The Post editor was kind enough to take the heat of poor Nate Thayer in answer to Phil Schuler's accusation of
'cream puff journalism' (Feb. 3 Post 2/3), But I fail to see why inclusion of the questions would have mitigated
the impression. Didn't Thayer write the piece as published?
In addition to the list of names Thayer says he has been called, there was 'Khmer Rouge-chic' which I applied to
some of his writing (see Indochina Issues 93, August 1991), and he attracts those names because of a persistence
in treating the Khmer-Rouge as just ordinary guys with good intentions.
He asks for it again in his photo (Post, same issue, p.6) of a gentle Khmer Rouge soldier tenderly offering a smoke
to a Vietnamese soldier, presumably a prisoner, when there is good information that the usual fate of captured
Vietnamese was death.
In his latest article, "What role for Khmer Rouge", he quotes Pol Pot's talk of February 1992, in which
he should have seen that Khmer Rouge obsession with the 'Youn' was a major theme. The Khmer Rouge imagine (and
since it was a secret talk to his own cadres I assume it is what Pol Pot believes, not propaganda for affect) that
the 'Youn' control Cambodia, that a 'Youn' army is what they are fighting, that there is now a U.S.-'Youn' alliance
with the U.S. pressuring China, through human rights issues, to join the 'Youn', and that the object of the Khmer
Rouge is to liberate Cambodia from the 'Youn'.
Those are the paranoid schizophrenics who are causing such international hand-writing over how to bring them into
the 'peace process'. The present Khmer Rouge leadership should be kept out and isolated until they are no longer
a threat, in particular because of their Vietnam policy which promises to keep Indochina in conflict for years
ahead. This is not what the international community likes to think of, for anti-Vietnamese prejudice is widespread,
not only among Khmer chauvinists, and the Khmer Rouge have played a useful role which several great powers may
think should not go unrewarded.
Some heat should nevertheless be taken off Nate Thayer, for he is only following a trendy line which parallels
the 'peace process' and is clearly reflected in the Paris Accords and the draft documents which preceded them,
all designed to treat the Khmer Rouge as ordinary people in order to use them against the State of Cambodia. Observant
readers like Schuler should focus their attention and ire on the entire UNTAC operation which is destroying Cambodia
and giving new opportunities to an unreconstructed Khmer Rouge leadership, precisely as Pol Pot predicted in his
remarks of February 1992.