ABC NEWS / "TIME" FORUM:
Nightline will not be presented this evening so that we may bring you
the following special program from ABC News.
Good evening, I'm Peter Jennings. Tonight, we're going to talk about
subjects which are very painful for many Americans: Vietnam and
Cambodia, then and now. We're going to talk about some old wounds,
some of which are still open, and about fear and violence in people's
This is an ABC News / Time Forum: Beyond Vietnam. Reporting from New
York, Peter Jennings.
For this ABC News / Time Magazine Forum, we have been joined by a
group of individuals, all of whom, we believe, have strong opinions,
to say the least, on the issues we have asked them to debate. Some,
like William Westmoreland and Tom Hayden and Liv Ullmann and Dith
Pran, are probably familiar to you. Others, such as Bobby Muller, Bui
Diem, Thomas Pickering, Kassie Neou and Susan Walker, who arrived
from the border between Thailand and Cambodia only hours ago, you may
know less well. But they also are indispensable to the evening. It is
15 years this week since America withdrew from Indochina. ABC News
and Time believe it's an important moment to look at US policy in
Vietnam and Cambodia now, so we're also joined by Stan Cloud, the
Washington bureau chief of Time, former Saigon bureau chief who wrote
much of this week's issue and who, like us, went back to Indochina to
prepare these anniversary reports. Earlier this evening, some of you,
I hope, saw our hour on Cambodia today. If you didn't, we can't
summarize it in 30 seconds. But it is important to know that the
United States supports a political and military coalition which is
trying to overthrow the present Cambodian government installed by
Vietnam. That coalition includes non - Communist forces, but the most
powerful faction is the Communist Khmer Rouge. The leader of the
coalition, the United States' main man, is Prince Norodom Sihanouk.
Here is an excerpt from the hour. (Cambodia)
Vietnam These are the foot soldiers of the Khmer Rouge. The last time
the Khmer Rouge ruled in Cambodia, they killed more than a million of
their fellow citizens, maybe even two million. Today, the Communist
Khmer Rouge are back, advancing on their own people again.
WILLIAM COLBY, FORMER DIRECTOR, CIA
You know, for a while there, if you wore glasses, you were killed,
because you were an intellectual.
Why does the United States, the Bush administration, have anything to
do whatsoever with the Khmer Rouge?
REP CHESTER ATKINS, (D), MASSACHUSETTS
It's a policy of hatred. We're still fighting the Vietnam war, and
this is the last battle of that war, and if we have to use the Khmer
Rouge as a pawn in that, we'll use them.
PRINCE NORODOM SIHANOUK
There are a few Americans who appreciate the efficiency of the Khmer
Rouge army on the battlefield.
BERTIL LINTINER, JOURNALIST
Well, basically, the Khmer Rouge does most of the fighting, and
afterwards they give some credit for this fighting to the non -
Communist components, in order to make it respectable from the
international point of view.
And if they were fighting together, side by side, you would find
that, in your words, unacceptable?
RICHARD SOLOMON, ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE
Absolutely. And we have indicated so very clearly to Sihanouk and the
other non - Communists.
What would we do about it?
We would have to cut off arMs Up to now -
To the non - Communist resistance.
- correct. We are not supplying - I'm sorry, support, we do not
supply lethal support. But we would have to cut off our support to
the non - Communists. Our -
In fact, you just said we would have to cut off arms to the non -
- well, I made a mistake there.
Sometimes, the CIA, Central Intelligence Agency of the USA, give
weapons to the non - Communist forces.
DR EDWIN PUGH, RELIEF WORKER
Anybody who supports the Khmer Rouge - and the United States may say
they do not, but by supporting the coalition you are support - in
part, supporting the Khmer Rouge - anybody who supports the Khmer
Rouge, in my eyes, is taking a morally indefensible position.
They still run the people under their control with the same draconian
And our government supports the coalition in which they are the
I thing wrongly. Yeah. No, I'm very firm on that. I don't get
emotional here, because I think that in order to try to get the
American government to move, you have to convince them that it's in
our interest, our interest in decency, that we end any relationship
whatsoever, even indirect, with the Khmer Rouge.
Here in New York tonight we also have a large audience in our studio,
and an overflow audience in another studio at ABC's headquarters, and
from time to time this evening, we'll want members of the audience
and encourage members of the audience to talk to the panel as well.
But let us begin. Let me introduce Kassie Neou. He's the chairman of
the Human Rights Commission of the Cambodian Network Council. He's
the founder of the Cambodian Documentation Commission. You were an
English teacher on television and radio in Cambodia, weren't you?
KASSIE NEOU, CAMBODIAN NETWORK COUNCIL
Yes, I was.
What did the Khmer Rouge do to your life?
Well, like many other Cambodians, they came to the city of course,
like The Killing Fields movie, not too much different from that.
Killing Fields is an accurate movie?
Yes, it is accurate.
How did you get out of the country?
Well, like other refugees, we escaped through the jungle to Thailand.
You lost your wife?
Yes, I did.
Did you ever find her again?
We've been trying to, but I don't know where she is now.
Did the Khmer Rouge punish you?
Well, 14, 15, years ago, they did, but this is now 15 years later,
the situation of Cambodia is different. The matter of the fact is
that Cambodian is now caught between a tiger and a crocodile. It is
not only the Khmer Rouge alone. The Cambodian people are victims of
the Khmer Rouge in the jungle, the Khmer Rouge in Phnom Penh, under
PRK, and the Vietnamese invasion.
We'll come back perhaps and try to explain PRK and your view of the
Khmer Rouge, as you call them, in Phnom Penh, the capital. But the
Khmer Rouge we've seen in the broadcast tonight, the Khmer Rouge we
see in the movie, The Killing Fields, have they changed?
Well, the Khmer Rouge I saw in the broadcast, looking at their age,
they are 14, 15, 16, 17 or 20. Mathematically, if you calculate it,
1975, were they even present? Were they born yet, or they were still
babies? How can you condemn babies who didn't know anything about the
genocide? This is my point. The real Khmer Rouge who participated in
the killing fields, the majority of them, of course, are in the
jungle, but a great number of them are in the PRK, the People's
Republic of Kampochea, who are officers -
You mean -
- who are commanders, Bhutang himself, the Khmer Rouge.
- you mean in the present government of Cambodia -
- the one that was installed by the Vietnamese.
Is Pol Pot still the leader of the Khmer Rouge in the jungle?
Well, according to my sources, he is still the leader of the jungle
Dith Pran is a photographer with The New York Times. It is his story
which The Killing Fields tells. Everything we heard about the Khmer
Rouge true, from your point of view?
DITH PRAN, "NEW YORK TIMES" PHOTOGRAPHER
Yes. What I learned that they forced the refugees along the Thai -
Cambodian border that they control to carry all the weapons and
ammunition into - inside Cambodia, they try to get it back. And I'm
glad that you informed the public that Cambodia is still at war. I
think that your show tonight, it helped our people a lot, and helped
the public to understand that we're caught between the tiger and
crocodile. We talk about the Vietnamese also inside Cambodia, and the
Khmer Rouge. Both of them, as long they live inside Cambodia, the
peace never can come to the Cambodian people, because the Khmer Rouge
leaders that is very hard for the Cambodian people to tolerate.
It's possible, Mr Pran, that a lot of people didn't see the hour
earlier this evening, and it's possible some people didn't even see
the movie, The Killing Fields. But is it true, what Mr Colby, the
former director of the CIA says, that someone could be killed simply
because they wore glasses and they were regarded as an intellectual?
Yes. It was true that, you know - I must say that during four years
under the Khmer Rouge, when I was there, they killed not just only
the intellectual, not only doctor or teacher, they killed the whole
family, the children also were killed, because they believed that
they had to kill the whole family in order to run the country. They
don't - they believe that when the children grow up, they would seek
revenge against them, so in order to control the whole country, they
got to try to eliminate a lot of people as possible. That's why they
killed the children, they killed the students, they killed the high -
class people, and we, the Cambodian people, were shocked, and we were
trapped there, and we were surprised that the world did not pay
The world didn't pay attention. Do you think the world is paying
Now, it seems to me like it's a little bit better. At least they try
to bring all the Cambodian factions together, try to talk and we hope
that someday all the Cambodian political leaders would try to bring
peace for Cambodia, agree or accept some kind of common agreement.
For me, my position -
Can I stop you, just for a second, before we get to politics, because
it gets complicated. Let's keep it, if we may, simple for a moment.
One of our guests can't be with us here in the studio, but is with us
in Washington. Senator Bob Kerrey, Democratic senator from Nebraska,
the holder of the country's highest military honors, the
Congressional Medal of Honor, a Navy SEAL in Vietnam, has recently
been back to Vietnam and back to Cambodia. Senator, begin, if you
would, briefly, by giving us your impressions of the Khmer Rouge,
based on your recent visit to Cambodia.
SEN BOB KERREY, (D), NEBRASKA
Well, they're very impressive. They've got a committed rationale, and
I personally don't believe that they've changed their ways, and I
think they sell a nationalist anti - Vietnamese message that
unfortunately there'll be a lot of people, particularly in the rural
parts of Cambodia, that will buy. They will increase their strength,
I believe, if we don't change our policies.
Susan Walker is the Indochina director for Handicap International.
You work primarily with Cambodian refugees along the Thai - Cambodian
border. There are 360,000 of them, I believe.
SUSAN WALKER, SOUTHEAST ASIA DIRECTOR, HANDICAP INTERNATIONAL
Right. The actual figure in the UN counts is 276,000, but there are
anywhere between 30,000 and 60,000 people in camps that are
inaccessible to the United Nations.
In broad terms, you're an American relief worker.
What is your own sense of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia today?
Well, I think the Khmer Rouge, certainly on the border, have not
changed. I don't think their policies have changed. The only thing
that has changed is that they're not murdering hundreds of thousands
or millions of people, but their repressive policies are the same,
and the most frightening thing is that they are the best - organized,
I think both in the field, in the camps, in the jungles, and also on
the diplomatic field. I have colleagues that were at the Paris talks,
at the Jakarta talks -
Before you get to the Paris talks - I apologize, I don't mean to cut
people off in trying to get to politics too soon here. But tell us
just - give us a feel for what it's like on the ground. You say
they're repressive on the ground. What does that mean?
