Lies, Lies, and More Lies, [about
Cambodia] in History-Illiterate America
by Larry Beinhart
August 25, 2007
George Bush - and other Iraq War supporters
- have argued that if we withdraw from Iraq the result will be
like the slaughters - the killing fields -in Cambodia.__Here are
The killing fields were real.
The genocide against their own people
was committed by the Khmer Rouge.
The Vietnamese - the Communist Vietnamese
- were the people who went in and put a stop to it.
The United States then supported the Khmer
Here's how that came to happen.
The United States got involved in the
war in Vietnam in an attempt to keep South Vietnam from going
communist. Which it would have if nationwide elections had been
held as promised.
Cambodia is next to Vietnam. It was ruled
by Prince Sihanouk. He attempted to be neutral. Both sides abused
The North Vietnamese send arms, support
and men through Cambodia on the "Ho Chi Minh Trail"
to go around South Vietnamese and American forces. They also used
The United States, which was not at war
with Cambodia, officially or unofficially, secretly sent armed
forces into Cambodia to interrupt North Vietnamese use of that
route. In 1969, Nixon began a campaign of carpet bombing sections
of Cambodia. Ultimately about 750,000 Cambodians were killed by
the bombings (though the numbers are hard to verify.)
In 1970, while Sihanouk was out of the
country, visiting Europe, the USSR and China, Lon Nol took over
the country in a right wing coup.
There are two stories about American involvement.
The first is that we supported the coup, the second (in Tom Weiner's
Legacy of Ashes, The History of the CIA) is that it took the CIA
and the United States by surprise. Recently declassified documents
support Weiner's view.
In either case, once Lon Nol took power,
the US supported him. In return, Lon Nol ended the neutrality,
closed the ports to the communists and demanded that the Viet
Cong and North Vietnamese leave the country, and let US forces
openly, though secretly, operate in Cambodia.
There was resistance to Lon Nol. Some
of it was certainly a spontaneous matter of national sentiment.
Some of it was certainly fomented by various communist interests.
Sihanouk, in China, then allied himself
with the Khmer Rouge, Cambodia communists, which conferred new
legitimacy on them.
Civil War broke out. Lon Nol was both
corrupt and inept. In spite of American financial and military
support, he lost.
America left Vietnam in 1973.
The Khmer Rouge took the capital of Cambodia
in 1975. They were one of the most horrendous regimes in history.
They practiced a kind of class genocide, "re-educating"
and murdering anyone who educated or Westernized, as well as minority
In 1978, Vietnam, by then fully Communist,
invaded Cambodia to put a stop to the Khmer Rouge and drive them
out. They installed a more moderate and sane regime.
The United States, the UK, and China then
supported the remnants of the Khmer Rouge. With their help the
conflict continued for another ten years.
When George Bush, or anyone else, uses
the Cambodian holocaust as a warning of what might happen if America
withdraws from Iraq, remember the facts.
1. Part of the holocaust in Cambodia is
directly attributable to American bombing. The 750,000 dead. (Comparable
to the number of Iraqis killed by American forces in this war.)
2. The civil war that led to the victory
of the Khmer Rouge came about, at least in part, because of America's
support of Lon Nol.
3. The "enemy," the Vietnamese
Communists, were the ones who put a stop to the Khmer Rouge.
4. The United States supported the Khmer
Rouge - after their murders, after the genocide. That support
helped a civil war continue for another decade. More death, more