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Viet Nam Generation Journal & Newsletter

Announcements, Notices, and Reports
V4, N1-2 (April 1992)

This text, made available by the Sixties Project, is copyright (c) 1996 by Viet Nam Generation, Inc., or the author, all rights reserved. This text may be used, printed, and archived in accordance with the Fair Use provisions of U.S. Copyright law. This text may not be archived, printed, or redistributed in any form for a fee, without the consent of the copyright holder. This notice must accompany any redistribution of the text. The Sixties Project, sponsored by Viet Nam Generation Inc. and the Institute of Advanced Technology in the Humanities at the University of Virginia at Charlottesville, is a collective of humanities scholars working together on the Internet to use electronic resources to provide routes of collaboration and make available primary and secondary sources for researchers, students, teachers, writers and librarians interested in the 1960s.

Genocide and Democracy

The Schell Center for International Human Rights at Yale Law School and Yale's Council on Southeast Asian Studies staged "Genocide and Democracy in Cambodia," the second Raphael Lemkin Symposium, on February 21 and 22, 1992. Raphael Lemkin was the driving force behind the United Nations Convention on Genocide, finally ratified by the U.S. Senate in 1986.

Drew S. Days of the Schell Center gave opening remarks on Friday afternoon. He said his Center opened in 1988, and that the first conference, last year, was on "Genocide: Theory and Practice." There was one panel on Cambodia, which led to this year's event. Ben Kiernan, History, Yale, moderated the first panel, "The Genocidal Process in Cambodia 1975-1979." Kiernan mentioned the recent near-lynching of the Khmer Rouge official Khieu Sampan in Phnom Penh. Sampan's colleagues in the house had been burning documents while waiting for the mob to rush in. French reporters managed to snatch a copy of the U.N. convention on genocide out of the flames. The KR had highlighted those portions of the text that emphasize the importance of intent in determining whether genocide has been committed, and the passage about how genocide is not an extraditable offense.

Kate Frieson, Social Science Research Council, New York, spoke on "The Khmer Rouge and Cambodian Peasantry." She addressed the question of how the KR transformed from guerrillas to the apparatus of the state, when traditionally this process is understood to require the support of the population. For background, she said that Cambodia's people are at least 85% rural, and until recent times had no well- defined groups larger than the family. Individuals enjoyed extreme personal freedom, and no political freedom to speak of. The people were thrown into distress by the 1970 coup d'etat, then the U.S. invasion and bombing. The KR enlisted popular support by saying they would return Sihanouk and order, and by keeping their mouths shut about class struggle. The cadres really do seem to have believed they would improve the lot of the people. As the situation deteriorated, rural people survived by showing public deference to the KR and practicing irreverence privately.

May Ebihara also spoke on "The Khmer Rouge and the Cambodia Peasantry." Ebihara is renowned for having written a full study of a Cambodian village in 1959-60. She returned to the village in 1990-91. Of the 159 inhabitants in "West Hamlet" in 1960, 16 had died of natural causes in the 1960s, 4 died in the civil war, and 70 died under the KR. Ebihara emphasized that the assumption that rural people suffered less under KR than urban people is wrong. Work demands, lack of rest or leisure, absence of self-regulation, lack of food, all these factors would kill anyone, tough farmer or "decadent" urbanite.

Teeda Butt Mam, a survivor of Pol Pot rule, author of TO DESTROY YOU IS NO LOSS, spoke on "Surviving Life in Democratic Kampuchea." It's no criticism to say that neither she or anyone else who had lived under the KR could rise to speak at the conference without a visible struggle to keep from weeping. Mam spoke of her experience, emphasizing that the KR leaders always lied to her and treated the Cambodian people as an enemy. She said, "I survived by becoming like them. I stole, I cheated, I lied to meet my basic needs...I knew it was just a matter of time until my turn would come. I didn't kill myself because I couldn't bring myself to." She also said, "There are Cambodians still under KR rule. There is no Cambodian whose family is not affected by the KR." She repeated several times in her talk, "This came from our own skin. We must look at ourselves. The post-KR young don't know, they don't understand. They must be told."

