Cambodia and the Khmer Rouge

Vajradhara

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Namaste all,

as the title of the OP suggests, i would like to ask two sets of questions based around one theme and see if there are any different responses and, if so, why the difference exists.

first:

Cambodia was subjugated under the Khmer Rouge and their brutal leader, Pol Pot, from 1975-1979. at the point that the KR took control, Cambodia had a population of nearly 8 million humans. in the four years of the KP, more than 4 million Cambodias were killed. that is half of the population of an entire nation!

Dr. Gregory H. Stanton, wrote in the article "Blue Scarves and Yellow Stars: Classification and Symbolization in the Cambodian Genocide" : "Key officials of Pol Pot's regime had read André Gunder Frank's Marxist theory that cities are parasitic on the countryside, that only labor value is true value, that cities extract surplus value from the rural areas. Therefore immediately after they took power, the Khmer Rouge evacuated all the cities at gunpoint, including those who were not supposed to be moved, such as patients in hospitals and newborns.

In 1976 people were reclassified as full rights (base) people, candidates, and depositees -- so called because they included most of the new people who had been deposited from the cities into the communes.

Depositees were marked for destruction. Their rations were reduced to two bowls of rice soup, or "juk" per day. This led to widespread starvation amongst the depositees.

The Khmer Rouge leadership boasted over their radio station that only one or two million people out of the population were needed to build the new agrarian communist utopia. As for the others, as their proverb put it, "if they survive, no gain; if they die, no loss. "

Hundreds of thousands of the new people, and later the depositees, were taken out, shackled, to dig their own mass graves. Then the Khmer Rouge soldiers beat them to death with iron bars and hoes or buried them alive. A Khmer Rouge extermination prison directive ordered, "Bullets are not to be wasted."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pol_Pot

second:

if this same situation were occuring today, would you support a military invasion of Cambodia to stop the Khmer Rouge? why or why not? would your answer change if it was the American military that was going to invade or if it was the Chinese military?

metta,

~v
 
Kindest Regards, Vajradhara!

Good exercise!

if this same situation were occuring today, would you support a military invasion of Cambodia to stop the Khmer Rouge? why or why not?
I am guessing that since the first part of your post seems more statement than question, that perhaps your question was intended to be split? Anyway, that is how I will proceed.

Much as the atrocities in Darfur and elsewhere, I continue to hope someone with enough bal...ummm, intestinal fortitude and wherewithal will step up. It is one thing to support a thing in spirit, and another to be physically able and capable, and be in a situation in which one can actually act. Were I 18 again, knowing what I do now, I would seriously consider service with the Peace Corps. At this point in my life and health, all I can do is pray.

As for why, because people are entitled to certain human decencies and respect. Some battles are just right, and one knows it.

would your answer change if it was the American military that was going to invade or if it was the Chinese military?
From the point of view of the Cambodian peasants, I doubt they have much care who their saviors might be, and would welcome either party (US or China). As a person, looking upon the atrocities and desiring to bring them to an end, I would have no concern who as long as someone did step up. As an American, looking at the political games played by militaries around the globe, I guess there are probably some complications that mitigate either party, US or China, from simply riding in on tall white horses. I do not know how strategic the Cambodian property is to the world or regional map, but I doubt the Chinese would look very favorably towards the US simply walking in, for any reason. This is probably why "officially" we were never in Cambodia or Laos during 'Nam. Just the same, had the Chinese offered to step in and remedy the situation under Pol Pot, I would have no moral objection to them doing so.

Yes, I would want somebody to step up and save the Cambodian people, knowing full well that some of them will die in the attempt. But by selflessly giving of themselves, they may save countless others. I only wish I was still able, that is my burden.

My unpopular two cents, for all it is worth.
 
Thought provoking stuff.

I wouldn't support Chinese intervention. If the Chinese took control, who's to say the Cambodians wouldn't be supressed in the same way that the Uighurs, and Tibetans are now?

As for US military action, I don't know. One part of me simply says that we shouldn't stand by and let fellow humans suffer in this way. Another part says, yes but, would intervention make a positive difference? or would it leave behind a mess that we can't clear up, look at Iraq, look also at the legacy of corruption in former colonial countries.

Hopefully someone can help me make up my mind.

Vaj, what are your views?
 
It's a difficult situation. Here are a few relevant quotes from a couple of great thinkers:
"The world is a dangerous place to live in, not because of the people that do evil; but because of the people that stand by and let them do it."--Albert Einstein

"To ignore evil is to become an accomplice to it."--Martin Luther King, Jr.

