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
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,
(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.)