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Extra info for Kennedy, Macmillan and the Cold War: The Irony of Interdependence
On the contrary, 1959 was to prove to be the most disturbed year since the end of the Indo-China war. The refusal of a battalion of Pathet Lao troops to accept integration into the Royal Laotian Army at the beginning of June was followed by the renewal of civil war and the arrest of communist leaders in July. The death of the King of Laos and the succession of Prince Savang Vatthana in August introduced yet another element of uncertainty into the situation. The monarchy was one of the very few symbols of Laotian unity and the accession of a new, untried King at such a moment of crisis was an unfortunate political coincidence.
He also restated the American position over Laos as though it were an agreed Anglo-American strategy, and concluded with an apocalyptic warning of the imminence of a combined North Vietnamese–Chinese invasion of the country. In the face of this threat, Britain and America ‘should immediately make our intentions to oppose the move clear to each other and before the world …’16 In his diary, Macmillan noted that Eisenhower’s response was ‘strangely hysterical’. Britain, he felt, was now caught between the possibility of participating in a SEATO military intervention which the Chiefs of Staff were convinced would be fruitless, or letting the US ‘do a “Suez” on their own’.
Although the Opposition leaders agreed with Home’s strategy of trying to revive the ICC as a means of stabilising Laos, Gaitskell stressed that he would also be telling the press that no British forces should be committed without the agreement of parliament. 18 In truth, there was little difference between the Opposition view and that of the government. The problem was that the need to bolster interdependence required the British Government to be somewhat pulled along on American coat tails in terms of planning for military intervention in Laos.