Cambodian Genocide in American Universities

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Cambodian Genocide in American Universities

Post by Queef » Fri May 17, 2019 4:53 pm

Stumbled upon a textbook I studied in college. Genocide: A Comprehensive Introduction by Adam Jones. (Chapter 7: Cambodian Genocide) https://www.mcvts.net/cms/lib07/NJ01911 ... xtbook.pdf

One view of Cambodia prior to the upheavals of the late 1960s and 1970s depicted it as a “gentle land.” Peaceful Buddhists presided over one of the rice bowls of Southeast Asia, where peasants owned the soil they tilled. This picture is far from false. Indeed, Cambodia was abundant in rice, and peasant landownership was comparatively high. But the stereotype overlooks a darker side of Cambodian history and society: absolutism, a politics of vengeance, a ready recourse to torture. “Patterns of extreme violence against people defined as enemies, however arbitrarily, have very long roots in Cambodia,” wrote historian Michael Vickery. Journalist Elizabeth Becker likewise pointed to “a tradition of violence,” adding: “The Cambodian communist movement was an expression of these conflicting, desperate impulses.”

This is not to say that “a tradition of violence” determined that the Khmer Rouge (KR) would come to power. In fact, until relatively late in the process, it was a marginal presence. However, neither was the Khmer Rouge an outright aberration. Certainly, the KR’s emphasis on concentrating power and wielding it in tyrannical fashion was entirely in keeping with Cambodian tradition. “Absolutism . . . is a core element of authority and legitimacy in Cambodia,” writes David Roberts. As for the supposedly pacific nature of Buddhism, the religion that overwhelmingly predominated in Cambodia, Vickery denounces it as “arrant nonsense.” “That Buddhists may torture and massacre is no more astonishing than that the Inquisition burned people or that practicing Catholics and Protestants joined the Nazi SS.”

Another element of Cambodian history and politics is an aggressive nostalgia for past glories. Cambodia under the Angkor Empire, which peaked from the twelfth to the fourteenth centuries, was a powerful nation, incorporating vast territories that
today belong to its neighbors. It extended to the South China Sea, and included southern regions of Vietnam as well as regions of present-day Laos, Thailand, and Burma. At the height of its power, forced laborers built the great temples of Angkor Wat, the world’s largest religious complex. Ever since, including for the Khmer Rouge, Angkor Wat has served as Cambodia’s national symbol.

Cambodian nationalists harked back constantly to these halcyon days, and advanced irredentist territorial claims with varying degrees of seriousness. Most significantly, the rich lands of today’s southern Vietnam were designated Kampuchea Krom, “Lower Cambodia” in nationalist discourse, though they have been part of Vietnam since at least 1840. This rivalry with Vietnam, and a messianic desire to reclaim “lost” Cambodian territories, fed Khmer Rouge fanaticism. The government led by the avowedly anti-imperialist Communist Party of Cambodia (the official name of the KR) was as xenophobic and expansionist as any regime in Asia. By the nineteenth century, Cambodia’s imperial prowess was long dissipated, and the country easily fell under the sway of the French [...]

Click on the link above if you're interested in reading the rest of the chapter.
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Re: Cambodian Genocide in American Universities

Post by SternAAlbifrons » Fri May 17, 2019 7:30 pm

Thanks Queef. Good to have some serious Cambodian crime to read about instead of the usual sordid line up of twisted petty crime and ghoulish murder that this tabloid usually serves up.
I will give it a good peruse over the weekend.

I will be most interested to check how these 2006 hopes and dreams of US genocide academia stack up against the 2019 reality of a Khmer Rouge Tribunal that has seriously lost it's way.
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Re: Cambodian Genocide in American Universities

Post by John Bingham » Fri May 17, 2019 7:49 pm

Good points, I find it annoying when people refer to this mythical gentle land and golden age. Often you hear the 1960s being held up as a golden age, but if you look at the period there were some big steps forward and then a steady decline. Michael Vickery's chapter "The Gentle Land" is very revealing, as are the writings by those who were involved in the Issaraks. I'll have to check out that PDF.
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Re: Cambodian Genocide in American Universities

