Imagini ale paginilor

the government of the National Front, was Vice President of the Commission on Economic Affairs and Planning in the Cambodian National Assembly and served on its budget commission. Hu Nim and Hou Yuon were respectively president and vice president of the Commission on Finances in the National Assembly and also served on its budget commission. These people may be faceless to Americans, just as is the entourage of Lon Nol, but they are clearly men well known in Cambodia.

U.S. intervention in Cambodia's affairs has greatly increased the political polarization in that country, cutting out any middle ground, and thereby helping to push people of a variety of political convictions towards the standard of opposition provided by Prince Sihanouk and the National United Front. This was reflected as early as August 1971 in a talk I had with General In Tam, then Minister of Security and Internal Affairs in Lon Nol's government. He estimated the strength of the armed opposition at about 10,000 of whom he classified 3,0004,000 as Khmer Rouge (or pro-Communist). For the other 6,000-7,000, the substantial majority, he used a term which he translated for me, a little sheepishly, as "Cambodians striving against being under American occupation."

Possibility of Negotiations?

If we wonder why the Front has refused to negotiate with Lon Nol, it should be kept in mind how lacking in legitimacy he is in his own country and how critically dependent he has always been upon the support of an outside power. Seeing Lon Nol as a dependent client of this outside power, it is perhaps understandable that the Front, if it is disposed to negotiate at all, will insist upon doing so directly with the United States. Even if Sihanouk himself no longer disposes of real power and is largely a figurehead, he probably provides the best available channel for conducting negotiations. In other words, if it is alleged that it is unrealistic to negotiate with Sihanouk, negotiations, if they are possible, can be carried out through him.

What Should the United States Do?

No one can tell how soon Phnom Penh will fall or whether negotiations, if possible, could bring a speedier end to the fighting. But certainly one action within the power of the United States that would alleviate the present suffering is to end its supply of war materiel to Cambodia and increase the flow of food and medicines-regardless of who is in power.

If the United States continues following the military road that has brought Cambodia such disaster, it may possibly stave off Lon Nol's fall for a few more months. But at what cost and to what end? As to civilians alone, assuming the rate matches that of last year, each month of fighting will bring another 7,000 casualties. Military casualties would probably triple this figure.

What right have we to assume the Cambodian people will willingly make this sacrifice of prolonged suffering to keep Lon Nol and his corrupt little coterie in power? If he falls, the reputations of those Americans who helped establish him in office may fall-but not the Cambodian nation. Indeed, who has the right to assume that if left to themselves the Cambodian people are not capable of working out a solution of their own better suited to their own interests than that which American officials have undertaken with such tragic results to force on them?



I am Olive Tiller, a native of Minnesota and a resident of Maryland. I am a member of the Church World Service Committee, the Board of Managers of Church Women United, and an American Baptist. From February 17 through February 21, 1975, I was in Cambodia as a member of an international team of five persons under the sponsorship of the Fund for Reconstruction and Reconciliation in Indochina, an agency of the World Council of Churches. Simultaneous visits were made by other similar teams in the Republic of Vietnam, the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, and Laos. The visits were followed by a conference in Vientiane, Laos, with the purpose of seeking paths to reconciliation and reconstruction.

Others in the group that visited Cambodia were Rev. John Nakajima, general secretary of the National Christian Council of Japan; Pastor Hans-Otto Hahn, director of Brot fur die Welt, West Germany; Dr. Robert McAfee Brown, professor at Stanford University, USA; and Rev. Boyd Lowry, of the staff of Church World Services, USA.

Our purposes in visiting the Khmer Republic were to see and experience at first hand what is happening there, and thereby to express our concern for the suffering people; and also to explore possible avenues for bringing about reconciliation. Because we represented an organization which has contacts with all sides, the officials with whom we talked believed in us as trustworthy channels of communication.

During our five-day visit, we conferred with each of the following persons individually:

President Lon Nol.

Prime Minister Long Boret.

