Saturday, August 25, 2007


Gareth Porter takes apart the right-wing talking point, echoed in Bush's recent VFW remarks, that the American withdrawal from Vietnam caused the horrors of Pol Pot, et al. The reality is quite the opposite, he says: the American insistence on pursuing and expanding the war, typically by ramping up aerial bombing against rural peasants, is what laid the ground for the rise of the Khmer Rouge.

After running through the relevant context, Porter concludes:

the real lesson of the Vietnam-Cambodia war is that U.S. elective war is profoundly destabilizing, and that destabilization has a terrible human cost, which may spread beyond the country where the war began.

But there is a further lesson from that war. When Nixon began crying "bloodbath" in 1969 the Vietnam War was already four years old. It was his fateful decision to continue and escalate that war that brought about the Cambodian catastrophe. The longer American wars of occupation are continued, the worse the human and political consequences.

Now history appears to be repeating itself. Once again, after four years of war, a president is crying "bloodbath" even as he appears to be headed toward the geographical escalation of the war. Only this time the escalation will be far more dangerous than was the escalation into Cambodia in 1970.
For further background, see also: "Bombs over Cambodia."