Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Cambodia 1970, Pakistan 2009: Will Predators create new Khmer Rouge?

A striking parallel has occurred to me. It's not a one to one analogy in terms of scale, but there's a similar cause and effect relationship. Remember the Khmer Rouge? The monstrosity that murdered millions of Cambodians during its tenure in power in the 1970s? What social factors led to its creation and insane actions?

During the Vietnam war the US wanted to stop the flow of reinforcements and supplies from North Vietnam to the National Liberation Front's fighters in the South. The route of roads and footpaths that carried this traffic was called the "Ho Chi Minh trail" and it ran along the Vietnam-Cambodian border. The US also complained that the neutralist Cambodian government of Prince Sihanouk was tolerating the existence of NLF "sanctuaries" in Cambodia. Nixon's invasion of Cambodia in 1970, which sparked mass protests in the US, was supposed to eliminate this problem.

This move led to the ousting of Sihanouk and the installation of Lon Nol as a US backed military dictator. Encouraged to wipe out any Vietnamese presence and to "pacify" the countryside in which an indigenous revolutionary movement was operating, Nixon ordered what was bizarrely called the "secret bombing" of Cambodia. It wasn't a secret to the villagers who were being bombed, or those who did the bombing... Anyway, large numbers of bombing runs by B-52s were carried out and thousands of villages were obliterated. These were not what could be called "surgical strikes."

The result? As we all know the US lost the Indochina war and it's client states in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia collapsed. What was achieved by the "secret bombing" in Cambodia was the total destruction of the fabric of village society. This facilitated the Chinese-supported Khmer Rouge (the Chinese wanted a counterweight to the USSR in the region) in attracting, indoctrinating and arming thousands of very young refugees into a vengeance-seeking army, which marched into Pnom Phen in 1975 and began a reign of mass murder. This implacable, child/peasant army was unleashed to eradicate anyone or thing associated with cities, foreigners, education, etc.

This bloody rule of the Khmer Rouge and it's leader Pol Pot was ended via Vietnamese military intervention in 1979. It should be noted that the US government protested this action by the Vietnamese and gave diplomatic and military support to the exiled Khmer Rouge for several years.

Now think about the US military's remotely controlled Predator aircraft missile strikes in the Pakistani territory bordering Afghanistan. Not exactly saturation bombing by B52s, but killing defenseless villagers on a retail scale rather than wholesale can bring about similar results. You can immediately discount any claims that only "bad guys" (this commonly used term denotes the true depth of thinking involved in policy making) are being hit. Smart bombs, stupid bombs, marginally intelligent bombs... this has always been a scam. In Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Gaza, wherever such bombing is done, civilians, children, families are killed and maimed.

I'm not sure Predator strikes in Pakistan will destroy village life and drive thousands of young men whose families have been killed or wounded into ranks of armed fundamentalists. But perhaps it will, or is currently doing so. Everything adds up when pursuing a destructive self-defeating policy, as the US is doing. Military solutions to social and political problems, "good guys" vs "bad guys," body counts ... the Vietnam era stupidities have been successfully passed on to a new generation of military morons.

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