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Explain Why The Khmer Rouge Became Such A Significant Force In Cambodia By 1979

2259 words - 9 pages

'Explain why the Khmer Rouge became such a significant force in Cambodia by 1979.' Respond to this statement in approximately 2000 words.When Cambodia was retitled Democratic Kampuchea in 1975, the alteration of title not only signified the acquisition of the nation by a recently instated governing force, but also heralded the destruction of the country's history, technology and over 1.7 million lives at the hands of what had become the most significant political and militant force in the entirety of Cambodia, the Khmer Rouge. The Khmer Rouge, a communist based movement founded on extreme agrarian ideology, xenophobia, ethnic hostility and indifference towards the death of hundreds of thousands of its countrymen, became the solitary ruling force in Kampuchea in April 1975 due, in large part, to the suffering a five year civil war and Lon Nol's desperately repressive regime had inflicted on the populace of Cambodia which subsequently roused a desire amongst the public to see an end to the death caused by such aggression. Seizing the opportunity to construct an agricultural utopian society, the Khmer Rouge, after deposing of the Lon Nol regime, purged itself of all foreign influence and instituted a labour program that saw Cambodian society completely replaced with the Khmer Rouge's agrarian ideal.Pre-Revolutionary Cambodia was characterised by its charismatic, eccentric and somewhat flamboyant monarch Norodom Sihanouk, who wished to maintain his country's neutrality, in spite of shared borders with countries such as Vietnam and Laos, to circumvent Cambodia being dragged into the wider conflict in Vietnam. In the years proceeding 1970, however, Sihanouk's popularity began to diminish as, to avoid invasion, he allowed Viet Cong forces to establish bases in Cambodia. This resulted in American retaliatory B-52 bombing raids of the Viet Cong headquarters thought to be in Cambodia and near the Vietnamese/Cambodian border, killing hundreds and injuring thousands of Cambodians in the process, in what was known as Operation Menu. The public disapproval of Sihanouk's actions culminated on the 18th March 1970 when, whilst abroad for health reasons, he was overthrown in a coup led by his Army Chief of Staff, General Lon Nol, and his Deputy Prime Minister, Sirik Matak. General Lon Nol was distinctively pro-American and anti-Vietnamese, and so his new government, the Khmer Republic, almost immediately gained US recognition and support, which its army used in an attempt to eradicate the countryside of Communist bases, thus ending any pretence of Khmer neutrality. However the Cambodian Communist forces, duly named the Khmer Rouge by Sihanouk, remained firmly rooted in regions of rural Cambodia as Lon Nol's forces proved incompetent. "The Cambodian army was ill-trained, many recruits were school children with corrupt officers, and Lon Nol recommended magic rituals for safety in battle" (Wood, 1990). Lon Nol's assault on the Khmer Rouge did not, however, go...

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