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“The most dramatic gestures of cooperation between the Russian Empire and the United States came in the autumn of 1863, as the Laird rams crisis hung in the balance. On September 24, the Russian Baltic fleet began to arrive in New York harbor. On October 12, the Russian Far East fleet began to arrive in San Francisco. The Russians, judging that they were on the verge of war with Britain and France over the British-fomented Polish insurrection of 1863, had taken this measure to prevent their ships from being bottled up in their home ports by the superior British fleet. These ships were also the tokens of the vast Russian land armies that could be thrown in the scales on a number of fronts, including the northwest frontier of India; the British had long been worried about such an eventuality. In mid-July 1863, French Foreign Minister Droun de Lhuys was offering London the joint occupation of Poland by means of invasion. But the experience of the Confederate commerce raiders had graphically illustrated just how effective even a limited number of warships could be when they turned to commerce raiding, which is what the Russian naval commanders had been ordered to do in case of hostilities. The Russian admirals had also been told that, if the US and Russia were to find themselves at war with Britain and France, the Russian ships should place themselves under Lincoln’s command and operate in synergy with the US Navy against the common enemies. It is thus highly significant that the Russian ships were sent to the United States.

US Navy Secretary Gideon Welles: “God Bless the Russians”

Coming on the heels of the bloody Union reverse at Chickamauga, the news of the Russian fleet unleashed an immense wave of euphoria in the North. It was this moment that inspired the later verses of Oliver Wendell Holmes, one of the most popular writers in America, for the 1871 friendship visit of the Russian Grand Duke Alexis:

Bleak are our shores with the blasts of December, Fettered and chill is the rivulet’s flow; Thrilling and warm are the hearts that remember Who was our friend when the world was our foe. Fires of the North in eternal communion, Blend your broad flashes with evening’s bright star; God bless the Empire that loves the Great Union Strength to her people! Long life to the Czar!

The Russians, as Clay reported to Seward and Lincoln, were delighted in turn by the celebration of their fleets, which stayed in American waters for over six months as the Polish revolt was quelled. The Russian officers were lionized and feted, and had their pictures taken by the famous New York photographer Matthew Brady. When an attack on San Francisco by the Confederate cruiser Shenandoah seemed to be imminent, the Russian admiral there gave orders to his ships to defend the city if necessary. There were no major Union warships on the scene, so Russia was about to fight for the United States. In the event, the Confederate raider did not attack. Soon after the war, Russia sold Alaska to the United States, in part because they felt that an influx of Americans searching for gold was inevitable, and in part to keep the British from seizing control of this vast region. Lincoln’s Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles wrote in his diary, “The Russian fleet has come out of the Baltic and is now in New York, or a large number of the vessels have arrived…. In sending them to this country at this time there is something significant.” Welles was fully justified in his famous concluding words, “God bless the Russians!”

This exceedingly cordial Russo-American friendship set the tone of much nineteenth-century historiography; Thomas indicates that a darker view of Russian motivation began to be heard around 1915 with the work of Professor Frank A. Golder, who emphasized that the Russians were only following their own national interests. According to Thomas, it was “not until Professor Golder published the result of his researches that the matter was finally cleared up and those who were less gullible were found to be correct.” (Thomas 138) Surely no one needs to be reminded that great nations defend their national interests. Disinterested philanthropists are admittedly rare in foreign ministries. However, when the interests converge, alliance de jure or de facto may result, and these can have far-reaching significance. During the American Civil War, the Russian attitude was the most powerful outside factor deterring Anglo-French interference. The need of Russia to prepare its own defenses during the Polish crisis of 1863 was perfectly legitimate and a secret to no one. Nevertheless, Thomas feels compelled to harp repeatedly on point that “the policy of Russia was dictated solely by self-interest.” (Thomas 127)

For Crook, the visiting squadrons were not a fleet, but a “fleet,” and a “not very seaworthy” one at that. In his view, the entire matter can be written off as “popular hysteria” and “folklore”. (Crook 317) The attempt to play down the Russian angle is evident. When Simon Cameron is sent to St. Petersburg as US Ambassador, Woldman and others can see nothing in this but an “exile in Siberia.” (Woldman 115) Another favorite target is Cassius Clay, the very capable US Ambassador to Russia for most of the Civil War (apart from the brief Simon Cameron interlude). Crook retails Bayard Taylor’s crack to Horace Greeley that Clay was “better suited to the meridian of Kentucky than of St. Petersburg.” (Crook 44) In reality, St. Petersburg was on a par with London as one of the two most sensitive and important diplomatic posts the Union had. Cassius Clay, who called himself a “remote relative” of Lincoln’s great American System mentor Henry Clay, was a distinguished American diplomat who played a critical role in saving the Union. Another important US diplomat of the time was the Bostonian John Lothrop Motley, who became a friend of the future Prussian leader Otto von Bismarck while studying at the University of Goettingen. Motley served in US legation in St. Petersburg and from 1861-1867 as the US minister to the Austrian Empire, and later wrote an important biography of Oldenbarneveld, the father of the Dutch Republic, and other studies of Dutch history.

