Shortly after arriving at my university in my freshman year, my buddy Roy suggested that we go see a fellow named Dith Pran speak at the student center (hmm that same month I also saw Jello Biafra speak which was badass). I was 17 at the time and was just beginning to sink the roots of my anti-war tree after the seed had been planted during high school, so I had no context for understanding this whole situation until many years later. What I did know was that this passionate doctor described atrocities in detail that I could not accept as justifiable. I actually never got around to watching the Killing Fields until recently even though I always had a superficial understanding of what went down. Now I really get it.
The communist takeover of Cambodia by the Khmer Rouge, a direct result of US intervention in Vietnam, is rarely discussed these days so I thought I’d try to put it back on the map. It has been a constant reminder to me over the years that any rationale for preemptive warfare is 100% garbage and causes nothing but grief, despair and unintended consequences. It’s also a reminder to me that US foreign policy doesn’t really give a damn about humanitarian military action because if it did, we would have done something about the horrific genocide of millions of Cambodians. It’s also a stark reminder of what could happen in this country if Obama’s communist takeover succeeds in full and in general what happens to countries that succumb to communism.
Zbigniew Brzezinski is supposedly on record stating the following:
“I encouraged the Chinese to support Pol Pot. I encouraged the Thai to help the Khmer Rouge. The question was how to help the Cambodian people. Pol Pot was an abomination. We could never support him. But China could.”
Well that makes it OK then, eh. As if the Cambodian people were just pawns on the “Grand Chessboard” or units in a Risk game.
Anyone even remotely appearing intellectual was put to death – if you wore glasses, that was an automatic death sentence. If you spoke foreign languages, you were done. There was literally a pyramid of skeletal remains outside of Phnom Phen and an estimated 2 million people were slaughtered.
The movie has you thinking that a mistaken carpet bombing that hit a remote Cambodian village near the Vietnam border by a US B-52 was the catalyst for the Khmer Rouge to emerge and retaliate. I’m not exactly sure what the whole story was, but that suffices to encapsulate the causal mechanism behind this horror, much like how the humiliation of the German people from the Treaty of Versailles eventually led to the rise of the Nazi party and WWII.
If our military truly cared about bringing freedom to oppressed countries, this and many other humanitarian nightmares would be dealt with. I personally don’t agree with intervention and I think none of it would have happened if we had just stayed out of Vietnam to begin with, but that’s kind of a different thread.
If you haven’t seen the Killing Fields, you need to. It is one of the best movies of all time.