President Richard Nixon, Henry
Kissinger, and the Bombing of Cambodia
excerpted from the book
Lying for Empire
How to Commit War Crimes With
A Straight Face
by David Model
Common Courage Press, 2005, paper
The United States, apprehensive about Southeast Asia becoming
part of the Soviet sphere of influence, were willing to commit
whatever resources were needed to incorporate it into the American
Empire. American military leaders believed that Cambodian territory
was providing a transportation route from North to South Vietnam
and a haven where North Vietnam established its headquarters.
Despite the fact that in the 1960s and early 1970s, Cambodia was
safely in the American camp, its use by North Vietnam was becoming
In 1969, President Richard Nixon and his
National Security Advisor, Henry A. Kissinger, unleashed B-52
carpet bombing for over fourteen months against a people who still
tilled the soil with water buffalo. The 3,500 bombing sorties
resulted in 600,000 deaths. The American bombing of Cambodia was
a closely guarded secret primarily because the U.S. was not at
war with Cambodia.
Not only did Nixon and Kissinger not seek
the necessary approval from Congress to bomb Cambodia, they tried
to conceal the bombing not only from the American public but Congress
as well. Nixon and Kissinger believed that these hideous lies
were imperative to hold on to South Vietnam as part of the American
Following the bombing, many peasants were
so outraged at the United States and their puppet leader in Cambodia
that they chose to join the Khmer Rouge, a marginal revolutionary
communist group whose ranks swelled to a major force. After taking
power, the Khmer Rouge unleashed a reign of terror killing over
one million people.
The French reestablished control over Cambodia in late 1945 but
a new spirit of independence posed a challenge to the French.
Cambodia was granted autonomy within the French Union on January
7, 1946. Although a Cambodian army was created as a symbol of
independence, the French retained control over public order, foreign
relations, and public services. France succeeded in maintaining
its control until 1953.
Although Prince [Norodom] Sihanouk owed
his crown to the French, he was well aware of the growing demand
for independence and decided to pursue the route of negotiation
rather than armed conflict. As the opposition became more impatient,
Sihanouk dissolved the Assembly and declared martial law in 1952.
The next step in his campaign was to travel to France to demand
independence for Cambodia but he was ignored by the French. The
French were preoccupied with their war in Vietnam, a more valuable
colony than Cambodia. To embarrass the French, Sihanouk departed
for voluntary exile in Bangkok and then Battambang, proclaiming
his refusal to return to his palace until Cambodia was independent.
The French conceded and Sihanouk returned home to an independent
Cambodia. The Geneva Peace Accords proclaimed that Cambodia would
be guaranteed the right to remain neutral and non-aligned. It
also committed Cambodia to a constitutional monarchy with elections
open to everyone.
Despite the growth of his popularity after
achieving independence, Sihanouk was apprehensive about his powers
if the republican-minded Democratic Party, who was determined
to abolish the monarchy, won the next election. His strategy was
to abdicate the throne in favor of his father and to pursue his
political aspirations. Sihanouk announced that he would establish
a truly democratic party and end the rule of privilege. He formed
a political movement called the Sangkum Reastr Niyum (People's
Socialist Community) and because of his popularity, he had the
support of the mass of the peasantry and several other political
parties who feared annihilation at the polls. In 1955, Prince
Sihanouk was elected premiere.
Over the next ten years, tension between
Sihanouk and the United States intensified as American armed forces
in South Vietnam made sorties over the Cambodian border and the
U.S. attempted to shift Sihanouk's loyalty from pro-communist
neutrality to pro-American.
Sihanouk was not really interested in
democracy and therefore he ignored the Geneva accords by closing
the opposition newspapers and harassing the opposition leaders.
His strong-arm tactics did not backfire because of a strong political
base among the peasantry.
The United States pressured Sihanouk to
join the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) which included
the U.S., Britain, France, Pakistan, Thailand, Australia, and
New Zealand. Washington viewed SEATO as an organization capable
of containing China and protecting Southeast Asia from Chinese
domination. Sihanouk refused to recognize SEATO because of his
policy of pro-communist neutrality.