Woldman, at the height of the Cold War, devoted an entire book to denigrating the importance of the US-Russian entente cordiale and of the Russian fleet in particular. In addition to Golder, he cites Professor E. A. Adamov as a key precursor of his views. For Woldman, the Russia of 1863 was already an international pariah, “the most hated nation in Europe,” whose policy reflected “no concern or friendship for the United States.” At the hands of Woldman, the well-established Russo-American amity of the 1850s, 1860s, and beyond is reduced to a “myth.” (Woldman, 156-7) This is not history, but propaganda laced with bile.

Russian friendship provided an economic as well as a military brake on the Anglo-French. Statistics provided by Crook show that in 1861-64, the US and Russia together provided more half or more of all Britain’s wheat imports (16.3 million cwt out of a total of 30.8 in 1863). In case of war with either the US and Russia (and a fortiori in case of war with both), the British would have faced astronomical bread prices, insufficient supply, and an overall situation of famine which would have been conducive to serious internal revolt against the privileged classes — all in all a situation which aristocrats and oligarchs like Palmerston, Russell and Gladstone had to think twice about courting. King Wheat was therefore more powerful than King Cotton.

Confederate commerce raiders built and fitted out with the help of the British had a devastating and long-lasting effect. As Chester Hearn details, Confederate raiders fitted out in Europe, including the Alabama, Shenandoah, and Florida, destroyed 110,000 tons of US merchant shipping, and were factors in the transfer of 800,000 tons to foreign registry, thus partially crippling the merchant marine of the North over decades. On July 11, 1863 Adams indicted London for “active malevolence” on the question of the Laird rams, which were ironclad battleships capable of breaking the blockade; as noted, on September 5 he told Foreign Secretary John Russell, “It would be superfluous in me to point out to your Lordship that this is war.” (Crook 324, 326) Forty years later, Henry Adams remained “disconcerted that Russell should indignantly and with growing energy, to his dying day, deny and resent the axiom of [US Ambassador] Adams’s whole contention, that from the first he meant to break up the Union. 

Any international history must tackle the question of the effectiveness of the Union blockade of Southern ports. Crook does a workmanlike job of refuting the Owsley thesis that the blockade was not effective. He reminds us that the statistics used by Owsley and Marcus W. Price are far from conclusive. Crook suggests that the aggregate tonnages of successful blockade runners need to be examined rather than simply the number of ships getting through, since blockade runners were designed to sacrifice cargo capacity for speed. He notes that many successful runs took place during the first year of the war, “before the cordon tightened.” (Crook 174) Many successful runs counted by Price were actually coastwise traders bound for other parts of the Confederacy. “More realistic,” Crook sums up, “would be an attempt to compare wartime clearances with pre-war figures.” (Crook 174) Using Price’s figures for South Carolina, Crook suggests that the blockade may have cut the number of ships leaving the ports of that state by one half during the first year of the war, and by almost two thirds over 1862-1865. Crook’s finding is that “modern naval opinion is inclined to the broad view that the blockade achieved its major objectives by scaring off a potentially massive trade with the south.” (Crook 174)”

– Webster G. Tarpley, “U.S. Civil War: The US-Russian Alliance that Saved the Union.Voltairenetwork, April 25, 2011.

Photo: Russian sailors from the warship Variag in New York City who were part of a naval expedition sent to the United States in mid-1863. Source.

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“In 1963 Carl Heller was an internationally renowned medical scientist, a winner of the important Ciba Prize. In the field of endocrinology, he was a preeminent researcher, so it is not surprising that when the AEC decided to fund work on how radiation affects male reproductive function, they would turn to him. He designed a study to test the effects of radiation on the somatic and germinal cells of the testes, the doses of radiation that would produce changes or induce damage in spermatogenic cells, the amount of time it would take for cell production to recover, and the effects of radiation on hormone excretion.

To accomplish this he had a machine designed and built that would give a carefully calibrated, uniform dose of radiation from two sides. The subject lay face down with his scrotum in a small plastic box filled with warm water to encourage the testes to descend. On either side of the box were a matched set of x-ray tubes. The alignment of the x-ray beams could be checked through a system of peepholes and mirrors. Subjects were required to agree to be vasectomized because of a perceived small risk of chromosomal damage that could lead to their fathering genetically damaged children. To carry out this work Dr. Heller was to receive grants totaling $1.12 million over ten years.

Mavis Rowley, Dr. Heller’s former laboratory assistant, who was interviewed by Advisory Committee staff in 1994, said that the AEC “was looking for a mechanism to measure the effect of ionizing radiation on the human body… .” She said testicular irradiation was promising because the testes have “a cell cycle and physiology which allows you to make objective measurements of dosimetry and effect without having to expose the whole body to radiation.”

