President Kennedy's News Conference, Question on a Coalition Government in Laos, January 15, 1962

Source: The Pentagon Papers, Gravel Edition, Volume 2, pp. 806-807

President Kennedy's News Conference, January 15, 1962, Public Papers of the Presidents, Kennedy, 1962, p. 18:

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Q. "In the past it would seem that coalition governments lean towards Communist control. Are we then taking a chance in supporting a coalition-type government in Southeast Asia?"

A. "We are taking a chance in all of Southeast Asia and we're taking a chance in other areas.

"Nobody can make any predictions sure for the future really on any matter in which there are powerful interests at stake. I think, however, that we have to consider what our alternatives are and what the prospects for war are in that area if we fail in our present efforts, and the geographic problems which would have to be surmounted in such a military engagement where there is no easy entrance by sea and where the geographic location is extremely--a long way from us and very close to those who might become involved. So that there is no easy sure answer for Laos.

"But it is my judgment that it is in the best interests of our country to work for a neutral and independent Laos. We are attempting to do that and I can assure you that I recognize the risks that are involved. But I also think we should consider the risks if we fail. And particularly of the possibility of escalation of a military struggle in a place of danger. So we're going to attempt to work out this matter in a way which permits us to try."

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