World: The Royal Jugglers of Southeast Asia

I want to make Laos the Switzerland of Southeast Asia.

—Prince Souvanna Phouma, 1956

I have always dreamed of a Cambodia that is a kind of Switzerland.

—Prince Norodom Sihanouk, 1970

The two Southeast Asian princes have little in common, not even their particular brands of neutrality. Each is convinced, however, that his nation's survival depends on maintaining the greatest possible distance from the war that has convulsed their common neighbor, South Viet Nam. Last week, with Sihanouk deposed as Cambodia's chief of state and Souvanna facing a major Communist offensive in Laos, their Swiss reveries seemed more remote than ever.

Ironically, the ruler who...

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