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness, in a descending spiral of destruction. The chain reaction of evil must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation."
- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
A conundrum that we have yet to solve...
 
Seattle:

Well said !

What we're watching in the world today, IMHO, is a great battle between the armies of the darkness; but then, the entire 20th century was about that also. Technical progress just makes it all the more blameless and horrifying... remote control death, sheesh !

flow....:(
 
Interesting and loaded question. :)

My first thought is that context is very important here - weren't the events in Cambodia intrinsically linked to US military activity, next door in Vietnam, in the first place?
 
Good point Brian. Having lived through the horrors of that era, I see many parallels today with what is happening in Iraq, Iran, and N. Korea.

At the time we always heard in the media about back door supply lines in Laos and Cambodia that the N. Vietnamese were using to supply the Viet Cong in the south where the actual "war" was taking place. In fact there was lots of warfare executed by the US in those countries, although mostly of a clandestine nature. However, when the US began B-52 bombing missions over those countries, and even military incursions into Cambodia, the result was not the disabling of the N. Vietnamese war effort, but rather the strengthening of the anti-war movement in the US.

There were also major US and Soviet intelligence operations being conducted in both Laos and Cambodia at these times, and we still know virtually nothing about all that to this day. It might not be too far a reach to surmise that the Khmer Rouge business was some sort of fiasco to further demonize communism that later just got out of control somehow.

I suppose that comparisons could also be made with the horrors that happened in Rwanda and the Balkans. Ethnic tensions are pumped up to critical levels, and then triggering events set off mass hysteria and slaughter, euphemistically labelled as ethnic cleansing these days by the media. Darfur is an example that is happening as we write these posts. At least the media and governments are finally calling it all what it really is now, genocide.

flow....:cool:
 
Namaste all,

thank you for the interesting discussion thus far.

i've refrained from posting my view and responses in order to garner more replies to the thread.

it seems that some beings are sort of missing the thrust of question. the question is not about the historicity of the genocide nor is it about the causes for said genocide, those are already well documented in various historical sources.

the question is more concerned with ones own moral out look in conjunction with the suffering of millions of beings.

in my own case, my view has undergone quite a change. there was a time when i would have supported full scale military action in such an instance. that is no longer my view. it may be the only option available, in some cases, though it seems like a compromise that i am not personally able to make.

in the specifics of the OP.. what i would support is the removal of the Khmer Rouge leadership via assassination though i would not support a military invasion to stop the Khmer Rouge.

in the context of Buddhism, taking the life of a sentient being is one of the most negative karmic actions that a being can engage in. as such, beings that take the life of hundreds, thousands, hundreds of thousands and millions, of beings have such a heavy karmic burden that it will take an incalculable amount of negative rebirths to resolve this. the suffering experienced by these beings is beyond our ability to rationally comprehend.

within the context of Mahayana Buddhism some beings are engaged in the Bodhisattva Path. essentially, this means that these beings are vowing to take rebirth in whatever manner is helpful until all sentient beings are Liberated. they willing take the suffering of the world unto themselves and transform it into the nectar of liberation which is distributed to all sentient beings throughout the multiverse.

given the above, i would support the taking of the life of Pol Pot from a being that is able and prepared to accept the karmic burden which is entailed in taking sentient life to prevent Pol Pot from sowing the multitude of negative karmic seeds which he will reap throughout the rebirth process.

metta,

~v
 
Vajradhara said:
Namaste all,

thank you for the interesting discussion thus far.

i've refrained from posting my view and responses in order to garner more replies to the thread.

it seems that some beings are sort of missing the thrust of question. the question is not about the historicity of the genocide nor is it about the causes for said genocide, those are already well documented in various historical sources.

the question is more concerned with ones own moral out look in conjunction with the suffering of millions of beings.

in my own case, my view has undergone quite a change. there was a time when i would have supported full scale military action in such an instance. that is no longer my view. it may be the only option available, in some cases, though it seems like a compromise that i am not personally able to make.

in the specifics of the OP.. what i would support is the removal of the Khmer Rouge leadership via assassination though i would not support a military invasion to stop the Khmer Rouge.

in the context of Buddhism, taking the life of a sentient being is one of the most negative karmic actions that a being can engage in. as such, beings that take the life of hundreds, thousands, hundreds of thousands and millions, of beings have such a heavy karmic burden that it will take an incalculable amount of negative rebirths to resolve this. the suffering experienced by these beings is beyond our ability to rationally comprehend.

