Pressuring Vietnam

A recent editorial, ``Pressure Hanoi'' (Dec. 28), advocates an ``all out'' diplomatic pressure against Vietnam as the solution to the problems of Kampuchea [Cambodia]. I suggest that such wrongheaded policies are based on a continued misrepresentation of the present and historical realities of Indochina. The basic reality is that if Vietnam had not invaded, the cultural entity of Kampuchea would not exist today, so thorough was the devastation brought by the Khmer Rouge. Vietnamese troops could have left Kampuchea inside of a year, but the US and its new ally China threw their support behind the Khmer Rouge, sustaining them on the Thai border with food, aid, UN recognition, and weapons. (Imagine if the US supported Idi Amin's forces after he was overthrown by a Tanzanian invasion of Uganda the same year as the Vietnamese invasion of Kampuchea!).

The first step in resolving problems in Kampuchea is the disarming of the Khmer Rouge. To equate the present regime in Kampuchea with the Khmer Rouge is dishonest. All evidence points to the fact that the Kampuchean people want the Vietnamese troops to stay as long as the threat of the Khmer Rouge remains.

When policies are based on what you want the aspirations of the people of Indochina to be, rather than on what the people actually desire, those policies will lead to disaster. The Vietnam war best exhibits this reality. Oxfam has been working in Kampuchea for five years and has published a book called ``Obstacles to Recovery In Vietnam and Kampuchea.'' The book presents a very different picture of the source of the problems in Indochina and their solutions than does the Monitor. Paul E. Shannon, Somerville, Mass.

Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published and none individually acknowledged. All are subject to condensation. Please address letters to ``readers write.''

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