The final speaker of the first session was Serge Thion, Centre National de Recherche Scientifique, France, on the topic "Another Look at the Genocide Issue." When Thion began his talk he seemed to be almost saying that if Pol Pot had only studied a little more Marx in Paris, the whole thing never would have happened. But he didn't quite say that, and went on to give a splendid history of the context in which the term "genocide" has arisen and been used. This involved historicizing the Holocaust in public, and he caught a lot of grief for that in the discussion after the panel. He also recommended that we give up trying to convict people for such vast crimes, and just prosecute them for good old-fashioned murder. He caught a lot of flak for that, too. Thion's points seemed plain and reasonable to me, but maybe I'm stepping clumsily into a decades-long debate.

I don't have time to write up the whole conference. See Chantou Boua's paper, in this issue's Features section. There will be a book published of the proceedings, though no publisher has stepped forward yet. There is a real opportunity for a small press to print and re-print English- language works about Cambodia from the international community. People kept citing books to each other that are out of print or hard to find. A good third of the several hundred people at the conference were Cambodians. Allen Riedy of the Echols Collection at Cornell drove down with Reasey Poch, Asian Studies grad student, and two Cambodian architecture students. Poch is just back from 6 months with the CIEE in Ha Noi. He already knew a great deal of Viet language, since he was four years in a refugee camp in the south. Poch doesn't say a word about it, but others have told me that many Cambodians ask him why in the world he would go to Viet Nam on purpose. It's nice to see someone bucking a cliche of racial enmity with his life. Poch traded me a home video of Ha Noi street scenes for the ms. of Ashley Thompson's collection of English poems by Cambodians, just for overnight. He also told me about Peter Zinoman's translation of Nguyen Thiep, now printed in the Features section.

The discussion after each panel raged vigorously for the full time limit. Legal scholars, historians, anthropologist and development workers all took the floor. Everybody was fundamentally concerned with the UN Peace Plan, wondering whether it would allow the Khmer Rouge to return to power. I was sitting next to a State Department official whose impression was that there was a consensus in the room that the UN Peace plan might work. In another realm of politics, it was hard not to notice that men dominated every discussion, although there were many strong and expert women present.

The rest of the schedule was as follows, Saturday morning: "The UN Plan for Democracy in Cambodia." Hedi Annabi, moderator, Director, Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary General of the U.N. for Humanitarian Affairs in SE Asia; Douc Rasy, former Dean, Faculty of Law, Phnom Penh, on "The Rule of Law and Human Rights in Cambodia"; Chantou Boua, Campaign to Oppose the Return of the Khmer Rouge, on "Development Aid and Cambodia Democracy" (see the Features section of this issue); Khieu Kanharith, former editor, Kampuchea, Phnom Penh, on "The Cambodian Factions and the Prospects for Democracy." The final panel, on Saturday afternoon: "Redress and Prevention of Genocide: The Responsibility of the World Community." George Andreopolous, moderator, Schell Center, Yale Law School, History, Yale U.; Ben Kiernan, History, Yale, on "The Cambodian Genocide and the Paris Agreement" (see his article in issue 3:4); Gregory Stanton, Cambodia Genocide Project, American University, on "International Legal Options"; and Anne Weills, Campaign to Oppose the Return of the Khmer Rouge, on "International Citizen Action against the Khmer Rouge."

Cambodia Watching Down Under

Here is a book chock full of detail, deeply imbedded in a political and academic controversy that is hard to get a handle on for a reader who knows little about Cambodia and even less about Australia. It says it's a work of political economy. It looks more like an intellectual history. It was referred to us by our valued subscriber and contributor Peter McGregor of the University of Western Sydney. The subject is Australian journalistic coverage and academic study of Cambodia. My SEASSI contacts all tell me that they hear that the book is a Maoist Pol Pot tract. None of my contacts had actually seen the book. But I can see that the authors rail against "the anti-Maoist left in the U.S." and what they call "the left-liberal Washington Post." (p. 82, 292)