Although official documentation is fragmentary, it is clear from other evidence such as interviews and contemporary newspaper articles that the concerns cited above–worker exposures, potential exposures of the general population as a result of accidents or bomb blasts, and exposures of astronauts in space–were of interest to the AEC.

In the case of the astronauts, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration has been able to find no evidence of direct involvement in Dr. Heller’s project. Yet Ms. Rowley remembers with clarity that NASA representatives, even astronauts themselves, attended meetings with their research team. In her 1994 interview, she said, “NASA was also very interested in this… . There was a section of activity which was devoted to what effect would the sun flares and so forth, which give out significant radiation have on the astronauts. And so there were meetings that went on which actually included some of the astronauts attending them… .” Rowley explained that the astronauts were concerned that reduced testosterone production might make them lose muscle function, which could compromise their mission, but, belying the comment of the colonel in the 1949 nuclear-powered airplane meeting who said that crewmen were concerned about anything physically harmful, she said they seemed altogether unconcerned “about their own health." During his 1976 deposition, Dr. Heller remarked: "What we would like to supply the medical community with is what happens when you give continual very small doses such as might be given to an astronaut." Moreover, in 1965, Dr. Heller served as a consultant to a Space Radiation Panel of the National Academy of Sciences-National Research Council. And finally, Harold Bibeau, an Oregon subject, recalls that Dr. Heller told him when he signed up for the program that NASA was interested in the results.

At the time the Oregon experiment got under way, using prisoners as research subjects was an accepted practice in the United States. And in this particular study Oregon law was interpreted by state officials as permitting an inmate to give his consent to a vasectomy, which they appear to have seen as analogous to consenting to becoming an experimental subject. However, important ethical concerns of today such as balancing risks and benefits, the quality of informed consent, and subject-selection criteria appear, on the whole, not to have been carefully addressed or not addressed at all by the investigators or those responsible for oversight.

With respect to the health risks associated with the testicular irradiations, there was very little reliable "human” information at the time about the long-term effects of organ-specific testicular exposure to radiation. Hiroshima and Nagasaki bomb data, however, which of course were not organ specific, suggested that the likelihood of inducing cancers with the amount of radiation Dr. Heller planned to use was small. By way of comparison, today’s standard radiotherapy of the pelvis, for prostate cancer for example, often results in doses to the testicles in the ranges encountered in these experiments.

So what did Dr. Heller tell subjects about the chronic risk? The answer appears to have been nothing in the early years and, later on, perhaps a vague reference to the possibility of “tumors” but not cancer. In a deposition taken in 1976 a subject named John Henry Atkinson said he was never told there was a possibility of getting cancer or any kind of tumors as a result of the testicular irradiation experiments. Other subjects deposed in 1976 also said they had not been warned of cancer risk, and when asked by one subject about the potential for “bad effects,” Dr. Heller was reported to have said, “one chance in a million.” When asked in his own deposition what the potential risks were, Dr. Heller said, “The possibility of tumors of the testes.” In response to the question “Are you talking about cancer?” Dr. Heller responded, “I didn’t want to frighten them so I said tumor; I may have on occasion said cancer.”

The acute risks of the exposures included skin burns, pain from the biopsies, orchitis (testicular inflammation) induced by repeated biopsies, and bleeding into the scrotum from the biopsies. Using consent forms and depositions as a basis for determining what the subjects were told, it appears that they were adequately informed about the possibility of skin burns; sometimes informed, but perhaps inadequately, about the possibility of pain; informed about the possibility of bleeding only from 1970 on; and never informed of the possibility of orchitis. As far as the quality of consent is concerned, the evidence suggests that many if not most of the subjects might not have appreciated that some small risk of testicular cancer was involved. It is also not clear that all subjects understood that there could be significant pain associated with the biopsies and possible long-term effects.

In selecting subjects, Dr. Heller appears to have relied on the prison grapevine to get out the word about a project he apparently believed the Atomic Energy Commission did not want publicized. In a 1964 memorandum he was paraphrased as saying “at Oregon State Penitentiary, the existence of the project is practically unknown.” In a 1966 letter to the National Institutes of Health describing the review process at the Pacific Northwest Research Foundation, a respected, free-standing research center, Dr. Heller and two colleagues wrote that “the inmates are well informed by fellow inmates regarding the general procedures concerned (i.e., collecting seminal samples, collecting urines for hormone studies, submitting to testicular biopsies, receiving medication orally or by injection, and having vasectomies … )." If the volunteers were healthy and normal they were accepted for a trial period during which they donated semen samples. If all went well, in a matter of weeks they were accepted into the radiation program, as long as the prison’s Roman Catholic chaplain certified that they were not Roman Catholics–because of the church’s objection to their providing masturbated semen samples–and they could pass what appears to have been a cursory psychological screening designed to ensure they had no underlying objections to the required vasectomy. A copy of a form titled "Psychiatric Examination” provided by Harold Bibeau and signed with the initials of the examining psychiatrist, WHC for William Harold Cloyd, says in full:

11-4-64 Seen for Dr. Heller —- Never married, quite vague about future. Feels he doesn’t want children —- shouldn’t have any. I agree. No contraindication to sterilization.

