On April 1, Vietnam’s Ambassador to the United States said sadly: “Probably it is safer to be an ally of the Communists, and it is fatal to be an ally of the United States.” It took only 19 days to prove that statement was no April Fool’s joke or politician’s hyperbole, but the literal truth. For being allies of the United States, our Cambodian friends have now been beheaded.
For the first five years of the Vietnam War, the Communists used eastern Cambodia as a privileged sanctuary from which to conduct hit-and-run raids against American troops and South Vietnam. This was a clear violation of international law and fully justified our hot pursuit in order to stop the raids.
In March 1970, the Cambodians deposed their pro-Communist ruler and established an anti-Communist, pro-American regime. Nixon and Kissinger then ordered what was called the “incursion” of Cambodia for the purpose of cleaning out the Communist bases. The Communists apparently got advance word that the incursion was limited to only 30 miles, and they simply retreated behind the 30-mile limit and re grouped in safety.
This was the signal for the Red Chinese and the Soviets to send massive military aid to the Cambodian Reds, called the Khmer Rouge. The United States, however, having lured the pro-American Cambodians into helping us, did not match the military aid shipped to the other side.
In 1973 Congress forbade further U.S. military action. Abandoned by the United States, the Cambodian anti-Communists fought bravely to the bitter end, and then paid with their heads.
Prince Sihanouk, the figurehead ruler of the Cambodian Communists, now living in Peking, greeted the news of the total Communist takeover of Cambodia by publicly asking Premier Chou En-lai to continue Red China’s role as “prime supporter” of the Khmer Rouge.
President Ford has just reconfirmed his intention to visit Red China later this year. Such a visit will put his silent stamp of approval on Chou En-lai for his successful role as “prime supporter” of the Khmer Rouge barbarians, who beheaded the Cambodian leaders for sticking out their necks to be our allies.
The message that America betrays its allies has been heard loud and clear in other Asian capitals, including Thailand and the Philippines. President Chung Hee Park of South Korea has been reported as “terrified by the recent debacle in Indochina.” And no wonder. The North Korean ruler, Kim Il-sung, has already rushed over to Peking to urge Red China to assist the Communists in North Korea to do in South Korea what the North Vietnam Communists have already done in South Vietnam and Cambodia, and thereby deliver “the final, decisive punch” against the United States in Asia.
The Americans who have been saying for so long that the fall of Cambodia was inevitable have helped create a self-fulfilling prophecy. They are now singing a chorus of “let’s all move on to other issues and avoid recriminations about the past.” On the contrary, this definitely is the time to assess the blame and determine the responsibility. We owe this much to the American servicemen who fought in Southeast Asia.