212. Editorial Note

On February 8, Dillon Anderson, General J. Lawton Collins, Colonel Edward Lansdale, Colonel Victor Alden, Charles Wolf, Jr., and Joseph Reddick, all members of a subcommittee of the Draper Committee, arrived in Laos. The Committee was appointed by President Eisenhower on November 24, 1958, under the chairmanship of William H. Draper to undertake a “completely independent, objective, and non-partisan analysis” of the military assistance aspects of the U.S. Mutual Security Program. (Letter from Eisenhower to Draper; Department of State Bulletin, December 15, 1958, page 954)

The Anderson subcommittee held a formal conference with Lao Government officials on February 9 and had consultations with the Country Team in Vientiane. Reports of the conference and other activities of the subcommittee while in Laos are in telegram 1403 from Vientiane, February 13, and despatch 102 from Vientiane, March 3. (Department of State, Central Files, 751J.5–MSP/2–1359 and 751J.5–MSP/3–359; both included in the microfiche supplement)

On February 9, Anderson and Collins, accompanied by Ambassador Smith, called on Crown Prince Savang. Savang used the occasion to reiterate the need for close regional cooperation in Southeast Asia to face the Communist threat and raised the question of a U.S. guarantee for Laos. (Telegram 1371 from Vientiane, February 10; Department of State, Central Files, 751J.5–MSP/2–1059; included in the microfiche supplement)

The Department of State informed the Embassy on February 20 that the Crown Prince’s desire for a U.S. or SEATO guarantee of Lao frontiers reflected the “constant Lao need for assurances” which Secretary Dulles responded to on June 8, 1956 (see Foreign Relations, 1955–1957, volume xxi, pages 773774), and September 29, 1958 (see Document 197). The Department would be willing to reassure the Royal Lao Government as it did before, but in view of the imprecise nature of the Lao border with North Vietnam and the complex history of border problems, a formal U.S. or SEATO guarantee was impractical. The Department instructed the Embassy to inform Savang that regional cooperation which he suggested would make the protection of Laos already enjoyed under the SEATO Protocol more effective. (Telegram 1030 to Vientiane, February 20; Department of State, Central Files, 751J.5–MSP/2–1359)