As far as potential health benefits to the subjects are concerned, there were none, and the inmates who volunteered for the research were told so. The benefits were in the form of financial incentives. A review of applications for Dr. Heller’s program, and depositions of prisoners who sued Dr. Heller, various other individuals, and the state and federal governments for violation of their rights, clearly indicates that money was in most cases the most important consideration in deciding to volunteer. In prison industry inmates were typically paid 25 cents a day. For participating in the Heller program they received $25 for each testicular biopsy, of which most inmates had five or more, plus a bonus when they were vasectomized at the end of the program, which appears to have been an additional $25. Some inmates indicated that they were grateful for an opportunity to perform a service to society. An obvious ethical question is whether the money constituted a coercive offer to prisoners.

During the course of his study between 1963 and 1973, Dr. Heller irradiated sixty-seven inmates of the Oregon State Prison. Nominally, three institutions had some oversight responsibility for Dr. Heller’s work–the Oregon Department of Corrections, the Atomic Energy Commission, and the Pacific Northwest Research Foundation, where Dr. Heller was employed. Practically speaking, however, it appears that Dr. Heller conducted his research independently. As an example of his independence, as recounted by Ms. Rowley, the AEC requested that Dr. Heller begin irradiating subjects at 600 rad and work upward, but he refused and in the end set 600 rad as an upper limit. (It is not clear whether Dr. Heller was concerned about risk to the subjects’ health or other research criteria.) Dr. Heller also was a member of the committee at Pacific Northwest Research Foundation that had responsibility for overseeing his research, giving him a voice in the oversight process. This committee was authorized under a foundation regulation titled “Policy and Procedures of the Pacific Northwest Research Foundation With Regard to Investigations Involving Human Subjects.” In a section on ethical policy, the document says: “Since 1958 the investigators of this Foundation have conducted all research under the ethical provisions of the Nuremburg [sic] Code, modified to permit consent by parents or legal guardians.”[

In January 1973, in a rapidly changing research ethics environment, the Oregon irradiations were terminated when Amos Reed, administrator of the Corrections Division, ordered all medical experimentation programs shut down essentially because he concluded that prisoners could not consent freely to participate as subjects. It is not known exactly what was behind the timing of Reed’s decision, but according to Oregon Times Magazine, he had recently read Jessica Mitford’s article in the Atlantic Monthly titled “Experiments Behind Bars” and an article in The (Portland) Oregonian headlined “Medical Research Provides Source of Income for Prisoners.”

In 1976, a number of subjects filed lawsuits effectively alleging poorly supervised research and lack of informed consent. In their depositions they alleged among other things that prisoners had sometimes controlled the radiation dose to which they were exposed, that an inmate with a grudge against a subject filled a syringe with water instead of Novocain, resulting in a vasectomy performed without anesthetic, and that the experimental procedures resulted in considerable pain and discomfort for which they were not prepared. These suits were settled out of court in 1979. Nine plaintiffs shared $2,215 in damages.

For the last twenty years all efforts to put in place a medical follow-up program for the Oregon subjects have been unsuccessful. Dr. Heller and Ms. Rowley explicitly favored regular medical follow-up. During the period between 1976 and 1979, the pending lawsuits might have been the reason for the state’s reluctance to initiate a follow-up program, but it is less clear why during other periods such efforts have also failed. Two possible reasons suggested by state officials are the cost of such a program and the difficulty of finding released convicts. Other possible reasons are that a follow-up program would not provide a significant health benefit to former subjects and that it would not provide significant new scientific knowledge. According to Tom Toombs, administrator of the Corrections Division of the State of Oregon at the time of the lawsuits, the Corrections Division wrote to the AEC’s successor (the Energy Research and Development Administration) in early 1976 recommending medical follow-up for the subjects. Mr. Toombs said there was no record of a response to this request. In 1990, James Ruttenber, an epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control, designed a follow-up program for Oregon, but it has not been implemented. In an interview with Advisory Committee staff, Dr. Ruttenber said state officials told him that Oregon does not have sufficient funds to carry out his plan.”

– “Chapter 9.2: The Oregon and Washington Experiments,” Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments, Final Report. US Department of Energy Office of Environment, Health, Safety and Security Search, 1994.

