The Austin Chronicle

The Killing Fields

By Richard Whittaker, August 23, 2007, 10:58am, Newsdesk

"Whatever your position is on that debate, one unmistakable legacy of Vietnam is that the price of America's withdrawal was paid by millions of innocent citizens whose agonies would add to our vocabulary new terms like 'boat people,' 're-education camps,' and 'killing fields.'" – President George W. Bush, addressing the Veterans of Foreign Wars National Convention in Kansas City, Missouri, yesterday.

Time, yet again, for a history lesson. The re-education camps and killing fields were an aspect of the history of Cambodia, not Vietnam. They were crimes against humanity inflicted by the Khmer Rouge on the Cambodian population: Amnesty International estimates 1.4 million people, almost one-fifth of the population, were massacred by Pol Pot's thugs between 1976 and 1979.

The reason it stopped in 1979 was that a neighboring country invaded and set up its own puppet government. That country was Vietnam. Meanwhile, the United Nations refused to strip the Khmer Rouge of their UN seat. One of the countries that voted against handing their seat to Vietnam's proxy rulers, the Kampuchea People's Revolutionary Party was the United States of America. Meanwhile, the US was pressuring the World Food Program to hand over $12 million in food to the Khmer Rouge in exile.

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