Cabinet Members: Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister for Refugees and Community Development, Minister of Health, Minister of Finance, Minister of Planning, and Director of Intergovernmental Relations for External Aid. Representative of Aid-Giving Agencies: Director of Catholic Relief Services, Director of Asian Christian Service, Director of World Vision, Director of Khmer Caritas, President of Khmer Red Cross, Leaders of Khmer Evangelical Church, and Leader of the Christian & Missionary Alliance work.

Ambassador from the United States, Mr. John Gunther Dean.
Many refugees.

Our conversations with these persons, and our interpretation of what we observed, led us to the following conclusions:

1. There is an overwhelming desire to bring the war to an end. Each day that it is prolonged brings additional suffering, greater numbers of dead, wounded, and homeless, and further destruction of land and property.

2. Continuation of U.S. military aid keeps the government forces trapped in a war they do not want to be in. There are published reports that even now there are scarcely enough troops available to make use of the ammunition that is being airlifted daily.

3. There is little chance for negotiation as long as the U.S. continues to send aid to the government forces.

4. A desperate effort to hang on until the rainy season will cost thousands more lives than it will save.

5. Some cabinet members expressed the belief that it is time to terminate all aid from outside and allow the Khmer people to settle their own internal affairs.

6. Everyone with whom we talked appealed for assistance in communicating with the other side. It is our feeling that all possible efforts should be made by the United States Department of State, through whatever channels are available to it, including the People's Republic of China, to encourage negotiations between the Khmers toward settlement of the conflict. It was made clear that no government official is indispensable, and that any of them is willing to step aside in the interest of peace.

7. The sending of munitions to Cambodia constitutes a violation of the Paris Agreements of January, 1973. While the Democratic Republic of Vietnam may also be sending in armaments, this is not sufficient reason for the United States to break the agreement.

8. There is some reason to believe that negotiation may be possible if the United States pulls out; or that a transition of power could be achieved with minimal bloodshed if the present government were to step aside. Continued prolongation of the fighting and of U.S. involvement, with a distorted emphasis on "American honor", obviates these possibilities.

In view of the above conclusions, I strongly oppose the authorization of any further military aid to Cambodia.




March 5, 1975.

As you consider the Administration's request for $222 million additional military aid for Cambodia, as well as the various "compromise" proposals now emerging, we thought you might be interested in the extent of opposition which is being expressed across the country.1

Additionally, we have prepared a short fact sheet on Cambodia as well as reprints of a Senate Foreign Relations Committee study on the current situation. If we can provide you with any further information, please contact us.

Myth No. 1


"Cambodia's battle against an externally supported insurgent movement has been intensified still further in recent weeks."-Mr. Philip Habib, Assistant Sect. of State, before House Govt. Ops. Subcommittee, Feb. 3, 1975.

The major "externally supported" party in Cambodia is the Lon Nol government. Official figures show that the United States provided 95.1% of the Lon Nol Administration's total resources in 1974, with third countries supplying another 2.7%. The Lon Nol government itself provided only 2.2% of its own resources from internally-generated revenue.

The Khmer Rouge, on the other hand, control 80-90% of Cambodia and virtually all its agricultural lands. As a result, they are able to grow most of their own food and supply many of their needs internally. Military analysts also agree that Soviet and Chinese arms aid to the Khmer Rouge is a small percentage of the $260 million the U.S. has already supplied the Lon Nol government, perhaps only 10-20%.

Myth No. 2

"Cambodian government forces have fought remarkably well, in the face of difficult odds. In little more than four years, a small and largely ceremonial army has grown into a sizeable and increasingly effective fighting force."-Mr. Habib, Ibid.

