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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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A Disagreeable, Hard, and Dangerous Fact

A Disagreeable, Hard, and Dangerous Fact

(p.73) Chapter 4 A Disagreeable, Hard, and Dangerous Fact
So Much to Lose

William J. Rust

University Press of Kentucky

This chapter discusses the military and political consequences of Royal Lao army defeats in central and northwestern Laos in January 1962, which revealed serious weaknesses in Phoumi's forces, especially in leadership and training. The combination of Phoumi's military weakness and his stubbornness in negotiations with the neutralists and the Pathet Lao prompted Harriman and Kennedy to conclude that a “final showdown” with the Lao general could “no longer be deferred.” Ambassador Winthrop G. Brown and Washington policymakers disagreed over the most effective way of inducing Phoumi to cooperate in the formation of a Souvanna-led government. Washington officials hoped that either bribes by the CIA or the threat of shunning Phoumi might persuade him to cooperate. Brown, however, argued that only the “most extreme pressure”—that is, withdrawing US Military Assistance Advisory Group (MAAG) military support and US Special Forces training teams—had any chance of influencing Phoumi.

Keywords:   Winthrop G. Brown, US Military Assistance Advisory Group (MAAG), US Special Forces, CIA

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