Monday, May 14, 2007

New Study on U.S. Carpet Bombing of Cambodia

The study focuses on the two-headed genocide which is hardly ever talked about, comprised of 1) the US' senseless, inhumane, and unforgivable carpet bombing of Cambodia — a land inhabited by one of the most peaceful people on Earth, who, prior to the genocide, humbly touted one of the richest and most beautiful cultures in history, and 2) the blowback effects, in the form of the rise to power of the murderous Pol Pot regime.

My ex lived through that hell; yet, miraculously, most of her family survived. Several million other Cambodians weren't so lucky (or were luckier, depending on how cynically you look at it).

Perhaps the most important lesson brought to bare in the study is the parallel between the effects of that genocide and the "blowback" effects of the bombing, military occupation, and installation of brutal regimes by the U.S. in the Middle East over the last twenty-plus years.
Bombs Over Cambodia: New Light on US Air War
Taylor Owen and Ben Kiernan May 12, 2007

[This is a revised and expanded version of an article that appeared in The Walrus (Canada), October 2006. Posted at Japan Focus on May 12, 2007.]

United States bombings in Afghanistan have "given a propaganda windfall to the Taliban." [1] Is history repeating itself? In 1975, Pol Pot's genocidal Khmer Rouge forces took power in Cambodia after a massive U.S. bombing campaign there. New information reveals that Cambodia was bombed far more heavily during the Vietnam War than previously believed — and that the bombing began not under Richard Nixon, but under Lyndon Johnson.

In the fall of 2000, twenty-five years after the end of the war in Indochina, Bill Clinton became the first US president since Richard Nixon to visit Vietnam. While media coverage of the trip was dominated by talk of some two thousand US soldiers still classified as missing in action, a small act of great historical importance went almost unnoticed. As a humanitarian gesture, Clinton released extensive Air Force data on all American bombings of Indochina between 1964 and 1975. Recorded using a groundbreaking IBM-designed system, the database provided extensive information on sorties conducted over Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia.

Clinton's gift was intended to assist in the search for unexploded ordnance left behind during the carpet bombing of the region. Littering the countryside, often submerged under farmland, this ordnance remains a significant humanitarian concern. It has maimed and killed farmers, and rendered valuable land all but unusable. Development and de-mining organizations have put the Air Force data to good use over the past six years, but have done so without noting its full implications, which turn out to be staggering.

As in... the IDF's "exit" from S. Lebanon in August 2006.
The still-incomplete database (it has several "dark" periods) reveals that from October 4, 1965, to August 15, 1973, the United States dropped far more ordnance on Cambodia than was previously believed: 2,756,941 tons' worth, dropped in 230,516 sorties on 113,716 sites. Just over 10 percent of this bombing was indiscriminate, with 3,580 of the sites listed as having unknown" targets and another 8,238 sites having no target listed at all. Even if the latter may arguably be oversights, the former suggest explicit knowledge of indiscretion. The database also shows that the bombing began four years earlier than is widely believed — not under Nixon, but under Lyndon Johnson.

Red dotted areas depict the bombing of 230,516 sorties on 113,716 sites.

The impact of this bombing, the subject of much debate for the past three decades, is now clearer than ever. Civilian casualties in Cambodia drove an enraged populace into the arms of an insurgency that had enjoyed relatively little support until the bombing began, setting in motion the expansion of the Vietnam War deeper into Cambodia, a coup d'état in 1970, the rapid rise of the Khmer Rouge, and ultimately the Cambodian genocide.

The data demonstrates that the way a country chooses to exit a conflict can have disastrous consequences. It therefore speaks to contemporary warfare as well, including US operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. Despite many differences, a critical similarity links the war in Iraq with the Cambodian conflict: an increasing reliance on air power to battle a heterogeneous, volatile insurgency. [Read More]

Source: Japan Focus. Also, check out John Pilger's 1979 documentary: Year Zero: The Silent Death of Cambodia

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