A Well-Loaded Pistol Is Cocked & Ready Whether the outcome for Laos is battle or bargaining, true Laotian independence depends ultimately on the U.S.'s ability to apply its power on short notice in an awkward area. This is how that power was poised last week.

U.S. military men would as soon use the bow and arrow as fight a war in landlocked Laos. The crooked fingerlike country boasts two roads on dry days, which become a morass of mud during the rainy season, beginning in May. Communications facilities are virtually nonexistent, and jungle trails suffice for railroads. The patchwork of mountains and...

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