The publication Foreign Relations of the United States constitutes the official record of the foreign policy of the United States. The volumes in the series include, subject to necessary security considerations, all documents needed to give a comprehensive record of the major foreign policy decisions of the United States together with appropriate materials concerning the facts that contributed to the formulation of policies. Documents in the files of the Department of State are supplemented by papers from other government agencies involved in the formulation of foreign policy.

The basic documentary diplomatic record printed in the volumes of the series Foreign Relations of the United States is edited by the Office of the Historian, Bureau of Public Affairs, Department of State. The editing is guided by the principles of historical objectivity and in accordance with the following official guidance first promulgated by Secretary of State Frank B. Kellogg on March 26, 1925:

There may be no alteration of the text, no deletions without indicating the place in the text where the deletion is made, and no omission of facts which were of major importance in reaching a decision. Nothing may be omitted for the purpose of concealing or glossing over what might be regarded by some as a defect of policy. However, certain omissions of documents are permissible for the following reasons:

To avoid publication of matters that would tend to impede current diplomatic negotiations or other business.
To condense the record and avoid repetition of needless details.
To preserve the confidence reposed in the Department by individuals and by foreign governments.
To avoid giving needless offense to other nationalities or individuals.
To eliminate personal opinions presented in despatches and not acted upon by the Department. To this consideration there is one qualification: in connection with major decisions it is desirable, where possible, to show the alternative presented to the Department before the decision was made.

Principles of Selection for Foreign Relations, 1955–1957, Volume XXI

In planning the overall scope of the Foreign Relations volumes for the 1955–1957 triennium, the editors chose to present the documentation on U.S. policy in East Asia in four separate volumes. Volume I is devoted in its entirety to the record of U.S. policy toward the civil [Page IV] war in Vietnam. Volume XXI presents the record of U.S. policy toward Laos and Cambodia as well as an overview of U.S. policy toward the East Asia region as a whole. Volume XXII documents U.S. policies toward Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore, Malaya, and Thailand. Volume XXIII (in two parts) presents the record of relations with Japan and Korea.

In selecting documents for this volume the editors placed primary emphasis upon President Eisenhower’s decisions and the advice and recommendations reaching him from the Secretary of State and from other advisers and executive agency heads. The most careful effort has been made to present a complete record of National Security Council discussions and papers since that was the main site of Presidential decisionmaking on the matters documented in this volume. The editors had complete access to and made use of the memoranda of discussion at NSC meetings and other institutional NSC documents included in the Whitman File at the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library. These Presidential files were supplemented by copies of NSC documents included in the files of the Department of State.

Department recommendations to the President, including those of Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, regarding general regional East Asian policies and policies specific to Laos and Cambodia were researched by the editors in the files of the Department of State. The debate among Secretary Dulles’ advisers and assistants on alternative policies to be followed was also documented. A small but representative selection was made from informational reports available to Department policymakers regarding regional developments in the East Asian area. The editors also canvassed the Department files for documentation regarding planning for, sessions of, and results of international diplomatic meetings regarding East Asia. Particular attention was paid to reconstructing a selective but representative record of the involvement of the United States in the Southeast Asian Treaty Organization (SEATO) and the Australia-New Zealand-United States (ANZUS) Council.

The editors had complete access to all the files of the Department of State including the central decimal files, the special subfiles of the Executive Secretariat, and the various special decentralized files (lot files) originally maintained by Department policymakers at the bureau, office, or division level. The Department files that the editors consulted in preparing this volume are described in detail on pages XI–XIV.

The focus for the Cambodian compilation alternated between policy formulation in Washington and the assessment of and recommendations concerning developments in Cambodia by the U.S. mission in Phnom Penh. An important secondary consideration was the [Page V] course of Franco-American relations in Cambodia. The documents presented in the compilation represent only a small fraction of the material for 1955–1957 in official U.S. Government records. Over half of the source material presented comes from the decimal files of the Department of State, the main reference file of the Department in which documents are filed according to topic and/or country.

The Laos compilation is a representative account of U.S. policy toward Laos and U.S. relations with the Lao Government. The editors have taken as their principal criteria for selection U.S. interest in vitalizing the non-Communist faction in Laos and combating the local Communists, the Pathet Lao. Laos policy during this period rarely required President Eisenhower’s or, for the most part, Secretary Dulles’ attention. Therefore, the emphasis of the documents selected is on the interplay between developments in the field and policy considerations of the Department of State’s Far Eastern Bureau. Because so much of the implementation of U.S. policy toward Laos took place between the U.S. Ambassador and Lao Government leaders, the primary focus of this compilation is Vientiane rather than Washington. The documents printed here represent only a small percentage of records available on Laos.

