USA CIA Cambodia 2010 anniversaries
good timing to read up on what really happened.
Most anti-chomsky right wing phantasicst use Chomsky's writings on the topic as proof that Chomsky is pro-murderous-dicatorship or something similarly deranged.
google chomsky+cambodia and you know what I mean.
In any case... lets get some straight dope first:
What U.S. News Reports Don't Say about Cambodia
By Deirdre Griswold - 17 July, 1997
Cambodia is in the news again with the unraveling of a coalition government set up largely under U.S. tutelage in 1993. And so the capitalist media pretend to inform the public about Cambodia's history.
But in the various "backgrounders" circulating on the news wires, there is a huge omission. Hardly a word is said about 1970-75, the period when the CIA ruled Cambodia through its agent Lon Nol.
This was the defining period in modern Cambodian history. It shaped all the forces still in struggle there. Before Lon Nol's coup in March 1970, Cambodian leader King Sihanouk had remained neutral and kept his country out of the war raging in Vietnam.
That didn't satisfy Washington.
The United States wanted to use Cambodia as a base from which to attack the Vietnamese liberation forces, who were gaining ground despite the all-out war the Pentagon waged against them. So the CIA conspired with Lon Nol, Cambodian army chief of staff, to take over.
According to U.S. Green Beret Capt. Robert F. Marasco, quoted in the International Herald Tribune of June 3, 1970, Cambodian mercenaries under his command were operating in Phnom Penh during the coup.
The coup sparked mass demonstrations in 17 of Cambodia's 19 provinces throughout the month of March. But Lon Nol's military, with U.S. might behind it, responded with brutal repression--executing hundreds of Cambodian progressives by beheading.
While this was happening, Lon Nol was hailed in the Western media as a friend of the "free world."
On April 24 and 25, representatives from the South Vietnamese National Liberation Front, the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, the Pathet Lao and the Cambodian liberation forces met in an historic Summit Conference of the Indochinese People. They announced their unity in the face of imperialist aggression.
The coup leaders put in place by the CIA then welcomed in the United States, which launched a massive invasion of Cambodia on April 30, 1970.
That invasion touched off worldwide reaction. In the United States, National Guard troops shot and killed protesting students at state universities in Kent, Ohio, and Jackson, Miss.
For the next five years, the Cambodian people organized resistance to the U.S. occupation. Meanwhile the officer elite and a section of the merchants grew wealthy off war and corruption.
The March 16, 1975, New York Times described Phnom Penh: "Cabinet ministers ride to and from their air-conditioned villas in chauffeured Mercedes ... [while] refugees, crushed by food prices which have risen more than 1,000 percent ... stir the garbage in the gutter in search of something salvageable."
While starvation and war spread in the countryside, the war profiteers met with their U.S. and French contacts--France had earlier colonized all of Southeast Asia--around swimming pools in Phnom Penh's five-star hotels.
Before the coup, there was a relatively small left movement in Cambodia. But the coup and U.S. invasion thrust a war upon those who survived the executions. And by the end of that war, the resistance--known as the Khmer Rouge--found itself in power with the task of trying to put Cambodia back together again.
During the five years of war, at least a million Cambodians--out of a population of only 7 million--were killed and injured. More starved in the final months of the war.
Whenever it seemed clear that the Khmer Rouge was about to win, the United States would pour in hundreds of millions of dollars more worth of war materiel and money to prop up the Lon Nol regime.
Carpet bombings of the countryside by B-52s and Phantom jets became routine. So did the dropping of napalm.
It was U.S. policy to leave Cambodia in as devastated a condition as possible.
The Lon Nol regime crumbled in the middle of April 1975. As the Khmer Rouge entered Phnom Penh, the streets were lined with thousands of people who greeted them as liberators. But in less than a month, the United States attacked again.
A U.S. warship, the Mayaguez, penetrated Cambodia's territorial waters and was detained by Cambodian authorities. The U.S. then launched a massive attack.
A-7 fighter bombers launched from the aircraft carrier Coral Sea bombed Cambodian cities and sunk ships in the Gulf of Thailand. Marines accompanied by a flotilla of 12 naval craft invaded Koh Tang Island.