Well, for instance, the camp of Site Eight, which a Khmer Rouge camp
It's a camp controlled by the Khmer Rouge?
- yes, controlled by the Khmer Rouge.
As there are camps controlled by the non - Communist resistance.
Right. There are - for the three coalition members, you have Sihanouk
and then the Khmer People's National Liberation Front and the Khmer
Rouge. And this camp is supposedly civilians in a UN camp. It's a
population of about 35,000, but there are three satellite military
camps nearby, and as I mentioned in the documentary, there were
10,000 children in those camps, and those 10,000 children should not
be in military camps. There was a polio epidemic; we tried to have an
immunization campaign, it was not completed. All of those children
have been moved back into the malaria - infested jungles and just in
November and December there were 350 children under the age of 14
brought back to Site Eight from the occupied zones for treatment.
As far as you're concerned, the Khmer Rouge are a threat?
Mr Neou, the Khmer Rouge are a threat, yes or no?
Not only the Khmer Rouge who are a threat. The Khmer Rouge and also
the Vietnamese are a threat to the Cambodians.
But the Khmer Rouge are a threat?
Of course. But my feeling is you only concentrate on the Khmer Rouge
No, no, I just want to start so that people understand the Khmer
Rouge. We'll get to the Vietnamese, I promise you.
The Khmer Rouge are a threat. Would you like to go back and live
under a government of the Khmer Rouge?
A government, Cambodian government which is run by the Khmer Rouge?
Would you like to go back and live under that?
As long as they are Communists, there'll be no peaceful Cambodia.
I don't trust them at all.
All right. You can feel the urge here to talk politics, and it makes
sense, because this is a human story and it's a political story.
We'll be back in just a moment.
As we said at the beginning, it's 15 years this week since America
retreated from Indochina. All this talk, Stan Cloud, about Cambodia
now, and Vietnam now, why is now a critical time, or is it?
STANLEY CLOUD, "TIME" WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF
Oh, I think it is. I think it's been a critical time for some time,
you know. Cambodia by itself has suffered as much, if not more, than
any nation on the face of the Earth in the last 20 years. Vietnam is
trying to recover from the effects of the war and the economic
isolation that has been imposed on it for several years. I think the
US, along with other countries, have treated Cambodia for a long time
as a sideshow, a country that we used to further our policy ends,
sometimes rightly, sometimes wrongly, but with little regard for what
went on inside that country, and I think it's time that changed.
Policy. Ambassador Thomas Pickering, longtime, highly regarded,
regarded as a brilliant American diplomat, served in Central America
and the Middle East, never served in the Far East, am I correct, sir?
AMB THOMAS PICKERING, US REPRESENTATIVE TO THE UNITED NATIONS
Or Indochina, but is now America's ambassador to the United Nations,
and therefore has to explain the Bush administration's policy to the
rest of the world. Would you mind explaining to Dith Pran what our
I'd like to explain it to everybody, Peter, because I rarely have
ever said that I'm appalled by a program, but I'm certainly appalled
by what you presented tonight in three specifics. First, the question
of the United States support for the Khmer Rouge. It doesn't exist.
We have no relations, no contact and no support, period. It is very
clear, the Congress sits here and watches us on a daily basis. If
there were any, I'm sure you'd hear from our congressional friends.
Can I stick on that -
with respect to the non - Communist resistance -
can I stick on the one point - can I deal with one point at a time?
- when I'm finished, please.
Secondly, with respect to the non - Communist resistance, we provide
no lethal aid to the non - Communist resistance. The author of the
legislation is here. Third, with respect to your conclusion that
we're behind the wave of history in our policy, we have broken our
behinds for the last year to get negotiations going in the United
Nations, among the permanent five members of the Security Council and
everywhere else that you can think of. The next meeting will take
place here in New York in May, at the end of May. But these are
negotiations designed to do three things. First, give the Cambodian
people the opportunity through elections to choose their own future
government. Second, to make sure that the Vietnamese get out and stay
out in the context of a peace settlement. And third, and most
important, the point you've been drumming on here tonight, to make
certain the Khmer Rouge never return to a position where they can
hold power or dominate the situation. It's a tough problem, but we
are certainly working on it. We haven't left it behind, and we are
certainly not supporting the Khmer Rouge.
JOHN MCAULIFF, DIRECTOR, US - INDOCHINA RECONCILIATION PROJECT
Mr Ambassador, I think in fact, effectively we have supported, we've
helped recreate the Khmer Rouge since 1979. Mr Brzezinski claims with
some pride that he helped bring about a marriage of Thailand and
China to provide a new home, a restoration of the Khmer Rouge.
Mr McAuliff, before you go any further, can I just introduce you?
John McAuliff is the executive director of the United States
Indochina Reconciliation Project. He believes that the United States
and Vietnam and Cambodia should have dialogue, at the very least, and
reconciliation. Please continue, sir.
We've given the Khmer Rouge the one thing that they needed, which was
legitimacy. We brought about a marriage between the Sihanoukists and
the Sun Sen group, being the -
Sun Sen - can we - non - Communist forces, right?
Non - Communist resistance. That they were very reluctant to have,
but the United States and China were the powers that pushed them into
that marriage. Every year we voted to seat a government in the United
Nations which is not a government, it doesn't meet any of the normal
criteria for representation in the United Nations, and everyone who
follows it closely knows that the Khmer Rouge are the dominant factor
in that. And, as I recall, legally are the residual holders of the UN
seat, should that coalition break up. And every year we have
effectively supported their continuing to hold that seat.
Is this the basis on which you argue that the United States does have
a relationship with the Khmer Rouge?
I would not say the US has a relationship. We're very proper in that
sense. But we have effectively politically given them what they
essentially needed, which was a way to reenter the political arena,
to continue to get arms supplies from China. I also think it's a
shell game, that your documentary does an excellent job of
pinpointing, on are we supplying lethal aid? No, we're not supplying
lethal aid that's appropriated by Washington, but on the other hand,
our closest ally in the region, Singapore, is providing lethal aid,
and as you pointed out, the US is sitting on the committee, or
observing and present at the meetings of the committee which decides
how that lethal aid is going to be used. So whether - whichever
pocket it's coming out of, or whether we're doing it directly or
indirectly, we clearly are a major factor in the lethal aid going to
the combat right now in Cambodia.
Let me address these three points. First, the Brzezinski - Carter
administration, the assistant secretary who dealt with that issue is
standing here. I am talking about the current situation, and it's an
important distinction that you want to be very clear. Secondly, the
question of the seat is extremely important. The seat, in our view,
should remain in the former government not to reward the Vietnamese
who invaded Cambodia at that time and who are not, in our view, have
not been a superior claimant. And the important point is, that even
the Vietnamese and the Soviets have never voted against this
particular approach in the United Nation's General Assembly. You'll
have to ask them why. I don't understand it, but nevertheless, it is
a firm and big majority of the General Assembly that has continued to
provide this, and I'm delighted to hear John say we don't provide
lethal aid -
But Prince Sihanouk, the leader of the coalition, Ambassador
- the question of the -
- said we do provide aid. Now, who are we to believe?
- Prince Sihanouk obviously misspoke himself in this particular
regard, because we -
And did Richard Solomon, the assistant secretary, misspeak himself
when he said we provided lethal aid?
- he said on your screen of course that he misspoke himself. But
would you ask our congressional watchdogs if you don't believe me on
the case? Finally, the Khmer Rouge exist. They have 35,000 to 40,000
armed troops. They are a factor in this particular equation because
the other Cambodian parties, including the PRK, consider them a
PRK, the government in Phnom Penh.
The present Hun Sen regime.
Because we created them as a factor.
Rep STEPHEN SOLARZ, (D), Chairman, House Subcommittee on
Peter, can I -
Congressman Stephen Solarz, who is the chairman of the House
Subcommittee on Pacific and Asian Affairs, Democrat of New York. And
can I just add one thing by way of background? Was first alerted to
the Cambodian thing, your explanation, because you thought there was
a second Holocaust in the making?
That's right, Peter. I went there in 1975, to the Thai border, and
was brought to the camps which then existed in the wake of the Khmer
Rouge takeover in Phnom Penh, and found out for the first time about
the unfolding genocide which was taking place in Cambodia. I had
hoped, and I had prayed, after the last Holocaust in this century,
the destruction of European Jewry, that nothing like that would ever
happen again. And then I found out, to my absolute horror, that it
was happening again, and the world didn't know about it and didn't
seem to care about it. But let me, if I might, say a word or two
about this question of whether we're providing lethal assistance to
the Khmer Rouge, which was alleged in the course of your documentary,
and also to the non - Communist resistance forces. Peter, I've spent
the last 15 years of my life trying to shape an American foreign
policy which would prevent the Khmer Rouge from returning to power in
Cambodia. I wrote the law which makes it illegal to provide
assistance which in any way, directly or indirectly, strengthens the
Khmer Rouge. I haven't been shy about criticizing the Bush
administration. Perhaps, next to Jesse Helms, there was nobody who
was more vocal in his criticism of the Bush administration's policy
toward China in the wake of the massacre in Tiananmen Square than I
was. So if I thought for a moment there was a shred of truth to the
allegation that we are providing assistance directly or indirectly to
the Khmer Rouge, let me assure you, I would have blown it out of the
water. I would have held public hearings. I would have subpoenaed
witnesses. I would have put them under oath. But I've looked into it,
not just in my capacity as chairman of the Subcommittee on Asian and
Pacific Affairs, but also as a member of the Intelligence Committee,
which has jurisdiction over our covert operations.
Can I stop you -
I can tell you, so far as I know, that there is no truth to this
whatsoever, and if you have the evidence, or if anybody else has the
evidence, if you know the names of people who are involved, let me
know, because I'll haul them before my committee and expose them.
- may I give you a name and ask you to think about it for one second?
General Sakh, the commander of the non - Communist forces in
Cambodia, who said in this broadcast that he got military supplies
and went to the Cambodian working group at the American embassy in
Bangkok. Just think about it for one second, and we'll come right
The question on the table is whether or not the United States
provides lethal aid - arms and ammunition - to the non - Communist
resistance, as it's called, in Cambodia. And Congressman Solarz asked
me if I knew anybody who said so. I can only give you - I can give
you two names, to begin with. Prince Sihanouk says it to us, in our
hour - long broadcast, and he's regarded, I think, as America's
principal character in Cambodia. And General Sakh Satucsan, who is
the commander of one of the principal organizations in the non -
Communist resistance not only says to us he gets arms from the United
States, but tells us where he goes to ask for them, which is to the
Cambodian working group at the United States embassy in Bangkok.
