Genocide by Proxy: Cambodian Pawn on a Superpower Chessboard

Genocide by Proxy: Cambodian Pawn on a Superpower Chessboard

Genocide by Proxy: Cambodian Pawn on a Superpower Chessboard

Genocide by Proxy: Cambodian Pawn on a Superpower Chessboard

Synopsis

This is an account of a country at war and of a people consigned to the role of pawn in world politics. Haas provides detailed scholarly reassessment of the causes of the Cambodian tragedy--how Cambodia became an arena for superpower conflict. The volume vindicates Vietnam's role in the Cambodian conflict and reveals the treachery of U.S. foreign policy toward Cambodia. Haas' analysis entails a study in comparative foreign policies, an exercise that has theoretical merit for political scientists in search of paradigms of political behavior. Much of the information in the book is based on Haas' recent interviews with 100 key international figures and on primary documents.

Excerpt

In 1984 the film The Killing Fields reported to the world a horror that recalled the concentration camps of Adolf Hitler. Pol Pot's Cambodia was depicted as an open-air Auschwitz. Most filmviewers, however, are unaware of the fact that cuts were made in the section of the film where Cambodians were shown welcoming Vietnamese soldiers as liberators. Congress's decision the following year to vote overt military aid to non-Communist resistance forces in Cambodia might have appeared to respond to the public view that something should be done to improve the situation. But this US aid did not help; instead, it was part of a pattern of aid for the perpetrators of a second Holocaust. Indeed, US food aid kept the Khmer Rouge alive in 1979 and escalated to covert military aid by 1981, and in 1985 the congressional overt aid package went to Pol Pot's allies. By 1989, when the US secretary of state was in favor of placing Khmer Rouge leaders in sensitive positions in the Cambodian government in order to achieve a "comprehensive political settlement," the American people again did not get the true picture. For decades, Cambodia has been a mere pawn on a chessboard of geostrategic foreplay involving China, the Soviet Union, and the United States.

I first visited Cambodia in 1988 as a member of the United States--Indochina Reconciliation Project (USIRP) team led by John McAuliff. We began at Angkor Thom and Angkor Wat, where magnificent monuments to an ancient and powerful Cambodia remain. We then reboarded our aircraft the same afternoon to spend two nights in Phnom Penh. Rather than seeing a city emptied of shopkeepers, as it was from 1975 to 1978, we saw evidence of hope and prosperity. A Cambodian phoenix had somehow arisen from the terror of the Pol Pot era. Cambodians whom we met were unanimous in not wanting the Khmer Rouge to return to the capital city.

During our stay we received briefings at the Cambodian Foreign Ministry.

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