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“Isolated incidents of prison-based research before World War II formed the foundation for a practice that would become firmly embedded in the structure of American clinical research during World War II. Perhaps the most significant wartime medical research project in which American scientists employed prisoners as research subjects was centered in Illinois’s Stateville Prison. Beginning in 1944, hundreds of Illinois prisoners submitted to experimental cases of malaria as researchers attempted to find more effective means to prevent and cure tropical diseases that ravaged Allied forces in the Pacific Theater. 

In 1947, a committee was established by the governor of Illinois to examine the ethics of using state prisoners as research subjects. The committee was chaired by Andrew Ivy, a prominent University of Illinois physiologist and the chief expert witness on medical ethics for the prosecutors at the Nuremberg Medical Trial, where prison research was a salient topic. The committee pronounced the wartime experiments at Stateville Prison “ideal” in their conformity with the newly adopted rules of the American Medical Association concerning human experimentation. The AMA rules, which Ivy had played a key role in developing, included provisions stipulating voluntary consent from subjects, prior animal experimentation, and carefully managed research under the authority of properly qualified clinical researchers. Perhaps most significantly, the findings of Ivy’s committee were announced to the American medical community when the group’s final report was reproduced in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The appearance of this report in the nation’s leading medical journal both represented and reinforced the sentiment that prison research was ethically acceptable.

Publicly aired assertions that experimentation on prisoners relied on exploitation or coercion were extremely rare in the United States before the late 1960s. One criticism of medical research behind bars did, however, emerge with some frequency: prisoners who participated in research were somehow escaping from their just measures of punishment. Inmates were usually offered rewards in exchange for their scientific services, ranging from more comfortable surroundings, to cash, to early release. Perhaps the most powerful statement of the concern that convicts should not receive special treatment because they had participated in an experiment came from the AMA. In 1952, this organization formally approved a resolution stating its “disapproval of the participation in scientific experiments of persons convicted of murder, rape, arson, kidnapping, treason, or other heinous crimes.” The AMA was alarmed that some such criminals “have not only received citations, but have in some instances been granted parole much sooner than would otherwise have occurred." 

It should be noted that the use of prisoners as research subjects seems to have been a uniquely American practice in the years following World War II. The large-scale successes of prison experimentation during World War II–and the authoritative pronouncement of the Ivy Committee that prison research could be conducted in an ethical fashion–seem to have given the practice a kind of momentum in this country that it did not have elsewhere. In other countries it seems that the first clause of the Nuremberg Code was interpreted to preclude the use of prisoners in experimentation. This clause begins with the assertion that the only acceptable experimental subjects are those who are "so situated as to be able to exercise free power of choice.”

It is difficult to overemphasize just how common the practice became in the United States during the postwar years. Researchers employed prisoners as subjects in a multitude of experiments that ranged in purpose from a desire to understand the cause of cancer to a need to test the effects of a new cosmetic. After the Food and Drug Administration’s restructuring of drug-testing regulations in 1962, prisoners became almost the exclusive subjects in nonfederally funded Phase I pharmaceutical trials designed to test the toxicity of new drugs. By 1972, FDA officials estimated that more than 90 percent of all investigational drugs were first tested on prisoners.

It appears that throughout the history of medical experimentation on American prisoners many inmates have valued the opportunity to participate in medical research. One must quickly add that such an observation points to the paucity of opportunities open to most prisoners. The common perception among inmates that participating in a medical experiment was a good opportunity has had an important impact on the racial aspects of prison experimentation. Because of the large numbers of African-Americans in prison (and the overt racial exploitation of the notorious Tuskegee syphilis study, in which black men with syphilis were observed but not treated), it might be assumed that minorities predominated as research subjects in prisons. The opposite has generally been true; white prisoners have usually been overrepresented in the “privileged” role of research subject. In most prison studies before and during World War II, it seems that all of the research subjects were white. In 1975, the National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research carefully examined the racial composition of the research subjects at a prison with a major drug-testing program. The commission found that African-Americans made up only 31 percent of the subject population, while this racial “minority” formed 68 percent of the general prison population.

The shift in public opinion against the use of prisoners as research subjects, which began in the late 1960s, was no doubt tied to many other social and political changes sweeping the country: the civil rights movement, the women’s movement, the patients’ rights movement, the prisoners’ rights movement, and the general questioning of authority associated with the anti-Vietnam War protests. But, as has been common in the history of human experimentation, scandal galvanized public attention, brought official inquiry, and resulted in significant change. A major scandal in prison experimentation came when the New York Times published a front-page article on July 29, 1969, detailing an ethically and scientifically sloppy drug-testing program that a physician had established in the state prisons of Alabama. Even more sensational was Jessica Mitford’s January 1973 Atlantic Monthly article. In this article, Mitford portrayed experimentation on prisoners as a practice built on exploitation and coercion of an extremely disadvantaged class.[66] When the article reappeared later in 1973 as a chapter in her widely read book critiquing American prisons, she had come up with an especially provocative and suggestive title for this section of the book: “Cheaper than Chimpanzees." Mitford, and most of the growing number who condemned experimentation on prisoners during the 1970s (and after), offered two arguments against the practice. First, prisoners were identified as incapable of offering voluntary consent because of a belief that most (some argued, all) prisons are inherently coercive environments. Another line of argument was based on a principle of justice that stipulated that one class–especially a disadvantaged class such as prisoners–should not be expected to carry an undue burden of service in the realm of medical research.”

