World: What the U.S. Is Doing There

IN the spring of 1946, an American OSS veteran named James Thompson paid a call on the governor of Thailand's Nong Khai province. "Come upstairs," said the governor. "I have a Lao prince you might like to meet." The governor's guest was Prince Souphanouvong, then a leader of the embryo Laotian independence movement and now titular head of the pro-Communist Pathet Lao. Souphanouvong asked Thompson for pledges of U.S. support against the French colonialists who were then re-establishing their control over Laos. Their talk was, almost certainly, the first contact between American officials...

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