within the context of Mahayana Buddhism some beings are engaged in the Bodhisattva Path. essentially, this means that these beings are vowing to take rebirth in whatever manner is helpful until all sentient beings are Liberated. they willing take the suffering of the world unto themselves and transform it into the nectar of liberation which is distributed to all sentient beings throughout the multiverse.

given the above, i would support the taking of the life of Pol Pot from a being that is able and prepared to accept the karmic burden which is entailed in taking sentient life to prevent Pol Pot from sowing the multitude of negative karmic seeds which he will reap throughout the rebirth process.

metta,

~v


Namaste Vajradhara,

I would agree with your overall assessment, that like any other system in nature, even the taking and giving of life seeks a reasonable balance over time.

It also appears, if one is versed in comparative faith, that this is also the case in many spiritually-based belief formats. Jainism comes prominently to mind here with their supreme reverence for life. But it seems as though the predominant faiths of Western cultures have not such a high regard for the sanctity of life, but as we know there is much lip service given to such commitments. As you so wisely imply, it really is a matter of individual moral commitment and choice.

In Western mythologies the killing of the enemy on the field of battle is sometimes referred to as "sowing the dragon's teeth" with the implication that the seeds of negative karmic reactions are scattered in ways that negatively affects the future through this activity. I believe that's why so many of us abhor warfare so much, because we know in our hearts that we may all end up in despair in the future because of the actions of the vicious in the present. And now that the machinery of war is so technologized, industrialized, and kept hidden in the deepest of secrecy, many of us tremble at the opportunities and happenstance for mistakes and unintended consequences.

I do not know if whether we could travel back in time and kill Pol Pot's, Hitler's, or Stalin's grandparents that such an act would forgo such death processes among us since it seems so intimately entwined into our societies. My notion is that we would be intervening in affairs that are best left to the universe of spirit and that we are not equipped to affect the future or past in such profound ways. They would likely just only happen in other and different ways because that is the way of human nature, and as far as we know, always has been; except that now everything is so amplified through technology and mechanization. If one assassinated Pol Pot before his rampage, we would be doing the same thing, but to a lesser degree. But how could we even know of Pol Pot's future acts to make such a terrible judgement upon him ?

Money and power give some people the opportunity to act on this level, but I for one would not desire that level of ego-driven purpose. It would place me too much into the realm of death and automatically withold me from the light of life, which is where we're all supposed to dwell according to my beliefs and knowledge.

flow....:confused:
 
Namaste flowperson,

thank you for the post.

flowperson said:
I would agree with your overall assessment, that like any other system in nature, even the taking and giving of life seeks a reasonable balance over time.

the Middle Way is the Way :)

But it seems as though the predominant faiths of Western cultures have not such a high regard for the sanctity of life, but as we know there is much lip service given to such commitments. As you so wisely imply, it really is a matter of individual moral commitment and choice.

i feel that this view can be found throughout human cultures and religious paradigms, to lesser or greater degrees. we often find beings that profess a certain moral outlook and yet are not able to actually adhere to their ideal. this can create a rather unfortunate psychological issue in some cases.

In Western mythologies the killing of the enemy on the field of battle is sometimes referred to as "sowing the dragon's teeth" with the implication that the seeds of negative karmic reactions are scattered in ways that negatively affects the future through this activity.

i would tend to agree. war does not solve conflict, it may certain resolve it for a short period of time, whilst either side is rebuilding and regrouping. however, the underlying reasons remain and the war continues. i think that Quahom has a point when he mentions that future historians will look at this period of history as the Second 100 Years War.

And now that the machinery of war is so technologized, industrialized, and kept hidden in the deepest of secrecy, many of us tremble at the opportunities and happenstance for mistakes and unintended consequences.

that's not a view that i would share. a nations military arsenal has, from time immemorial, been a subject of State secret.

war brings out all manner of behavior in beings that by and large they would never engage in. many beings find their moral and ethical standards change dramatically when they are on the receiving end of a hail of 7.76mm fire. it would be better for all beings were such situations not to arise, in my view.

I do not know if whether we could travel back in time and kill Pol Pot's, Hitler's, or Stalin's grandparents that such an act would forgo such death processes among us since it seems so intimately entwined into our societies.

that is a bit outside the scope of the OP. i would not propose killing someones grandparents to prevent a future act by their offsprings offspring, even if time travel were possible.