Other actions on the part of Sihanouk
were cause for alarm to the Americans such as his establishing
relations with the Soviet Union and Poland, accepting aid from
China, and making overtures to North Vietnam. Although he seemed
to be courting relations with communist countries, he did not
hesitate to criticize them when Cambodia's neutrality was threatened.
The United States employed two strategies
to pressure Sihanouk to move more into the American camp. One
was the use of aid and the other was to step up military activities
along the Thai-Cambodian and VietnameseCambodian borders.
Sihanouk deeply resented the efforts of the Americans to pressure
him into abandoning his neutrality in favour of a pro-American
position. He was concerned that too many of his generals and ministers
were becoming overly dependent on American assistance. After the
assassination of Diem in 1963, as an expression of his determination
to be independent and neutral, Sihanouk implemented a program
of economic reforms and nationalization. He then repudiated American
economic and military aid programs and insisted that the United
States shut down their aid missions.
The Downfall of Cambodia
Sihanouk's neutrality and his relationship
with the two most powerful groups in Cambodia, the urban elite
and the officer corps, proved to be his downfall. It also proved
to be the downfall of Cambodia as American bombing intensified
under his successor and social order disintegrated. T. D. Allman,
in Anatomy of a Coup, observed that:
... anti-Sihanouk forces' main complaint-when
all the charges boiled down-was that the prince, during almost
three decades of one-man rule, had deprived the aristocracy, the
bourgeoisie and the army of their traditional slice of the financial
action and of their accustomed place in the sun. It was an upper-class
coup not a revolution.
Sihanouk's new Prime Minister, General
Lon Nol, was not neutral but an enemy of the Vietnamese Communists
and therefore, useful to the United States. The political and
military elites in Cambodia and officer corps including American-friendly
Lon Nol were confident that the overthrow of Sihanouk would meet
with American approval.
The American military and CIA considered
Sihanouk an enemy and Green Beret teams commanded by Americans
conducted forays into Cambodian territory on intelligence-gathering
missions which numbered 1,000 in 1969 and 1970 (Seymour M. Hersh,
The Price of Power). A highly secret Special Forces unit was collecting
intelligence on Sihanouk before the coup.
Although there has been controversy about
the extent of American involvement in the coup to overthrow Sihanouk,
there is documented evidence that the United States not only encouraged
the coup but offered to support it. Samuel R. Thorton, an intelligence
specialist who had been assigned to the U.S. navy in Saigon, has
written that General Lon Nol was seeking a military and political
commitment from the United States after the overthrow of Sihanouk.
Thorton wrote that the United States offered to actually participate
in the coup and that the plan was code named "Dirty Tricks."
The operation involved the hiring of mercenaries to infiltrate
the Cambodian army if military support was needed and a plan to
have Lon Nol declare a national emergency calling for American
military intervention in Cambodia to destroy communist sanctuaries.
In late February or early March of 1969,
operation "Dirty Tricks" was approved by Washington
with the message that there was interest in the plan at "the
highest level of government," strongly implying that either
President Nixon or one of his top advisors had personally approved
the plan. Nol objected to the plan on the grounds that neither
he nor the Americans would be capable of quelling the popular
uprising that would ensue. He suggested that the coup be executed
when Sihanouk was on one of trips to France. The Americans responded
that their support would be forthcoming but that publicly the
United States would have to tread carefully to avert international
In March 1970, while Sihanouk was in Paris,
Lon Nol exploited anti.. Vietnamese sentiment by organizing demonstrations
to protest Sihanouk's tolerance of communist sanctuaries in Cambodia
in order to discredit his policies. The cabinet cabled Sihanouk
in Paris announcing a radical change in military and foreign policy.
Sihanouk's efforts to escape the imminent coup failed and on Wednesday,
March 18, 1970, the assembly met to terminate an era in the history
of Cambodia by voting Sihanouk out of office
Planners of the American war in Vietnam realized that as long
as North Vietnam was able to supply its forces down the Ho Chi
Minh Trail in Laos and Cambodia and at the same time provide sanctuaries
for those forces, the war was not winnable. Having identified
COSVN (Central Office for South Vietnam-Viet Cong headquarters)
HQ facilities in Base Area 353, the Americans deemed it necessary
to destroy it even though the area contained 1,640 Cambodians
of whom 1,000 were peasants. The decision to bomb Area 353 led
to a secret, massive bombing campaign inside Cambodia that has
been recorded as one of the major evil deeds of history.
