Paul, Roland A.
April 1971
Foreign Affairs;Apr1971, Vol. 49 Issue 3, p533
This paper examines the U.S. military policy toward Laos as of April 1971. The paper begins by understanding the nature of the current hostilities in Laos. The author notes that one of the ironies of the war in Laos is that the government of Laos under Souvanna Phouma which the U.S. now supports was the faction in 1961 which it was actively opposing and which the communists were supporting. According to the author, the avowed goal of the U.S. in Laos is the reestablishment of the Geneva Accords of 1962, which means withdrawal of North Vietnamese forces from that country and continuation of the tripartite formula for governing Laos that gives the balance of political power to Souvanna Phouma's neutralists. This paper tries to estimate the cumulative cost of U.S. military support for Laos since 1962. It notes that U.S. casualties in the Laotian war have not been high. Lastly, the author points out that the U.S. interests in Laos are basically twofold. First, the U.S. wishes to keep the communists away from the Thai border. The second rests in the fact that the continuation of a government in Vientiane that acquiesces in what the U.S. is doing against the communist traffic on the Ho Chi Minh Trail makes U.S. operations there a bit easier.


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