Criticism and dissolution

SEATO also provided research funding and grants in agriculture and medical fields.[27] In 1959, SEATO set up the Cholera Research Laboratory in Bangkok, later establishing a second Cholera Research Laboratory in Dhaka, Bangladesh.[27] The Dhaka laboratory soon became the world's leading cholera research facility and was later renamed the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh.[28] SEATO was also interested in literature, and a SEATO Literature Award was created and given to writers from member states.[29]

In addition to joint military training, SEATO member states worked on improving mutual social and economic issues.[25] 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.[25] 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.[9] 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.[26] SEATO's Skilled Labor Project (SLP) created artisan training facilities, especially in Thailand, where ninety-one training workshops were established.[26]

Cultural effects

Both the United States and Australia cited the alliance as justification for involvement in Vietnam.[18] American membership in SEATO provided the United States with a rationale for a large-scale U.S. military intervention in Southeast Asia.[13] Other countries, such as Great Britain and key nations in Asia, accepted the rationale.[13] 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.[23][24]

After its creation, SEATO quickly became insignificant militarily, as most of its member nations contributed very little to the alliance.[18] 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 Britain rejected use of military action.[19] As a result, the U.S. provided unilateral support for Laos after 1962.[19] Though sought by the U.S., involvement of SEATO in the Vietnam War was denied because of lack of British and French cooperation.[21][19]

A monoplane aircraft with three men and a fuel tanker truck. One of the men is wearing military uniform and the other two are clad only in shorts. The aircraft is mainly painted grey, but is marked with the Royal Australian Air Force roundel and stripes on its tail. The tail of another aircraft of similar appearance is visible in the background.
Australian No. 79 Squadron Sabres at Ubon Royal Thai Air Force Base in Thailand, deployed as part of Australia's commitment to SEATO

Military aspects

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,[21] represented the strongest Western powers.[22] Canada also considered joining, but decided against it in order to concentrate on its NATO responsibilities.[18]

[14].containment policy Cold War geopolitics saw the establishment of SEATO as essential to its Cold War Last but not least, the U.S.A. upon perceiving Southeast Asia to be a pivotal frontier of the [14]. Pakistan, however, was simply interested for joining over the appeal of potential support for its long struggle against India.Indochina Great Britain and France joined due partly to the long maintained colonies in the region, partly to the concern over the development in [20]

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