It was after this incident that seemed to threaten a resumption of the war that the Khmer Rouge began to evacuate major cities in the area--a decision that ended in a bloody purge.
The U.S. media have devoted enormous attention to this last period, which they have dubbed the "killing fields." Yet they breeze over the years of pain and suffering that brought the Cambodian struggle to that point.
Most of all, they have tried to erase from the consciousness of people in this country and the world the Pentagon's horrendous war against the peoples of Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. That war's effects persist today in all areas of life.
April 16, 2007 democracynow.org/
AMY GOODMAN: Noam Chomsky, you went to Cambodia after the bombing.
NOAM CHOMSKY: I went to Laos and North Vietnam.
AMY GOODMAN: When and why?
NOAM CHOMSKY: Two years after Howard, early 1970. I spent the week in Laos, a very moving week, happened to be in Laos right after the CIA mercenary army had cleared out about 30,000 people from the Plain of Jars in northern Laos, where they had been subjected to what was then the most fierce bombing in human history. It was succeeded shortly after by Cambodia. These are poor peasant society. Probably most of them didn.t even know they were in Laos. There was nothing there. The planes were sent there, because the bombing of North Vietnam had been temporarily stopped, and there was nothing for the Air Force to do, so they bombed Laos. They had been living in caves for over two years, trying to farm at night. They had finally been driven out by the mercenary army to the surroundings of Vientiane. And I spent a lot of time interviewing refugees with Fred Branfman who did heroic work in bringing this story finally to the American people and saw more interesting things in Laos.
Then I went to North Vietnam, where I -- also, as Howard had been -- had been invited by the government, but I was actually invited to teach. It was a bombing pause, a short bombing pause, and they were able to bring people in from outlying areas back to Hanoi and the Polytechnic University, or what was left of it, the ruins of the Polytechnic University. They came, and I lectured on just about anything I knew anything about. These were people who had been out of touch with -- the faculty, students and others had been out of touch with the world for five years, and they asked me everything from what.s Norman Mailer writing these days to technical questions and linguistics and mathematics and whatever else I could say anything about.
I also traveled around a little bit, not very much, but a few days, but enough to see what Howard described, right close to Hanoi -- I never got very far away -- which was the most protected area, because in Hanoi there were embassies and journalists, and so the bombing, though severe, was nothing like what it was much farther away. But even there, you could see the ruins of villages, the shell of the major hospital in Thanh Hoa, which had been bombed -- by accident, of course -- areas that were just moonscapes, you know, where there had been villages, in an effort to destroy a bridge, and so on. So those were my two weeks in Laos and North Vietnam.
AMY GOODMAN: You were a linguistics professor at MIT at the time?
NOAM CHOMSKY: Yeah.
AMY GOODMAN: So why did you go? What drove you to? And what was the response here at home?
NOAM CHOMSKY: Well, I was able -- actually, I had intended to go only for one week to North Vietnam, but the -- if you really want to know the details, the UN bureaucrat in Laos who was organizing flights was a very bored Indian bureaucrat who had nothing to do, and apparently his only joy in the world was making things difficult for people who wanted to do something. Not untypical. And fortunately for me, he made it difficult for me and my companions, Doug Dowd and Dick Fernandez, to go to North Vietnam. So I had a week in Laos, which was an extremely valuable week. I wrote about it in some detail. But I was teaching at the time I was to be away. It was a vacation week, and so, actually, I taught linguistics in the Polytechnic University.
AMY GOODMAN: What about the opposition here at home and your level of protest at MIT? What did you do?
NOAM CHOMSKY: Well, MIT was a curious situation. I happened to be working in the laboratory, which was 100% supported by the three armed services, but it was also one of the centers of antiwar resistance. Starting in 1965, along with an artist friend in Boston, Harold Tovish, we organized -- tried to organize -- national tax resistance. It.s 1965. Like Howard, I was giving talks, taking part in demonstrations, getting arrested. By 1966, we were becoming involved directly in support for a draft resistance, helping deserters, others. And it just continued.
