336. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Laos 1
1858. For Ambassador from Parsons. Reference Deptel 1857.2 Supplementing reftel following points indicative certain reactions Lao electoral campaign which I share. You will note common element is once again Lao failure rise above narrow factionalism at time of crisis. While this frailty was anticipated, Lao leaders should realize that to extent they rise to occasion image of Laos in this country becomes such as to facilitate our support. Conversely, their failures jeopardize our ability to support Laos adequately.
- Particularly in light failure to honor their commitment before 1958 election, failure not to prevent competition between conservative candidates in some thirteen districts where leftists are running creates deplorable impression.
- Tendency to concentrate on formation next Cabinet before elections even held and composition Assembly determined likewise suggests failure concentrate on critical issue minimizing NLHX and their allies.
- Certain indications that Phoumi may be maneuvering to defeat not only Phoui but other prominent political rivals possibly including even CDNI rivals is disturbing because, if true, he is working against national interest. Defeat of better known and pro-West Lao conservatives would cause poor impression here.
- Possibility Phoumi’s tactics are in anticipation Sarit-type control of Laos by FAL is not only distasteful from standpoint effect on Lao image in eyes various friends but also dangerously provocative of Viet Minh and bloc. Furthermore efforts by Phoumi toward this end might produce only chaos in view numerous reports that he lacks general support in FAL.
I am sure you will use your influence as appropriate with respect dangers and possible consequences inherent in above points. It will be hard to reserve our freedom to move in response to any one of numerous contingenices that could eventuate without at present abdicating some of our influence over electoral developments. Nevertheless I hope you agree that it would not be wise for us to commit ourselves to any particular solution unreservedly at this time and go all out to achieve it. I personally believe that despite our importance to Lao, our influence over internal political maneuvering is limited and that we [Page 751] can therefore usually best exert our influence as situations arise. We may then hope to exploit successfully our friendships with one or another individual or group.