Peter, General Sakh and Prince Sihanouk are simply wrong. They may be
getting arms from China, they may be getting arms from Singapore -
Why would they say they're getting it from the United States?
- they may be getting arms from other countries, but as a member of
the intelligence committee who has looked into this matter, I can
tell you that it's simply not true, and if I thought it were true, I
would have public hearings to expose it, because I wrote the law
which makes it illegal to provide any assistance to the Khmer Rouge.
Can I assume, Congressman, that now that two of America's major
players in Cambodia have said this publicly, you'll hold hearings?
If you can give me the names - if you can give me the names of any
Americans who are alleged to know about this, who I can bring before
my committee, I'll have the hearing.
General Sakh is an American citizen, as you know.
I mean, I don't know where to go with you on this, I really don't.
- yeah, Peter, I can only tell you that I've had hearings over the
years. We've asked these questions in both open session and in closed
session, and I can tell you that it simply isn't true. Now, unless
there's some kind of monstrous conspiracy going on here, a massive
cover - up -
BOBBY MULLER, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR,
VIETNAM VETERANS OF AMERICA FOUNDATION
The monstrous conspiracy is a cover - up of the truth -
- within -
- that's the monstrous conspiracy here.
- the United States -
I recommend anybody who doubts the veracity of what Mr Jennings is
saying, get a copy of the documentary that just aired tonight. It's
the best documentary that network television in this country has
aired in who knows how many years.
May I -
It portrays you, it portrays Pickering and it portrays the United
States government as being shameful in supporting the worse genocidal
regime since Hitler. And you, my friend, have been the leading
proponent in the Congress pressing to introduce more lethal aid into
the environment, and you profess to be so sensitive to the Holocaust
and genocide should be leading the charge in the other direction.
Shame on you, Mr Congressman.
- may I introduce our speaker? No, I don't mean to make light of that
at all. His name is Bobby Muller. He's the executive director of the
Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation, and though you may not be
able to see it very easily, he's sitting in a wheelchair, having paid
clearly a very high price for his participation in Vietnam. Why are
you so upset, Mr Muller?
I'm upset to see our elected representative, our appointed
ambassador, come before the American public, deceive them, purposely
lie, misrepresent the situation, and sit there - these guys have
absolutely no shame. Anybody who is familiar with southeast Asia,
Indochina, knows that they're putting out a lie. Anybody who doubts,
you know, what can be said here in these representations, ought to
get the documentary that you put together, that was aired tonight on
ABC. I know not everybody in the viewing audience got to see that
documentary, but it's an hourlong analysis of the situation. We're
not going to get an hourlong analysis and truthful representation in
this give - and - take. Get that documentary.
Well, we can -
It ought to be required viewing in schools in America.
- we can - Mr Muller, we can try to have a debate here, by all means,
and please, let's not just rely on the documentary. Ken Adelman is a
nationally syndicated columnist. He is a former deputy representative
to the United Nations and a former director of the Arms Control
Agency. Mr Adelman, you wanted to get in?
KENNETH ADELMAN, FORMER DIRECTOR, ARMS CONTROL & DISARMAMENT AGENCY
Yes, I just think that the outrage we feel about the Khmer Rouge and
any involvement with the Khmer Rouge and our friend here felt, is
absolutely right. But I think the facts are absolutely wrong. What
the facts have been is that the United States government, in several
administrations, has been trying to do everything it can to keep the
Khmer Rouge out of power, not to back them. We do not -
How can you say that, Mr Adelman? They created the Khmer Rouge. After
the Vietnamese went into Cambodia and drove them out, who was it but
the United States, with Holbrooke's administration, and Brzezinski,
that fed them, that clothed them, that went to China, went to
Thailand and said, "Hey guys, resuscitate the Khmer Rouge, they're
going to be our tool to continue our war against Vietnam". Now,
Mr Holbrooke, Mr Holbrooke - let's hear I beg your pardon, Mr Muller,
let's hear from Mr Adelman and then let's hear from Mr Holbrooke.
- yeah. The fact is that the Khmer Rouge came to power in 1975 when
the Vietnamese won, the North Vietnamese won in Vietnam, and they
came at the same time. The Vietnamese were very close to the Khmer
Rouge. The Vietnamese helped put the Khmer Rouge in power, and a lot
of the Khmer Rouge - bashing today that I think everybody in the room
shares is to say it's better to go with the Vietnamese - installed
government in Phnom Penh right now. And that doesn't make any sense.
These guns running that government were Khmer Rouge people, leaders,
at the height of the atrocities. They didn't get out for a good
number of years later.
That's not true.
So I think that the point to be made is not let's bash the Khmer
Rouge, everybody wants to bash the Khmer Rouge -
That is the point to be made.
- and let's keep them out of power. Everybody wants to keep them out
of power. But the fact is, is it true or is it not true that the
United States government is trying to do that? I'm not in the
administration, but I believe at everything in my bones that the
United States government is doing everything possible to keep the
Khmer Rouge out of power.
Let's come at that question specifically. What is the United States
doing to prevent the Khmer Rouge from making a comeback? Mr Holbrooke
- Richard Holbrooke, presently one of the managing directors for
Shearson Lehman Hutton, served in Vietnam for three years as a
diplomatic officer, former assistant secretary of state for Pacific
and Asian affairs - I hope I have it right. Mr Holbrooke, in the
Carter administration, when many people believe this policy of
benignly, at least, supporting the Khmer Rouge was born, are the
accusations about this creation of the Khmer Rouge accurate, from
your point of view?
RICHARD HOLBROOKE, FORMER ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE
I don't agree with Mr Muller's characterization of the origin of the
Khmer Rouge, but I want to get off that point and stress the central
thesis of your program, which is incredibly important. You have
stated in the program that the United States is, in effect,
supporting the Khmer Rouge and then there have been some very
complicated specifics, lethal aid, the seat in the UN, and so forth.
I know the people on my left very well, they're all friends of mine,
Senator McCain, Tom Pickering, Steve Solarz, Bob Kerrey in
Washington. And I don't believe for a minute that any of them want to
help the Khmer Rouge have any part of the power in Phnom Penh, nor
does Dick Solomon. I think, in fairness to Dick, he did misspeak. On
the other hand, I have very serious problems with the policy as it's
going forward. Steve Solarz and I have had long discussions on that.
Be more specific, Mr Holbrooke. What do you mean, you have serious
problems with the policy?
Because - I don't think that the issue - we're not going to resolve
tonight whether Sihanouk was telling the truth, or engaged in one of
his fantasies. I meam, he's a man who's clowned his way through
history on the one hand, and on the other hand has embodied his
nation's state. He's a very complicated figure, as you and Stan -
Do you believe the United States should have anything to do with the
Absolutely not, and that is my problem with the current policy.
What is the United States doing, in your view -
Peter, let me state what I have -
- in your view, what is the United States, in your view, doing -
- that is wrong.
- to inhibit the Khmer Rouge.
Let me answer your question by reversing it. Why do I, having said
that I believe in the good faith and integrity of my friends, also
have a disagreement with part of the policy? It is precisely for the
following reason. The coalition of Sun Sen, Sihanouk and the Khmer
Let's call it non - Communist and Khmer Rouge, if you don't mind.
- okay. The non - Communists and the Khmer Rouge are allied. We don't
- I don't think we give lethal aid to the Khmer Rouge, but we give
the rest of the assistance to the non - Communist resistance. In
1979, Deng Xiaoping proposed that he would supply the Khmer Rouge
with their - what they needed, and the United States could help
through Thailand and the others. Now, at this point, Sihanouk, in my
view, is fronting for the Khmer Rouge, for Pol Pot. Even though his
own children were killed in the Holocaust which Steve Solarz
accurately described, the fact is, he wants to play on center stage
once more. He can only do it with the Khmer Rouge backing him. And my
problem with the policy is that inadvertently, and against their own
objectives, I think the policy we're following allows the Khmer Rouge
to walk unchallenged from the border where they are now, with Susan
Walker's camps, to Phnom Penh instead of being isolated. Therefore,
Isn't it fair to say that the bedrock of this policy, what makes it
so complicated for a succession, now, of US administrations, but the
bedrock of this policy is that we were more opposed to the Vietnamese
invasion of Cambodia in 1979 than we were to the Khmer Rouge. That
remains the basic problem of our policy.
Stan, if you're asking me to explain what happened in '79, give me a
minute and I'll be very clear -
You were there.
No, I don't want you to explain, Sam, and I don't want you to answer
something very simple. Just - let me start with Senator John McCain.
Senator McCain, former Vietnam fighter pilot, prisoner of the North
Vietnamese for five and a half years, senator from Arizona, do you
know what we're doing to inhibit the Khmer Rouge? Do you know what
we're doing to undermine their influence?
SEN JOHN MCCAIN, (R), ARIZONA
I know that we are doing everything we can in the way of
negotiations. Tom Pickering mentioned past attempts. The Australians
have been involved, every nation that I know of, practically, in the
western world has attempted to bring this unhappy situation and
tragic situation to some kind of conclusion. And let me point out,
Peter, that this situation, strange as it may sound, is not unlike
Lebanon, in that there are outside forces here, mainly - primarily
the Chinese and the Vietnamese, and by the way, in your program the
word Soviet Union was never mentioned once. They have supported the
Vietnamese to an incredible degree in their takeover of that nation.
But they're cutting way back, Senator.
And I'm very grateful for that. But the fact is, for years and years
they'd never have gotten where they were without Soviet help to the
Vietnamese and to - (crosstalk) - $350 million bucks in last year. I
guess my point is that I think that this nation - and I think that
every western nation - recognizes that this situation is incredibly
tragic, and we have to prevail not just on Khmer Rouge or non -
Communist or Communist forces within Vietnam, but we have to prevail
on the Thais, the Chinese, the Vietnamese and the Soviet Union to try
and get this thing settled, otherwise we're going to end up with a
situation very much like Beirut.
