Unfortunately, the "Lesson from Lincoln" column (Post, Aug 6) is indicative
of the degree of naivete and ignorance of the situation in Cambodia.
The suggestion that the "government" be supported in order to preclude
"anarchy" is oblivious to the fact that anarchy is the current form of
Patience? Forgiveness? The Cambodian people have practiced patience for over 50 years
now, which has been transformed into a national malaise. Forgiveness should only
be forthcoming in response to a judicial process that weeds out the thorn bushes
of cataclysm that currently grow within the government and are harbored among the
Rather than layers of bitterness "falling away," they are being overlaid
with appearances of "stability" and "progress". Progress is fallacious,
unless you happen to be among those of the privileged elements of deceit and power.
The "brother against brother" characterization of the American Civil War
discounts the ultimately more complicated complexion of the conflict in southeast
Asia, which involved proxies and carried ramifications far beyond the local battlefields.
The statement citing "militarily forced unity" is tantamount to the blessing
of the methods and tactics of certain parties in Cambodia's power structure that
have used military force in 1993 and 1997 in order to preserve their dominance of
the people. There is "stability" in most prisons, and Cambodia has been
under that type of stabilizing influence for far too long.
President Lincoln's "compassion" is perspective specific, and I doubt that
highest ranks of the current Cambodian power structure have spent much time studying
Lincoln's better qualities.
It is perhaps self-serving for one writer to suggest that "most Americans understand
very little about the situation in Cambodia". To the contrary, there are many
more that do know and are acting as diligent observers in order to raise the issues
that those who are unaware are likely to let pass unchallenged.
"Cheering the underdog?" In the past America fought side-by-side with the
"underdogs"; in Cambodia's case, we and the Free World stood by as the
voices from the "killing fields" cried out for salvation.
We owe it to the Khmer people not to fall victim to a veneer of progress, and further
more, not to restrict our actions to "well wishing" and "cheer-leading"
from the sidelines.
Jim Yost, San Diego, California