Thank god I'm not involved in this particular debate. Jefferson Lee, one of the authors, wrote us that Noam Chomsky wrote to his co-author Geoffrey C. Gunn, "I don't know whether to wish you vilification, obscurity, or both." Well, Chomsky does throw his weight around, but the great man often knows what he's talking about. This book claims that "he has become part of the new media elite" with his "pro-Ha Noi position." (p. 313) Everyone deserves a fair shake, but anyone who puts me in the position of wondering whether I am promoting mass murder or encouraging the free exchange of ideas can take his chances on what I print. Crappy press relations, guys. You should have anticipated my anxiety. Here's what I see when I look at the book:

Cambodia Watching Down Under, by Geoffrey C. Gunn and Jefferson Lee, Institute of Asian Studies, Chulalongkorn University, IAS Monographs No. 047, 1991. Send US $25 total to: Cambodia Watching Down Under, P.O. Box 703, Leichhardt, NSW 2040.

About the authors, p. vi: "Geoffrey C. Gunn is Senior Lecturer in SE Asian History at Universiti Brunei Darussalam. Former lecturer at universities in Libya (Garyounis), Australia (UNSW) and Singapore (NUS). Author of three books on Laos and various historical and political studies of SE Asia/Middle East. This author's baptism in Indochinese politics commenced on campus at Melbourne University in 1966 (the LBJ visit) and consummated as a teenage traveller in Indochina during Tet 1968 and in Paris May-June of the same year.

Jefferson Lee is a Ph.D. candidate in Social Sciences at Deakin University in the area of Indochina and the Australia media. Former tutor in politics and media at UNSW, Deakin University course writer and consultant in the areas of international journalism, conflict studies, and Indochina. This author's activism on Indochina issues was fired in union politics including office holding positions in Australian national student bodies." It's interesting here that neither author claims to have ever visited Cambodia, or to speak or read any of the languages of Indochina.

There are two prefaces, one by Thailand's leading Khmer Rouge supporter, Khien Theeravit, plus an unsigned introduction which Khien says was written by Susan Summers, a Democratic Kampuchea supporter from the United Kingdom. DK is the team with the piles of little skulls on their jerseys. Summers and Khien don't speak Khmer either, I'm told. The authors' own Preface starts: "Undoubtedly the 'Cambodian problem' has endured as a major regional crisis of the late Twentieth Century, one that has drawn in superpowers, concerned regional nations and middle-powers alike. In part, the real problem--Vietnam's invasion and occupation of Cambodia in January, 1979--has been subject to media stereotyping, media distortion, the manufacture of half truths and down-right propaganda." (p. vii) The Introduction (p. xi) elaborates this view of Indochinese affairs, and lays out the plan for a discussion of academic studies and media in a well-known model with which I am not familiar, attributed by the authors (p. xv) to Noam Chomsky and Edward S. Herman's MANUFACTURING CONSENT: THE POLITICAL ECONOMY OF THE MASS MEDIA (1988). The Introduction also makes it clear that the authors think that the excesses of the Pol Pot regime have been unfairly exaggerated (p. xiv). The author twits Ben Kiernan's HOW POL POT CAME TO POWER (1985) on this point (p. xiv). I checked one of the claims against Ben Kiernan: that in a 1987 article he "went to great pains to emphasize Ha Noi's 'correct-line-communism'" (p. 141) The allegation is false, and the quotation fabricated. One can understand Chomsky getting a little shrill about being dragooned into Gunn and Lee's book.

Of interest here: the Preface mentions, on p. viii, an "Australia and Vietnam Conference at Macquarie University, May 1986."

Chapter headings: The Anglo-Saxon Democracy and the SE Asian Neutral: Australia and Cambodia (1950-1975); The Making of a "New Standard Consensus"; The Vietnam War's Cambodian Legacy and Australia Media Politics; The Sideshow That Won't Go Away; The Politics of Aid to Indochine; Australia and the Cambodia Genocide Question; Reflections on Changes in the Cambodia Stalemate (1986-1989); A Return to the "Killing Fields" or a "Marketplace" Solution?; The Evans Plan on Cambodia (1990); An Australian Solution? Notes follow each chapter.

