Lets set the scene. The Nazis have been ousted from power after killing over 6 million Jews and other minorities. They are fighting a guerrilla war to regain power and the West not only lets them keep their UN seat, but actively funds them.
Sounds a bit ridiculous, right? Well, that is basically what we did in Cambodia.
I’ll keep the full review of the war in south-East Asia and the brutal regime of Pol Pot and his minions to a minimal here, but we can do a quick recap.
The US was fighting Vietnam and losing badly. As part of this war, they helped with the 1972 overthrow of the King Sihanouk regime in 1972 and his replacement by Lon Nol. This regime was not only very unpopular, but the US continued dropping a shit ton of bombs in the Cambodian countryside. Encouraged by China, an unlikely alliance was formed by the Cambodian communists, also known as the Khmer Rouge and the Sihanouk. This resulted in many Cambodians thinking they were actually fighting for the restoration of the monarchy and led to their eventual victory.
Fast forward to 1975 and the start of the Khmer Rouge regime. Cities were emptied into the countryside, and people started being massacred or starved to death to such a level that in 4 years up to 1/4, or 2 million of the Cambodian population were massacred.
The regime was eventually overthrown by a combined force of Cambodian Khmer Rouge defectors and the Vietnamese army.
The newly installed regime began putting the country back to normal whilst the Khmer Rouge fled to the Thai border and regrouped.
King Sihanouk, a man, clearly not opposed to making the same mistake twice, decided to again align with the Khmer Rouge, and the stage was set for almost 20 more years of civil war. The main reasoning essentially being racist anti-Vietnamese sentiment.
Now you’d expect here that with the genocidal regime overthrown and a new government trying to rebuild things, the West would have been happy, but alas not. This was the cold war where my enemies enemy is my friend, so we decided to not only let Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge keep the seat on the UN but via proxies in Thailand and beyond actually continue funding the maniacs.
The next 13 years were anything but pretty with tens of thousands (including children) being killed or maimed by mines and up to 1/6 to 1/4 of the country being under the control of the Khmer Rouge.
And one of the worst and weirdest parts about this was that in the West, leaders were quite unashamed in their support for the Khmer Rouge. One of the weirdest elements during this whole time was a bizarre interview help by Margaret Thatcher on a UK kids TV show called Blue Peter which is frankly scary as hell, whereby she says pretty much “ah they weren’t all that bad.”
Between 1988 and 1993, peace finally looked like it might be heading Cambodia’s way, with the likelihood of the Khmer Rouge being involved in some form of government looking pretty high. The Khmer Rouge changed into the Coalition Government of Kampuchea, before deciding to boycott elections and continue as the Government of National Union and National Salvation of Cambodia, in opposition to the newly formed government of Cambodia.
After 14 years of wreaking havoc with western support, the Khmer Rouge were now unrecognized but continued to wreak havoc across the country in their own little unrecognized state.
Defections and military losses followed until the death of Pol Pot in 1998 (ironically at Khmer New Year) and the eventual dissolution of the Khmer Rouge and their last state.
Many have suggested Pol Pot committed suicide, thus evading a trial for his sins, something western governments were probably quite glad about. After all, what Pol Pot would have been able to say about western collusion with his despotic regime would have scared a few of the big players out there.
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