– “Chapter 9.4 History of Prison Research Regulation,” Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments, Final Report. US Department of Energy Office of Environment, Health, Safety and Security Search, 1994.

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Photographs from Opération Tacaud, the French intervention into the Chadian civil war, 1978-1980. Source.

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“La Guerre Sans Hommes,” Le Soleil. September 24, 1952. Page 03.

La guerre de Corée vient d’entrer dans une nouvelle phase: pour la  première fois, les forces alliées ont lancé récemment, contre des installations communistes de la Corée du Nord, des projectiles guidés. La scène ci-dessus, dont la Marine américaine vient d’autoriser la publication, s’est produite le 30 août alors qu’un avion-guide quittait le porte-avion U. S. S. “Boxer”. Quelques instants après, l’avion-guide prenait le contrôle de dix avions téléguidés, chargés de bombes de 2,000 li­vres, qu’il dirigeait ensuite contre leur cibles.

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“Unease in Berlin,” Bill Downs, CBS Berlin.

September 13, 1948

Berlin this morning is in that uneasy and uncertain condition that passes for normal here. The expected fireworks from yesterday’s Communist demonstration did not develop. The shooting incidents during last week’s mass meeting in the Western zone are being pushed in the background. Right now everyone is waiting for the next development in this lukewarm war of blockade, words, and threats between the East and West.

Any official action here—namely further meetings of the four military governors of the city—must await more conferences in Moscow. It is expected that another round of negotiations between General Clay and his opposite numbers in the British, French, and Russian zones will take place, but only after new instructions have been received. Those instructions will have to be agreed upon in the Kremlin meetings which may begin today or tomorrow.

However, rumor has replaced action in this besieged city. One of the Berlin papers this morning carries a big scare story outlining what it claims is the second phase of a German Communist plot to bring about a dictatorship of the proletariat for Berlin. The story, which quotes no sources, speaks ominously of an “X-Day” for kicking the Western powers out; for abandoning parliamentary procedure. This is to follow a series of strikes, disruptions, and demonstrations designed to create such disorder of Berlin life that the so-called “people’s government” will be able to seize power to preserve peace. The story speaks of the Communist training of “workers’ commandos” and says that this second phase of a putsch will begin immediately. But the so-called “X-Day” will be sometime after the November elections in America.

We can expect more and more of these stories in the future. Meanwhile, in assessing the events of the past week, the East and West demonstrations and all, it is clear that the Western powers have a much greater popular support from the Berliners than even they expected—a fact that must give pause to the Soviet side.

But it will only be a pause. The Communist fight to discredit the West—to drive us out of Berlin if possible—will continue unabated.

This is Bill Downs in Berlin. Now back to CBS in New York.

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“Cambodge: Avec Les Maquisards Khmers,” La Presse. September 4, 1980. Pages 01 & 08.

Notre envoyé spécial
au Cambodge, Jooneed
KHAN, a vu les
manoeuvres de la
guérilla, interrogé des
blessés et assisté à un
spectacle folklorique
dans le maquis. Son
reportage en page A 8


La Guerre  du Cambodge: Une résistance périphérique

-4-
Jooneed Khan, Envoyé spécial de LA PRESSE

Pour combattre les 250,000
soldats vietnamiens qui
j occupent le pays («l’équivalent
de 10 millions de soldats soviétiques
sur le sol américain», souligne
Thiounn Mumm), le Kampuchea
démocratique dit disposer
de 60,000 maquisards réguliers et de 50,000 guérilleros de village.

Dans les milieux occidentaux
de Bangkok, on estime à 40,000
hommes la force militaire des
Khmers rouges mais l’on admet
volontiers qu’ils représentent la
seule armée qui compte vraiment
dans l’actuelle guerre de
Résistance.

J’ai assisté aux manoeuvre s
d’une compagnie de 200 maquisards
dans les collines d’Oddar
Mean Chey, surplombant la
chaîne des Coulènes, au sud.
«Angkor Wat est derrièr e ces
montagnes, m a dit le ministre
Keat Chhon. Vous avez dû lire à
Bangkok que nos maquisards
opèrent dans la région».

Sauf pour les armes de fabrication
soviétique ou chinoise
capturées sur les Vietnamiens,
tout l’équipement de la guérilla
vient de Chine, depuis les uniformes,
casquettes et espadrilles
vertes jusqu’aux fusils AK-47,
mitrailleuses légères et lourdes,
bazookas antichars DK-75 et
DK-82 au canon sans recul, obusiers
anti-infanterie B-40 et B-54
et mines 69 efficaces sur une
superficie de 1,600 mètres carrés.