... Richard M. Nixon assumed office in
January of 1969 and appointed Henry A. Kissinger as his National
Security Advisor, a position which was restructured to transfer
extraordinary power to Kissinger which enabled him to devise national
security and foreign policy. Alexander M. Haig, Jr. became military
assistant and then chief deputy to Kissinger.
During Kissinger's first week in office,
the Pentagon reported to the White House that a defector had pinpointed
the exact location of COS\TN. The legitimacy of this information
was supposedly verified by other intelligence sources. General
Earle G. Wheeler, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff advocated
a "short-duration, concentrated B-52 attack" on COSVN
in order to counter an imminent North Vietnamese offensive. ..
... Air Force Colonel Ray B. Sitton, an
aide to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Alexander M. Haig were
summoned by Nixon to meet with him and Kissinger in Brussels to
discuss the proposed B-52 bombing strikes. Sitton, Haig, and Kissinger,
while waiting for President Nixon, began discussing the bombing
of Cambodia. Kissinger's overriding concern was secrecy. He did
not want Congress, the American public, or the world to know that
the United States was planning to bomb a country with which it
was not at war and violate their neutrality. "'T
To preserve the secrecy of the bombing,
Kissinger was prepared to bypass the Strategic Air Command's normal
command and control system. His obsession with secrecy was so
strong that he did not want the crews bombing Cambodia to be aware
of their targets.
Kissinger reported the outcome of the
discussions to President Nixon. Nixon then consulted his Secretary
of Defense, Melvin R. Laird, and Secretary of State, William Rogers
and was warned that there would be intense criticism from both
Congress and the press if word of the missions leaked out. Nixon's
and Kissinger's obsession with Congress and the media motivated
them to ask Sitton to devise a reporting procedure that would
ensure absolute secrecy.
The clandestine operation began with a
cable from President Nixon to Ambassador Ellsworth Bunker (American
Ambassador to South Vietnam) explaining that there were to be
no more discussions about the bombing of Cambodia and with full
knowledge that despite its top-secret classification, the cable
would be read by dozens of senior officers and military clerks.
The plan to destroy Area 353 involved sending 60 B-52 aircraft
on a regular bombing mission to legitimate targets in South Vietnam.
Forty-eight of them would be surreptitiously diverted to targets
inside Cambodia if the Joint Chiefs of Staff sent the signal "Execute
repeat Execute Operation Breakfast." Without the signal,
all 60 planes would bomb targets in South Vietnam.
Critical to the secrecy of the operation
was the dual reporting system created by Sitton. Before takeoff,
the B-52 crews were given their normal briefing for targets in
South Vietnam, most of which were cover targets. After the normal
briefing, the pilots and navigators of the planes heading for
Cambodia would be pulled aside by their commanding officer and
told to expect special instructions from a ground radar station
inside South Vietnam. Computers at the radar station would take
control of the navigation system in the B-52s, guide them to their
real targets in Cambodia, and compute the precise moment when
the bombs should be released. After the bombing had been completed,
the bomber's radio operator would call his base to report that
the mission had been accomplished and the intelligence division
at the base would enter the South Vietnamese coordinates in the
official report. Major Hal Knight, commander of the radar crews,
would collect any paperwork related to the real targets and burn
At the completion of the missions, the
pilots would return to their home bases for a debriefing on the
cover targets in South Vietnam. The evaluation of the bombing
mission would then be reported in the Pentagon's secret command
and control system as if the mission took place over South Vietnam.
The men who worked on the ground radar
sites in South Vietnam were provided with top-secret target instructions
a few hours before each mission by a special courier flight from
Saigon. The radar operators in South Vietnam knew the real targets
but maintained secrecy until the Watergate hearings in 1973.
When it became clear that Viet Cong headquarters had eluded American
bombers, more bombing missions inside Cambodia seemed to be necessary
to achieve the objective of destroying COSVN. Once the ice had
been broken and the bombing had not been discovered by the media,
subsequent missions would not be as difficult. The lack of protest
from Sihanouk also facilitated further missions.
