I’ve been sitting on this post for a while. I loved the book Pol Pot – the man himself, that is a different story. I purchased this book with the hopes of understanding Cambodia better and I am happy to say that is exactly what happened.
Cambodia has long been a country that has struggled with its identity. Plagued by war and fear the Cambodian people have faced been with grim realities. This biography on Pol Pot chronicles the Cambodian struggle through monarchy, independence, communism, and twisted attempts at democracy. Author, Philip Short, unpacks the brutality and massacres done to both Cambodian people and people of Vietnam. After getting use to reading the unusual names it became quite easy to read. My only disappointment was the abrupt jump over the 1980’s. I feel I have a far better understanding of the country and the Cambodian people after reading this book. Below are a couple additional thoughts.
After several uprising and an over thrown monarchy that was in cahoots with China, Pol Pot systematically led to the over throw of the government. In order to start things over – everyone living in the city was ordered to leave the city. They were told they could return in a while. The death marches out of the city and what happened to the people as they left is frightening.
“the Party leadership must excercise its leading role by the use of cutting-edge violence…This is the most important factor, the decisive factor, which is the power that drives things forward.” -Pol Pot
“How do we make a communist revolution? The first thing you have to do is to destroy private property. But private property exists on both the material and the mental plane…To destroy material private property, the appropriate method was the evacuation of the towns…But spiritual private property is more dangerous, it compromises everything that you think is ‘yours’, everything that you think exists in relation to yourself – your parents, your family, your wife. Everything of which y ou say, ‘It’s mine…’ is spiritual private property. Thinking in terms of ‘me’ and ‘my’ is forbidden.” said in a seminar by Samphan. The goal in all of this was to make people equal.
It was intersting to see the role of the United States in all of this. We bombed Cambodia more then all of the bombs of every country dropped in World War II. Our policies were not for the betterment of humanity but simply strategic measures being made to counter the Soviet Union and communism.
Eye for an eye, get you before you get me, don’t trust anyone, fear, and revenge are all second nature it seems. This is a country and a people that needs to know grace, love, and hope.