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Further to the point made by Orrin Schwab and Barbara Keys, the charge still being made by many of the right that the anti-war movement was to blame for Pol Pot's crimes dodges the real issue: why were the Khmer Rouge were i n a position to contend for power in the first place? Before the massive U.S. intervention in Vietnam, the Khmer Rouge were in no position to threaten the Royal Government of Cambodia. The only reason the Khmer Rouge were able to launch an armed struggle in 1968 was the rural discontent created by the Vietnam War spilling over into Cambodia. By 1966, Viet Cong troops were being driven by U.S. forces from bases near the Cambodian border into Eastern Cambodia. They were soon getting 40 percent of Cambodia's rice exports through a sophisticated system of smuggling through Chinese traders, with military connivance. That in turn completely upset the Cambodian economy, created a fiscal crisis in the state, and provoked sharp conflicts between peasants and the Cambodian military who tried to collect more paddy by force. Even as late as 1969, however, Pol Pot had as few as 150 regular troops and was far from being able to threaten the government. It is worth reflecting on the fact that it was in November 1969 that Nixon justified the continuation of the war on the specious argument that a U.S. pullout would bring Communist the postwar killing of as many as half a million South Vietnamese. Had Nixon listened to those who were calling for a withdrawal under a compromise settlement at that point, Viet Cong troops would have begun to leave Cambodia, Sihanouk would certainly have remained in power in 1970, Cambodia would not have been plunged into full-scale war, and the Khmer Rouge would not have been able to seize power five years later. Sihanouk was overthrown because the Cambodian military-bureaucratic elite were able to blame him for the presence of Vietnamese troops in the border area and stir up Cambodian chauvinism against the Vietnamese, and because Nixon was eager to expand the war into Cambodia, which he believed would somehow weaken the Communist forces. The U.S. decision to encourage Lon Nol's crusade to expel the Vietnamese troops from Cambodian soil brought chaos and destruction to Cambodia. Sihanouk had been the unifying factor in Cambodia, and his alignment with the Khmer Rouge after the coup began the rapid slide of the Phnom Penh regime into political -military weakness. It guaranteed that the Vietnamese Communists, who had previously pressed the Cambodian communists to avoid armed struggle against Sihanouk altogether, would now form an alliance with both Sihanouk and the Khmer Rouge and help expand their forces. Equally important, Cambodian society disintegrated under the weight of the U.S. bombing of the countryside and the massive movement of refugees into Phnom Penh. The overthrow of Sihanouk and the coming of war to Cambodia sealed the fate of the victims of Pol Pot's regime. All these points have been documented in multiple accounts of the period. Finally, It should be recalled that by the end of the wars in Vietnam and Cambodia, no figure in American politics was prepared to call for U.S. troops to go into Cambodia to prevent or stop killlings in that country. In the absence of a very large troop presence, continued massive bombing of Cambodia after 1973 would have killed even more Cambodians but would not have changed the final outcome. Cambodia represents the ultimate case of "blowback" -- the unintended consequences of a ill-considered foreign military adventure. The Cambodian bloodbath happened because those who decided to launch a massive intervention in Vietnam and to continue it beyond 1969 did not give the slightest thought to likelihood of the destabilization and destruction of societies and polities of Vietnam's neighbors. Gareth Porter