Why Journalism is Better than a Real Job: Excerpts from Sympathy for the Devil
Sympathy for the Devil: A Journalist’s Memoir From Inside Pol Pot’s Cambodia
(Copyright Nate Thayer. No publication or distribution in whole or part without express prior written permission from the author)
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By Nate Thayer
By 1994, after more than a decade focused on Cambodia and its war, I only had one more objective: To interview Pol Pot. And then, I told myself, I would leave that wicked country forever.
And the opportunity was tantalizingly possible.
Brewing dissatisfaction within the Khmer Rouge ranks were creating cracks in their armor, opening up potential new means for me to access the core of their inner circle leadership holed up deep in the jungles. Where there was turmoil, there was an increased possibility that I could wangle my way into the heart of the Khmer Rouge central command.
I had found that the Khmer Rouge opened up to me when they had difficulties which often left them with issues they wanted to clarify or explain to outsiders. Turmoil and weakness increased the likelihood that they would want to play that card. And I was forever scheming to ensure that the vehicle they used to do so would be me.
I was always encouraging, maneuvering for, and poised to take advantage of increased and higher level contacts within their ranks. I approached it as an endless chess game, requiring long-term strategy and patience and an intimate knowledge of one’s opponent. By the mid 1990’s, obstacles were being removed and I was advancing. I knew from viewing their chessboard that I was closing in, however slowly, on their king—Pol Pot. Continue reading