«Au début de l’invasion vietnamienne,
nos forces ont tenté
d’opposer une résistance frontale
et ce fut une grave erreur»,
m’a avoué Khieu Samphan. On
estime de source informée à
30,000 hommes les pertes cambodgiennes
dans cette première
phase, mais Khieu Samphan n’a
pas voulu donner des chiffres

«Ce fut difficile pour nos
hommes de se réadapte r à la
guérilla après avoir pratiqué des
luttes conventionnelles, a-t-il
poursuivi. Il fallait qu’ils fassent
leurs propres expérience s et
c’est grâce à la guérilla que nous
avons résisté à l’offensive vietnamienne
de la saison sèche .
Nous somme s maintenan t en
pleine guerre d’usure.»

Sao Taem, 28 ans, est chef de
compagnie. Originaire de Kompong
Cham, il est entré dans la
guérilla en 1970 et, aprè s avoir
servi dans l’armée régulière de
1975 à 1978, il s’est reconverti à
la guérilla comme tous ses camarades.

Des opérations
en petites unités

Il m’explique que les maquisards
opèrent en petites unités
de trois à quatre hommes, avec
un ou deux AK-47, un ou deux bazookas et une mitrailleuse ,
des mines et des piquets de
bambou. Chaque unité a pour
objectif de tue r ou blesser au
moins un Vietnamien par jour.

La tactique de routine consiste
à

tendre des embuscades sur les
routes empruntées par les détachements
vietnamiens, souvent
sur la foi de renseignements
fournis par des villageois, et de
disparaître ensuite dans la forêt.

Ce scénario m’a été plusieurs
fois confirmé par des maquisards
blessés que j’a i interrogés
à l’hôpital militair e de Nong
Preu, au pied du Phnom Malaï,
dans la province de Battambang,
où je me suis rendu quelques
jours plus tard.

Les maquisards opèrent en
étroite liaison avec la guérilla
des villages et même avec les
Forces d’autodéfense mises sur
pied par les Vietnamiens.

«Ces forces locales adoptent
une attitude à double face, m’ont
raconté plusieurs maquisards.
Elles ne peuvent pas défier oùvertement
les Vietnamiens,
mais la nuit elles travaillent
pour la Résistance.»

Le Kampuchea démocratique
a adopté par ailleurs une stratégie
de résistance et de repli périphériques.
Autre nécessité vitale
pressenti dès 1975 avec l’évacuation
de Phnom Penh. Objectif:
ôter à l’éventuel envahisseur
toute possibilité de contrôler le
pays uniquement à partir de son
noyau «moderne» et l’obliger à
se répandre faiblement jusque
dans les campagne s propices à
la guérilla.

Le retour de plus de 2 millions

de réfugiés dans leurs villages,
les problèmes du ravitaillement
des villes après les dévastations
provoquées par les bombardements US et la crainte de nouveaux
bombardements motivèrent
également l’évacuation des
villes en 1975. 

Hanoï contrôle
un noyau vide

Mais le facteur stratégique
revêt une pertinence cruciale
depuis l’invasion vietnamienne:
Hanoï contrôle un noyau presque
vide mais sans contrôler le pays
ou la population. Pour écraser la
Résistance, il lui faut envoyer
ses troupes sur le terrain de la
guérilla.

Les Vietnamiens avaient le
Nord-Vietnam et le Cambodge
comme bases oour faire la guerre
au Sud-Vietnam. Les Cambodgiens
n’ont aucun sanctuaire
semblabl e pour libérer leur
pays; ils n’ont pas d’autre choix
que de s’accrocher au terroir
national.

Aussi, les bases périphériques,
le long des 800 km de frontière
avec la Thaïlande notamment,
sont-elles solidement implantées
et lourdement minées et piégées
contre toute avance frontale de
l’infanterie vietnamienne.

Contre cette stratégie du repli,
Hanoï dispose cependant d’une
arme meurtrière, l’aviation. Et
les dirigeants du Kampuche a
démocratique sont convainfc’ïRT
que le Vietnam devra tôt ou tard
recourir aux bombardements
aériens des zones libérées.

Pour cette raison, la population
des zones libérées est groupée
dans des villages camouflés
sous les arbres aux flancs des
collines et comptant rarement
plus de 1,500 à 2,000 habitants
chacun: chaque village peut être
évacué en moins d’une heure,
m’a dit Thiounn Mumm.

Depuis ma visite, l’armé e
thaïe a fait état de la présence de
Migs vietnamiens à Siem Reap,
à mi-chemin entre les provinces
d’Oddar Mean Chey au nord, et
de Battambang, à l’ouest.

