The Khmer Rouge: Ideology, Militarism, and the Revolution That Consumed a Generation

The Khmer Rouge: Ideology, Militarism, and the Revolution That Consumed a Generation

The Khmer Rouge: Ideology, Militarism, and the Revolution That Consumed a Generation

The Khmer Rouge: Ideology, Militarism, and the Revolution That Consumed a Generation

Synopsis

"The Khmer Rouge: Ideology, Militarism, and the Revolution That Consumed a Generation" examines the entire organizational life of the Khmer Rouge, looking at it from both a societal and organizational perspective. The chapters cover each pivotal period in the history of the Khmer Rouge, explaining how extreme militarism, organizational dynamics, leadership policies, and international context all conspired to establish, maintain, and destroy the Khmer Rouge as an organization. The work goes beyond inspecting the actions of a few key leadership individuals to describe the interaction among different groups of elites as well as the ideologies and culture that formed the structural foundation of the organization.

Excerpt

It was a morning in July 2009 and I was sitting inside the U.S. Embassy to apply for a visa. I had by then been studying in the United States for four years, but I still needed a visa every time I returned. As the interviews took some time, people always had to wait, during which time we often befriended the others waiting. That day, a middle-aged man approached me and started a conversation. I learnt that he was applying for an immigrant visa to meet his fiancée, who was waiting in the States. He probably must have thought I was applying for the same visa as well, and that I had a fiancée waiting for me in the States too, which was curious considering the fact that I must have looked too young. He finally asked me this question and I answered that no, I was pursuing my academic career in the United States which would then be my fifth year of study after an extra year of study in France. Both he and his friends were awed by the history of my study, which, to me, was only a humble achievement.

He then uttered a line I have never forgotten: “[Sigh] The children of this new era are not like our era, we were Children of the Artillery Bombardment Era.” This line is simple, but it dug deep into my consciousness and my thoughts. In one short and simple line, this man had just described the life of the general Cambodian population during the 30 years of civil war. To my knowledge, no Western author has ever used a phrase similar to that line, or any phrase that can rival it, in summarizing the hardship endured by the Cambodian people during the 30 years of war. The line also implied a break between two eras, a break created by the “Win-Win Policy” of Prime Minister Hun Sen.

The description was not new, and elders always spoke to me about it, except that I never paid much attention simply because I thought it to be too banal.

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