The next target selected, Base Area 609,
code-named "Lunch," was also suspected of harbouring
COSVN, not to mention the 198 Cambodians who lived there. The
next target was Base Area 351, or "Snack," where 383
Cambodians resided. The Joint Chiefs of Staff were now committed
to destroying all 15 sanctuaries, code-named Menu, where they
suspected COSVN to be situated. To escape the repeated bombardments
inside Cambodia, the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong penetrated
further into the interior forcing the bombing missions to expand
their base of operations. Nixon and Kissinger had approved a total
of 3,530 flights over Cambodia between February 1969 and April
1970 (Seymour M. Hersh, The Price of Power).
An alarming array of key personnel who
would normally be involved in the planning, approval, and execution
of an operation such as "Menu" were sheltered from the
truth. The list includes the Secretary of the Air Force, Dr. Robert
Seamans, the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, General John Ryan,
Office of Strategic Research and Analysis,
all the Congressional Committees responsible for approving the
funds and authorizing the mission, the Senate Foreign Relations
Committee, and most of the Pentagon. Not only were these key persons
in the chain of command uninformed about the bombing, they were
lied to by Kissinger and Nixon. William Shawcross, in Sideshow,
... Nixon, Kissinger, Rogers, Laird, Elliot
L. Richardson and other officials continued to assure Congress,
press and public, without equivocation, that the United States
had scrupulously declined to attack Communist positions in Cambodia
before spring 1970.
President Nixon delivered a speech to
the nation on April 30, 1970, to announce the use of ground forces
in Cambodia. The speech denied any previous American involvement
in Cambodia after 3,530 bombing raids. William Shawcross, in Sideshow,
Ignoring Menu, Nixon began with the lie
that the United States had "scrupulously respected"
Cambodia's neutrality for the last five years and had not "moved
against" the sanctuaries. The falsehood was repeated by Kissinger
in his background briefing to the press.
Nixon lied about respecting Cambodia's
neutrality in order to grab Southeast Asia for the American Empire.
The lie also paid huge dividends when Nixon asked Congress for
the authority to send land troops into Cambodia to ferret out
the Viet Cong headquarters. While American and South Vietnamese
troops marched through Cambodia they committed more war crimes
when they destroyed towns and villages. Without the lies there
would be no empire. With lies, there are massive war crimes.
Seymour M. Hersh, in The Price of Power,
Nixon wrote much of his April 30 speech
himself, but he read his final draft to Kissinger and Haldeman
for their approval. Kissinger, as he subsequently told the Kaib
brothers [authors, reporters], offered "only small comments."
The speech included a number of major lies, notably Nixon's statement
that the United States had previously done nothing to violate
On April 28, 1970, Nixon authorized the use of American troops
for an invasion of Cambodia. The two areas selected for targeting
were Area 352 and Area 353 where Abrams believed COSVN was still
operating despite the fact that 29,000 bombs had already been
dropped there. According to Nixon, the mission would be limited
in mission, scope, and duration. The scope limited American ground
forces to within 21.7 miles of the Cambodian border and the invasion
was to be terminated at the end of June 1970. Not only did Abrams
invade Cambodia with ground troops but one week before the Cambodian
invasion, the U.S. Air Force was ordered to commence striking
Cambodian targets as far as 18 miles inside Cambodia and to officially
report that their targets were in Laos. "Patio" was
the code name for the 156 tactical air strikes flown over Cambodia
under the same secret system as "Menu."
The United States dispatched 5,000 U.S.
troops into Northeastern Cambodia, 1,500 into the Fishhook area
and opened a new front with another 6,000 troops. By May 7, 1970,
there were 25,000 American troops in Cambodia. American B-52 bombers
continued to pound areas suspected of being sanctuaries or COSVN.
American and South Vietnamese forces destroyed
a number of towns and all their citizens simply because they suspected
that there might be communist forces there. For example, about
two thousand people lived in the town of Snuol where they thrived
by tapping trees for rubber. William Shawcross, in Sideshow, reported
When the cavalry came under fire, Lieutenant
Colonel Grail Brookshire, ordered his tank crews to fire their
90-mm guns straight into the town and called in air strikes to
discourage further resistance. After twenty-four hours of bombardment,
Brookshire judged Snuol safe for his men, and the tanks moved
into the centre. Only seven bodies could be seen, four of them
Cambodian civilians... As they drove past shattered shops soldiers
leaped off their tanks to kick down the doors that still stood,
and they looted the town.
