WI: No Khmer Rouge

It was intended more to screw with Hanoi about the reliability/utility of Soviet aid (of which the success depends upon who you ask) than any actual attempt to force a withdrawal from Cambodia.

Thailand could at least mess up any Vietnamese advance west of Phnom Penh with the surviving Khmer Republic forces (the Vietnamese won't have an support network that far west, and locals are likely to be rather hostile).
Well it didn’t work so China had to settle for lesser goals.

Vietnam doesn’t have to deal with that. That’s the puppet Cambodian army’s problem.
 
There’s a reason why US, China, Thailand all allied against Vietnam. Their strategic goal of controlling former French Indochina is not an opinion of mine.

Cambodians would have been way better off without the Khmer Rouge there’s no doubt. But either way they were going to be subjugated by Vietnam. National interest drives “border incidents” not the other way around.

Yes, but insofar as we do think that casus belli exists on a micro level, Cambodia's incursions into Vietnam would seem to be as legitimate a casus belli as any other. Even if Hanoi would eventually have found some other pretext for lording it over the Cambodians.
 
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Hanoi might try to encourage an insurgency to try to install at least a "neutralist" goverment of Cambodia but direct military invasion is unlikely. And the "Indochinese Federation" idea is frankly ridiculous, there weren't any attempts by Hanoi to intergrate Laos for example. I believe the Vietnamese will be too focused on China to focus militarily on it's neighbours.
 
Hanoi might try to encourage an insurgency to try to install at least a "neutralist" goverment of Cambodia but direct military invasion is unlikely. And the "Indochinese Federation" idea is frankly ridiculous, there weren't any attempts by Hanoi to intergrate Laos for example. I believe the Vietnamese will be too focused on China to focus militarily on it's neighbours.

Vietnam occupied Cambodia until 1989 and withdrew combat troops from Laos after that. Even today Laos is a de facto protectorate of Vietnam, who‘s ambitions were thwarted by the collapse of the Soviet Union, the withdraw of their support, and Vietnam’s own economic weakness. By late Cold War they were seeking food aid from the US.


The strategic value of Vietnam to the Soviets wasn’t just as a passive thorn to China. Vietnam saw itself as a major military power after it defeated the US and advertised itself as the Soviet’s Israel, an ally to project Soviet influence in SE Asia. Control of Cambodia and Laos was essential lest other powers use them to contain Soviet-Vietnamese alliance. But the Soviets were already overstretched. They wrote checks Vietnam couldn’t cash so to speak.
 
There’s a reason why US, China, Thailand all allied against Vietnam. Their strategic goal of controlling former French Indochina is not an opinion of mine.
I know it’s not just your opinion. The international community froze Vietnam out of development aid all through the 1980s. I don’t even think they got standard WHO funding. And yes, Vietnam did stay in Cambodia all through the ‘80s, because there were still Khmer Rouge remnants still receiving international arms.

I think Vietnam was perceived as punching above their weight.

That’s the only thing that really makes sense, for there are a number of examples of countries which will invade and hold land, for good reasons, poor reasons, convoluted reasons, etc. For example, Indonesia invaded and held both East Timor in ‘75 and West Papua (New Guinea) with I think this one starting in 1969. And Indonesia was a U.S. cold war ally, so they got a complete pass. Of course they did, that’s the real world, however much I might wish things were different.

And back to Vietnam, it was a wide range of countries — Australia, the UK, France, the U.S., and more, all in favor of freezing them out. Somehow it became a very easy morality test to be against Vietnam’s invasion.
 
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Firstly America was still pissed for losing the war, second, the domino theory only intensified. Vietnam and the Soviets were expanding their reach. This is why you had the very strange situation of America tacitly supporting the defeated Khmer Rogue, and the Sino-Vietnamese War which became a frozen conflict to drain resources from the Soviet Vietnamese project in SE Asia. This was probably the most neglected front of the late Cold War.

