January 1, 1961: Laos Analysis
Communist intervention in strategic Laos has risen in recent weeks and there are no signs of an imminent tapering off. Indeed, if the volume of Communist propaganda against the new pro-Western Government of Prince Boun Oumand the efforts the Communist block is making to marshal international opinion against the regime and nations friendly to it represent any test, the Communist drive against Laos is entering a new and dangerous phase.
"The situation at the moment in Laos, as a result of these Communist moves, is the most critical one in East Asia. Many observers in this part of the world fear that the war in Laos, which heretofore has been limited to Laotians fighting under the generally misunderstood labels of pro-Westerners and pro-Communists, may spread to include foreign forces actually representing the two conflicting world power blocs. Indeed, Laos charged yesterday that North Vietnamese troops had crossed the border.
"The plight of Laos, most of whose 2,000,000 inhabitants want no part of the Western or Communist bloc and ask only to be left alone to follow their ancient, slow-paced way of life, grows out of the country's strategic position. With a pro-Communist Government, Laos cold be a staging area for greatly increased Communist guerrilla activity in South Vietnam, would enable the Communist to launch long-delayed terrorist moves against Thailand and would make it possible for the Communists to exert possibly overwhelming pressure against neutralist Cambodia.
"From the Western standpoint a pro-Western Government in Laos makes it impossible for pro-Co0mmunists to use the country as a corridor for large-scale movements of arms and personnel, although the lack of population in its rugged eastern mountains and the absence of communications will always allow considerable freedom of movement to small bands.
"A clue to the method the Communist bloc will use in pushing its aims in Laos is the insistence of the Soviet Union, Communist China and North Vietnam that the only legal Government of Laos is that of the neutralist Prince Souvanna Phouma, who became Premier last August and who fled with the bulk of his Cabinet to Cambodia Dec. 9.