My notion is that we would be intervening in affairs that are best left to the universe of spirit and that we are not equipped to affect the future or past in such profound ways.

i don't know "universe of spirit" means in the context of this discussion. can you elaborate on this concept a bit?

If one assassinated Pol Pot before his rampage, we would be doing the same thing, but to a lesser degree. But how could we even know of Pol Pot's future acts to make such a terrible judgement upon him ?

it is an historical fact that Pol Pot was the leader of a group of beings that are, each, responsible for their actions. in many cases the presence of a charismatic leader enables and feeds the movement. the removeal of such a pivotal figure often results in the collapse of the movement.

nevertheless, for the sake of the OP, it is sitpulated that we would know these things and could travel in time and take an action. of course, we all know that such a thing is not really possible :)

though.. if you hold to a Many Worlds view of QM, then this very scenario did happen ;)

metta,

~v
 
cavalier said:
Hopefully someone can help me make up my mind.
V, you helped me make it up. I was never that keen on full-scale military intervention, but felt that doing nothing would just be wrong. I'm not sure sure if assassination of the leadership is a perfect solution, I guess you feel the same, but it is the best option I can think of.

Returning to the OP, you asked how we would feel if action was taken by China. So, would you support a Chinese led assassination attempt?
 
Namaste cavalier,

thank you for the post.

well, my view is less dependent upon nationality than it is upon a spiritual level of realization. as such, if such a being where of Chinese or American ethinicity, it wouldn't make much difference to me.

it is curious, however, that some beings would support a forcible change to the Khmer Rouge provided that it had nothing to do with the United States. as a supporter of Tibetan Autonomy, my view would be generally the opposite.. i would tend to support the American military intervention as opposed to supporting the Chinese military interventiong.

metta,

~v
 
Kindest Regards, all!

Assassination? Ethically speaking, perhaps in terms of numbers of casualties this line of reasoning bears some merit. However, officially the US gov does not endorse or condone assassination, and hasn't since before Pol Pot.

Assassination does have complications of its own. For instance, one must gain the trust of the one to be assassinated. The assassin must be trusted enough to gain close enough access to the target to perform the act. This presumes that a high level target of the calibur of Pol Pot has a thorough and all-encompassing security cordon.

Unless one wishes to, somewhat indiscriminately (this is prior to "smart bombs"), bomb the daylights out of a "suspected" target and hope for the best, complete with "collateral damage" that was trying to be avoided in the first place.
 
Namaste juan,

thank you for the post.

juantoo3 said:
Assassination? Ethically speaking, perhaps in terms of numbers of casualties this line of reasoning bears some merit. However, officially the US gov does not endorse or condone assassination, and hasn't since before Pol Pot.

it does not matter, for the purpose of this discussion, if the United States does not engage in assassination of political leaders.

Assassination does have complications of its own. For instance, one must gain the trust of the one to be assassinated.

John Hinkley didn't have a close relationship with Kennedy, for example. Off hand i cannot think of any successful assassinations where such was required. Arch Duke Ferdinand wasn't well known by his assassins, from what i recall.

there are, of course, many methods which can be employed in such an endeavor.

The assassin must be trusted enough to gain close enough access to the target to perform the act. This presumes that a high level target of the calibur of Pol Pot has a thorough and all-encompassing security cordon.

Unless one wishes to, somewhat indiscriminately (this is prior to "smart bombs"), bomb the daylights out of a "suspected" target and hope for the best, complete with "collateral damage" that was trying to be avoided in the first place.

i would suggest, alternatively, the Barrett .50 sniper rifle in the hands of a trained sniper. in such a scenario, the risk of collateral damage is greatly mitigated.

metta,

~v
 
Kindest Regards, Vajradhara!

OK, I can play along for the exercise!
Vajradhara said:
it does not matter, for the purpose of this discussion, if the United States does not engage in assassination of political leaders.
OK...I can go with that.

John Hinkley didn't have a close relationship with Kennedy, for example.
I thought Hinkley was the failed attempt against Reagan, Lee Harvey Oswald was the "suspected" assassin of Kennedy. Either way, we are speaking of US presidents who are not in the habit of holing up in fortress compounds for months on end. In both instances, these presidents were in public places. An assassin would have a much easier time of hitting the target in a public place.

Off hand i cannot think of any successful assassinations where such was required.
Oh surely you are familiar with various court intrigues, both in Europe and in the Orient? Royals were seemingly constantly being snuffed by rivals bent on usurping the various thrones. Poison, as I recall, is the preferred method.

