May 24, 2011
The Bloody Cambodian Revolution
Located in Southeast Asia between Thailand and Vietnam, Cambodia was home to one of the bloodiest political regimes to exist in the 20th century. In a country, in which American government reports in 1959 documented, was full of “ ‘docile and passive people…[who] could not be counted on to act in any positive way for the benefit of US aims and policies’”, the United States conflict in neighboring Vietnam brought about incredible changes to an unsuspecting people (qted. in Dunlop 70). The countryside was bombed by the United States in order to uproot suspected North Vietnamese holdouts and supply routes ...view middle of the document...
In 1969 “a decision was made in the US that was to condemn Cambodia to ruin” (Dunlop 69). President Nixon and Henry Kissinger decided to conduct bombing runs in Cambodia targeting North Vietnamese compounds. These bombing runs were not made public to the American people and most members of congress were unaware they were being conducted. Many of the bombing runs were conducted in the style of carpet bombing, in which thousands of pounds of ordinance were blanketed across an area of interest. These runs killed up to one million Cambodian people and ignited a distrust of American imperialism and capitalism in the Cambodian countryside. The growing Khmer Rouge movement played on the emotions of the peasantry, thus allowing them to recruit heavily in the countryside. After losing political control of his country due to a coup by his former deputy Lol Non, Prince Sihanouk addressed his people via radio on the 23rd of March, 1970. He told them, “’brothers and sisters…go to the jungle and join the guerillas’ (qtd in Dunlop 78). This broadcast led millions of peasants to take the side of the Khmer Rouge. They believed this would allow them to take back control of their farmland and return to living their lives peacefully and freely. With their newly swollen ranks, the Khmer rouge declared war on the Cambodian government; after years of fighting, in which they secured the entire countryside, they succeeded in taking control of the capital of Phonm Pehn, thus gaining full power of the country (Sparo).
The leaders of the Khmer Rouge then decided to rename the country Democratic Kampuchea, and began their process of establishing their vision of a proper way of life for the people of Cambodia. They evacuated the cities and created collective farming compounds in order to move the country towards a more agrarian based society. Foreign influence was banned, and all objects from imperialist countries were seized and outlawed. The Khmer Rouge isolated Cambodia from the rest of the world in an attempt to become a completely independent nation. To empower their vision of a society based on the agrarian lifestyle, the Khmer rouge forced citizens to work on farmland that they seized for themselves. Workers were forced to work non-stop with only five hours of rest between work days. During the evenings, they were forced to attend lectures and demonstrations outlining the ways the revolution was enriching their lives. They broke up families and told the citizens that the only thing they needed to concern themselves with was the revolution. Because such a forced change in public policy rarely comes about smoothly, the Khmer Rouge set up barbaric tactics to maintain control of their people (Sharp).
In 1976, after massacring hundreds of thousands of former government...