The Cambodian army, beset by high-level corruption and mismanagement, has simply not fought "remarkably well." In the last few months it has proved unable to keep the Mekong River open for supplies; it has been unable to break the siege of Neak Luong; it has lost a good number of the few outposts it has remaining H. D. S. Greenway reported in the Washington Post on Feb. 23, 1975: "In 1970. I watched boys and young men flocking into the city to join the army .. Five years later all that naive enthusiasm is gone, and today you can see trucks roaming the city trying to round up men for the army and old acquaintances will tell you now their sons are in hiding to avoid the draft . . ." If anyone has fought against the "difficult odds", moreover, it is the Khmer Rouge. Vastly outgunned by the $1.83 billion in military equipment supplied Lon Nol by the U.S., they lack an air force, navy, heavy artillery, armored personnel carriers, and U.S. aerial reconnaissance. They had to face 22 years of massive American bombing, moreover. As the Washington Post reported on January 8, 1975: "Even before the offensive began, the Cambodian military was regularly

1 A series of editorials and articles from around the country were submitted and retained in the committee files.

overspending its budget . . . The Khmer Rouge, by contrast, have achieved all their successes to date on a shoestring budget."

Myth No. 3

"The aim of our military assistance to the Cambodian government is to preserve a military balance and thereby to promote negotiations."-Mr. Habib, Ibid. Two hundred and sixty million dollars provided Lon Nol so far this fiscal year has proven unable "to preserve a military balance." An additional $222 million is more likely to do so. Given the admitted inability of Lou Nol forces to regain its lost land, there is no reason to believe Prince Sihanouk and the Khmer Rouge will feel moved to negotiate with Lon Nol and his top officials.

Sihanouk has, on the other hand, repeatedly offered to negotiate with all other members of the Lon Nol Administration. In this context, additional U.S. military aid is not designed to "promote negotiations", but rather keep a Lon Nol cabinet in power which makes any negotiations impossible.



"A 3-month-old infant, his body wasted by severe malnutrition, lies in a bamboo basket... He dies the same day 'Kids are dying who shouldn't die,' said Robert Beck, a World Vision doctor... Yesterday the United States administration announced that beginning this week the airlift would begin bringing rice to Phnom Penh—but this is only to replenish stocks and maintain the status quo, The astronomical price of rice will not change, and the many Cambodians who are hungry now will continue hungry."-Sydney H. Schanberg, New York Times, February 26, 1975.

"The Americans may have to expand even further the airlift from Thailand that they began enlarging some days ago to try to keep the situation from becoming critical. The airlift is bringing in most ammunition. It does nothing toward providing crucial civilian needs of food and fuel."-New York Times, February 19, 1975.

"There is deep hunger in Neak Luong, too. The soldiers here are getting by, for American and Cambodian transport planes are dropping some food by parachute for them-but there is none for the civilians . . ."-New York Times, January 16, 1975.

"All over the city the children of the poor are beginning to sicken and die as the price of rice and other food continues to rise . . . An American airlift is flying in more than 600 tons of ammunition a day, but so far the American planes have not brought any food."-Washington Post, February 21, 1975.

"We are just keeping people alive," conceded a United States aid official. "There is nothing we can do with the refugees because the land the government controls is so limited . . . Aid programs have expanded sharply in the last year but still are far from adequate, and the refugee population is suffering increasingly from disease, hunger and malnutrition."-Baltimore Sun, February 17, 1975.

"World Vision, another relief agency here, operates a clinic in the Cambodiana (hotel) where their medical team leader, Dr. Penelope Key, sees on an average 250 children a day. About 75 per cent of them nowadays are suffering from malnutrition, she said. Often the worst off, as far as malnutrition is concerned, are the wives and children of soldiers The fighting men take priority as far as food is concerned and often there is not enough for the families."-Washington Post, February 15, 1975.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

show that

"The preliminary results of a survey supervised by CARE while malnutrition was already a problem among poor families a year ago it has now become a 'severe' problem which is likely to get worse before it gets better... Before the war, food was plentiful. Cambodia had a surplus of rice to export. Now, after nearly five years of war, this is a country which depends to a great extent on American financed imports of rice."-Christian Science Monitor, February 19, 1975.

"Unlike U.S. Ambassador Graham Martin in Saigon, no one here is deceiving himself into thinking that the Lon Nol government can turn the corner or see the light at the end of the tunnel. Everyone admits that the Lon Nol regime will remain totally dependent on American support, and, at the present rate of inflation, it will cost an extra hundred million dollars every year just to maintain

« ÎnapoiContinuă »