UNTAC's Lt. Col. Robert Adolph says that it is not UNTAC's fault that Pol Pot's Khmer
Rouge are flaunting the Paris Agreement, and he claims that the Khmer Rouge's noncooperation
gave UNTAC only two choices: "withdraw or try to accomplish its mission"-wrong.
UNTAC had at least one more choice-to take whatever actions were necessary to bring
all parties into full compliance with the agreement.
Where in the Paris Agreement is UNTAC prohibited from using military force to enforce
the Agreement? If Mr. Yasushi Akashi and Lt. Gen. John Sanderson were uncertain about
their authority to militarily enforce the Agreement, then, as a minimum, they should
have faced the facts and officially reported to the U.N. Security Council (and to
the world at large) that the Khmer Rouge's noncooperation reduced UNTAC's activities
to little more than the rearrangement of deck chairs on the H.M.S. Titanic; moreover,
they should have recommended that the Security Council clearly authorize UNTAC to
take any and all actions necessary to ensure the full implementation of the Paris
Lt. Col. Adolph says that Mr. Akashi and Lt. Gen. Sanderson must try to carry out
the intent of the Paris Agreement, and that not to do this "would be a betrayal
of the Cambodian people." Agreed; however, the fundamental intent of the Agreement
was to obtain its goals for all the Khmer people throughout all of Cambodia.
Leaving the Khmer Rouge intact as a viable military force clearly nullifies the aforemention-ed
fundamental intent and is surely the worst possible betrayal of the Khmer people.
Lt. Col. Adolph calls the decision by Mr. Akashi and Lt. Gen. Sanderson to not admit
failure, to not "withdraw"-in other words, to continue to go through the
motions of incompletely implementing the agreement-"a courageous one."
Rubbish. Not admitting failure is "courageous" when one has already fought
the good fight; that, however, is certainly not the case with a policy of the United
Nations Totally Avoiding Confrontation. The late Neville Chamberlain might have applauded
policies of avoiding confrontation and of appeasing Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge, but the
rest of us should be appalled at and ashamed of this crucial failure. Mr. Akashi
and Lt. Gen. Sanderson are almost certainly decent, honorable, concerned, and well-intentioned
individuals, but their current military policies are tragically mistaken.
Perhaps to excuse UNTAC's failure to undertake combat operations, Lt. Col. Adolph
says that "UNTAC is a political-diplomatic organization with a military component,
not the other way around." Describe UNTAC any way you will, the hard fact is
that more than 75 percent of UNTAC's foreign employees-more than 15,600 individuals
in all-are military personnel. Lt. Col. Adolph also talks about the U.N.'s lack of
experience in certain endeavors, but he ignores the UN's extensive experience in
combat operations, from Korea in 1950 to Kuwait in 1990. There are a few risks to
just peacekeeping, and, sadly, some UNTAC employees (both Khmer and foreign) have
died or been injured, and others will probably die or be injured.
However, avoiding armed confrontation of the Khmer Rouge clearly reduces UNTAC's
risks significantly; the steep price in blood which the Khmer Rouge continue to exact
as they again try to forcefully subjugate Cambodia has been and will be paid primarily
by the Khmer people, not by UNTAC's foreign employees.
The foregoing comments on UNTAC's military inaction are not, repeat not, a criticism
of UNTAC's military employees below the rank of lieutenant general who simply carry
out, rather than formulate, UNTAC's military policies. Indeed, I would be rather
surprised if a number of UNTAC's military personnel (perhaps including Lt. Col. Adolph
himself) would not welcome the opportunity to help rid the Khmer people of Pol Pot
and his deadly vermin, and would not give a good account of themselves in action
against the Khmer Rouge. (I must add, however, that UNTAC also includes some sorry
imitations of real soldiers, starting with the Vulgarians.)
Compared to many of their UNTAC counterparts, the State of Cambodia's soldiers are
poorly trained, poorly equipped, poorly paid (if paid at all), and sometimes even
poorly fed-and a number of them are just boys. However, up to now, it is only these
SOC soldiers who are performing the single all-important task that UNTAC's soldiers
should be performing-actively fighting to subdue the Khmer Rouge.
As one who has spent a significant amount of time as a soldier under Khmer Rouge
hostile fire, I fervently wish that it were unnecessary to talk about further fighting
in Cambodia. However, it boggles the mind to hear suggestions of reasoning with the
Khmer Rouge's long-time leaders-the same individuals whose lunatic and murderous
policies produced the hell on earth called Democratic Kampuchea. Pol Pot and his
fellow mass murderers clearly lack a basic humanity and cannot be reformed or rehabilitated;
those who believe otherwise are probably good candidates for membership in the Flat
When UNTAC finally leaves Cambodia, it almost surely will declare itself a success.
Moreover, as a minimum, its military employees will leave with new medals and fat
wallets or purses, its foreign civilian employees (excepting the U.N. volunteers)
will leave with even fatter wallets or purses-and the Khmer Rouge will remain as
a dangerous and deadly force that must be reckoned with. Perhaps UNTAC's overall
failure (in spite of some positive accomplishments) will eventually be recognized,
and perhaps the world will then say: "No more UNTAC's." Even if that occurs,
however, it will be far too little and too late for the Khmer people left to face
Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge once again.