IT HAS been over a year now since Henry Kissinger's premature "peace is at hand" statement, and peace in Indochina still is not at hand. In Vietnam alone, 50,000 people have been killed and 50,000 wounded since last January's cease-fire, according to General Thieu's figures. Another 100,000 political prisoners fill Thieu's jails, according to Amnesty International--Vietnamese sources put the figure at twice that. South Vietnamese jails are full of prisoners who are beaten, tortured, and kept in cells too small to move around in from which they emerge crippled for life. It is the sort of thing at which Nguyen Van Thieu is a pro.
He'd be a lot less of a pro, though, without the United States. Last year, the U.S. paid over 70 per cent of his budget in direct aid. Thieu used this money and other American assistance--weapons and advice--for repression and war.
This year the Nixon administration asked Congress for $2.5 billion to help Thieu some more. About 76 per cent of this would serve as direct aid to Thieu's army, and various senators have found other concealed aid.
This foreign aid budget is not final yet, but Congress is working on it now. The Senate has passed an authorization--which Nixon will be happy to use--but not an appropriation. Senators and congressmen--if not the dike bomber himself--are likely to listen to letters and telegrams from their constituents, especially about the most blatantly reprehensible forms of aid to Thieu. For example, Sen. Edward Brooke (R -Mass.) often votes for aid to Thieu, but Brooke's office says he will support an amendment--now in committee--to prohibit aid to Thieu's prisons.
Such support is welcome--clearly the United States should stop paying people to shove bottles up political prisoners's vaginas--but not enough. All American aid to Thieu--as well as to dictators in Greece, Korea, Chile, and around the world--should be cut off. The United States owes the Vietnamese people reparations, but that is not what Thieu uses his money for. He uses it--sometimes in defiance of the purpose for which it was earmarked--to continue the war and the repression his war's being fought to maintain.
Write to your representatives. Tell them that Indochina still matters.