AUGUST 15, 1959
HYDE PARK—The other day the Peiping Radio broadcast a statement calling for the abolition of all U.S. military bases in Laos, and it is discouraging and unfortunate that such misleading information should be spread.
Our government assures us that we have no military bases in Laos. Laos, however, is allied in the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization with France, which has an air base at Seno in Central Laos. And there is only a small caretaker group of French troops there. We do have, I understand, some specialists for training purposes to help train the Laos army.
But, according to another story which I read, the troubles that have broken out in Laos are caused by the troops of a young fellow-traveler prince whom North Vietnam is supporting.
This is all so far away that it is difficult to know what is truthful and what is not. And, of course, it is easy for the United States and the Soviet Union and Peiping governments to accuse each other of inciting the difficulties that arise between different factions within Laos.
One can only hope that the Laotians can work out their difficulties and concentrate primarily on preserving their own liberties, which are threatened by their own inner division more than by any outside desire to control their country.
One almost wishes that the President would stop giving to the press ahead of time what he intends to say to Premier Khrushchev.
Why give the Russian gentleman time for preparation? Wouldn't it be better instead to provide him with a few surprises? I feel sure that Mr. Khrushchev will spring a number of surprises on President Eisenhower, and I don't see why our President should place himself at a disadvantage.
If Mr. Khrushchev does not want to visit military bases, it probably is because he knows all about both our deterrent and our striking power. The Soviets undoubtedly have a fairly good spy system.
It is much more important that Mr. Khrushchev should see—as the President has said he desires him to see—typical ways of life among the people of our country, rich and poor alike.