Substantial backmatter, no index. There is a detailed Chronology for Cambodia 1941-1991, pp. 314-324, based on Craig Etcheson, The Rise and Demise of Democratic Kampuchea, Westview Press Co., 1984, pp. 229-251; George C. Hildebrand and Gareth Porter, Cambodia: Starvation and Revolution, Monthly Review Press, London and New York, 1976, pp. 99-104; and William Shawcross, Sideshow: Kissinger, Nixon and the Destruction of Cambodia, Fontana, London, 1980. Most interesting: a fifty-item Select Bibliography: Australian Writing on Cambodia, pp. 325-328, including documentary films. The author includes all the authors he criticizes, yielding an English-language Southern Hemisphere reading list on the recent history of Cambodia, partial and dated, but still something.

According to the back pages, The Institute of Asia Studies Publications "publishes regular and occasional publications in Thai and in English." They include the Asian Review, 3/yr, in Thai; Asian Yearbook, in Thai; Asian Review, in English 1/yr; and occasional publications, mostly in Thai.

Publications in English include four of interest here: Thailand: A First Asylum Country for Indochinese Refugees, IAS Monograph No. 038, 1988, by Phuwadol Songpraset and Noppawan Chongwatana, US $10; Current Vietnamese Economy, Data Bank on Asian Countries Series No. 001, 1989, by Yuangrat Wedel, US $3; Trends in Asian-Indochinese Relations Conference Proceedings: Thailand 17-19 August 1988, IAS Monograph No. 045, 1989, edited by Patcharavalai Wongboonsin and Paul Rabe, US $4; and Voluntary Repatriation: The Case of Hmong In Ban Vinai, IAS Occasional Paper Series No. 002, by Paul Rabe, US $3. Correspondence concerning subscription should be addressed to: Publications Program, Institute of Asian Studies, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok 10330, Thailand.

Carlisle and Summers

In January I needed some help on the exact military career of magazine editor Harry Summers, so I phoned the Department of the Army's U.S. Army Military History Institute, Carlisle Barracks, Carlisle, PA 17013-5008, (717) 245-3611. I spoke with Sandra Bauriedl, Reference Librarian at the Historical Reference Branch. She kindly found the dossier the center maintains on Summers, and was able to inform me of the man's "career highlights" in Korea and Viet Nam. He was an enlisted man and non-commissioned officer from June 1947-Septemer 1957. He was a squad leader, Co. L, 21st Infantry Regiment, in Korea 1950-1. He returned to the U.S. Then from September 1963-February 1964 he was assistant J3 Operations at the NCO Academy, 7th Infantry Division, Korea. From February 1964 to October 1964 he was CO, 7th Administration company, 7th Division, Korea. He served in Viet Nam February 1966-June 1966, as Assistant J3 Operations, 2nd Field Force. In June-December 1966 he was S3 1st Battalion 2nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division, Viet Nam. From January 1967-June 1967 he was Assistant J3 Operations 2nd Field Force, Viet Nam. From July 1974-May 1975 he served as Chief of Negotiations, U.S. Delegation, Four Party Joint Military Team, Viet Nam. He retired as full colonel.

Sorry I didn't get the stateside stuff. It's all there in Carlisle's internal biographical sketch. Give them a visit. They're open Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., except federal holidays. Ms. Bauriedl sent along the Institute's brochure. It details their phenomenal holdings relating to U.S. Army personnel and activities. If you're seriously interested you should get your own copy. Bob Brigham, History, University of Kentucky tells me that the Barracks have some travel funds available for outside researchers. He recommends the staff, facility and collection highly.

