185. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Laos1

84. Your 58.2

Although RLG has not yet reacted to May 4 defeat there may be some cause for encouragement in Souvanna’s apparent readiness include new faces while excluding NLHX from new Cabinet. Activities CDNI [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] also seem hopeful. Believe we should take necessary measures exploit these possibilities in manner to lead events in direction unified non-Communist front and government which will permit us provide maximum help in developing popular support and preventing Communist takeover of government by legal means in 1959–1960.
It seems likely CDNI constitutes nucleus of group envisaged Deptel 13823 to provide leadership for action in Assembly during government crisis, and development political action, propaganda and “aid to people” programs for period leading up to general elections.
Concerning specific alternatives discussed para 3 reftel we agree (C) would be waste of time and effort. (A) would be ideal with hope that in time even Souvanna could be replaced by younger and less politically equivocal personality. However, we recognize impracticability investiture such a government at this time. (B) appears most practicable immediate alternative. Its maximum effectiveness however would require inclusion more new faces than old and assurance some key ministries under young leaders. Alternative (D) would seem inevitable should (B) fail or should long drawn out government crisis develop. We envisage (D) not as military action to set aside constitutional forms but as strong action by Crown Prince within existing legal and constitutional limits. Its purpose would be protect national interest against obstructionist sabotage by corrupt and venal deputies to Communist profit. As last resort to prevent Communist political or military coup other measures might be considered but not now under study.
You should inform French and British colleagues we consider government same old faces useless; we would like clean sweep and all new faces but recognize impracticability such solution at this time; we [Page 461] believe cabinet headed by Souvanna containing indispensable minimum old faces with some key ministries under young new leaders most desirable and practicable; if Souvanna cannot accomplish latter we prepared back Crown Prince if he were disposed to take resolute action in imposing legal and constitutional strong government. You should also inform British and French we convinced establishment government, by whichever alternative, capable of preventing Communist takeover in 1959–1960 requires close French-UK-US cooperation in rendering moral support to vigorous non-Communist elements. This not question of identical or parallel démarches but of coordination efforts all levels representatives three countries in exercising influence. We shall so inform French and British Embassies here.
You may inform Souvanna and other Lao leaders as you deem appropriate government under his leadership of type described para 4 above would be one with which we prepared discuss possibilities readjustment our present program and providing maximum help (Deptel 1420, Embtel 1991).4
Monetary reform discussed separate message5 remains immediate imperative.
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 751J.00/7–1058. Top Secret; Priority. Drafted by Corcoran and cleared by Alfred leS. Jenkins, Floyd L. Whittington, and Parsons. Repeated to CINCPAC for POLAD, Paris, and London.
  2. In telegram 58, July 10, Smith reported a conversation with French Ambassador Gassouin in which Gassouin envisioned four possible new governments: A) young technicans under Souvanna, B) Souvanna and deputies and technicans in equal proportions, C) Souvanna and “same old forces,” D) Crown-imposed government without Assembly investiture. (ibid., 751J.00/7–1058; included in the microfiche supplement)
  3. Document 173.
  4. Documents 177 and 176, respectively.
  5. Apparent reference to telegram 78 to Vientiane, July 16, which contained background information on the U.S. position on monetary reform. (Department of State, Central Files, 851J.13/7–1458; included in the microfiche supplement)