At least insofar as Pol Pot was a dirtbag and U.S. policy contributed
to Pol Pot's rise.
The man was a creep who killed people for no reason other than arragance.
Cambodia's empty dock
International justice is a farce while those in the west who sided with Pol Pot's murders escape trial
The Guardian, Saturday 21 February 2009
At my hotel in Phnom Penh, the women and children sat on one side of the room, palais-style, the men on the other. It was a disco night and a lot of fun; then suddenly people walked to the windows and wept. The DJ had played a song by the much-loved Khmer singer Sin Sisamouth, who had been forced to dig his own grave and to sing the Khmer Rouge anthem before he was beaten to death. I experienced many such reminders.
There was another kind of reminder. In the village of Neak Long I walked with a distraught man through a necklace of bomb craters. His entire family of 13 had been blown to pieces by an American B-52. That had happened almost two years before Pol Pot came to power in 1975. It is estimated more than 600,000 Cambodians were slaughtered that way.
The problem with the UN-backed trial of the remaining Khmer Rouge leaders, which has just begun in Phnom Penh, is that it is dealing only with the killers of Sin Sisamouth and not with the killers of the family in Neak Long, and not with their collaborators. There were three stages of Cambodia's holocaust. Pol Pot's genocide was but one of them, yet only it has a place in the official memory.
It is highly unlikely Pot Pot would have come to power had President Richard Nixon and his national security adviser, Henry Kissinger, not attacked neutral Cambodia. In 1973, B-52s dropped more bombs on Cambodia's heartland than were dropped on Japan during the second world war: equivalent to five Hiroshimas. Files reveal that the CIA was in little doubt of the effect. "[The Khmer Rouge] are using damage caused by B-52 strikes as the main theme of their propaganda," reported the director of operations on May 2, 1973. "This approach has resulted in the successful recruitment of a number of young men [and] has been effective with refugees."
Prior to the bombing, the Khmer Rouge had been a Maoist cult without a popular base. The bombing delivered a catalyst. What Nixon and Kissinger began, Pol Pot completed. Kissinger will not be in the dock in Phnom Penh. He is advising President Obama on geopolitics. Neither will Margaret Thatcher, nor a number of her retired ministers and officials who, in secretly supporting the Khmer Rouge after the Vietnamese had expelled them, contributed directly to the third stage of Cambodia's holocaust.
In 1979, the US and Britain imposed a devastating embargo on stricken Cambodia because its liberators, Vietnam, had come from the wrong side of the cold war. Few Foreign Office campaigns have been as cynical or as brutal. The British demanded that the now defunct Pol Pot regime retain the "right" to represent its victims at the UN and voted with Pol Pot in the agencies of the UN, including the World Health Organisation, thereby preventing it from working in Cambodia. To disguise this outrage, Britain, the US and China, Pol Pot's main backer, invented a "non communist" coalition in exile that was, in fact, dominated by the Khmer Rouge. In Thailand, the CIA and Defence Intelligence Agency formed direct links with the Khmer Rouge.
In 1983, the Thatcher government sent the SAS to train the "coalition" in landmine technology - in a country more seeded with mines than anywhere except Afghanistan. "I confirm," Thatcher wrote to opposition leader Neil Kinnock, "that there is no British government involvement of any kind in training, equipping or co-operating with Khmer Rouge forces or those allied to them." The lie was breathtaking. In 1991, the Major government was forced to admit to parliament that the SAS had been secretly training the "coalition".
Unless international justice is a farce, those who sided with Pol Pot's mass murderers ought to be summoned to the court in Phnom Penh: at the very least their names read into infamy's register.
HILoSoPHer and linguist
Noam chomsky says the
United States owes cambodia
not only an apology but massive
reparations for the b-52 bombing
campaign called operation Menu
that killed up to a million people.
the campaign lasted from March
18, 1969, to May 26, 1970, destroyed
an estimated 1,000 towns and
villages, displaced 2 million people
and, chomsky says, and helped
bring the Khmer rouge to power.
chomsky’s comments come
after the US last week ruled out
a plea from cambodian Prime
Minister Hun Sen to forgive a
US$317 million debt to the US
accrued by the Lon Nol regime
during the 1970s.
In the interview, chomsky said:
“Henry Kissinger would certainly
be brought to trial for his role in
the bombing, if the world were
governed by justice, not forces.”
