Ever wonder what’s been going on in Cambodia since Pol Pot became history? Well, a few things have: It’s become a high-water mark of sorts for human rights abuses, with one third of the country’s people killed in a genocide so massive that there are walls of skulls to commemorate it. It’s also become, sadly, a hub for child sexual abusers — oh sorry, “sex tourists”. And for the drug trade, which is sucking the lifeblood out of Cambodians at all levels, but especially the farmers and peasants. It’s also hugely in debt to the international banksters, who keep giving it loans to pay back their loans. And now, in the crowning moment of chutzpah, guess what else is going on? No, really — you’ll never guess, because this shit just can’t be made up:
Half a century after United States B-52 bombers dropped more than 500,000 tonnes of explosives on Cambodia’s countryside Washington wants the country to repay a $US500 million ($662 million) war debt.
Over 200 nights in 1973 alone, 257,456 tons of explosives fell in secret carpet-bombing sweeps – half as many as were dropped on Japan during the Second World War.
The pilots flew at such great heights they were incapable of discriminating between a Cambodian village and their targets, North Vietnamese supply lines – nicknamed the “Ho Chi Minh Trail.”
The bombs were of such massive tonnage they blew out eardrums of anyone standing within a 1-kilometre radius.
The bombings drove hundreds of thousands of ordinary Cambodians into the arms of the Khmer Rouge, an ultra-Marxist organisation which seized power in 1975 and over the next four years presided over the deaths of more than almost two million people through starvation disease and execution.
The debt started out as a US$274 million loan mostly for food supplies to the then US-backed Lon Nol government but has almost doubled over the years as Cambodia refused to enter into a re-payment program.
So why was that debt never written off or forgiven? Because the Vietnam War, into which Cambodia was illegally drawn, was all about capitalism and imperialism. No debt, no pound of flesh for capitalist imperialists. Simple.
And now that Cambodia is looking somewhat like it’s back on its feet, guess what? The vultures are circling again:
William Heidt, the US’s ambassador in Phnom Penh, said Cambodia’s failure to pay back the debt puts it in league with Sudan, Somalia and Zimbabwe.
“To me, Cambodia does not look like a country that should be in arrears…buildings coming up all over the city, foreign investment coming in, government revenue is rapidly rising,” Mr Heidt was quoted as saying by the Cambodia Daily.
“I’m saying it is in Cambodia’s interest not to look to the past, but to look at how to solve this because it’s important to Cambodia’s future,” he said, adding that the US has never seriously considered cancelling the debt.
Even though they knew that there was little likelihood of Cambodia ever paying it back. Even though they knew that Cambodia has a responsibility to look after its own first, so children don’t end up getting sold to sex traffickers, and so that farmers don’t end up growing opium poppies so foreign drug lords can get rich off their misery.
No, better to just make them pay off that debt to the same country that illegally bombed them 50-odd years ago.
And if you think that doesn’t make much sense, just imagine yourself in my shoes, in total agreement for the first and only time with a former Cambodian dictator:
Cambodia’s strongman prime minister Hun Sen, a former Khmer Rouge commander who defected to Vietnam, hit back, saying “The US created problems in my country and is demanding money from me.”
“They dropped bombs on our heads and then ask up to repay. When we do not repay, they tell the IMF (International Monetary Fund) not to lend us money,” he told an international conference in early March.
“We should raise our voices to talk about the issue of the country that has invaded other (countries) and has killed children.”
And in actual point of fact, they’re STILL killing Cambodian children. Partly through all the unexploded ordnance that still litters the Cambodian countryside. Every so often, an old bomb or landmine goes off, and with it, so do lives and limbs.
And let’s not forget how capitalism, especially sex capitalism, is killing those kids, either. AIDS is now an ever-present scourge in Cambodia, thanks to all those poor misunderstood perverts who come in preying on the young, small and helpless.
But none of that matters. The banksters are still insisting on their pound of flesh. And now that they’ve got a fully complicit buffoon in the White House, their chutzpah has broken loose. At this rate, we shouldn’t be too surprised to hear that war has been declared on Cambodia…all over again.