Claude Cockburn Dishes Donald Kagan

Alexander Cockburn's dad Claude was an international journalist in the days when that crew included Ernest Hemingway and James Thurber and Ben Hecht. Back then they were real reporters--the elegant Scots agent Bruce Lockhardt and super-cynic WWI vet William Bolitho. Your basic rewrite man at the copy desk had an opinion about versification in Hesiod, because he was a nit-picking son-of-a-bitch and he liked poetry, so the reading public wasn't at the mercy of every academic bully who could read Greek and issue a press release about how a college course on Mediterranean war literature will keep the yellow menace at bay. Cockburn's memoirs are a scream, especially the beginning chapters where he talks about how his father and uncles managed to administer the British Empire without believing in it. From A Discord of Trumpets: The Autobiography of a Legendary Newspaperman Who is Named Claude Cockburn, Simon and Schuster, New York, 1956:

This English genius for harmony stayed with us all the way, and it was nearly at its best when it had to harmonize the view of life expressed by such ancient and uninhibited Levantines as Euripides with the way we ought to feel now. The harmonizers had a powerful ally, namely, Professor Gilbert Murray, whose translations of the poet Euripides were at this precise period sweeping the circulating libraries and the women's clubs, and for good reason--because they proved that, basically, and allowing a little bit here and a little bit there, the great classics of any age, including that savagely knife-wielding intellectual giant Euripides, felt--if you really got them talking--just about the way people felt and talked at a dons' tea party on Boars Hill. It went down well, if you could swallow it at all.

One of our classics masters was a man of independent mind, and he said all this sort of thing was tosh. He said it did not matter much whether you understood Euripides or not--after all, he used to say with an ugly sneer (the mere result, his enemies declared, of an early scar at the battle of Mons), 'the man's dead and gone. The only important thing is to realize that whether you understand him or not, at least he was saying something very different from everything you have been taught to think, and if you want to know what that thing is, well, go ahead and read him.'

The orthodox view, however--acted upon, though never formulated in so many words--was that the literature and history of the past ought to be regarded rather in the light of a supply depot or ammunition dump from which is to be drawn whatever may be from time to time needed to reinforce the opinions, ambitions and policies of the present.

In other words, history becomes a kind of myth, devised today, revised tomorrow, to suit today's and tomorrow's purposes. From this viewpoint it is immaterial to speculate as to how many people in Sparta really had the virtues which are called Spartan. What Sparta is for is to teach people to keep a stiff upper lip when the fox club starts gnawing at their stomachs. No need to wonder what the Romans were really like: the job of ancient Rome was to inspire the organizers of the British Empire.

Comics from Korean War

[speaking of 1952...] An important part of the Republican campaign was the use of visual aids as used by advertising agencies. A series of film strips with record synchronized narration was produced with such titles as 'Korea--The Price of Appeasement' or 'America's Creeping Socialism' and which were shown before gatherings which would not have been reached by any formal campaign oratory such as service clubs, church groups, and employee organizations. The strips could be presented by anyone, not necessarily a political speaker, and by lending projectors many firms made a campaign contribution to the GOP. Another genre were political comic books. A favorite issue was the spine- chilling story From Yalta to Korea which explained the "Tragedy that has cost over 100,000 American casualties and countless billions of dollars." The dramatis personae of the great betrayal were Hiss, Owen Lattimore, and Acheson. The reasons for Korea lay 'in seven years of little noticed events...Stalin met Roosevelt and Churchill at Yalta. Representing the United States were Roosevelt, Byrnes, Stettinius, and a man named Alger Hiss...When President Truman later checked Roosevelt's personal files, he discovered a startling document that would eventually wreck the peace...'Through such means many of the 'stay-at-homes' were given the Republican case against the Democrats.

From page 394, in chapter 21, "The Fall of the Democrats" in Korea: The Limited War, by David Rees, Penguin Books, Baltimore, 1964, first published by St. Martin's Press, printed in the U.S. by Kingsport Press, 453 pp., substantial appendices, acknowledgments, glossary of abbreviations, and index, $2.45. Many military release photos, including headshots. Full page photo facing title page is "President Truman and General MacArthur during the Wake Island meeting, 15 October 1950, the only occasion on which the two men met." Dedicated to Margie and Goronwy Rees. Author's bio: DR was born in 1928, and graduated from University College, Swansea, in 1952. He is a free-lance writer and frequent contributor to the Guardian and the Spectator. He lives in Kensington, England and is also the author of Age of Containment: The Cold War. Paperback is labelled "Political Science." Cover design by George Klauber of one brush-calligraphed ideogram over another, separated by a map border. The top character reveals a yellow five-point star, the bottom one the UN logo.

