Thailand and the Philippines were the only Southeast Asian countries that actually participated in the organization. SEATO was established during the Cold War and was intended to be a Southeast Asian version of NATO.
The purpose of SEATO was to create a mutual defense pact aimed at containing the spread of Communism by the People's Republic of China and the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam). SEATO allowed for the military forces of each member to be coordinated to provide for the collective defense against communist aggression. SEATO never reached the same level as the North Atlantic treaty and was formally dissolved on 30 June 1977.
Facts about SEATO
SEATO stands for the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization and was formed at Bangkok, Thailand. on September 8, 1954.
SEATO consisted of the United States, France, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Pakistan (including East Pakistan, now Bangladesh), Thailand and the Philippines.
Thailand and the Philippines were the only countries in the organization that located inside Southeast Asia. Both Thailand and the Philippines already shared close ties with the United States.
Australia and New Zealand viewed SEATO as a more powerful collective defense organization than the existing ANZUS Pact, the Pacific Security Treaty, that had been signed by Australia, New Zealand, and the United States on September 1, 1951
The treaty, also known as the Manila Pact, became operative in February 1955 binding the signatories to mutual aid to resist military attack or subversion by Communist forces. An armed attack on one signatory was interpreted as a danger to all of the countries.
The organization was established during the Cold War and was intended to be a Southeast Asian version of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) operating in Europe, and expand the concept of anti-communist collective defense into Asia.
The United States saw the establishment of SEATO as essential to its foreign policy and its Cold War Containment Policy in Southeast Asia.
The Korean War (June 25, 1950 - July 27, 1953) had shown that China was willing to provide armed support for other communist regimes
In April 1954 the Geneva Accords were designed to secure peace in Vietnam and organize an interim government in Vietnam to lead to Vietnamís transition to independence. The intentions of the Geneva Accords failed and the war between communist-backed North Vietnam and anti-communist South Vietnam followed.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower's Secretary of State John Foster Dulles is considered to be the main force behind the creation of SEATO. Dulles advocated its creation following the French military defeat at Dien Bien Phu in northern Vietnam in April 1954 when North Vietnam became a communist regime.
By 1954 the situation in South-East Asia was looking increasingly dangerous and there was an overwhelming fear of the further spread of communism. The Domino Theory speculated that if one region came under communism, other countries would follow.
The mutual defense pact was specifically aimed at containing the spread of Communism by the People's Republic of China and the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam). The communists were determined to see the reunification of the two countries of North Vietnam and South Vietnam under Communism.
The main significance of SEATO was that it formalized the U.S. commitment to Southeast Asia.
The Vietnam War started on November 1, 1955. The United States provided the South Vietnam government with considerable financial aid and economic support, although the first US combat troops were not sent to Vietnam until March 1965. US troops eventually left Vietnam in August 1973.
The organization was headquartered in Bangkok from September 1957 to 1 January 1958 and its first Secretary General was Pote Sarasin, a diplomat and politician who served as Prime Minister of Thailand
SEATO relied on the military forces of member nations rather than commanding its own standing forces. The strength of the alliance was tested by the conflicts in Vietnam and Laos.
Unlike the NATO alliance, SEATO had no joint commands with standing forces. The alliance began to fall apart as Great Britain refused active military cooperation in the Vietnam conflict. Another European member, France, withdrew from military cooperation in SEATO in 1967.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) was formed on 8 August 1967 by Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand. Its aims were for regional militarization and adhered to the concept of 'neutralizing' the region and drwaing away from involvement with the big powers.
The alliance was undermined still further as Pakistan drew closer to communist China and the United States undertook to provide aid to India.
Pakistan completely withdrew from SEATO after the Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971 and other countries lost interest
At a meeting in New York in September 1975 it was agreed to bring an end to the organization. SEATO was formally dissolved on June 30, 1977
Although the organization was dissolved, the treaty (Manila Pact) remains in effect and can be invoked at any time according to its terms.
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