Year published :March 2018

Pages :304 pp., illustrations

Size :15 x 23 cm., paperback

Rights :Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam

ISBN: 9788776942403

Thai Military Power: A Culture of Strategic Accommodation

by NIAS Press

By Gregory Vincent Raymond

At the centre of the vital Asia–Pacific region, Thailand is important. But, despite its large population and powerful military forces performing significant roles in state and society, Thailand has little military power. Why is this?

Using strategic culture as an analytical framework, this book produces a portrait of the Thai state as an accommodative actor. The policy, which saw Siam ‘bend in the wind’ during colonial times to preserve national independence, continues to the present day in different forms. A key feature is that military organizational culture reinforces a state ideology of royalist nationalism that in turn reinforces the national strategic culture.

This book helps explain why ‘underbalancing’ – not responding to threat, or responding to it inadequately – is occurring both in Thailand and elsewhere in Southeast Asia despite the challenges presented by a rising China. The book thus argues that the interplay of civil–military relations and military organizational culture retards the development of strong external defence postures – not just in Thailand but elsewhere in Southeast Asia.


  • Examines Thailand's strategic culture and external security.
  • Shows how the past continues to influence Thai decision-making.
  • Explores the interplay between Thai civil–military relations and the external strategic environment, with implications for Southeast Asia generally.

About the Author

DR GREGORY RAYMOND is a Research Fellow at the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre of the Australian National University in Canberra where he researches Southeast Asian security. A former Department of Defence official, he worked at the Australian Embassy in Bangkok between 2005 and 2008 liaising with the Thai military.

What others are saying

“I have been waiting for a book like this for a long time. As Asia’s strategic rivalries deepen, the role and position of Thailand has become ever more critical; yet it is hard to fi nd an authoritative account of the determinants of Thailand’s strategic behaviour. Thai Military Power provides this. It is an engaging history of Thailand’s formative international relations and an important analysis of what determines its paradoxical and opaque statecraft. In developing his theory of Thai strategic culture, Greg Raymond provides a vital guide to this crucial state’s past and likely future strategic behaviour.” – Michael Wesley, Australian National University

“An historically-informed and timely study of Thailand’s strategic culture and the role of the Thai military. It will appeal to scholars both within and outside of strategic studies at a time of heightened geopolitical uncertainty in East Asia.” – Patrick Jory, University of Queensland

“From one coup to the next, Thailand’s armed forces remain at the heart of national life and decision-making. In this masterful study, Raymond goes well beyond the standard assessments of Thai defence and foreign policy. His careful analysis of strategic culture offers fresh ideas about how military power serves broader political and economic purposes. For as long as the country’s generals try to set the national direction, this book will be an indispensible guide to the history and mentality of Thailand’s strategic thinkers.” – Nicholas Farrelly, Australian National University

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