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So Much to LoseJohn F. Kennedy and American Policy in Laos$
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William J. Rust

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780813144764

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813144764.001.0001

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: We've Got So Much to Lose if That Thing Goes Sour

: We've Got So Much to Lose if That Thing Goes Sour

(p.1) Introduction: We've Got So Much to Lose if That Thing Goes Sour
So Much to Lose

William J. Rust

University Press of Kentucky

The introduction provides a brief overview of the Eisenhower administration's policy in Laos, noting the symmetry of the different paths that Eisenhower and Kennedy followed to prevent a communist victory there. Eisenhower supported an aspiring anticommunist dictator, General Phoumi Nosavan, while undermining neutralist leader Souvanna Phouma. Kennedy, reversing course, backed Souvanna, while coercing Phoumi to participate in a coalition government. That both presidents achieved far less than they had hoped suggests the inadequacy of cold war ideology for coping with the complicated historical and political forces at work in Laos. Among the themes discussed are Kennedy's compartmented approach to Laos and Vietnam; the impact of the failed 1962 Geneva agreement on Kennedy's Vietnam policy; and Kennedy's acceptance of an unsatisfactory settlement in Laos, which, at the very least, complicated the counterinsurgency effort in South Vietnam.

Keywords:   Dwight D. Eisenhower, Phoumi Nosavan, Souvanna Phouma, 1962 Geneva agreement

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