323. Telegram From the Embassy in Laos to the Department of State1

1980. For Cumming and Parsons. Reference: Embassy telegram 1969.2 As stated reference telegram Embassy considers still may be possible for conservatives win majority of seats against NLHX and fellow travelers in next elections provided deep rift caused by recent crisis can be healed in time and single conservative front with single list candidates agreeable to King, Phoumi and Phoui and their principal supporters can be developed soon enough.

I do not believe rift can be healed soon enough or single list developed and necessary redistricting and reformation electoral law done soon enough for democratic victory, if elections held mid-May 1960 as now apparently most likely, unless we intervene strongly to insist upon guide and support such actions. Even if elections are postponed until November or December 1960 present deep rift must be healed quickly and a unified single front formed and all ablest conservatives put to work without delay in an intensive unified campaign or conservative pro-West elements cannot be expected to win against NLHX which is product of ten years of grass roots organization. Certainly they cannot win if personal grass roots influence, tactical skill and political experience of abler members of LHL cast aside or ineffectively utilized by King.

As of December 30, 1959, [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] estimated CDNI had little influence in large areas of country and no assured electoral support. They considered and I agreed CDNI had hoped through army use threat of force on its behalf to be allowed to play an increasing role in government administration and to thus in time acquire electoral support. We are nevertheless also in agreement that army through its psychological warfare units and six-man teams and other efforts has helped local branches CDNI to make promising beginnings in some provinces, particularly in those where they have been willing to cooperate with provincial LHL and that while not by any means universally liked army has in many areas a potential to assist importantly in realizing a conservative victory not only by insuring security in particular area but by providing transportation and other facilities and by effective six-man teams and psychological war [Page 730] backup with electorate. I am convinced that real teamwork between LHL, FAL and CDNI supporting a single list under strict discipline of a single joint central election committee basically guided by some of experienced LHL hands who have actually won elections in past is an early must if we are to expect conservative victory in elections under management present government.

If Department approves I would therefore recommend that Embassy [less than 2 line of source text not declassified] be authorized to feel out discreetly probable practicality of developing an aggressive [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] US political action program to be carried out with roughly following objectives:

To heal rift sufficiently to bring about immediate formation of joint national committee to dramatize, direct and control conservative candidates and to select and obtain all essential agreement on single list of candidates.

To attempt if as likely is decided advisable, to persuade and guide government in revision electoral law to change from provincial to Muong groupings, each with single seat, and to so guide redistricting that chances conservative majority improved. In event single conservative list seems improbable of attainment in time then to attempt also obtain inclusion two-stage election provisions in revised electoral law.

[Subparagraph (3) (1½ lines of source text) not declassified]

I have prepared this [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] and [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] feel some such program should be developed immediately and launched soonest. We have numerous detailed suggestions to make but consider it inadvisable to attempt define proposals more precisely until we have had Washington approval for discreet feeling out of thinking certain principal conservative leaders.

Without benefit such “feeling out” we are nevertheless both strongly of opinion that to be successful committee should include both Phoui Sananikone and General Phoumi Nosavan and probably also Nouphat, Somsanith, Tianethone and Keo Viprakone as members and Pheng Phongsavan serving as chairman.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 751J.00/1–1160. Top Secret; Priority; [distribution indicator not declassified].
  2. See the editorial note, supra.