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I STRENUOUSLY and vigorously dispute Nicholas Burns’s characterization of Henry Kissinger and James Baker ( “Masters in the art of diplomacy,’’ Op-ed, April 13).

During the Vietnam War, as secretary of state, Kissinger transmitted President Nixon’s orders for the bombing of Cambodia with the words: “Anything that flies, on anything that moves.’’ At least half a million Cambodians (in a nation of about 7 million people at that time) perished under US bombs. A million or more perished in the subsequent catastrophic insurgency that arose as a result of the bombing that pushed Cambodia into chaos.

The bombing of Cambodia alone, not to mention that of Vietnam and Laos, exceeded the total bombing by the Allied Forces throughout all of World War II.

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I view Kissinger as a war criminal, not a master of diplomacy.

With regard to Baker, as secretary of state under George H.W. Bush, he threatened Iraq with nuclear war.

Is that to be considered an “art of diplomacy’’ or straightforward bullying of a nuclear power against a nation that did not possess such weapons?

Thea Paneth

Arlington