hate God love death. If you don’tnbelieve in God, you hate Him. You arena God-hater, Mr. Ginsberg.nGinsberg: [laughing] You make a bignjump there. It’s like are you with me ornagainst me?nLofton: That’s what God says, exactlylnYou know what the First Gommandmentnsays.nGinsberg: Actually, I don’t.nLofton: Thou shalt have no other godsnbefore Me. This was said to yournpeople — you say you are a Jew. He lednyou out of bondage, out of the wilderness.nAnd you shall have no other God.nAnd when they worshiped other gods,nyou know what happened? Death.nGinsberg: Well, yeah.nLofton: Let me close with a politicalnquestion. In your 1967 poem “ReturningnNorth of the Vortex,” you said,nregarding the Vietnam War: “I hopenwe lose this war / Let the Vietcong winnover the American Army!” And younwent on to say that if you had yournwish, we would lose our will, we wouldnbe broken, and our armies would benscattered. Do you still believe this andnthink it was a good thing we lost thenVietnam War?nGinsberg: I think I lost my tempernthere. I was getting into a sort ofnrighteous wrath like you’re alwaysndoing, saying that we’re sinners andnshould be punished for our sins. Thisnwas sort of like a poem, a doublenstatement —nLofton: But you were for the Vietcong.nYou were pro-Vietcong.nGinsberg: Not actually.nLofton: What?nGinsberg: Not actually.nLofton: But you said “Let the Vietcongnwin over the American Army!”nGinsberg: I was making a poetic cursenand it was probably bad judgment.nLofton: Then you think it was bad wenlost the war?nGinsberg: No, I don’t think it was thatnbad that we lost the war. I don’t think itnwould have been any better had wenwon it.nLofton: Really? But it certainly wasnbad that we lost for millions of SoutheastnAsians, wasn’t it?nGinsberg: Yeah, but it probably wouldnstill be bad for them — they would stillnbe fighting over there if we had won it,nprobably.nLofton: But there were more peoplenkilled there after we left, after you guysn54/CHRONICLESngot your way, after your “peace” wasngiven a chance! We got out but therenwas no peace. Millions of Cambodiansnwere slaughtered. They’re still fighting.nWhat happened? You were wrong.nGinsberg: We destabilized the governmentnof Cambodia and precipitatednthat whole scene.nLofton: So we were the bad guys andnnot the Khmer Rouge, who actuallynconducted the genocide?nGinsberg: But we opened the way fornthem.nLofton: How?nGinsberg: By destabilizing the government.nLofton: But why would this make thenKhmer Rouge Communists commitngenocide against their own people?nWhy do you blame uslnGinsberg: I’m just pointing out thatnwe had a situation where the lid wasnbeing kept on the Khmer Rouge andnthe CIA had a long period of time tondestabilize this. The bombing madenthis situation worse.nLofton: So the Communists weren’tngenocidal until we bombed them?nGinsberg: That finally our peoplenworking with our intelligence agenciesngot rid of Sihanouk and installed reallynunpopular puppets. And that creatednan opening for the Khmer Rouge —nLofton: So the Cambodians got whatnthey deserved? Is that your point?nWhat is your point? If everything is asnyou state it, so what?nGinsberg: My point is that the USngovernment and intelligence agenciesndestabilized the situation in Cambodianand created such chaos that the KhmernRouge got in and committed genocide.nLofton: Then you are blaming us fornthe Khmer Rouge genocide. Do youndenounce what the Khmer Rouge did?nGinsberg: Sure.nLofton: Then why don’t you say ancouple of words about what you thinknof the Cambodian genocide committednby the Communist Khmer Rouge?nWhy don’t we close on this with,nperhaps, a little poem?nGinsberg: Yes. Blood running insidenthe head of John Foster Dulles flowednthrough the bodies of Cambodiansnonto the streets of Phnom Phen.nLofton: This was supposed to be anpoem denouncing the Khmer Rouge,nnot John Foster Dulles!nGinsberg: Well, you remember —nLofton: You blew it.nnnGinsberg: The whole problem wasnthat Foster Dulles didn’t want to recognizenthe Geneva Convention and refusednto sign up for an election innVietnam because Eisenhower thoughtnthat —nLofton: But you’re still excusing thenCommunists. After all these years youncan’t bring yourself to denounce thenCommunists. Why not?nGinsberg: No. I’ve denounced thenCommunists —nLofton: Baloney! I asked you to endnwith a little poem denouncing thenKhmer Rouge and you attack JohnnFoster Dulles!nGinsberg: You asked me to denouncenthe Communists on your terms. ButnI’d rather denounce them on mynterms.nLofton: Yeah. By denouncing JohnnFoster Dulles.nGinsberg: I’d rather denounce themnon my terms. But I’d rather not justndenounce them, but try to point outnthat everybody is complicit in this situation.nLofton: Speak for yourself. I didn’tnhave anything to do with Cambodianngenocide. Did you? Do you take somenblame for that?nGinsberg: I would be willing to takensome blame. And I think we should allntake blame.nLofton: What role did you play inncausing this genocide? And have younapologized to any Cambodians?nGinsberg: Yes.nLofton: Who? Who did you apologizento?nGinsberg: Uh, uh, you’re setting upnsomething here which is not, it’s like,nagain, you’re going back to this blacknand white, either/or interrogation.nLofton: But some things are black andnwhite.nGinsberg: And this comes from yournmonotheistic insistence.nLofton: Is nothing black and white?nGinsberg: Nothing is completelynblack and white. Nothing.nLofton: I see. Thank you very much.n<^n]ohn Lofton is a journalist innWashington, DC. Allen Ginsbergnis the author of “Howl” and,nmost recently. Collected Poems:n1947-1980. This interview wasnconducted on February 28, U.nin Washington.n