Cambodia lies at the intersection of multiple imperial agendas. The French, Japanese, American, Soviet, Chinese, and Vietnamese. They needed incredibly astute leadership. Unfortunately they got Pol Pot.
 
Somehow it became a very easy morality test to be against Vietnam’s invasion.

Interesting observation. My recollection of the 1980s and early 90s was that it was very fashionable to be anti-Khmer Rouge, and to be glad that they had been ousted, but without dwelling much on WHO it was who ousted them, or what side of the Cold War divide the invaders were on.

Not that there was any major taboo against giving Hanoi the credit, and you certainly heard people say stuff like "The Khmer Rouge were doing this, that and the other godawful thing until Vietnam invaded", but the bit about Vietnam was usually delivered in a pretty detached, indifferent manner. And it never really translated into people saying "Hey, wait a minute, why are our governments playing footsie with a coalition that includes the Khmer Rouge, and harassing the guys who rescued Cambodia from them?" Even after the full scale of western involvement became known, and everyone had gone to see The Killing Fields.
 
Interesting observation. My recollection of the 1980s and early 90s was that it was very fashionable to be anti-Khmer Rouge, and to be glad that they had been ousted, but without dwelling much on WHO it was who ousted them, or what side of the Cold War divide the invaders were on.
People pointed to the Khmer Rouge as an example of how wretched communism can be, while at the same time both the Carter administration and the Reagan administration spoke in favor and voted for them as part of the coalition for Cambodia’s UN seat! :openedeyewink:

And it wasn’t just the big bad ol’ U.S. of A. who was anti-Vietnam. For example, I think ASEAN, or Association of Southeast Asian Nations, wanted to punish Vietnam with somehow overlooking, hey, by the way, the Vietnamese invasion stoppped a genocide.

And then in general, people don’t really feel foreign policy, not in their chest and the core of their being. I remember reading a short snippet about a ‘60s activist who was effective in other areas, and someone saying, he’s a people person, if we can get him to actually go to Vietnam, then he’ll care. I think this was (?) Rennie Davis, who I don’t know much about. But that is pretty much what happened, he traveled to Vietnam during the late 60s or early 70s and then he cared about the issue of the war.
 
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People pointed to the Khmer Rouge as an example of how wretched communism can be, while at the same time both the Carter administration and the Reagan administration spoke in favor and voted for them as part of the coalition for Cambodia’s UN seat! :openedeyewink:

And up until Tiananmen Square in 1989, China was widely viewed as the more moderate of the two major Communist powers. Despite being the main backers of the Khmer Rouge from about the mid-70s onward, including the Year Zero period.

But this gets back to your point about foreign-policy just not being on most people's radars. People knew that China was allied with the west, and was making market reforms, and everything else was just static.
 
Interesting observation. My recollection of the 1980s and early 90s was that it was very fashionable to be anti-Khmer Rouge, and to be glad that they had been ousted, but without dwelling much on WHO it was who ousted them, or what side of the Cold War divide the invaders were on.

Not that there was any major taboo against giving Hanoi the credit, and you certainly heard people say stuff like "The Khmer Rouge were doing this, that and the other godawful thing until Vietnam invaded", but the bit about Vietnam was usually delivered in a pretty detached, indifferent manner. And it never really translated into people saying "Hey, wait a minute, why are our governments playing footsie with a coalition that includes the Khmer Rouge, and harassing the guys who rescued Cambodia from them?" Even after the full scale of western involvement became known, and everyone had gone to see The Killing Fields.

Nobody in the West ever says thank goodness the Soviets took over Eastern Europe and stopped Nazi genocide. The Soviets didn’t invade to stop the death camps, they weren’t even really aware of them. The same can be said of the Vietnamese invasion.
 
