Do Cambodians Really Need to 'See Things the Way We Do'?

I recently read the article "Education Gap Stunts Cambodia's Renewal," Jan. 16, after visiting with Khmer refugees ("displaced persons") on the Thai-Cambodian border.

The article states, "They just aren't able to see things the way we do." This comment by an executive running Western-style job-training programs makes one wonder if Americans have learned anything from our painful and destructive experiences of the Vietnam-war era.

Yes, the Khmers may have difficulty thinking like us. They have not grown up with our wealth, power, individualism, and consumerism. They have not meddled in our politics, nor exported their ideologies to us. Instead, they have lived through colonial occupation, United States bombing, corrupt governments (first backed by our capitalist bloc, then backed by the communist bloc), the Khmer Rouge, and the near destruction of their culture and religion.

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Perhaps, in time, if we send enough missionaries - Christian, free market, human rights - they will learn "to see things the way we do." What I wonder is, will we ever try to see things the way they do? B. Santikaro, Surat Thani, Thailand Assistance to Ethiopia

In the Opinion page article "Ethiopia's Shift to Democracy Depends on US Aid," Feb. 3, the author urges US policymakers to give economic aid to Ethiopia.

The departure of the military dictatorship has created an opportunity for the new rulers and opposition forces to implement political and economic changes. But are the new rulers of Ethiopia heading in the right direction? Are they ready to share power with opposition forces, and to accept and respect the principles of the democratic process and its universal application in a multi-ethnic society? Did the much heralded economic-reforms policy of the new rulers include privatization and granting rights of

land ownership to millions of small farmers?

The shift from a command economy to a market economy requires more than merely a "jump-start," as claimed by the new rulers of Ethiopia. The process of economic development is evolutionary, more complex than the desired political change.

Economic restructuring demands not only capital infusion but vision, innovation, and a credible reform policy and implementation program. In the absence of all the above factors, it would be a poor investment for the US to give aid to the new rulers of Ethiopia. Hailu Wendie, Cambridge, Mass. Answers for N. Ireland's troubles

In the Opinion page article "Northern Ireland's Grim Refrain," Feb. 6, the author's view that Ulster could become another Lebanon if British troops were to withdraw is well taken.

The European Community will eventually play a role in shaping the type of society that Northern Ireland will become; but for now and the foreseeable future, the key to peace is to be found in Dublin. Only in a recast Republic (based, for example, on the Spanish model of regiones autonomas) could the Ulster Protestant majority find acceptance in exchange for recognizing the sovereignty of the South.

If the Republic indeed lays claim to a united Ireland, it must have the political courage to implement the constitutional modifications to bring it about. It might be a solution London couldn't refuse. James Maharg, Oak Park, Ill.

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