U.N. Under Fire

May 09, 1993

The fashion for solving anarchy with international peacekeepers, which soon may have its largest trial in Bosnia, is under attack in Cambodia. The Khmer Rouge are attacking the U.N., and don't care if the targets under the blue helmets are Dutch, Japanese, Bulgarian or even Chinese. All 22,000 peace-keepers are enemies.

The Khmer Rouge, which signed the 1991 peace accord that brought the peacekeepers, are trying to prevent the centerpiece of that accord, the election scheduled May 23-28, from being held. That is because they would not win it. What the election may well do is legitimize the acting government of Hun Sen, who was first put in power by Vietnamese occupiers and who was denounced as a Vietnamese puppet by both the Khmer Rouge and the United States.

A lot of politicking remains by the likes of Yasushi Akashi, the Japanese head of the U.N. operation and Prince Norodom Sihanouk, the potential unifying figure of Cambodia who has zTC retreated to safety in Beijing. But the likelihood is that the several factions of Cambodia will be reduced to two: everyone else and the Khmer Rouge. The further likelihood is that civil war will flare between the former, who will win the election, and the latter.

The Khmer Rouge killed millions of their countrymen while ruling in the 1970s and will never be acceptable to most of the remainder, and will never accept others' power. Now the group lives on stockpiles and ignores its former Chinese suppliers. After a Cambodian regime is legitimized and wins the loyalty of the people, it will deserve the support needed to defeat the Khmer Rouge for good.

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