The USA and the Khmer Rouge

Cambodia still run by the Khmer Rouge

After calling President Putin a war criminal and indeed accusing him of genocide, many of pseudo-left in the US have been left somewhat perturbed by the reluctance of Uncle Sam to call out actual genocide in Gaza. Yet if you understand anything about US foreign policy you will know that this is far from an isolated experience, as the people of Cambodia very well know.

Such was the impact of the brief rule of the Khmer Rouge that many people still associate war and suffering with contemporary Cambodia. In actuality the country is now not only thriving, with an average 7.7% annual growth, but is in its longest period of stability for almost 100 years. As Cambodia well knows perceptions are not changed overnight.

This though is not the only thing people do not know about Cambodia though. Because while many know of the horrors that Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge inflicted on Cambodia most do not realize that after their overthrow not only did the west still support them diplomatically, but also armed them to the teeth while starving the legitimate majority of the country.

The US role in the rise of the Khmer Rouge

While the United States cannot be accused of supporting the Communist Party of Kampuchea AKA the Khmer Rouge it was their policies that arguably led to the eventual success of the then Khmer Rouge.

This initially started in the 1960’s when Cambodian was ruled by the charismatic and nominally socialist Prince Sihanouk. Sihanouk had tried to guide Cambodia into neutrality with the country not only being a firm member of the Non-Aligned Movement, but also headlining events such as the GANEFO games, which it also hosted.

On the flip side though and much to the ire of the USA Sihanouk was also firm friends with China, as well as quite literally best friends with President Kim Il-Sung. This alongside the Viet Cong traversing Cambodia on the Ho Chi Minh trail meant he had to go.

In 1970 Sihanouk was replaced by Lon Nol following a coup and the Khmer Republic was formed. This led to China and North Korea persuading supporters of Sihanouk to join the Khmer Rouge rebels in fighting the Khmer Republic.

This unholy alliance led to quick success for the Khmer Rouge, something. That would have been unlikely had Sihanouk remained in power, rather than as a rebel that many rural fighters thought they were battling for.

And of course what was to follow was the barbaric regime of Democratic Kampuchea where as many as 1/4 of the population or around 2 million people died. This would have almost certainly not happened had the US not sponsored the coup in Cambodian,. Yet despite this abject failure American meddling within the country had only just begun.

The USA and the Khmer Rouge rebels

In 1979 the barbaric regime of the Khmer Rouge were overthrown by rebel Cambodian communists led by Vietnam. Democratic Kampuchea was duly replaced the People Republic of Kampuchea a Vietnamese and thus Soviet aligned state.

Yet despite the people of Cambodia being quite literally rescued from genocide, the west continued to recognize the government of Democratic Kampuchea at the United Nations, which led to senior Khmer Rouge leaders being courted on the international stage until the early 90’s.

It was though in the new Khmer Rouge rebellion against the central government where some of the worst actions of the west were to occur.

Fearing Soviet dominance within the region Sihanouk was again talked into forming an alliance with the Khmer Rouge who together formed the Coalition Government of Democratic Kampuchea. And while this “coalition” represented different groups, by far the strongest militarily were the Army of Democratic Kampuchea who would wreak havoc on the Peoples Republic of Kampuchea well into the early 1990’s.

The US have of course claimed that they only supplied the troops of “democratic forces” rather than the Khmer Rouge, but alas this is not only frankly untrue, but is a contemporary lie we have seen again in both Syria and Afghanistan. During this time the US also got to happily turn away as its new ally at the time, the Peoples Republic of China trained and armed the Khmer Rouge.

And this support would continue almost unabated until the early 90’s when Cambodia was finally to achieve some form of peace in 1993. Initially it looked like Pol Pot and his cohorts might even join the new government – again with western support, before they reneged and continued their insurgency.

Thus for the next 5 years the Khmer Rouge continued fighting with the money, training and guns that they had been supplied by the United States, China and Thailand to name but a few.

Cambodia would eventually see peace through after the death of Pol Pot and the instigation of the Win-Win policy by Premier Hun Sen. To this day America barely acknowledges its role in one of the worst genocides of the 20th century save some aid for de-mining within the country.

With this in mind it really is no surprise to see the hypocrisy of their current behavior in Gaza after all if the USA and the Khmer Rouge can be allies, is there really anyone out there that the US would not support if it benefited them?