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Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 25, No. 7. 1962.



Three years ago the West conspired to overthrow the neutralist government of Laos lead by Prince Souvanna Phouma. The motive? To save Laos from Communism. Having brought to power the pro-West Prince Boun Oum and his Svengali, Deputy-Prime Minister and Defence Minister Phoumi Nosavan, the West sat back to enjoy security in, at least, one area. The Royal Laotian military strength was built up whilst the economy of the country was allowed to stagnate.

Now the West, lend by the U.S. are attempting to replace Prince Boun Oum by Prince Souvanna Phouma. The motive? To save Laos from Communism! The wheel has turned a full circle and one might be tempted to proclaim aloud the wonderous ways of fate. However, not being a fatalist, the whole calamitous business has, for me, other morals.

We in the West, if we are going to stop the spread of Communism have got to stop seeing a Red under every palm tree. Our blind, hysterical fear of communism is hiding from us the true nature of the social forces at work in Asia today. The Laotian people, although they can hardly be described as pacific, favour a neutralist line. We destroyed the government that reflected this philosophy and replaced it with one that could hardly be expected to win the favour of the articulate in that country. The people of Laos just want to be left alone. What they will do with their aloneness Is hard to answer. Certainly many things would take place that would be unpalatable to us; nevertheless the triumph of Communism in Laos would be unlikely. The basic attitudes of the people would ensure this. One thing is particularly Interesting In the present situation. The USSR is working, along with the West, to return the neutralist group to power. One would assume from this that the Pathet Lao forces have come increasingly under the influence of Red China. Perhaps the USSR is attempting to demonstrate to the West that her professed policy of Peaceful Co-existence is genuine. Why don't we try to find out? This way we may be able to keep in check the growing aggressiveness of Red China which constitutes one of the major threats to world peace.