there is no reconstruction...,
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from there to here...,
but we were so totally not in cambodia in 1968...:
Taylor Owen and Ben Kiernan, Bombs Over Cambodia (emph added):
The still-incomplete database (it has several “dark” periods) reveals that from October 4, 1965, to August 15, 1973, the United States dropped far more ordnance on Cambodia than was previously believed: 2,756,941 tons’ worth, dropped in 230,516 sorties on 113,716 sites. Just over 10 percent of this bombing was indiscriminate, with 3,580 of the sites listed as having “unknown” targets and another 8,238 sites having no target listed at all. The database also shows that the bombing began four years earlier than is widely believed—not under Nixon, but under Lyndon Johnson.
... begun in 1965 under the Johnson administration, had already seen 475,515 tons of ordnance dropped on Cambodia...when pro-US General Lon Nol seized power ... Nixon demanded more bombing, deeper into the country: “They have got to go in there and I mean really go in...I want everything that can fly to go in there and crack the hell out of them. There is no limitation on mileage and there is no limitation on budget. Is that clear?”
Kissinger knew that this order ignored Nixon’s promise to Congress that US planes would remain within thirty kilometres of the Vietnamese border his own assurances to the public that bombing would not take place within a kilometre of any village, and military assessments stating that air strikes were like poking a beehive with a stick.
Five minutes after his conversation with Nixon ended, Kissinger called General Alexander Haig to relay the new orders from the president: “He wants a massive bombing campaign in Cambodia. He doesn’t want to hear anything. It’s an order, it’s to be done. Anything that flies, on anything that moves. You got that?” The response from Haig, barely audible on tape, sounds like laughter.
Thanks to the database, we now know that the US bombardment started three-and-a-half years earlier, in 1965, under the Johnson administration. What happened in 1969 was not the start of bombings in Cambodia but the escalation into carpet bombing. From 1965 to 1968, 2,565 sorties took place over Cambodia, with 214 tons of bombs dropped. These early strikes were likely tactical, designed to support the nearly two thousand secret ground incursions conducted by the cia and US Special Forces during that period. B-52s—long-range bombers capable of carrying very heavy loads — were not deployed, whether out of concern for Cambodian lives or the country’s neutrality, or because carpet bombing was believed to be of limited strategic value.
The last phase of the bombing, from February to August 1973, was designed to stop the Khmer Rouge’s advance on the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh. The United States, fearing that the first Southeast Asian domino was about to fall, began a massive escalation of the air war — an unprecedented B-52 bombardment that focused on the heavily populated area around Phnom Penh but left few regions of the country untouched. The extent of this bombardment has only now come to light.
The data released by Clinton shows the total payload dropped during these years to be nearly five times greater than the generally accepted figure. To put the revised total of 2,756,941 tons into perspective, the Allies dropped just over 2 million tons of bombs during all of World War II, including the bombs that struck Hiroshima and Nagasaki: 15,000 and 20,000 tons, respectively. Cambodia may well be the most heavily bombed country in history.
And then there's the old argument about whether the US-backed coup of Sihanouk or the US bombing campaign was more responsible for the subsequent victory of the Khmer Rouge. They make the case for the bombing:
Previously, it was estimated that between 50,000 and 150,000 Cambodian civilians were killed by the bombing. Given the fivefold increase in tonnage revealed by the database, the number of casualties is surely higher.
The Cambodian bombing campaign had two unintended side effects that ultimately combined to produce the very domino effect that the Vietnam War was supposed to prevent. First, the bombing forced the Vietnamese Communists deeper and deeper into Cambodia, bringing them into greater contact with Khmer Rouge insurgents. Second, the bombs drove ordinary Cambodians into the arms of the Khmer Rouge, a group that seemed initially to have slim prospects of revolutionary success.
The Nixon administration knew that the Khmer Rouge was winning over peasants. The cia’s Directorate of Operations, after investigations south of Phnom Penh, reported in May 1973 that the Communists were “using damage caused by B-52 strikes as the main theme of their propaganda.” But this does not seem to have registered as a primary strategic concern. ...
Having grown to more than two hundred thousand troops and militia forces by 1973, the Khmer Rouge captured Phnom Penh two years later. They wenton to subject Cambodia to a Maoist agrarian revolution and a genocide in which 1.7 million people perished. ... Washington gave military aid to prop up Lon Nol’s regime from 1970 to 1975 while the US Air Force conducted its massive aerial bombardment.
And then they observe that this is one of the policies presently under the consideration of our national treasure trove of foreign policy geniuses in Washington, for Iraq.
update: Another point I should have stressed. The release of this data was a last minute decision by the Clinton administration in 2000 to assist efforts to clear unexploded ordinance. Nevermind longrunning American support for the Khmer Rouge after our exit. This information should have been released 30 years ago, or at the end of 5 other presidents' terms, and would have been if concern for innocent Cambodian lives had ever been an issue. Thousands of lives could have been saved had Clinton released the data when he entered office, nevermind the impact on poverty and hunger with the land being made available for development. Moral clarity never was so opaque.
:: posted by buermann @ 2006-12-02 16:17:28 CST |