Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Refuting Peggy Noonan's Cold War Fantasy

In Peggy Noonan's world, Mark Felt is responsible for Cambodian genocide. To be generous, we may describe this as wishful thinking:

Even if Mr. Felt had mixed motives, even if he did not choose the most courageous path in attempting to spread what he thought was the truth, his actions might be judged by their fruits. The Washington Post said yesterday that Mr. Felt's information allowed them to continue their probe. That probe brought down a president. Ben Stein is angry but not incorrect: What Mr. Felt helped produce was a weakened president who was a serious president at a serious time. Nixon's ruin led to a cascade of catastrophic events--the crude and humiliating abandonment of Vietnam and the Vietnamese, the rise of a monster named Pol Pot, and millions--millions--killed in his genocide. America lost confidence; the Soviet Union gained brazenness. What a terrible time. Is it terrible when an American president lies and surrounds himself by dirty tricksters? Yes, it is. How about the butchering of children in the South China Sea. Is that worse? Yes. Infinitely, unforgettably and forever.

And so the story that Mark Felt was Deep Throat exposes old fissures, and those fissures are alive and can burst open because a wound this size--all this death, all this loss--doesn't really heal.

Noonan vs. Reality:

Tony Iltis:

Establishment media accounts of Cambodia's recent past focus on the genocidal rule of Pol Pot's Communist Party of Kampuchea (Khmer Rouge) between 1975 and 1979. This regime could be used by Cold War propagandists as the ultimate proof of Communist barbarity and an excuse for the US government having waged war against “Communism” in Indochina (Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos).

What actually happened in Cambodia during the '70s contradicts the myths created by this propaganda onslaught:

* Pol Pot's horrific rule was preceded by devastating US aggression. In 1969, the US launched an unprovoked bombing of Cambodia (with whom the US was not at war) which lasted until 1975.

* The Cambodian resistance took the ultra-violent direction that it did in 1975 only because of the destruction and dislocation created by the US war. The Pol Pot holocaust, far from being a justification for the US holocaust, was the direct result.

* Cambodia was liberated from the horrors of Pol Pot, not by intervention from the western “democracies”, but by intervention from Communist Vietnam and a force of Cambodian Communists.

* Following the overthrow of Pol Pot, the US and other western powers and China rearmed the Khmer Rouge and installed them in camps along the Thai-Cambodian border. They also encouraged the alliance which was formed between the Khmer Rouge and Ranariddh's FUNCINPEC.

Other Kissinger/Ford teamwork:

Kissinger has been blamed as the mastermind of the secret and illegal bombings of Cambodia beginning in 1969 during the Vietnam War, which by some estimates killed as many people as the subsequent Pol Pot regime. An estimated 600,000 to one million people were killed in this decade long holocaust. U.S. B-52s pounded Cambodia for 160 consecutive days in 1973, dropping more than 240,000 short tons of bombs on rice fields, water buffalo, villages; this was 50% more tonnage than we dropped on Japan during WWII. At the time the Pol Pot took over in April 1975 Cambodia was a devastated nation on the verge of mass starvation with crops unsowed and vast numbers of refugees in and around Phnom Penh suddenly cut off from the U.S. aid that had kept them alive. High U.S. officials were estimating a million deaths from starvation before the Khmer
Rouge takeover

President Ford and Secretary of State Kissinger also gave the go ahead to Indonesia's invasion of East Timor and subsequent massive war crimes there.

Ben Kiernan, Recovering History and Justice in Cambodia, p.79

The Khmer Rouge won the war in April 1975. They emptied Cambodia’s cities into the countryside, persecuting and murdering the deported towns-people, who tended to be more educated than the peasantry. Pol Pot’s new communist regime, called Democratic Kampuchea (DK), also committed genocide against the Khmer Buddhist monkhood, the traditional bearers of cultural literacy. DK expelled 150,000 Vietnamese residents from Cambo-dia, killed all 10,000 who stayed, and carried out larger, less systematic genocide against the country’s Chinese and Muslim minorities. In all, 1.7 million people died in four years. Upgrading the traditional term for routing enemies, DK’s slogan became kchat kchay os roling (“scatter them to the last”). Targeting history too, the Khmer Rouge scattered libraries, burned books, closed schools, and murdered schoolteachers. Three-quarters of Cambodia’s 20,000 teachers perished, or fled abroad.
As the genocide progressed, for geopolitical reasons, Washington, Bei-jing, and Bangkok all supported the continued independent existence of the Khmer Rouge regime. When U.S. President Gerald Ford and Secretary of State Kissinger visited Indonesian president Suharto on 6 December 1975, the transcript released in 2001 reveals that Ford, deploring the recent U.S. defeat in Vietnam, told Suharto: “There is, however, resistance in Cambodia to the influence of Hanoi. We are willing to move slowly in our relations with Cambodia, hoping perhaps to slow down the North Vietnamese influ-ence although we find the Cambodian government very difficult.” Kissinger explained Beijing’s similar strategy: “the Chinese want to use Cambodia to balance off Vietnam….We don’t like Cambodia, for the government in many ways is worse than Vietnam, but we would like it to be independent. We don’t discourage Thailand or China from drawing closer to Cambo-dia.”