The U.S. military establishment had an important role in the formulation of U.S. policy regarding military assistance to Cambodia and to Laos. The editors had access to selected Joint Chiefs of Staff files and to the records of the Office of the Secretary of Defense (International Security Affairs). Interagency correspondence with the Defense Department in the Department of State files was also reviewed. The editors included what they regard as a representative selection of the record on overall U.S. military policies in the region. A detailed description of the Defense Department and JCS files consulted appears on pages XIV–XV.

In compiling this volume, the editors found that evolving economic, information, and cultural relations played a relatively small role in the development of the main lines of U.S. policy toward the region as a whole or in the bilateral relationships with Laos and Cambodia. The records of the International Cooperation Agency and the United States Information Agency were, therefore, not reviewed in connection with the preparation of this volume.

On the other hand, the intelligence component in the preparation of policies in East Asia was extremely important. The editors did not have access to the files of the intelligence agencies, but did carefully examine intelligence documentation available at the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library, among the records of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and, of course, in the files of the Department of State. The National Intelligence Estimates, which represent the principal examples of institutional intelligence documentation in this [Page VI] volume, were obtained from the files of the Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research.

The declassification process, in the Department of State and in other government agencies, described in detail below, resulted in the withholding of a small percentage of the documentation originally proposed for inclusion in this volume. The editors are confident that these few deletions do not distort the principal lines of policy originally compiled and printed here in this volume.

The editors wish to acknowledge the assistance of officials at the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library, in particular David Haight; the National Archives and Records Administration; the Department of Defense; and other specialized repositories who assisted in the collection of documents for this volume.

Editorial Methodology

The documents in this volume are presented chronologically according to local time. Incoming telegrams from U.S. missions are placed according to the time of transmission at their place of origin, rather than the time of receipt in Washington; memoranda of conversations are placed according to the date and time of the conversation, rather than the date the memorandum was drafted.

Editorial treatment of the documents published in the Foreign Relations series follows a standardized style, supplemented by guidance from the Editor in Chief and the chief technical editor. The source text is reproduced as exactly as possible, including significant marginalia or other notations, which are described in footnotes. Obvious typographical errors are corrected, but other mistakes and omissions in the source text are corrected by bracketed insertions: a correction is set in italic type; an omission in roman type. Brackets are also used to describe text that has been omitted by the editors to condense the record or because it deals with an unrelated subject. Ellipses are inserted to replace material that could not be declassified. Ellipses of three or four periods identify excisions of less than a paragraph; ellipses of seven periods spread across the page identify excisions of an entire paragraph or more. All ellipses and brackets that appear in the source text are so identified by footnotes.

The first footnote to each document indicates the document’s source, original classification, distribution, and drafting information. The source footnote may also provide the background of important documents and policies.

Editorial notes and additional annotation summarize pertinent material not printed in this volume, indicate the location of additional documentary sources, describe diplomatic reportage and key events, and provide summaries of and citations to public statements pertinent to the printed documents. Supplementary information from [Page VII] published sources is that available when compilation was completed in 1979.

Declassification Review Procedures

Declassification review of the documents selected for publication was conducted by the Division of Historical Documents Review, Bureau of Diplomatic Security, Department of State. The review was made in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act, the Privacy Act, and the criteria established in Executive Order 12356 regarding:

military plans, weapons, or operations;
the vulnerabilities or capabilities of systems, installations, projects, or plans relating to the national security;
foreign government information;
intelligence activities (including special activities), or intelligence sources or methods;
foreign relations or foreign activities of the United States;
scientific, technological, or economic matters relating to national security;
U.S. Government programs for safeguarding nuclear materials or facilities;
cryptology; and
a confidential source.

Declassification decisions entailed concurrence of the appropriate geographic and functional bureaus in the Department of State and of other concerned agencies of the U.S. Government, and communication with foreign governments regarding documents of those governments. The principle of declassification review is to release as much information as is consistent with contemporary requirements of national security and sound foreign relations; some documents or portions of documents are necessarily withheld.

Edward C. Keefer prepared the compilations on Cambodia and Laos, and David W. Mabon the multilateral compilation, under the supervision of Editor in Chief John P. Glennon. Mr. Mabon provided initial planning and direction. Lynn Chase and Rosa D. Pace of the Historian’s Office prepared the lists of sources, names, and abbreviations. Rita M. Baker, Vicki E. Futscher, and Althea W. Robinson of the Editing Division of the Historian’s Office performed the technical editing. Barbara A. Bacon of the Publishing Services Division (Paul M. Washington, Chief) oversaw production of the volume. Do Mi Stauber prepared the index.

William Z. Slany

The Historian Bureau of Public Affairs