Au pied du
Phnom Malaï

Avant de quitter Oddar
Mean Chey, j’ai insisté une
fois de plus, auprès de Khieu
Samphan cette fois, pour visiter
d’autres zones khmères rouges.

Et il a dit: «Bien. Nous allons
communiquer votre identité aux
responsables de Nong Preu,
dans la province de Battambang.
Ils vous y accueilleront
mais vous devez y aller par vos
propres moyens».

C’est ce que j’a i fait dès mon
retour à Bangkok. Avec la précieuse
aide du journaliste japonais
N’aoki Mabuchi, j’ai passé
trois jours à obtenir de l’armée
thaïe les autorisations nécessaires
«pour aller jusqu’à la frontière
mais non pour la franchir, ce
qui est formellement interdit».

Nong Preu, avec Thari ket
Khao Din, fait partie d’un vaste
ensemble de villages khmers
rouges totalisant quelque 60,000
habitants au pied du Phnom
Malaï, à une cinquantaine de
kilomètres au sud d’Aranyaprathet.

Les Vietnamiens bombardent
cette position depuis plusieurs
mois, atteignant presque quotidiennement
des villages thaïs,
mais leur infanterie est embourbée
par la saison des pluies et la
résistance khmère.

J’y suis arrivé à l’improviste.
Chhorn Hay, secrétair e aux
Communications du Kampuchea
démocratique , alert é pa r les
enfants, est venu nous accueillir .
Il a examiné mon passeport et
déclaré, simplement: «Nous
vous attendions».

Apprivoiser
la forêt

Comme dans le nord, la population
apprivoise la forêt depuis
près d’un an: cases de bois et de
chaume, potagers, artisanat,
écoles. Avec, en plus, une étonnante
joie de vivre. Les habitants,
qui ont troqué le noir du
régime Pol Pot pour des couleurs
plus gaies, ont improvis é
une représentation musicale de
deux heures.

Trois musiciens, avec des instruments
fabriqués sur place,
six chanteuse s et une centaine
d’enfants ont chant é des chansons
folkloriques et présenté des
danses khmères traditionnelles.

Chhorn Hay était là, avec sa
femme et son fils de 6 ans qu’il a
retrouvés récemment à Khao-I-Dang.

Il a fallu couper court au spectacle
artistique pour visiter l’hôpital
militair e de 200 lits, ave c
une unité chirurgicale, un médecin
et un chirurgien. Cet hôpital
reçoit régulièrement la visite
d’un médecin et de deux infirmières
canadiens, m’a-t-on dit.

Si les dirigeants du KD voulaient
faire bonne impression,
c’est à Nong Preu qu’ils auraient
dû établir un centre de réception
pour la presse mondiale, au lieu
du camp d’accueil d’Oddar
Mean Chey.

Dans les jours qui ont suivi,
j’ai visité les camps de Nong
Chan (sihanoukiste) et de Nong
Samet (khmer sereï), au nord
d’Aranyaprathet, toujours en
violation des consignes de l’armée
thaïe de ne pas franchir la
frontière.

Un triste
contraste

Le contraste choquait. Aucune
organisation, aucun esprit
communautaire . D’immenses
bidonvilles crasseux. Aucune

culture non plus, les huttes et les
tente s entassée s les unes près
des autres.

Des hommes armés, en jeans,
circulant à pied ou en motocyclette
au milieu des jeeps et des
camions-citerne s de la Croix-Rouge
internationale et de l’Unicef.

Au centre de la Croix-Rouge, à
Nong Chan, un homme interroge,
avec l’aide d’un interprète,
une famille khmère. A l’entrée,
des photos et des lettres sont affichées.
Il y en a une d’un Cambodgien
de l’île Bizard qui recherche
des membre s de sa famille.

Un médecin de la Croix-Rouge
vient de terminer son mandat. Il
va rentre r en Angleterre . Son
bilan, après six mois d’efforts?
«Il y a une nette dégradation des
conditions sanitaires à Nong
Chan et Nong Samet. La population
ne veut pas s’aider ellemême».

Ces camps sont en effet des
centres de distribution de l’aide
internationale, dont plusieurs
agences veulent priv r les
Khmers rouges «parce que civils
et combattants s’y confondent».
Ils attirent par ailleurs les gens
de l’intérieur, dont un bon nombre
préfère y reste r plutôt que
de retourner sous contrôle vietnamien.

Caption:

A quelques kilomètres des positions de l’artillerie vietnamienne,
ces fières Cambodgiennes ont exécuté des danses traditionnelles khmères , accompagnée s de trois musiciens et de six
chanteuses, durant ma visite à Nong Preu.

Photo:
Joaneed Khan, LA PRESSE.

[The rehabilitation of the Khmer Rouge after the Vietnamese army overthrow their genocidal government is a real interesting phenomena in conservative papers of the time – suddenly, the communist murderers transmute into patriotic resistance fighters, so long as they are shooting Russian allies.]

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