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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Nixon's menu worth the cost

Nixon's menu worth the cost

Nixon's menu worth the cost

The Editor,

Ian Brown's article ["US debt still unpaid as world watches Oslo, PP Post,

Dec 5-18] was very interesting but fundamentally incorrect.

Firstly, the bombing of Cambodia has been acknowledged by the US government under

the code names of Menu, Breakfast, Lunch. It was not in the early '70s as stated

in his article. Breakfast was on March 17, 1969 and Lunch was April the 18th, 1969.

If Mr Brown wants to blame someone for the bombing he should blame the Vietnamese

who, after agreeing not to involve Cambodia, then set up sanctuaries inside Cambodia

in blatant disregard of the United Nations agreement to respect the neutrality of

Cambodia.

President Nixon made many references to a 1968 request from the then Cambodian Head

of State for assistance from the United States to rid Cambodia of the Vietnamese

communists by either pursuing them across the border or bombing them.

The bombing of Cambodia and the subsequent incursion into Cambodia recovered from

the communists enough weapons to outfit 47 battalions, rice to sustain them for four

months, the destruction of 11,688 bunkers set up on the border, 143,000 rockets and

mortars, 199,552 anti-aircraft shells, 5,482 mines, 62,022 grenades, 83,000 pounds

of explosives and 435 vehicles. The result in American lives saved was a drop in

fatalities from an average of 450 per month down to under 200 a month.

[Ian Brown's] figure of 242 deaths per year from mines [deaths and injuries from

mines and unexploded ordinance recorded by the Mines Advisory Group in the province

of Kampong Thom in the year 1996 - Ed.] is half the monthly casualty figures the

US were sustaining due to the illegal use of Cambodia by communist forces.

I would assume by the anti-US tone and poor knowledge of history that Mr Brown is

himself an American. Let's hope the minefields in Korea are enough to prevent the

situation from escalating to a point where bombs and bomblets are needed.

- Graham Cleghorn,
Siem Reap.

(Editor's note: According to the writings of historians William Shawcross and

David Chandler, the US bombed Cambodia from 1969 to early 1970, and in 1973.)

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