Post by John Bingham » Fri May 17, 2019 9:47 pm

The book has some interesting points but fails on many levels. I don't think the portrayal of the conflict here in the 1970s is very accurate.
The significance of this action was outweighed by a second US response: the escalation from 1970 of the campaign of saturation bombing first launched against
Vietnamese border sanctuaries in Cambodia in 1969. The campaign climaxed in 1973, a year that saw a quarter of a million tons of bombs dropped on Cambodia in
just six months.
This account completely ignores one element. The Cambodians. Many Cambodians supported the Republican Government, and were very grateful for the USAAF support for a war that they were ill-prepared for. Most Cambodians resented the Vietnamese PAVN and NLF invading the country, and the Communist Kampucheans who they trained and allowed to mop up and take over areas that they weren't interested in, so they could go back to Hanoi or the frontline. The bombing might at times have been excessive, but much of it was actually called in by Khmer Republic troops in the field through a sort of FAC in the US Embassy in Phnom Penh. Much of the countryside had already been abandoned, partly because of bombing raids but not just that. The areas taken over by the CPK were subjected to collectivization around 1973, besides the mandatory bunker digging and transportation etc the locals were forced into, while their kids are getting dragged off and brainwashed. I believe at the time of the 1975 Khmer Rouge victory 1 million were living in liberated areas and 6 million were in the cities. The US bombing greatly delayed the CPK victory, it probably would have come in 1973 after the Paris Peace Accords if it weren't for the much-criticized intensive bombing of CPK forces in that period. Bombing wasn't the answer, but after Congress stopped the USAAF bombing in August 1973 things became very difficult for the Khmer Republic. They had some quite effective T28s and UH-1s etc at that stage and were using artillery much more effectively but it became a losing battle, especially when the Republican troop positions would regularly get overrun and their artillery got captured.
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Re: Cambodian Genocide in American Universities

Post by SternAAlbifrons » Fri May 17, 2019 10:17 pm

John Bingham wrote:
Fri May 17, 2019 9:47 pm
I believe at the time of the 1975 Khmer Rouge victory 1 million were living in liberated areas and 6 million were in the cities.
Hey JB, where did you you get those numbers from?

I am not questioning the accuracy (yet) - i have been trying to get a satisfactory fix on that myself, so far without successes.
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Re: Cambodian Genocide in American Universities

Post by John Bingham » Fri May 17, 2019 10:20 pm

It was from some relatively reliable document I read recently but I'm not in the mood for scanning through a million PDFs right now. I'll have to get back to you on that.
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Re: Cambodian Genocide in American Universities

Post by k*rm*geddon » Fri May 17, 2019 10:47 pm

In the final 12 months before the KR took power, many of those peasants who were able to flee the 'liberated' areas for government enclaves did so. The people recognized the KR for what they were and wanted out.

But JB's numbers do seem way out of whack.
MY 99 CENT KINDLE: ... 1974 TRAVEL IN THAILAND, CAMBODIA AND SOUTH VIETNAM : http://www.amazon.co.uk/EXPLAINING-CAMB ... B00L0LC8TO
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Re: Cambodian Genocide in American Universities

Post by John Bingham » Fri May 17, 2019 11:01 pm

k*rm*geddon wrote:
Fri May 17, 2019 10:47 pm

But JB's numbers do seem way out of whack.
I'm probably quoting a Khmer Republic official, but the basic point stands that pretty much nobody wanted to live in a warzone and those who did try and stay in the countryside found themselves increasingly forced into policies that didn't work with the way they were used to doing things. The Khmer Rouge controlled some districts in the center of the country very tightly in 1973, but then found when they sent their main battle forces to the front lines the local population would just get up and run to the nearest city. It could be argued that this was a deliberate policy of the communists, to put as big a strain on the resources of the enemy as possible. So I'll have a look for those figures when I'm sober, you're one of the only people on here who was in Phnom Penh in the 70s who actually saw it on the ground.
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Re: Cambodian Genocide in American Universities

Post by k*rm*geddon » Fri May 17, 2019 11:10 pm

So I've just looked at pages 46-47 which outline the US 'imperialism' and 'genocide' in Indochina.
It is a lamentable drivel.
The targeted audience is clearly the same kind that would swallow the fantasy of Trump being Putin's man in the White House.

Unfortunately, such dupes exist in their millions.
MY 99 CENT KINDLE: ... 1974 TRAVEL IN THAILAND, CAMBODIA AND SOUTH VIETNAM : http://www.amazon.co.uk/EXPLAINING-CAMB ... B00L0LC8TO
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Re: Cambodian Genocide in American Universities

Post by John Bingham » Fri May 17, 2019 11:29 pm

Sure, these accounts do nobody any favors. It saddens me when people go for simplistic narratives that ignore the situation on the ground.
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