When we come back, we'll try to figure out whether or not there is a
solution that some people around here have for Cambodia. (The Khmer
Rouge ruled Cambodia from 1975 to 1978. During that time, it's
estimated up to 2 million Cambodians died, out of a population of 7.5
Is it complicated or is it simple? We're in persuit of simple
answers, perhaps they're not always aimple answers but let's try
again. Ambassador Pickering, specifically, in a sentence or two, if
it's possible, what are we doing to inhibit the Khmer Rouge? What are
we doing to make life really, truly difficult for them?
It's complicated. Let me try to simplify it. There are really two
options, peace or war. If war continues, the best minds tell me the
Khmer Rouge will gain at the expense of the other parties. If there
is peace, and it is configured in a proper way, the Khmer Rouge will
not gain. They will lose. The proper way is elections. I don't know
anybody who, in their right minds, believes that if elections are
actually achieved in Cambodia, with the help of the UN, that
Cambodians will vote the Khmer Rouge into power. That is certainly
our view of the way the process will proceed. That is what motivates
all of the parties to push ahead in this effort to negotiate
Can I stop you there? Senator Kerrey in Washington, is that the way
it looks on the ground in Cambodia?
Well, first of all, I mean, I would point out that I think the United
States is the only government that really cares about the Cambodian
people. I don't believe the Vietnamese do, I don't believe the
Chinese do, and I don't believe the Soviets do. And the most
important thing for us, if we're going to engage, as I think we
should, is to commit ourselves long - term. I mean, I first of all
think we should vacate the seat in the United Nations, because we do
legitimize the Khmer Rouge as long as we continue to recognize the
coalition that includes them. It's not going to be simple on the
ground. I mean, if we're going to radically democratize that society,
as I think we should have as a long - term objective, it may take 20
or 25 years for us to do it.
Senator, why should the United States radically democratize Cambodia?
Didn't we try that once in Vietnam?
Well, no, we didn't try that once in Vietnam. Now we've got a much
different situation, now we've got the possibility, I think, of
participating in the development of a coalition government that all
the parties seem to want. They disagree on exactly how to accomplish
it, but they all seem to want it. And I mean, I believe if we take
the first step of vacating the seat at the United Nations, and if we
commit ourselves to the long - term, it seems to me that we can put
into place a mechanism whereby the United States can help achieve
long - term democracy for these people.
Congressman Solarz, please keep it simple. What do we do to inhibit
the Khmer Rouge?
What we do, Peter, is to seek, as we are, a political settlement of
the Cambodian conflict that will bring the fighting to an end, bring
a termination of all outside assistance, and make possible an
internationally supervised free and fair election, on the grounds
that the best way to prevent the Khmer Rouge from battling their way
back to power in Phnom Penh, is to shift the struggle for power in
Cambodia from the battlefield to the ballot box. Australia, as you
may know, has proposed a solution which would require the UN to come
into the country and to assume supervisory responsibility for the
administration of Cambodia between a cease - fire and the holding of
an internationally supervised free and fair election.
Congressman, I have read that plan, and it is the most complicated
plan on the face of the earth, any element of which the odds are a
thousand to one against -
Do you have a better idea? Mr Cloud, let's hear it.
I do have a better idea, but that's not the point. I'm not a
LIV ULLMANN, ACTRESS / HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST
You know, I think I have to say something, because there have been so
many men talking, and you are playing war games. And while we are
talking here, children are victims in this male ritual, which is no
more played in private battlefields, it's played where we are
battlefields, where children are battlefields. While we are talking
now and looking for these politicians' solutions and politicians
bespeaking themselves, children are not getting health care, children
are victims of war, children are losing their feet because they are
walking on mines, children are denied health care and humanitarian
aid inside Cambodia, inside of Vietnam. Children are paying the debt
for all your short - term solutions. We say, in my country, the
emperor is without clothes. I see a lot of naked men around here.
Ms Ullmann, we all want to save the children of Cambodia.
Then, Congressman -
So why don't you give humanitarian aid inside of Cambodia?
- why don't we allow medical supplies - why don't we allow American
relief agencies in Cambodia to spend American money to buy medical
I think we should. I have absolutely no problem with that. I think it
would be a good idea. But I'll tell you this, Peter, if we want to
save future generations of Cambodian children from either the horrors
of a return of the Khmer Rouge or a future of endless internecine
conflict, we've got to find a way to bring the fighting to an end,
and the only way to do that is through a political settlement. That's
why this Australian initiative, however complicated it may be, is the
last best hope for peace in Cambodia.
And if it fails -
But children cannot be paying the debt while you take your time to do
- Dith Pran.
Peter, can we bring our government to become a mediator between the
east fighting the east? Right now, in Cambodia, we're trapped between
the Soviet bloc and the China's bloc. Can we bring our government to
become in the middle, and can we ask our government to become a real
peacemaker, don't talk about weapons, and can we ask our government
to support the Thai government that proposed to have a cease - fire
and to have a neutral side for the refugees? I think in this way we
can save a lot of life of the Cambodian people, if it can bring our
government that we all feel that is the hate of the world, that we
can make the world from war to peace, from peace to war. Everybody
knows, if our government stands in the middle and tries to say to the
Soviet Union, stop providing weapons into Cambodia, and tell the
Chinese, stop supplying weapon, if you're rich, bring medical
supplies, let's bring rice, bring gasoline, bring education, bring
all things that - that's only my point, that I want to see our
government stay neutral instead of talking about who brings weapon
into who, Chinese bring to the Khmer Rouge, our government try to
bring to the non - Communist, and the Soviets and the Vietnamese try
to bring to Hun Sen All of them have to stop. I want to hear the
Cambodian people, the Cambodian politicians, say let's stop fighting
for a while. I never heard that story in my country, in my lifetime.
Always war, war. Twenty years, we've insuffered, and we're so
grateful to the world that last year and this year it seemed like
more attention to my country. And I'm glad that ABC keep putting up
to inform the world that the plight of Cambodian people, and the
Cambodian people need help, need peace.
The thing I hear from you is that you want to enlarge this
conversation, so let me try to enlarge it with our panel, and see
whether or not I can get an answer to a couple of questions. Should
we have any relation with the Khmer Rouge, and do we have to deal
with Vietnam in order to get a settlement in Cambodia? Frankie
FitzGerald, author during the Vietnam war of Fire in the Lake, now a
writer for The New Yorker magazine. What do you think?
FRANCES FITZGERALD, AUTHOR
I hope this UN initiative works. I don't know how promising it is; I
hope it works. If it doesn't work, what do we do then? Our problem is
that we have been behind the coalition government, whose strongest
force is the Khmer Rouge, for practically a decade now. Can we change
our position? Can we, if this UN initiative fails, turn around and
start over and say we were wrong? We cannot leave the Soviets and the
Vietnamese to save Cambodia from the Khmer Rouge. We have to help.
Do you have any difficulty with your government having any
relationship with the Khmer Rouge at all?
Should it be severed?
They say there's no - there is no immediate relationship, and I
believe them. But - it's just effectively that's the case, because we
are supporting the coalition, of which the Khmer Rouge is the
strongest member. And when these negotiations began a year or more
ago, our secretary of state said, "Well, if Sihanouk says that the
Khmer Rouge should be part of a quadropartite government, that's fine
with us". Somehow we are allowing Sihanouk, who has, against his
will, made a Faustian bargain with the Khmer Rouge, to dictate our
policy. I don't think we can do that anymore.
But then you would rather have a policy that supports the Vietnamese.
Okay, but then you are saying a policy of (A), the Vietnamese, who
invaded Cambodia, (B), the Cambodian leaders who were put in place by
the Vietnamese, who were members of the Khmer Rouge during the height
of the launching of the genocide. That doesn't make much sense.
I think you forget, though, why the Vietnamese went into Cambodia in
the first place. It was because the Pol Pot forces invaded Vietnam.
Well, they had put the Khmer Rouge in place, they had encouraged
them to take power (crosstalk).
They then went to war.
- the Chinese. I'm not defending the Chinese, I think the Chinese are
Ken, your facts are wrong. Your facts are just wrong on that.
No, that is not true.
No, John is correct. Senator Kerrey made a point -
What do you mean, "John is right"? You're talking about John
I said the Chinese helped, too. I said that.
Peter, Senator Kerrey made a very important point we ought to go back
to. We all want the UN plan to succeed, and we ought to acknowledge
Congressman Solarz's role in formulating it.
Gosh, you're polite, Mr Holbrooke, to everybody.
If it fails, however, and even before it fails, we ought to do what
Senator Kerrey suggested. The time has come to stop supporting the
Pol Pot - Khmer Rouge coalition group in the UN The seat ought to be
vacated as a way of detaching ourselves. You've asked over and over
again tonight what can we do about the Khmer Rouge. That is the one
point of our policy - and Stan has already pointed out that I was
involved in it at one time and therefore all the more reason that I
say to you tonight that we ought to change it.
Think that's a good idea, Ambassador Pickering? Ambassador Pickering,
how about leaving the seat at the United Nations vacant? Who would
you talk to?
There would be, first, no representation for Sihanouk or Sun Sen
Secondly, the important thing about the seat is, that the seat is not
going to change the negotiations. The seat will reflect the endpoint
of negotiations. If the negotiations produce a supreme national
council, it is very likely that that supreme national council will
take the seat. If the negotiations produce a new government,
certainly the new government will take the seat.
Then leave it vacant until that happens, Tom. It semi - legitimizes
the Khmer Rouge now.
Why should the government in Phnom Penh agree to a UN plan when a
member of the UN, according to our own policy, is a coalition which
includes the Khmer Rouge? It doesn't make sense. Why should Hun Sen
go along with that?
I'll tell you exactly why, Mr Cloud, because it's been made very
clear to Mr Hun Sen that in the context of a political settlement
which would provide a major role for the UN in the administration of
Cambodia as a prelude to an election, that the problem of the seat at
the UN would be resolved in a manner which would be satisfactory to
him, either by leaving the seat vacant, or by giving Hun Sen the
right to participate in the seat itself. So that's quite clear -
Could I ask a very simple little question about this question of
administering Cambodia? Susan Walker, seen from the ground, could the
United Nations come into Cambodia and administer the country?
Oh, I think it will be very difficuLt
What - why?