In our 1988 book, Herman and
I reviewed the way the horrors in
cambodia had been treated through
three distinct phases: the US war
before the Khmer rouge takeover in
April 1975; the Khmer rouge period;
the period after Vietnam invaded
and drove out the Khmer rouge and
the US and britain turned at once
to direct military and diplomatic
support for the Khmer rouge
(“Democratic Kampuchea”). by the
time we wrote, it was known that the
pre-1975 US war was horrendous,
but it is only in the past few years
that more extensive documents
have been released.
We now know that the most brutal
phase began in 1970, when Henry
Kissinger transmitted President
Nixon’s orders for “massive bombing
of cambodia, anything that flies on
anything that moves” (Kissinger’s
words, to General Haig).
It is hard
to find a declaration with such clear
genocidal intent in the archival
record of any state.
And the orders
were carried out. bombing of
rural cambodia was at the level of
total Allied bombing in the Pacific
theatre during World War II. the
Khmer rouge, as we now know,
expanded to about 200,000, largely
one chapter was about cambodia.
In it, we harshly condemned Pol
Pot’s crimes, and also revealed
extraordinary fabrication and deceit.
We wrote that the crimes were
horrible enough, but commentators
ought to keep to the truth, and to
the most reliable sources, like State
Department intelligence, by all
accounts the most knowledgeable
source at the time – and also largely
suppressed, apart from our review,
because it did not conform to the
image that was manufactured. that
image was important.
It was exploited quite explicitly
to whitewash past US crimes in
Indochina, and to lay the groundwork
for new and quite awful crimes in
central America, justified on grounds
that the US had to stop the “Pol Pot
left”,We compared cambodia to
east timor, accurately: two huge
atrocities in the same time period
and same area of the world, differing
in one crucial respect: in east timor
the US and its allies had primary
responsibility for the atrocities, and
could have easily brought them to
an end; in cambodia they could do
little or nothing – as noted, there was
scarcely even a suggestion – and the
enemy’s atrocities could be and were
exploited to justify our own.
We showed that in both cases there
was massive deceit in the US and
the West, but in opposite directions:
In the case of east timor, where
the crimes could have easily been
terminated, they were suppressed
or denied; in the case of cambodia,
where nothing could be done, the
fabrication and lies would, literally,
have impressed Stalin.
What we wrote about east timor
was entirely ignored (except in
Australia), along with the rest of what
we wrote about US crimes and how
they were covered up.
What we wrote about cambodia,
in contrast, elicited huge outrage and
a new flood of lies, as we discussed
in our 1988 book. And it continues.
In general, it is extremely important
to suppress our own crimes and to
defend the right to lie at will about the
crimes of enemies. those are major
tasks of the educated classes, as we
documented at length, in these books
In 1978-79, cambodia
was a chinese ally, and Vietnam
was linked to the russians, china’s
main enemy. the chinese invasion
of Vietnam, US-backed, was
explicitly intended as punishment
of the Vietnamese. And as
you know, the US and britain
immediately turned to military,
diplomatic and ideological
support for Pol Pot (“Democratic
Question: Do you think Henry Kissinger
ought to be brought to trial for
the bombing of Cambodia? Do
you think the Khmer Rouge would
have remained a marginal force
and never taken power had the US
bombing of Cambodia never taken
place? Does the US owe Cambodia
an apology for the bombing?
Noam Chomsky: In a world governed by justice, not
forces, Kissinger would certainly
be brought to trial, not just for his
hideous crimes in cambodia. these,
as I mentioned earlier, contributed
to the rise of the Khmer rouge, while
killing unknown numbers of people
and leaving vast destruction. the
effects were so severe that high US
officials predicted that a million
would die under the best of
circumstances after the war ended
in 1975, and that two years of virtual
slave labour would be required to at
least partially restore a functioning
society in cambodia. the US owes
cambodia not just an apology but
massive reparations. And that is very
far from the only case.
In human affairs, is moral clarity
something that you can only stab at
based on complex, ever-changing
information? Does that mean
citizens have to take on the difficult,
confusing and bitter realities they’d
probably rather not think about
in order to prevent horrors from
happening in their lives? What
happens if they don’t?
Yes, individuals have to take on
these hard and often painful tasks.
If they don’t, the prospects for
decent human survival are slim