This Day in History — Khmer Republic Takes Power in Cambodia

744px-flag_of_the_khmer_republic_svg.jpgOn October 9, 1970, the Khmer Republic (1970-1975) was established as an emergency government by Prime Minister Lon Nol following the abdication of then Prince Sinhaouk.

The Sinhaouk government, legally neutral yet very corrupt, became very unstable and fell prey to internal political factions. The Khmer Rouge and Lon Nol’s army both attempted coups against the governent with Nol finally seizing power.

The Khmer Republic’s tenure, however, would be short lived as the US Congress reduced Nixon’s requested military aid by more than one billion dollars, abandoning Pho Pem to Pol Pot, whose 4 years in power can be characterized as nothing less than a mass homicide claiming over 1 million lives.

Henry Kissinger explains:

Cambodia was cut off altogether, with the argument that it would help save lives- a euphemism for abandonment, and a grim joke in light of the genocide that followed. In 1975, Cambodia and South Vietnam were overrun by the communists within two weeks of each other, putting an end to America’s emotional misery but not to Indochina’s.

Doesn’t that sound familiar? Today, Salon’s Camille Paglia disagreed, calling an Iraq comparison “a paranoid withdrawal fantasy.”

She even questions the ruthlessness of the Khmer Rouge:

We will never know how many horrific deaths can be traced to the ruthless dictator Pol Pot (it could have been half the number you cite), but they were not always due to “slaughter” per se. Hundreds of thousands of peasants died from starvation and untreated illness in Pol Pot’s madly unrealistic plan to turn Cambodia virtually overnight into an agrarian communist utopia.

Meanwhile in real life, leaders of the Khmer Rouge are getting ready to answer for their war crimes.

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