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    george w. bonaparte..., 2007-08-23 16:58:53 | Main | Family Security Matters more than the Republic..., 2007-08-23 20:19:29

    if only we had stayed the course in cambodia:

    People keep talking like bombing Cambodia didn't start until 1969, so I'll just cross post my comment at the Atlantic to my blog while I'm at it. The factoids:

    1. The bombing actually started in 1965.
    2. 475,515 tons had been dropped on Cambodia by the time of Lon Nol's March 18th, 1970 coup.
    3. The carpet bombing campaigns intended to stop the Khmer Rouge's advance had the opposite effect. Not unlike the US Bombing Survey's finding that the allied fire bombing of Hamburg enhanced the Nazi war effort by increasing the availability of the civilian workforce for wartime production, the carpet bombing of Cambodia escalated recruitment into the Khmer Rouge. The reds were dug into bomb shelters, largely unaffected by the bombing. Using the deposed Prince Sihanouk as a nationalist front they would tell terrified Khmers that only a revolution against Lon Nol - who had granted Nixon the honor of levelling his country after taking power - could end the campaign. An example, from the PBS documentary The American Experience, on the Cambodian experience:
      NARRATOR: In less than three years, the Khmer Rouge forces had grown from 3,000 to 60,000. The Khmer Rouge were no longer completely dependent on their Vietnamese Communist allies.

      CHHIT DO (Khmer Rouge organizer): The ordinary people were terrified by the bombing and the shelling, never having experienced war, and sometimes they shit in their pants when the big bombs and shells came. Two hundred to 400 shells would fall in each attack, and some people became shell-shocked -- just like their brains were completely shattered. Even after the shelling had stopped, they couldn't hold down a meal. Their minds just froze up and they would wander around mute, not talking for three or four days. Terrified and half-crazy, they would believe anything they were told. And because there was so much shelling, they believed whatever the Khmer Rouge told them.

      TONG TENG: The fear was pervasive. Everybody was scared. But the real Reds weren't dying. They weren't being hit. The Khmer Rouge, who were doing the fighting, had dug bomb shelters. So whenever the planes came, they jumped into their holes while the people, sometimes didn't even have time to get out of their houses.

      CHHIT DO: The Khmer Rouge would say that the purpose of the bombing was to completely destroy the country, not simply just to win the war, but to annihilate the population, and that it was only because we were taking cover -- moving around to avoid the bombing -- that some of us were surviving. So they used the bombing, the bomb craters and the bomb shrapnel to educate the people politically, to make the people hate and be enraged at the Americans.

      By the time Congress ended the "secret" bombing campaign in 1973 the Khmer Rouge forces were 200,000 strong.

    4. As we know now from new data "the total payload dropped during these years [was] nearly five times greater than the generally accepted figure", a "revised total of 2,756,941 tons". In WWII the allies dropped altogether something like 2 million tons, including the nukes. In Cambodia 50% more ordnance than that left the KR stronger than when the bombing began.
    5. Complaining that we didn't drop more bombs on Cambodia is batshit insane.
    6. George W. Bush was complaining that we didn't drop more bombs on Cambodia.

    For more details see the paper from last fall based on new sortie data released by the outgoing Clinton administration, "Bombs Over Cambodia [pdf]", or scan the excerpts I posted last year.

    Congress stopped the bombing, but they didn't stop US aid to Lon Nol: the USAF operated an air bridge out of U-Tapao, Thailand [*, *] to the capital in addition to deliveries via the Mekong, transporting thousands of tons/day in supplies to the capital - which by the end of the bombing campaign in August 1973 was one of Lon Nol's last holdouts. When the Khmer Rouge came out of their foxholes they were effectively in control of most of the country.

    So: we evacuated Phnompenh in April of '75 because Lon Nol lost, despite all our continued assistance. Not leaving would have just meant leaving the American staff there, waiting around to be butchered by the victorious Khmer Rouge, assuming they wouldn't have simply escorted them out of the country as they did the other foreigners who were still in the capital.

    And just to paint this all in high comedic relief:

    KISSINGER (to the Foreign Minister of Thailand): You should also tell the Cambodians that we will be friends with them. They are murderous thugs, but we won't let that stand in our way. We are prepared to improve relations with them. Tell them the latter part, but don't tell them what I said before.

    That's from November 26th, 1975.


:: posted by buermann @ 2007-08-23 19:25:19 CST | link





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