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Tuesday, January 09, 2007

January 4, 1961: State Department Details Soviet Intervention in Laos, Sulzberger Analyzes Split Response

The State Department had detailed the extent of Soviet aid to rebels in Laos in a new report. Between Dec. 15 and Jan. 2 there were as many as 21 flights a day by the Soviets and North Vietnam over Loas, the report said.

In his column in the New York Times on this day in 1961, C.L. Sulzberger writes: "The real crisis exposed by the Laotian civil war is a crisis in Allied relationships. ONce again we are faced with the uncomfortable fact that Washington, London and Paris have never agreed on a common oriental diplomatic front.

"The Big Three, who dominate SEATO, are in thorough discord on Laos today ... Today ... Britain and France favor compromise and the establishment of a coalition, neutralist government in Laos. They argue that SEATO intervention would formalize guerrilla war. The French and the British have had sad experience with such Asian wars. France lost a disastrous campaign in Vietnam. Britain took ten years to stamp out guerrillas in Malaya, which has no Communist-bloc frontier. British experts reckon formalized guerrilla war in Laos might last another decade....

"London and Paris feel Washington is too inclined to take a tough line without realizing where that line may lead. We, on the other hand, fear that collapse in Laos also would mean ultimate loss of all Southeast Asia and only toughness can prevent this."

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