Courtesy Reuters

TOMORROW'S VIET NAM?

Insurgencies spring from local conditions. Though a truism, this statement is still valuable in helping to determine the probable seriousness of present or threatened communist guerrilla activities. Conditions in Northeast Thailand make it in many ways an obvious seat of insurgency, and the Thai and United States Governments are increasingly concerned.

The area is large, impoverished and, until recently, neglected. Comprising about one-third of all Thailand, it is roughly the same size as neighboring Cambodia and has nearly twice the population. Geographically, the Northeast is a dry flat plateau, with sandy infertile soil, still largely under forest or scrub, and with insufficient water for effective agriculture or even for domestic needs. In consequence, the region is poor and its villages are largely isolated from the more prosperous central region of Thailand, and even-for lack of roads-from one another. The people of the Northeast, like most Thai farmers,

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