Well, just the infrastructure - there is no infrastructure. But I
think plans are being discussed and made. What I would like to come
back to, actually, is, it's very hard for me to sit here and listen
to all the political discussions going on when I've just come from
Thailand and the border where I see the results of this ongoing
conflict. There are people suffering every day, amputees as the
result of land mines that they step on every day, on both sides of
the border. And the whole question of what can we do to pre - what is
the US doing to prevent a return to power of the Khmer Rouge? I'm
convinced that the US government does not want the Khmer Rouge to
come back in power. I mean, no one wants the Khmer Rouge to come back
in power. But the reality is, by voting for them in the United
Nations - and I would guess that most average Americans do not know
that the United States votes for the Khmer Rouge. Granted, it's part
of a coalition, but we still vote for the Khmer Rouge in the United
Nations. And that gives them a moral legitimacy to continue their
games. And my great fear is, while all these political discussions
are going on, the Khmer Rouge are going to push people back forcibly
into Cambodia, and it will be too late by the time there's a
Can you answer a question for me that I couldn't get - with respect,
gentlemen - an answer from the politicians on. What specifically does
the United States do in the region to inhibit the Khmer Rouge?
To inhibit? Well, I don't know if aid is going directly to the Khmer
Rouge or not. I mean, it's stated that it's not. I mean, aid goes to
the non - Communist resistance. But to inhibit, I think one of the
first steps is to stop voting for them in the United Nations. I don't
know of specific steps that are being taken except, of course, to
pursue political negotiations to bring the war to an end.
But let me make clear, there are no votes in the United Nations for
the Khmer Rouge.
Can I go to a -
There was a vote years ago to seat them. That vote has never been
challenged, but there are no regular votes by the United States in
the United Nations for the Khmer Rouge. Secondly, I think it's a good
idea for you to come up with some ideas -
That's procedural, Mr Ambassador.
TOM HAYDEN, (D), CALIFORNIA STATE ASSEMBLYMAN
What are you talking about?
Mr Tom Hayden, California assemblyman, a symbol for many in America
of what was wrong in America at the time of the Vietnam war. I don't
know how else to introduce you except in an obvious way, Mr Hayden.
I don't understand this - I came all the way from Los Angeles, and I
don't mean to make light of what is a serious discussion about a
tragedy, but I feel, in the words of Yogi Berra, that "This is deja
vu all over again". During the Vietnam war, we had the official
policymakers telling us, as the bombs dropped and as the war
expanded, that the war was winding down or there would be no wider
war. And we're caught again in this discussion about whether we
support the Khmer Rouge. Well, no one in their right mind is going to
say that we officially do. Yet there's some relationship there, it's
clear. And the strange thing to me, having watched this for 30 years,
is that as I recall as a young man the rationale for our entry into
that region with our troops was to stop the expansion of Chinese
Communism. Then sometime later, a decade or so, we opened diplomatic
relationships with China. That was seen as a counterweight to
stopping the Soviet Union. As part of that arrangement, we became
implicated with the Khmer Rouge because they were China's allies in
Cambodia. Now, the original rationale having been shattered, we find
ourselves in partnership with the people that we were there to stop,
the Chinese. And, with what's happening in the Soviet Union and
eastern Europe, the argument that we need to support China and the
Khmer Rouge to stop Soviet agressiveness makes no sense. Where are
we? We don't have a policy. A policy ought to start with some
principle, we ought to go back to square one. And I think those who
are saying that at the very least, the policy should prohibit our
being involved in any way with promoting conditions that keep the
genocidal Khmer Rouge alive, that policy is bankrupt. We've got to
find a different policy. And if everybody agrees on that, the
discussion now should be, how can we disarm and dismantle the Khmer
One of the other things we want to discuss is whether or not the
United States should have a reconciliation with Vietnam. We'll be
back in just a moment.
(From 1969 to 1973 the US flew more than 16,000 bombing missions over
Cambodia, dropping nearly 500,000 tons of bombs.)
The ABC News / Time Forum, Beyond Vietnam, continues. Once again,
In those immortal words of Yogi Berra, "deja vu all over again". In a
recent poll, 63 percent of American high school seniors could not
locate southeast Asia on a map. Sixty - eight percent of adults could
not correctly identify Vietnam. Ten years after Vietnam, this is 15,
48 percent of Americans between the ages of 18 and 30 didn't know
whether we were fighting for the north or for the south. Let's give
you a brief impressionistic glance of what was happening 15 years ago
this week. (15 Years Ago)
WOLF LEHMANN, DEPUTY CHIEF OF MISSION,
US EMBASSY, SAIGON (1973 - 1975)
On that day, we were largely engaged in documenting and busing
evacuees, primarily Vietnamese but also remaining Americans.
CHERIE CLARK, OVERSEAS ADOPTION DIRECTOR (1972 - 1975)
We received a telephone call from the US Embassy saying that indeed,
we would be leaving that day, and we began organizing the children.
We had about 150 orphans with us at that time. I have these memories
of babies everywhere, the floor was just full of them.
DIRCK HALSTEAD, PHOTOGRAPHER (1975)
There was an entire block around the central market which had been
burned down, and people were wandering around and smoke was rising,
and you certainly got the sense that the war had finally come to
MARK GARDINER, ARMY WARRANT OFFICER (1972 - 1975)
The last four days, almost the entire time was spent in the
helicopters. Things were happening very rapidly, and as the days got
nearer, it got worse.
KEN KASHIWAHARA, ABC NEWS, VIETNAM (1975)
The entire country of South Vietnam was in panic. The North
Vietnamese and the Viet Cong had systematically marched southward
without much resistance, and they were literally on Saigon's
Things came, of course, to a head, and the North Vietnamese aircraft
attacked the flight line at the Tonsunhut Airport. We could no
longer, at that point, continue the airlift out of the airport with
fixed - wing aircraft, because it was too risky. The remaining
evacuation went on from the embassy compound in downtown Saigon.
JIM LAURIE, NBC NEWS VIETNAM (1975)
The helicopters came in. People boarded - Vietnamese, Americans,
journalists, diplomats. Anybody that could get out were just simply
hysterically getting out. It was a very, very chaotic time.
Tension throughout the city palpably increased. You could almost feel
it physically. So by the morning, or early morning, of April 29th,
the embassy was surrounded by crowds.
And there was this feeling that if they could somehow touch us or get
close to us that they could get out of that panic situation.
MAX CLELAND, ARMY CAPTAIN (1967 - 1968)
Looking back, you know, we never made the ultimate decision about
Vietnam. We were always on the strategic defensive, never on the
strategic offensive. And you don't win wars, or win military
engagements, just by being on the defensive.
You know, we should have gone in there and six months, to a year,
ended - have done what should have been done, and pulled out of there
It changed my ideas about how war should be fought, because it was -
it changed all the good guys and bad guys perspectives, all those
things you thought we stood for, we really didn't.
It was - it was a very tough moment for me, because I left behind a
part of myself, and part of my life in Vietnam".April is the cruelest
month," and for me it was, in terms of Vietnam. I was wounded April
8th, and of course Cambodia fell in late April. Those were the final
days of Saigon and South Vietnam.
A lot of this you think about in your dreams at night. And the faces
come back to haunt you.
As we were pulling away, you could just see the faces of those people
that knew that they were not going to get a ride out.
We left behind 18 million people, and that's the bottom line, and
sadness, I think, for our country, for the United States, that after
having invested 50,000 lives and a lot of treasure and a lot of
effort, that things had to end this way.
America's most famous soldier in Vietnam, commander of all Vietnam
combat forces between 1964 and '68, Army chief of staff from 1968 to
1972. Welcome, General Westmoreland. Do you think it's time to make
our ultimate peace with Vietnam, reconcile with them, open up
GEN WILLIAM WESTMORELAND, FORMER COMMANDER, US COMBAT FORCES, VIETNAM
I think not. Not until the situation has been resolved in Cambodia.
And I think that should be an overriding criterion.
So Vietnam and Cambodia are, in your mind, inextricably combined?
In the context of normalizing relations with Hanoi, yes.
What do you mean by that, until the situation is resolved?
Well, the matter that we've been discussing for the last couple of
hours, the situation that exists in Cambodia today, where Cambodia is
dominated by Hanoi, by the Communist north. And at this time, the
Communist forces very definitely have the upper hand. They've got
75,000 troops in Cambodia, whereas the non - Communist forces are
I'm sorry, who has 75,000 troops in Vietnam?
The Khmer Rouge, you mean?
The Khmer Rouge and the Communist government that they installed
before they left.
Roughly 40,000 Khmer Rouge, roughly 40,000 government troops.
No, about 75,000. Seventy - five thousand government troops and Khmer
Rouge. And about 25,000 of the Sihanouk forces and the other non -
Some people listening to you, General Westmoreland, say that you
can't do one without the other. We'll say that in Cambodia we're
still fighting the Vietnam war. Fair comment?
Well, it certainly is a carryover from the Vietnam war, but I think
it's - there's a different purpose involved, and it's a different war
in many respects.
Erwin Parson, Marine medic in Vietnam, now a psychologist. You take
veterans who are suffering from post - battle stress back to Vietnam
to help them out of it. Do you think we should reconcile with Vietnam
DR ERWIN PARSON, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST
I think at some time, Peter, we ought to reconcile with Vietnam. I
think that as a nation, our healing is bound up in that relationship
that has been destroyed and has never had a chance to be knitted back
again. I was amazed by the response that I had, as a former soldier.
I returned to Vietnam with 14 other men and women who fought there as
well during the war, and to get a sense as to what it meant to go
back there and to intermingle with the Vietnamese people. We thought
that more important than going to Vietnam was the issue of immersing
ourselves in a culture, meeting with people, talking with them,
visiting orphanages, visiting hospitals, visiting the cities, the
towns, the hamlets and so on, and immersing ourselves once again in
So does it lead you to think, Dr Parson, that we should have a formal
relationship with Vietnam again?
I think we should, when the right time comes.
I shouldn't say again, really. Can I just ask the same question of
you, Mr Muller, as you are the executive director of the Vietnam
I think you're ahead of the game. The question should not be, "Is it
time to establish normal diplomatic relations with Vietnam?" The
question should be, "Isn't it time that we ended the war with
Vietnam?" We are still fighting the Vietnam war. Make no mistake
about it. The United States has purposely - and that's what the
situation in Cambodia is an extension of - sought to economically and
politically isolate and devastate, which they effectively have,
Vietnam. The United States continues -
General Westmoreland, what's your answer to that?
