87682 CONGRESSIONAL RECORD-SENATE April 18, 1973
THE DETERIOR'ATING SITUATION
Mr. MANSFIELD. Mr. President, on
April 12, I addressed myself briefly to the
deteriorating situation in Cambodia.
While I do not approve of the 42d consecutive
day bombing runs over Cambodia
I recognize and accept the fact, in my
opinion, that the administration is endeavoring
to find a way out of what is to
them, and this country, a difficult, embarrassing,
and dangerous situation.
There is also talk that the President is
considering sending Dr. Kissinger to
Paris, again, to meet with the North Vietnamese
to try and build a firmer base for
a cease-fire in Vietnam and Laos and,
hopefully, to lay the base for a Cambodian
cease-fire. I hope this is true. In my
judgment, the problem of Cambodia is
not mllitary but diplomatic and the important
factor is to find someone who can
pull the country together again. I hope
the resignation of the Cambodian Cabinet,
just announced. is a prelude to serious
negotiations between all the participants
in the civil war now raging in that
unhappy nation. But a continuing concern
over the direction of events leads
me to return to the subject again today.
By putting our bombers, an airlift and
a river convoy all at the service of the
Phnom Penh government, we are already
on a course of deepening involvement
in the internal affairs of Cambodia
and what may well be a collapsing government.
Moreover, we may well be also
inviting the breakdown of the fragile
cease-fire in Vietnam and Laos.
The fact is, Mr. President, that we
had no business of the American people
in Cambodia 3 years ago. We have no
business there now and we are still paying
the price in dollars and may, again,
begin to pay in lives. Nor can I see the
remotest valid business of the American
people there tomorrow. But then, what
was the business of the American people
in the milltary involvement in Vietnam
Yet, here we are at this late date
digging ourselves deeper into another
tragic milltary involvement, inflicting
one more vast compass of devastation on
one more hapless land, in support of one
more irrelevant government, in one more
obscure region of Indochina. In my judgment,
to continue to pursue this vein is
to cast into doUbt all that has been
achieved by way of negotiation in Vietnam.
Is it not time to ask ourselves: Why?
What for? For whom? And to ask the
questions again and again? On what constitutional
grounds do we risk a. single
American life in or over Cambodia.? On
what authority do we spend $150,000
or thereabouts of the people's money for
each of the hundreds of sorties which are
being flown around the Cambodian capital
of Phnom Penh? What far-out concept
of national interest, obligation, or
whatever compels us to wreak further
devastation on that hapless land? Why
are we pursuing this futile, tragic,.Iastgasp
dea.dly military exercise? I know no
valid reason associated with the interests
of the people of the United States and I
doubt very much that there is a Member
of the Senate who can define one.
I greatly fear, Mr. President, that if
land invasions from outside Cambodia do
mterialize, as has been hinted in the
press, and they receive our aerial and
other support, we will run the risk of a
f'llll recrudescence of the Indochina conflict
which may well spread throughout
Southeast Asia. Then what? More dead
and wounded? More POW's? More
MIA's? More paraplegics? More drug addictions?
If ever there was a. ttme for the Presl.dent
to call a halt, that time is now. If
ever there was a time for this Nation to
move out of Indochina militarily-land,
sea, and a.lr-that time 1s now. By so doing,
we would contribute, in my Judgment,
to the well-being of the people of
the Southeast Asian states and add, immeasurably,
to the well-being of the people
of this Nation.
On April 12, I suggested the posslbillty
of a preliminary lihift to 9. more reasonable
government m Phnom Penh arui
then a diplomatic intercesslon on the
part of both ourselves and other outside
powers, an initiative which I am sure our
Government is pursuing, to the end that
a negotiated end of the civil war might
take place among the Cambodians themselves.
Perhaps the resignation of the
Lon Nol Cabinet will make this po.ssible.
There is little, very little, to build on in
Phnom Penh. It may well be, therefore,
that peace will not return and tlul-- the
war will intensify unless and until we
discontinue completely our military involvement
in that tom and battered land
and unless and until Prince Norodom Bihanouk,
who is the relevant symbol of
Cambodian national unity returns to
Mike Mansfield Papers, Series 21, Box 48, Folder 74, Mansfield Libary, University of Montana
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