This epilogue argues that Washington’s difficulties in Laos were due to the Lao—not to the problems of distance and terrain, and certainly not to flaws at the core of U.S. foreign policy. The United States had failed to bar communism’s progress in Laos because the natives could not be “de-Laoed.” They were “impossible to motivate,” their “greatest handicap” being “a mentality of passive resistance to change.” Indeed, they were resigned to their fate—a gentle people, lacking discipline, who did not see themselves as initiating activity. Moreover, they admired Westerners but “knew they were incapable of doing what the Westerners did, and so they didn’t bother trying.” This made them poor instruments of U.S. policy.
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