- an absolute, total economic embargo against Vietnam. It blocks all
developmental aid for Vietnam. It has supported the fighting in
Cambodia and China with its surrogate, the Khmer Rouge, as we had
under the Holbrooke - Brzezinski, that we talked about before, going
to China and saying, "Hey, resuscitate your tool so we can continue
to punish Vietnam".
Do you think that's the case, General Westmoreland?
Well, certainly we would not have the situation in Cambodia today if
it hadn't been for our commitment to Vietnam, and this is an
aftermath of that. To solve the problem in Cambodia is going to take
a lot of diplomacy. I'm afraid it's going to result in the death of
many civilians, as has taken place during the course of this period.
Some people have already taken the initiative, one of whom, in a
small way, is Dr Donna Shalala, who's the chancellor of the
University of Wisconsin at Madison. And among other things, you've
established a sister relationship with two universities in Vietnam,
one in Hanoi and one in Kan Tho. Why did you do that?
DR DONNA SHALALA, CHANCELLOR, UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN - MADISON
Well, because we don't believe the children of Vietnam should suffer
for one more day while the politics of southeast Asia is being sorted
out. And because that's what universities do. We're helping the
Vietnamese establish some rural health clinics. We believe that
educational exchanges are the ways to begin to start some healing.
And since we're not bound by this broader politics, we can talk to
university people, have some educational exchanges and certainly help
the children with health projects.
Do you come to any conclusion about the overall relationship?
Oh, I think that we should start healing that relationship with
Vietnam, and it's time to establish diplomatic relationships.
Deborah Stone is the former editor of The Dartmouth Review, which was
founded, I think, in 1980 to give young conservatives at Dartmouth a
greater voice in public affairs than you thought you had at the time.
DEBORAH STONE, FORMER EDITOR, "DARTMOUTH REVIEW"
I think there are a lot of important questions that have to be
answered before reconciliation, including questions about our POWs,
questions about the Vietnam presence in Cambodia. And I think one of
the most striking features is that the American press has failed to
ask a lot of these questions and has often actually offered some
misrepresentations. There have been questions about
misrepresentations in this show, and reading Stanley Cloud's
interview with the Vietnam foreign minister in the current issue of
Time magazine, he lobs three softball questions to the foreign
minister, to which he receives three bogus answers, in my opinion.
You want to enumerate what you think they are?
Well, his first question -
In general terMs What were your three "softball questions," Mr Cloud?
By the way, it was an hour interview, and those were three questions
excerpted from it. The first question was, is there anything going on
between Vietnam and the US that we don't know about?
That's right. And he answered that all of the -
He answered no.
He answered that all of the issues that were problems between the two
countries had been resolved, which is absolutely ludicrous and wrong,
because they haven't been resolved at all, and I was disappointed,
actually, that you didn't challenge him further on that. I certainly
would have, had I been there.
What would you have said?
I would have said, "What do you mean, the POW issue has been
resolved?" It hasn't been resolved at all. There are thousands
unaccounted for. What do you mean -
Does the US government agreement agree with you? (crosstalk)
The POW issue is the biggest propaganda ploy that's ever been
created. They're not there. Everybody knows that. The war has been
over for 15 years. All of the intelligence assets of our government
have been applied to try and get this POW issue. And they have said
there is no evidence to support any Americans being held against
their will in Vietnam. That's what the Reagan administration's final
report to the Bush administration was. It's a propaganda issue, okay?
Read the facts.
Mr Muller, can I - Mr Muller, it may be in your view a propaganda
issue, but heavens knows, it's an emotional issue, and there are
That's what propaganda's about, it fuels the emotions.
- and there are Americans we all know, there are Americans you know
and I know who remain firmly convinced that there are Americans alive
It's the object of propaganda. Peter, read the reports. All the
intelligence that the United States has been applied to trying to
answer this question: are there Americans that are still in Vietnam.
And they said no.
I was going to -
I have to speak up here now.
- precisely the man I want to speak up.
Jim Vessey, who was the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,
has been over there on several occasions -
As head of a commission, right?
- as a head of a commission. He has said the Vietnamese have not
fully cooperated with this final accounting. He says that there are
numerous cases that have not been resolved. General Vessey is a man
who has served this nation, and frankly, the overwhelming majority of
those of us who served will not rest nor allow any real accommodation
with the Vietnamese until that issue is resolved. They can resolve it
A supplementary question. Am I correct or wrong that General Vessey
also believes there are no men still missing in southeast Asia?
General Vessey has not arrived at that conclusion yet. He wants to
see what the Vietnamese response to these outstanding cases. He
certainly believes that it's difficuLt We all do, after 20 years or
whatever it's been, more than that. But we can't abandon those
families to just say, "I'm sorry, we've made this decision".
Senator, what you're saynin is inconstistant, it's not true -
Mr Muller, here's the question I'd like to come back and discuss, as
to whether or not this is the principal issue on which we should have
no relationship with Vietnam, or whether, as some people suggest, it
might be decoupled from the rest of our policy? We'll be right back.
(47,355 American soldiers were killed in Vietnam. 10,796 died from
sickness or accident. 2,303 are still listed as missing in action.)
I'm not sure we're going to resolve this question, whether or not
General Vessey believes there are prisoners alive in southeast Asia
or not. There's a vote either way in this crowd, but in fairness,
none of us are sure. But the question is whether or not the issue of
POWs/MIAs should be the deciding one in terms of whether America has
a reconciliation with Vietnam in any way, shape or form. Let's go to
Washington and listen to Senator Kerrey briefly. Senator, you have
just come back from Vietnam and Cambodia. Have you reached a
Well, I think they should be decoupled, as a matter of fact. And by
the way, I do agree with Senator McCain. I think the Vietnamese
government could resolve this issue just like that if they chose to,
and for some reason they don't. One of the dilemmas that we've got,
and people like Ambassador Pickering have to help us try to figure
this out, is that we've to get a presence somehow in Vietnam and in
Cambodia, otherwise we can't help the people who are in urgent need
of that help, particularly in Cambodia. Now, where children and
families are suffering, if you see that kind of suffering, if we had
a presence there, it seems to me we'd develop the urgency that I
think is going to be needed to sustain ourselves through a political
It's interesting, in the current issue of Time magazine, which is
devoted to this issue, you did a poll on this subject among Vietnam
veterans, is that correct?
Vietnam veterans and the population as a whole.
What does the population as a whole believe?
Sixty - eight percent believe that there are POWs still alive in
Vietnam. A huge figure.
And among veterans?
Among veterans, it's at least as high. I've forgotten the exact
figure. Also, however, the Time / CNN poll also shows that there has
to be a strong plurality believes that, among US citizens, believes
we should normalize with Vietnam.
Should normalize relations?
Should normalize. Forty - eight percent to 32 percent.
BUI DIEM, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL CONGRESS OF VIETNAMESE IN AMERICA
Bui Diem. Sorry, sir, been a while getting to you. Mr Diem used to be
Ambassador Diem, the South Vietnamese ambassador to the United
States, from 1966 until 1972, if I'm not mistaken -
- during the Nixon and Johnson administrations. Do you think we
should have a formal reconciliation with your country?
Well, nobody opposed reconciliation. But in terms of normalization, I
would like to point out today that this show tonight is almost
completely dominated by the problem of Cambodia. And all of us would
like to solve the problem of Cambodia, and well, there is an urgent
concern about Cambodia. And if we talk about a problem of Cambodia,
we have to talk about a problem of Vietnam. I think that Vietnam has
a very strong influence on Cambodia, and it is not wise at all right
now to talk in terms of normalization if we want to try to solve as
quickly as we can the problem of Cambodia. If we try to solve the
problem of Cambodia, let us not try to take away from our hands the
kind of leverage that we have right now in terms of asking the
Communists in Vietnam to influence the government in Cambodia, along
with asking the Chinese to influence the Khmer Rouge, in view of
coming to a solution. And that is very clear in my mind.
Mr Diem, I just want to warn our affiliates all over the country that
we're going to go, as they may already have anticipated, longer than
we had planned. Having said that, I'm not quite sure what America
gains by not having relations with Vietnam. Can you explain that?
Well, it has been said quite often that our policy right now is too
much punitive. In my point of view I think that the North Vietnamese
Communists, they put themselves into this corner. It is up to them to
get out of this corner, and by then we can concede there is a problem
of normalization later on.
We have an audience member. Yes, sir, would you identify yourself?
TED SAMPLEY, VIETNAM VETERAN, AUDIENCE MEMBER
Yes. My name is Ted Sampley, I'm a Vietnam veteran.
Where do you come from?
I come from Kingston, North Carolina.
Thank you. I have a question for Pepsi - Cola.
Oh, I'd better introduce him first. I didn't realize you were laying
for him like. This is Chris Sinclair, who's the president of Pepsi -
Cola International. We invited Mr Sinclair tonight because we thought
it important to hear a businessman's point of view on foreign policy,
also because I know that Mr Sinclair's company is keen to do business
in Cambodia and Burma and Afghanistan. Go ahead, sir.
As a person that's been in the POW / MIA movement, I've found that we
don't get much help out of the politicians. And Mr Solarz is one of
them we haven't had a whole lot of success with. But maybe we can
turn to the Pepsi people. And I ask this question, since they have
such a financial arrangement in Russia, and then I believe that that
would probably feed on into Vietnam and Cambodia and the sale of
Pepsi. And it is, would you use your influence to maybe influence the
politicians in both Vietnam and the United States to allow an
international team to go into the prison facilities, whether it be a
cave or a prison in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, and to look, an
international team? Would that not help?
CHRIS SINCLAIR, PRESIDENT, PEPSI - COLA INTERNATIONAL
Well, I think you may be overstating a little bit the influence we
can bring to bear. I certainly - we would support an initiative like
that. I think we would share your concern. Frankly, I think the
representatives of our government are much better equipped to host an
event like that, but where we could lend our support, certainly we'd
be happy to.
Do you think, and your friends in the business community think we
should reconcile with Vietnam and Cambodia?
Again, Peter, I think it's a policy decision that needs to be debated
by the government, and we need to get a consensus before we can act.
You must have an opinion.