Nobody in the West ever says thank goodness the Soviets took over Eastern Europe and stopped Nazi genocide.
Yes, plenty of people do say that. As bad as the Soviet puppets in Eastern Europe could get, they were no where near as bad as the Nazis.
The Soviets didn’t invade to stop the death camps, they weren’t even really aware of them.
The Soviets invaded because they were fighting the Nazis, who invaded them first. Ousting the Nazis was the point of the invasion, and since ousting the Nazis was synonymous with stopping the genocides in Eastern Europe, there was no contradiction there.
The same can be said of the Vietnamese invasion.
The Vietnamese invaded because the Khmer Rouge started attacking border villages as part of their genocide of Cambodian Vietnamese. Ousting the Khmer Rouge was the point of the invasion, and since ousting the Khmer Rouge was synonymous with stopping the genocides in Cambodia, there was no contradiction there.
 
Yes, plenty of people do say that. As bad as the Soviet puppets in Eastern Europe could get, they were no where near as bad as the Nazis.

The Soviets invaded because they were fighting the Nazis, who invaded them first. Ousting the Nazis was the point of the invasion, and since ousting the Nazis was synonymous with stopping the genocides in Eastern Europe, there was no contradiction there.

The Vietnamese invaded because the Khmer Rouge started attacking border villages as part of their genocide of Cambodian Vietnamese. Ousting the Khmer Rouge was the point of the invasion, and since ousting the Khmer Rouge was synonymous with stopping the genocides in Cambodia, there was no contradiction there.
Control of Cambodia was the point of the invasion. Had the Khmer Rouge remained pliable supplicants to Vietnam they would have been quite happy letting them run Cambodia. The Khmer Rouge originated from the Indochina Communist Party which was all Vietnamese. They were a disgruntled break away regional branch.

I would suggest the Poles have issues on there not being contradictions about that,
 
And up until Tiananmen Square in 1989, China was widely viewed as the more moderate of the two major Communist powers. Despite being the main backers of the Khmer Rouge from about the mid-70s onward, including the Year Zero period.

But this gets back to your point about foreign-policy just not being on most people's radars. People knew that China was allied with the west, and was making market reforms, and everything else was just static.
It was kind of like, yeah, if the Soviets are the bad guy, China is the good guy.

And China has made great strides since the year 2000, maybe for longer. They’re well on the way to building a middle-class society, with social media. Yes, you have a centralized system kind of like the Catholic church or the military in which people are promoted from within. For example, maybe China will be less likely to have Big Pharma or Big Oil calling the shots, and that’s a considerable positive.

Yes, China supported the Khmer Rouge since the very beginning in April 1975, including buying rice from Cambodia on the fiction that the Khmer Rouge was tripling production. They weren’t. So, maybe in 2050, China will finally be able to talk about this pretty openly? Meaning seventy-five years from the start of the event itself. It still won’t be in high school textbooks, but maybe college textbooks.
 
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Nobody in the West ever says thank goodness the Soviets took over Eastern Europe and stopped Nazi genocide. . .
I’m of the view that the Holodomor in the Ukraine in the early 1930s should fully count as a genocide. And furthermore, that the Soviets took the occasion of an already occurring famine, and used it to direct starvation as a weapon at the people of the Ukraine.

All the same, I’m pretty generous in giving credit even if people do the right thing for an accidental reason.

For example, the Red Army liberated Auschwitz in January ‘45, and that’s a pretty huge deal.
 
I’m of the view that the Holodomor in the Ukraine in the early 1930s should fully count as a genocide. And furthermore, that the Soviets took the occasion of an already occurring famine, and used it to direct starvation as a weapon at the people of the Ukraine.

All the same, I’m pretty generous in giving credit even if people do the right thing for an accidental reason.

For example, the Red Army liberated Auschwitz in January ‘45, and that’s a pretty huge deal.
The Holodomor certainly counts as real genocide. Ending Nazi genocide and ending Khmer Rouge genocide are both far preferable to not doing anything about it. Credit where credit is due. But If Hitler had came to power with support from the Soviets, such is the analogy with Khmer Rouge and Vietnam, then I think there’s all the less to celebrate.
 
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