It.s worth remembering -- one often hears today justified complaints about how little protest there is against the war in Iraq, but that.s very misleading. And here, as Howard was saying, a little sense of history is useful. The protest against the war in Iraq is far beyond the protest against the war in Vietnam at any comparable level. Large-scale protest against the war in Vietnam did really not begin until there were several hundred thousand US troops in South Vietnam. The country had been virtually destroyed. The bombing had been extended to the north, to Laos, soon to Cambodia, where, incidentally, we have just learned -- or rather, we haven.t learned, but we could learn if we had a free press -- that the bombing in Cambodia, which was known to be horrendous, was actually five times as high as was reported: greater than the entire Allied bombing in all of World War II on a defenseless peasant society, which turned peasants into enraged fanatics. During those years, the Khmer Rouge grew from nothing, a few thousand scattered people to hundreds of thousands, and then that led to the part of Cambodia that we.re allowed to think about. That was the first one.
But the real protest against the war in Vietnam came at a period far beyond what has yet been reached in Iraq. First few years of the war, there was almost nothing -- I mean, so little protest that virtually nobody in the United States even knows when the war began. Kennedy invaded South Vietnam in 1962. That was after seven years of efforts to impose a Latin American-style terror state, which had killed tens of thousands of people and elicited resistance. 1962, Kennedy sent the US Air Force to start bombing South Vietnam -- under South Vietnamese markings, but nobody was deluded by that -- initiated chemical warfare to destroy crops and ground cover, and started programs which rounded ultimately millions of people into what amounted to concentration camps, called strategic hamlets, where they were surrounded by barbed wire to protect them, as it was said, from the guerrillas, who everyone knew they were voluntarily supporting, [inaudible] an indigenous South Vietnamese resistance. That was 1962. You couldn.t get two people in a living room to talk about it.
In October 1965, right here in Boston, maybe the most liberal city in the country, there were then already a couple hundred thousand troops there. The bombing of North Vietnam had started. We tried to have our first major public demonstration against the war on the Boston Common, the usual place for meetings. I was supposed to be one of the speakers, but nobody could hear a word. The meeting was totally broken up -- off by students marching over from universities, by others, and hundreds of state police, which kept people from being murdered. The next day.s newspaper, the Boston Globe, liberal newspaper, was full of denunciations of the people who dared make mild statements about bombing the North.
In fact, right through the protests, which did reach a substantial scale and were very significant, especially the resistance, it was mostly directed against the war in North Vietnam. The attack on South Vietnam was mostly ignored. Incidentally, the same is true of government planning. We know about that from the Pentagon Papers and now many subsequent documents. There was meticulous planning about the bombing of the North, just where should you bomb and how far should you go, and so on. The bombing of the South, the internal documents had almost nothing. A very simple reason for it: the bombing of the South was costless. Nobody is going to shoot you down. Nobody.s going to complain. Do whatever you want. Wipe the place out, which is pretty much what happened. North Vietnam was dangerous. You could hit Russian ships in the Haiphong Harbor. As I said, there were embassies in Hanoi. People could report you were bombing an internal Chinese railroad which happened to pass through North Vietnam, so there could be international repercussions and costs. So, therefore, it was very carefully calibrated. If you look at, say, Robert McNamara.s memoirs, a lot of discussion of the bombing of North Vietnam, virtually nothing about the bombing of South Vietnam, which even in 1965 was triple the scale of the bombing of the North and had been going on for years. Now, there is a great deal more protest.
Actually, one interesting illustration -- and I.ll end with that -- is Arthur Schlesinger, the perhaps best-known American historian. In the case of the war in Vietnam, in the early years he supported it. In fact, if you read his A Thousand Days, his story of the Kennedy administration, it.s barely mentioned, except just a wonderful thing that.s happening. By 1966, as there was beginning to be concern about the costs of the war, we were reaching the situation rather like elite opinion today about Iraq: it.s too costly, we might not be able to win, and so on. Schlesinger wrote -- I.m almost quoting -- that we all pray that the hawks will be right in believing that more troops will allow us to win, and if they are right, we.ll be praising the wisdom and statesmanship of the American government in winning a war in Vietnam after turning the land, turning it into a land of ruin and wreck. So we.ll all be praising their wisdom and statesmanship, but it probably won.t work. You can translate that into today.s commentaries, which are called the doves. On the other hand, greatly to his credit, when the bombing of Iraq started, Schlesinger took the strongest position of just about anyone I.ve seen in condemnation of it, first stated so strong that it was almost never -- didn.t appear in the press, but I haven.t heard a word about it since. As the bombing began, he said, .This is a date which will live in infamy.. And he recalled President Roosevelt.s words of Pearl Harbor, a date that will live in infamy, because the United States is following the path of the Japanese fascists. A pretty strong statement. And I think that sort of reflects a difference that you see in public attitudes, too. Opposition to aggression is far higher than it was in the .60s.