Arch Duke Ferdinand wasn't well known by his assassins, from what i recall.
Again, open automobile in a public place. Someone like Pol Pot was not as amenable to public parade, no doubt for this very reason. The situation isn't much different today in Burma. The rulers lead from within fortified compounds. So the problem remains; find a way to coax them out (public parade, like Anwar Sadat), or get inside (Trojan horse).

there are, of course, many methods which can be employed in such an endeavor.
Oh, indeed! Snipers and poison are but two possibilities. Tampered brakes on a favorite automobile could do the trick under the right circumstances...

i would suggest, alternatively, the Barrett .50 sniper rifle in the hands of a trained sniper. in such a scenario, the risk of collateral damage is greatly mitigated.
Agreed. The problem remains, getting the sniper within target range. Inside a fortified compound this is very risky and extremely unreliable without an inside connection. This is probably why Arafat stayed alive as long as he did.

The concept of mitigating "unneccesary" deaths is a noble one, to be sure. A failed assassination attempt can just as easily spark a war. Indeed, a successful assassination attempt sparked WWI.

But at what point does one consign to assassination? When Pol Pot is suspected? When he is responsible for 10 deaths? When he is responsible for 100 deaths? When he is responsible for 1000 deaths, or ten-thousand, or a hundred thousand? In hindsight, we see the millions of deaths, but at the time there was no way to foreknow (short of prescient vision, which I do not possess). Indeed, as I recall at the time, the world knew something was going on, but the full scope of the matter did not come to light until years later. For all the public knew at the time, it was an internal matter, putting down a public dissent. At what point does a nation's internal affairs become international affairs, and who gets to make that judgement?
 
Namaste Vajradhara !

I do not believe that, as time and events move forward here, human denial of a "many worlds" belief scenario will hold true. Especially now that the digital conversion of the human saga is well under way. But, as is said, only time will tell.
OH, I also wish to suggest that you visit the "ashes and snow" website, This group of artistic creations speaks volumes about this matter, IMHO.

warmest wishes

flow....:)
 
Namaste juan,

thank you for the post.

juantoo3 said:
I thought Hinkley was the failed attempt against Reagan, Lee Harvey Oswald was the "suspected" assassin of Kennedy.

doh! *smacks forehead*

Either way, we are speaking of US presidents who are not in the habit of holing up in fortress compounds for months on end. In both instances, these presidents were in public places. An assassin would have a much easier time of hitting the target in a public place.

without question.

Oh surely you are familiar with various court intrigues, both in Europe and in the Orient? Royals were seemingly constantly being snuffed by rivals bent on usurping the various thrones. Poison, as I recall, is the preferred method.

indeed. however, that does not require any degree of trust by the victim, per se, to have their food poisoned, for instance. it simply takes a being with the appropriate skill set and motivation.

Again, open automobile in a public place. Someone like Pol Pot was not as amenable to public parade, no doubt for this very reason. The situation isn't much different today in Burma. The rulers lead from within fortified compounds. So the problem remains; find a way to coax them out (public parade, like Anwar Sadat), or get inside (Trojan horse).

this would appear to be correct. they do come out, however, though often not for offiical events and so forth.

there are time tested methods for motivating a being to leave their fortress, however. none of which are all that pleasant.. then again, we are talking about something which isn't pleasant.

Agreed. The problem remains, getting the sniper within target range. Inside a fortified compound this is very risky and extremely unreliable without an inside connection. This is probably why Arafat stayed alive as long as he did.

HALO :)

The concept of mitigating "unneccesary" deaths is a noble one, to be sure. A failed assassination attempt can just as easily spark a war. Indeed, a successful assassination attempt sparked WWI.

without question.

But at what point does one consign to assassination? When Pol Pot is suspected? When he is responsible for 10 deaths? When he is responsible for 100 deaths? When he is responsible for 1000 deaths, or ten-thousand, or a hundred thousand? In hindsight, we see the millions of deaths, but at the time there was no way to foreknow (short of prescient vision, which I do not possess).

during the historical happening, it would be difficult to know, but information was out there from beings that had managed to escape. have you seen the movie The Killing Fields? it is a very powerful and moving story of a Cambodian that went through the horror of the Khmer Rouge and their forced agrarian society.

in any event, we are speaking as if we had the ability to go back in time whilst retaining the knowledge that we have today regarding the scope of the atrocity.

metta,

~v
 
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