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Sunday, August 20, 2006

August 20, 1960: Communists Said Moving to 'Market Principle,' Battle Looming in Laos and Russian Dogs in Space

The Republican nominee for president, Vice President Richard Nixon, issued a 30-page analysis of communist society on this day in 1960 that said the Soviet Union is moving toward a market system. "The Russian economy has been moving steadily toward the market principle," according to Nixon. A full transition to capitalism was blocked, however, because of "painful tensions between what has to be done to run the economy efficiently and what ought to be happening according to the orthodox theory" and because "the government owns the whole of industry." The struggle against international communism "probably will not be decided in the military, economic or scientific areas, important as these are. The battle in which we are engaged is primarily one of ideas."

In Laos Major General Phumi Nosavan said five battalions of troops were moving on the rebel-controlled administrative capital, Vientiane. Meanwhile, the pro-communist Pathet Lao sent reinforcements to help defend the city.

The Soviet Union bested the United States in the space race on this day with the safe return of two dogs from orbit. As the New York Times would report the story the next day, it was the first time "living creatures have returned safely to earth from an orbit in space."