Laos: Shaky Troika

The small room in the house on stilts was blue with cigar smoke as the three princes and the general argued the final details. Slovenly soldiers of all three factions loitered on the porch, sometimes poked their heads curiously through the glassless windows. Below, amid mud puddles and stray dogs, newsmen scrambled for vantage points.

Minutes after 3 p.m.. the meeting broke up. Prince Souvanna Phouma strode out onto the porch, gave the railing a resounding slap. "Voila!" he cried. "Le gouvernement!" Soldiers of the three armies broke into cheers, and TV...

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