7. Editorial Note

At a meeting of senior foreign policy advisers on January 17, 1961, Secretary of State Christian Herter asked his Special Assistant Charles Bohlen to explain Soviet intentions in Laos in light of the USSRʼs airlifting of weapons and other supplies to rebels in Laos attempting to overthrow the Royal Lao Government. According to a memorandum of the conversation, Bohlen replied that the “Soviets donʼt want to turn the Lao situation into a large operation. He [Bohlen] agrees with Ambassador Thompson that the Soviets are not seeking a complete victory, but, at the same time, that they would not accept a complete defeat.” Soviet involvement in Laos, Bohlen continued, was “also in part a function of the Soviet-ChiCom row. Following the Communist meeting in Moscow last November, the Soviets probably have to demonstrate their Bolshevik revolutionary zeal.” For text of the memorandum of conversation, see Foreign Relations, 1961-1963, volume XXIV, pages 1218. In subsequent days Kennedy and his advisers discussed several times how they should assess Soviet intentions and “how the United States could save Laos.” See ibid., pages 2627, 4244, and 4850.