View the H-Diplo Discussion Logs by month
View the Prior Message in H-Diplo's November 2004 logs by: [date] [author] [thread]
View the Next Message in H-Diplo's November 2004 logs by: [date] [author] [thread]
Visit the H-Diplo home page.
Professor Keys concedes that in the case of the Khmer Rouge genocide that " other factors were necessary" aside from the " thirty years of Western War " posited by Dr. Schwab as the cause. I would in turn ask how the Vietnam war and not the Khmer Rouge ideology is the primary factor? War and genocide are often "connected" though not always if you look at cases of artificial famines imposed upon particular ethnic groups (Ukrainians, Ethiopians) but this does not mean that wars cause genocide. If they did, genocide would be a common rather than an exceptional event. As I noted earlier, all four successor states to of Indochina suffered during the Vietnam war to some degree and all became Communist dictatorships. Only Cambodia went the route of genocide which argues for a particular agency other than the war itself. Genocide requires preparation to raise itself above the level of a spontaneous pogrom or mere wartime atrocity. Not only material considerations but ideological ones where the intended class of victims are thoroughly dehumanized and demonized in the eyes of the perpetrators who will carry out the act. Take for example Adolf Hitler whose first documented record of anti-Semitic activity was in a letter he wrote in 1919. It was a long road to Auschwitz from Munich's beer halls, a road that involved twists and turns, advances and retreats in Nazi policy and rhetoric but when the population was sufficiently desensitized, isolation of the Jews became elimination on an industrial and continental scale that often took precedence over the German war effort. I have read the Powers book. It's a good book but you will find little in it to indicate that historical genocides were not preceded by a period - sometimes a long period - of ideological mobilization by an insular elite cadre - be they Baathists, Hutu militia, SS men or the Khmer Rouge. Usually there are escalatory steps where the victims are identified, restricted and disarmed prior to their destruction - such as the Khmer Rouge did when they emptied city dwellers into Cambodia's killing fields. The argument, which has an intellectual pedigree going back to early apologists for Cambodia's rulers like Noam Chomsky, that the United States is to blame for the genocide conceptualized and carried out by Communist fanatics has always been,at best, strained. It is primarily a polemical charge and one lacking the direct evidence normally expected of a historical argument. Intellectually, it is analagous to blaming the police for the actions of a serial killer whose murders happened to take place in the same building where they had a shoot-out with a band of bank robbers. Mark Safranski Independent Scholar > >From: Barbara Keys <email@example.com> > >Mark Safranski has challenged Orrin Schwab's suggestion that the >Khmer Rouge genocide ought to be considered a result of the Vietnam >war. Obviously the Vietnam war did not directly cause Pol Pot's >genocide--other factors were also necessary--but the conflict clearly >created conditions that made it possible. Without the Vietnam war >and the invasion of Cambodia, it is likely that the genocide would >not have occurred. William Shawcross and others have argued that the >ranks of the Khmer Rouge swelled primarily as a result of the U.S. >intervention in Cambodia from 1969 to 1973. Thus, the American >intervention indirectly helped give rise to a genocidal regime. >Samantha Power, in her study of American responses (or lack thereof) >to genocide, notes that war and genocide are almost always connected.