We do. We have a longstanding opinion that trade affords us an
opportunity to positively affect relations. It builds bridges, it
allows for communication, ultimately it affects attitudes and
How can we even think of doing this with Vietnam, as long as Vietnam
- the people that are in charge of Vietnam, many are the same people
that run the war, the same cadres that were responsible for the
massacre. We haven't mentioned Vietnamese genocide or the murder of
their own people, but 3,000 Vietnamese at one shot in the Tet
offensive of 1968, after the North Vietnamese had taken that ancient
city of Hue and then they murdered these people, and many of them
they buried alive, how can we even think of dealing with these
Ted, there were two million people killed in Vietnam during the war.
They were killed in a lot of different ways by a lot of different
people. And that's really a question that historians are going to
debate, who did what, when. The issue now - (crosstalk) - yeah, but
the issue now is what happens in 1990, is the issue. It has been - I
know, but we're going to run out of time and not get to the core
Well, why don't we let Mr McAuliff speak, and then you, Mr Adelman
I mean, the problem is, what happens today. I think we should do what
we essentially, up until a year ago, promised to do, which is
normalize with Vietnam once they were out of Cambodia. And
essentially they were out of Cambodia in October. They've gone in a
little bit more, no one seems terribly upset by it, because it's what
kept the Khmer Rouge from taking Battambang. But whether they're
there or not -
The second - largest city in Cambodia.
But the point is that there's some things that, even if we're not
going to normalize, we could do. I think you have to recognize in
both societies there are great bitternesses and pains. The only thing
that can heal those pains is more communication, whether it's what Dr
Shalala talked about, of formal university relationships, the kinds
of trips that we take or that the veterans take, those things at this
point are fundamentally illegal for Americans to organize without a
license, and only a couple of us have gotten licenses. Travel agents
can't organize trips to Vietnam or trips to Cambodia or they'll get
hit, as Lindblad was, by the Treasury Department and driven out of
business. Vietnamese - Americans and Cambodian - Americans and people
like us who work with Vietnam and Cambodia all the time cannot pick
up the telephone or turn on our fax machine and communicate with
people in Vietnam or Cambodia because the trade embargo says that it
is illegal for us to make that kind of communication.
Just the point was that, as you say, a lot of people were killed in
the way and everything. What's interesting about Vietnam, before we
have too much of a gloss that we should normalize because Vietnam is
such a wonderful little country these days is what happened after the
war. In the months following the war, the Vietnamese killed more
South Vietnamese than Americans died during our entire involvement.
So we were there for many, many years, and they killed more in the
months following, as you know.
Well, I know that's a highly conjectural and polemical issue.
Excuse me, I let you finish. We had a million and a half boat people
from Vietnam, probably another half a million died escaping. Now, you
can say it's because the economy is bad. The economy in Vietnam has
always been bad, for a thousand years or more, but there were never
mass exits from Vietnam until the Communists came and
(unintelligible). And Mr Muller, who I do believe is very sincere
about wanting to stop the killing in Cambodia, he should realize,
sir, when you defend Vietnam, there's been a lot of killing in
Vietnam by the Vietnamese.
We have relations with countries all over the world -
I feel a certain obligation to say that all the applause is coming
from Vietnamese at the present moment, I think, and then defer to
As you know, Peter, Congressman Solarz and I are not of the same
party. He and I served on the Foreign Affairs Committee together when
I was a member of the House of Representatives. He devoted untold
thousands of hours of effort on this issue, and I think he deserves
credit for it. And Ted, I disagree with this. Congressman Solarz has
worked incredibly hard on this issue. One quick comment. Your poll
also showed that the majority of Vietnam veterans were proud that
they served, which is a very interesting number. And maybe it's time
those of us who feel that way should stand up and say maybe those who
were in the anti - war movement might have been a little wrong,
because of what Ken Adelman just said, a million and a half boat
people, reeducation camps. Whatever happened to the National Front
for Liberation? Whatever happened to the free elections that were
going to take place as soon as the dirty Americans were out of
Vietnam? Whatever happened to all those promises of a bright future
for the Vietnamese people? Change is taking place all over the world,
let's have some of that, like a free election in South Vietnam.
Senator, could I just ask you one question. You said that Vietnam,
Hanoi, could resolve the MIA issue overnight.
I believe so, yes.
What, precisely, should they do, in your judgment? (crosstalk) No,
no, but I mean, what gesture should they make to the US?
For example, we have credible and convincing evidence that they have
a warehouse with bodies in it. They return bodies three or four at a
time that we know they've had for many, many years. They could allow
us to send teams to places where there have been these sightings, and
I think within a matter of weeks we could get that totally resolved.
A member of the audience. Yes, sir, will you tell us who you are?
GREGORY PAYTON, VIETNAM VETERAN, AUDIENCE MEMBER
My name is Gregory Payton, I'm from Vietnam Veterans Against the War.
I just recently returned from Vietnam. I just recently returned from
Vietnam. I don't believe that there's any MIAs or POWs. One of the
things that I wanted to ask the panel out here is the fact that
during World War II, we still have MIAs from World War II, but we
still negotiated with Japan, Germany and Italy. And I don't see why
we have to now make this kind of discussion about the situation. As
we do, people have pointed out that people are suffering, children
are dying, and we're just debating this, that and the other. If in
fact these people are dead, what about the living? What about the
living people now that are being wrecked and the pain that's being
caused by all this dialogue? I think it's time for us to stop
dialogue and start dealing with the real issue. The real issue is
that there's a cover - up going in the government in terms of like
really negotiating with Vietnam. And I think it's because they are
people of color. When we were dealing in Europe and they were white
people, we wanted to deal with these things. But now we're dealing
with situations of people of color, then there seems to be a lot of
Sir, the answer between World War II and Vietnam is that we were able
to go to the battlefields and make the best accounting that we had
after World War II. We've been unable to do that in Vietnam.
You raised a question, I'd like to take just a simple opportunity of.
Mr Hayden, have you changed your mind about your views then?
I wanted to say that the new president of Nicaragua, the person who
defeated the Sandinista candidate -
Mrs Chamorro, President Chamorro.
- was inaugurated yesterday, and I saw the statement she made, which
was very interesting. She said that reconciliation is more beautiful
than victory. And I think we ought to ponder that. It seems to me
that after our having gone to Vietnam, our problem is becoming that
Vietnam has somehow invaded us. It's invaded our hearts, minds, you
can feel it in the studio, people yelling at each other. It's
unbelievable. And I do think reconciliation is more beautiful than
victory, and I do think that it's harder, it's very difficuLt We all
went through a very shattering experience, most of us when we were
very young, and have to live with it the rest of our lives. And the
experience was, the one common thing that I think everybody
experienced, whether they were opposed to the war or they were
drafted or they volunteered, is they came away from the experience
feeling that we didn't know the whole story. And tonight, I think we
still don't know what's going on in Cambodia. Those statistics you
Ambassador Pickering, you have a -
- about kids not knowing where anything is, is an awful legacy. And I
think we've got to reconcile not only ourselves with our former
adversaries, and if the United States could do it with Germany and
Japan it can with Vietnam, but reconcile ourselves with ourselves,
and admit -
- Ambassador Pickering, is this -
- that we made some mistakes, all of us. All of us. And that
admission is the step to healing that I think we have to take,
otherwise it will be deja vu.
- Ambassador Pickering, do you have a personal view of this?
I have, of course, a personal view of it, and I think that my
personal view has always been where it can be done, diplomatic
contacts, personal contacts are very important and should be pushed
forward. But not at the expense, obviously, of two policy imperatives
at risk here. One we've discussed extensively, the missing, the POWs.
The other is clearly the question of the Vietnamese role which the
ambassador mentioned in terms of a settlement in Cambodia. I believe
very firmly if those two issues can be put behind us, the question of
official relations can be moved ahead very, very rapidly. But those
are the kinds of impediments, those two issues, that now block the
way in that direction.
I see two or three people who want to comment, and we're going to
come back in just one moment. Just before we go away, perhaps you'd
like to see and hear the President's views on this. Here's what
President Bush has to say about it.
PRES GEORGE BUSH
(January 20, 1989) .war cleaves us still, but friends, that war began
in earnest a quarter of a century ago, and surely the statute of
limitations has been reached. This is a fact: the final lesson of
Vietnam is that no great nation can long afford to be sundered by a
The ABC News/Time Forum, Beyond Vietnam, continues. Once again, Peter
There are a lot of people here who want to have their say, and what
could be more understandable? One of them is Dean Kahler, who was
wounded on that day at Kent State when the students were protesting
against the invasion of Cambodia. Yes, sir.
DEAN KAHLER, FORMER STUDENT, KENT STATE UNIVERSITY
Yes, sir, Peter, thank you. I hear the general and the politicians
continuing to talk about - well, actually, they're playing dominoes
yet, they're still playing dominoes. They're still raising the red
flag, they're still pulling out the sword and dividing the society
apart, using the rhetoric that Richard Nixon used back in 1970. You
know, these people don't know how to talk about peace and work about
peace. I've heard three of the women in this room tonight talk about
the children and talk about the starvation and talk about the medical
needs. If we really in earnest stopped the arms going in, because we
know how to do it, we know who's doing it, we know how to control
those forces, when are we going to start talking about peace? And if
we did this, and if you actually started working on it, would you be
out of a job, because you don't know how to work about peace? I mean,
do you really know what peace is all about? And General Westmoreland,
as a general in the war in Vietnam, you saw the atrocities and you
saw the immorality that was going on there, and as a commanding
officer, you had the ability to say no, let's stop this. And why
didn't you do that?
This question is directed at me?
Well, your perspective, I must say, is somewhat simplified. There
were very few atrocities that took place in Vietnam, but when you're
on the battlefield, people are going to get killed. There are going
to be accidents. And you are going to destroy the enemy when you can
before he destroys you. And that happens to be the job of the soldier
on the battlefield. It's what the country sent our troops to South
Vietnam to do. And that happens to be a fact of life. So, if there's
any incompatibility with that and your philosophy, maybe you can be a
little more specific.
Let me be specific, General, because I fought in that war, too. The
war was an atrocity. Forty - five percent of the people killed by
virtue of our Senate Foreign Relations Committee itself which is not,
with all due respect, a liberal body, our Senate Foreign Relations
Committee says that 45 percent of the people that were killed in
Vietnam were civilians, General. Remember those indiscriminate H&I
fires, those free - fire zones you set up, all the search and destroy
operations, the 7.5 million tons of bombs, three times the total of
World War II, we dropped on Indochina? Half the people that we killed
were civilians. If that's not an atrocity, General, what is?