AMY GOODMAN: Howard Zinn, how did Vietnam end, the war end, and what are the parallels that you see today? Do you see parallels today?
HOWARD ZINN: Well, I suppose if you believe that Henry Kissinger deserved the Nobel Prize, you would think that the war ended because Henry Kissinger went to Paris and negotiated with the Vietnamese. But the war ended, I think, because finally, after that slow buildup of protest, I think the war ended because the protests in the United States reached a crescendo, which couldn.t be ignored, and because the GIs coming home were turning against the war, and because soldiers in the field were -- well, they were throwing grenades under the officers. tents, you know, the fragging phenomenon. I mean, there.s a book called Soldiers in Revolt by a man named David Cortright, and he details how much dissidence there was, how much opposition to the war there was among soldiers in Vietnam and how this was manifested in their behavior and desertions, a huge number of desertions. And, essentially, the government of the United States found it impossible to continue the war.
The ROTC chapters were closing down. In some ways, it.s similar to a situation now, where the government in Iraq, the government is finding -- our government is finding that we don.t have enough soldiers to fight the war, so they.re sending them back again and again, and where the recruiting sergeants here in the United States are going to enormous lengths and lying to young people about what will await them or what benefits they will get. The government is desperate to maintain the military force today in Iraq.
And I think in Vietnam this dissidence among the military and its inability to really carry on the war militarily was a crucial factor -- of course, along with the fact that we simply could not defeat the Vietnamese resistance. And resistance movements -- and this is what we are finding out in Iraq today -- resistance movements against a foreign aggressor, they will get very desperate, they will not give in. And the resistance movement in Vietnam would not surrender. And so, the US government found it, obviously, impossible to win without, yes, dropping nuclear bombs, destroying the country and making it clear to the world that the United States was an outlaw nation and impossible to hold the support of the people at home.
And so, yes, we finally did what a number of us had been asking for many, many years, to withdraw from Vietnam, and the same arguments were made at that time. That is, when we called in 1967 -- well, I wrote a book in 1967 called Vietnam: The Logic of Withdrawal, and the reaction to that was, you know, we can.t withdraw; it will be terrible if we withdraw; you know, there will be civil war if we withdraw; there will be a bloodbath if we withdraw. And so, we didn.t withdraw, and the war went on, you know, for another six years, another eight years -- six years for the Americans to withdraw, eight years totally. The war went on and on, and another 20,000 Americans were killed. Another million Vietnamese were killed.
And when we finally withdrew, no, there was no bloodbath. I mean, it wasn.t that everything was fine when we withdrew, and there were, you know, re-education camps set up, and Chinese people were driven out of Hanoi on boats, so it wasn.t -- but the point is that there was no bloodbath. The bloodbath was what we were doing in Vietnam, just as today, when they say, .Oh, there will be civil war, there will be chaos, if we withdraw from Iraq,. there is civil war, there is chaos, and no one is pointing out what we have done to Iraq, with two million people driven from their homes and children in dire straits, no water, no food.
And so, the remembrance of Vietnam is important if we are going to make it clear that we must withdraw from Iraq and find another way, not for the United States, for some international group, preferably a group composed mostly of representatives of Arab nations, to come into Iraq and help mediate whatever strife there is among the various factions in Iraq. But certainly, the absolute necessary first step in Iraq now is what we should have done in Vietnam in 1967, and that is simply get out as fast as ships and planes can carry us out.