Dicky Chapelle

A press release in from Ballatine/Del Rey/Fawcett/Ivy, 201-E 50th St., NY NY 10022. Publicity Director Carol Fass, Review Copies (212) 572-2713, in West Coast cities contact Liz Williams at (310) 452-6690 for Fire in the Wind: The Life of Dicky Chapelle, by Roberta Ostroff. Blurbs from Publisher's Weekly. ALA Booklist, and Kirkus. It's a Ballantine Books Hardcover with a pub. date March 9, 1992, $21.00, 432 pp., 345-36274-8. A photo of the cover of the dustjacket shows a young girl at home, with an insert of a mature woman in a war correspondent outfit wading a river.

The reason this book isn't a memoir is that the subject stepped on a mine in Viet Nam, or someone near her stepped on one, or she was nearby when someone command-detonated one, or maybe it went off by mistake in the back of a truck--the release doesn't specify. It does say that Chapelle was the only woman correspondent to die in that war (unlikely; maybe the only credentialed Western one to actually die violently in-country) and that she also covered the fighting at Iwo Jima, Europe just after the Allied Occupation, 1956 in Hungary, the rise of Fidel, and more fighting in Korea, Lebanon, and Laos. She was jailed in Budapest for smuggling medicine. She liked jumping out of airplanes. She was a pilot. She wore fatigues, a bush hat, big glasses, and pearl earrings to all these places. Sounds like someone who never got over WWII, but I'd sure like to know more about her. The biographer, Roberta Ostroff, is a journalist and screenwriter with unspecified credits in USA Today, Rolling Stone, and Reader's Digest, and has something to do with the American Film Institute.

Finding Service Buddies

(From David Willson--Contributing Editor.) How to Locate Anyone Who Is Or Has Been in the Military, by Lt. Col. Richard S. Johnson, Ft. Sam Houston, TX, 1991, 4th edition, completely revised. Soft cover, 5 1/2 x 8 1/2, viii + 160 pp. Indexed. Cost: $12.95 + $3.05 p & h. Order from: Military Information Enterprises, P.O. Box 5143, Burlington, NC 27216.

Lt. Col. Richard S. Johnson has written an inspiring book. That is a special accomplishment for the "How To" genre. Col. Johnson's book has motivated me after twenty- five years of brooding about it to take steps to locate my army buddies, Ed Chenoweth and Charles Bryant. I've written two books about our U.S. Army exploits in Viet Nam, 1966-67 (REMF DIARY and THE REMF RETURNS, Black Heron Press) and have spent hundreds of hours thinking about them and wishing I could sit down with them and talk about our tour of duty together in the Republic of South Viet Nam. I have even thought that if I could locate them a book might be written by the three of us about our separate lives since Viet Nam, and the impact the war had on our lives. To do this however, Ed and Charlie must be found first.

Col. Johnson's book will help all former service men and women locate buddies with whom they served or people to witness to events for claim substantiation. Every conceivable private, federal, and state agency is listed in this eleven chapter book. Essentially this is a book of lists and charts, complete with explanations on how to use the information. Chapter One deals with social security numbers and service numbers; Chapter Two with APO and FPOs; Chapter Three with Reserve and National Guard; Chapter Four with Retired members of the armed forces; Chapter Five with veterans; Chapter Six with obtaining military records; Chapter Seven, how to locate anyone; Chapter Eight with military reunions; Chapter Nine the use of state government records; Chapter Ten with location of the deceased; and Chapter Eleven, as a last resort the author himself can be hired to use his considerable expertise in location. The primary service Col. Johnson's book performs is to put in one place lists of addresses and other information necessary for location, and to explain precisely and clearly what steps to follow.

After reading Col. Johnson's book, I am convinced that he has made it possible for me to locate army buddies I have been thinking and writing about since 1967. With the information I have on my friends (their names, army service numbers, as well as their home towns and addresses in 1967) Col. Johnson assures the reader that by following his clearly outlined procedures those absent friends will almost certainly be located. I have already initiated action to locate Ed and Charlie, and I am eagerly anticipating sitting down with them and talking about the ancient events we shared.

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