And I would also like to ask why is it always simplified when one
talks about health and children and humanity? We were just in Hong
Kong trying to talk to officials about the situation of the
Vietnamese refugees in detention camps, concentration camps, in Hong
Kong. And they told us that we were talking about little things only,
because we were talking about the suffering of the children inside of
these camps. Why is it always that these things are simplified, and
little things, while your games are the facts of life, and the
Why is that -
- I don't understand it, General.
I'm a little uncomfortable with the general being -
Why is that so, Congressman? I don't think we can lay all the
problems of now at General Westmoreland's feet, by any means. I think
she may be talking to you, Congressman.
Well, I'm not -
I did mean that in jest, as you know.
I'm not certain that she was, Peter, but I'll say this. I think that
it would be wonderful if we could bring an end to all arms supplies
going into Cambodia. But let's recognize that 95 percent of the arms
being shipped into that country are coming from China and the Soviet
Union. And our influence in Beijing and Moscow, for better or for
worse, is unfortunately limited. You asked a little bit earlier
whether the time has come for us to normalize our relationship with
Vietnam. Fifteen years after the end of the war, I think the time has
come for reconciliation between our two countries. But I also believe
we have to ask ourselves whether our priority is Vietnam or Cambodia.
If our priority is Vietnam, if that's what's most important to us,
then by all means, we should establish diplomatic relations and lift
the embargo. But if our priority is preventing another genocide in
Cambodia, then we've got to recognize that the only way to do that is
to get a political settlement of the conflict, which cannot be
achieved without a willingness on the part of Vietnam to lean on the
puppet regime in Phnom Penh in order to get Hun Sen to make the
concessions which will be necessary for a settlement. And Vietnam's
incentive to lean on Cambodia in order to get a settlement is related
to their desire to have normalization with the United States, for us
to establish a diplomatic presence in Hanoi and for us to lift the
embargo. If we give them that now, their willingness to contribute to
a political settlement will be greatly diminished and we may very
well have thus unwittingly contributed to another genocide in
Congressman, just before I ask Ms FitzGerald to comment, am I correct
in believing that the prime minister, Hun Sen, in Phnom Penh, to whom
you refer, agrees to internationally supervised elections?
Hun Sen has made ambiguous statements on this issue. What he has said
clearly is that he is prepared to have an election, supervised by his
By the United Nations. Am I not correct?
- with international observers. The key question is whether he is
prepared in the period between a cease - fire and an internationally
To invite the Khmer Rouge into partnership.
No, not to include the Khmer Rouge in the government - and this is
where your documentary was unfortunately nine months out of date -
that used to be the position of the administration. They were
supporting the inclusion of the Khmer Rouge in a so - called
quadropartite interim government. They no longer support that. They
now support the proposal put forward by Australia to have the UN come
in to assume responsibility for the government and to exclude the
Khmer Rouge and the other Cambodian factions from any role in the
Including the government in power. Ms FitzGerald.
I just wonder why it is that we don't seem to have a little more
influence, not just on China at the moment, but on Thailand, because
after all, all the supplies for the Khmer Rouge are going through
Thailand. And you say that we could have this wonderful influence on
Hanoi and Phnom Penh, but somehow it seems impossible we have no
influence at all on the other side.
The issue is the reverse, it's why doesn't Thailand have more
influence on us. And the Thai prime minister has called for neutral
camps, as Dith Pran said. He's called for stopping military supplies,
he's called for a cease - fire.
Why doesn't he do it, John? He's the prime minister of Thailand.
Because the United States is undermining him rather than supporting
But Mr McAuliff, wouldn't you agree that the Thai government is
divided on this issue? The Thai military is not exactly going along
with the Thai prime minister.
Well, some of the Thai military is. (crosstalk)
The point is 20 percent of the aid that Congressman Solarz has
covertly put into that country, tens of millions of dollars are going
But the point is that we could, by supporting the prime minister in
Thailand, instead of undermining him, contribute to what he's trying
to accomplish. That would be the crucial difference right now. You're
right, the Thai government is divided, but one of the reasons it's
divided is because we've put our support on the side of the military
that want to keep the fighting.
Senator Kerrey, in Washington.
Well, I mean, I guess I would get back to the need, and I think it's
fairly urgent, particularly in Cambodia, to get some kind of
presence. That's why I continue to talk about the need to vacate the
seat at the United Nations. Ambassador Pickering said earlier that he
was concerned that that would not give Sun Sen and Sihanouk a voice,
but earlier than that discounted their voice when they talked about
getting lethal aid, military aid, from the American government. I
don't believe that they are, but what we're doing by seating that
coalition is we're giving the Khmer Rouge a voice. And It seems to me
that if we were to unseat that that might - and Ambassador Pickering,
I would ask you, would - is there any way that in doing so that we
could get an American presence without legitimizing the Hun Sen
government? I don't want to do that. I think the elections should
determine what the legitimate government is. But we need a presence
there, because I think a presence would enable us to see that these
people are really hurting. There's a lot of suffering, not just in
the refugee camps, but also in the country itself, with abysmal
health care, with babies dying from diseases that should not cause
children to die at that early of an age. It seems to me somehow we've
got to get a presence. I think the American people would see a
condition there that is intolerable.
Senator Kerrey, I understand the health and the great problem you
see. I'm not sure whether an American presence - and I'm not sure I
know what you mean, a diplomatic presence, aid workers, relief
workers, many countries have them there. There are clearly shortages.
The issue of the seat, however -
Let me be very clear.
- is not a question of the presence.
I think he's going to give you an example of that, Ambassador.
Let me just be very clear. I mean any kind of a government presence
so that the people of the United States don't rely on a senator who
spends three days there coming back and pretending to be an expert.
We've got no presence there. We've got the rawest intelligence data
of all, so that we didn't even know that the Vietnamese had come back
in October. We had to learn about it through an east bloc embassy. It
seems to me that we need a presence there of some kind. I don't know
how to get it. You're in this business of diplomatic relations of
people, and it seems to me somehow we've got to get a presence there,
otherwise we won't know what's going on.
I would argue that the presence is important and worthwhile. But the
presence at the price of recognizing and dealing with the Hun Sen
government is not the sort of price we're prepared to pay at the
present time, given the fact that that is, as Steve Solarz has very
carefully explained, a very important part of the motivation to the
Vietnamese in moving ahead with the kind of settlement. We have
looked, however, at a very early stage of the settlement in getting
the UN in. If the UN were go to in, that might open the door, having
the government step back, in a sense, from engagement. And let the
United Nations play the role that it can play of opening up the
process of elections and doing all it can to ensure, in fact, that
those elections are free and fair.
Do you believe you'll ever get the government in Phnom Penh to stand
back and say to the United Nations, "Here, you run my country for a
We never thought it would happen in Nicaragua, in terms of free and
But the government -
We didn't think it was going to be easy in Namibia.
- excuse me, Mr Ambassador, the government in Nicaragua stayed in
I am talking about making arrangements, as we all are, in Cambodia
which will ensure free and fair elections.
But the government -
That is -
- but the government in Nicaragua stayed in place.
- but free and fair elections were ensured.
The government in Cambodia, as I understand it, as Congressman Solarz
agreed, has accepted to internationally supervised elections.
Peter, in every one of these questions, the devil is in the details,
how and in what way precisely do you work it out. That's what we must
be doing in order to get some kind of sense of what is actually going
to be required. (crosstalk)
Dith Pran, do you think - Dith Pran, what do you think your country
will be like by the time we get the details worked out?
Ah, Cambodia is very complicated. As you know that, because we have
killers in the pie. In Nicaragua, it's different. And also, Cambodia,
we have a foreign occupation in Cambodia. So like I say in the
beginning, we the Cambodian people, are just trapped in the middle
between the tiger and crocodile. Right now, you see, the Vietnamese
are still inside Cambodia, and we're sure that the Vietnamese have
big influence, you know, tell the government in Phnom Penh what to
do. And then we have the Khmer Rouge trying to - not to use the word
genocide, that we - all the world believes that the Khmer Rouge had
indeed been killing their own people, the ethnic group, the relatives
group, the minorities. And for me, I am pessimistic that - I don't
know how, if the world did try to talk with the Cambodian people,
what they want. Do they accept the Khmer Rouge leader back in to the
future government, or they refuse to? And I'm afraid that will
happen, another bloodbath again. This time it's a different
bloodbath, will be a bloodbath in the city. When you see Pol Pot and
(unintelligible) walk with the limousine or whatever in Phnom Penh,
and who's going to protect them, who's willing to ensure them that
they will be safe? My position, I feel that because I love my
country, I want peace back, I feel that we should support the
Australian plan, that we think this is a fair plan, that we must
accept that, and also we should remove some of the few top Khmer
Rouge officials away. And we must force the Viatnamese to leave
Cambodia and let this into United Nations. But we need support from
our government. Our government has to be - stand strong and say not
to go along with China, we cannot do like China. China wants to use
Khmer Rouge to punish the Vietnamese. We, 15 years we left Vietnam,
we left southeast Asia. We want to save Indochinese life. So we must
stop using and taking sides.
Mr Pran, when this broadcast began, someone told me you were shy. I'm
very glad you're not. I must also tell you, ladies and gentlemen,
it's time to go home. Our stations around America have indulged us
longer than they normally do. I am very grateful to all of you for
taking part. I am sure you will leave here feeling that you didn't
make all the points you would have liked to, but. A final personal
note, if I may. Yesterday, while in Washington, I stopped briefly at
the Vietnam memorial. It seemed a suitable thing to do on the eve of
this broadcast. And I ended up standing very briefly beside a
Lieutenant Commander Harrington from ROTC at Ohio State. He said it
had taken him all these many years to come to the memorial, to look
for the name of the best man at his wedding. And he stood there, in
tears. It was hard not to be in tears beside him. And I remember what
he said, and perhaps we could all remember what he said. He said: "I
hope we've learned something from Vietnam. I hope we've learned,
ultimately, that war doesn't really solve anything". It's a simple
point of view, but a very telling one, I think. Good night.