Dozens of towns, villages, and hamlets
were destroyed and burnt to ensure that they could no longer serve
as a base or sanctuary for communist forces. There was no attempt
to discriminate between innocent Cambodians and the enemy during
these assaults. American and South Vietnamese forces Committed
acts of rape, looting, and burning to retaliate for the murder
of South Vietnamese.
Nixon and Kissinger's strategy backfired because it only served
to drive the Communists closer to Phnom Penh and to align the
communist forces with disgruntled peasants in Cambodia who resented
the American and South Vietnamese incursions into their territory
and the continual bombing of their land. Edward Herman and Noam
Chomsky, in Manufacturing Consent, claimed that:
One effect of the invasion was to drive
the Vietnamese forces away from the border and deeper into Cambodia,
where they began to support the growing peasant resistance against
the coup leaders [Lon Nol, et al]. A second effect, as described
by U.S. correspondent Richard Dudman, who witnessed these ,..events
at first hand after his capture by the Cambodian resistance, was
that "the bombing and shooting was radicalizing the people
of rural Cambodia and was turning the countryside into a massive,
and dedicated revolutionary base." Cambodia was now plunged
into civil war, with increasing savagery on both sides.
In Manufacturing Consent, Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky noted
U.S. bombing continued at a high level
after the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Cambodia. By late 1971,
an investigating team of the General Accounting Office concluded
that U.S. and Saigon army bombing is "a very significant
cause of refugees and civilian casualties," estimating that
almost a third of the seven million population may be refugees.
U.S. intelligence reported that "what the villagers feared
most was the possibility of indiscriminate artillery and air strikes,"
and refugee reports and other sources confirm that these were
the major cause of civilian casualties and the flight of refugees.
American and South Vietnamese assaults
in Cambodia, a country whose neutrality the U.S. claimed to respect,
caused massive, unconscionable death and destruction. The Finnish
Inquiry Commission referred to the number of deaths as genocidal.
According to the Commission, 600,000 Cambodians died out of a
population of 7 million and another 2 million people became refugees.
Carlyle Thayer, an Australian Indochina specialist, estimated
the number of dead at 500,000 of which 50,000 to 60,000 were executions.
The CIA estimated that 600,000 had died.
Notwithstanding the Paris Peace Agreements,
which were signed on January 27, 1973, and which put an end to
the war in Vietnam, the United States actually intensified its
bombing in Cambodia in a desperate attempt to impede the Khmer
Rouge from gaining control. The Khmer Rouge was a monster which
began as a marginal revolutionary movement but whose ranks swelled
as more and more peasants became alienated from the Cambodian
government which depended on the United States. During March,
April, and May, the quantity of bombs dropped on Cambodia was
twice as great as in the entire previous year. Edward Herman and
Noam Chomsky, in Manufacturing Consent, explained that the rise
of the Khmer Rouge can be attributed to that:
... Cambodia was being systematically
demolished, and the Khmer Rouge, hitherto a marginal element,
were becoming a significant force with substantial peasant support
in inner Cambodia, increasingly victimized by U. S. terror. As
for the U.S.-backed Lon Nol regime, Michael Vickery points out
that their "client mentality" and subsequent "dependency
led them to acquiesce in, or even encourage, the devastation of
their own country by one of the worst aggressive onslaughts in
modern warfare, and therefore to appear as traitors to a victorious
By May 26, 1973, Operation Menu had persevered
for 14 months and the bombing continued until Congress forced
it to end in 1973. The bombing finally ended on August 15, 1973,
after a total discharge of 539,129 tons of bombs on Cambodia.
Despite American efforts to prevent the
rise of the Khmer Rouge, the Khmer Rouge were victorious and in
April 1975 took control of Cambodia and ruled the country until
1978. The Khmer Rouge created a hell on earth f o,, r the people
Brutality, carnage, bloodshed, and terror describe conditions
under the rule of the Khmer Rouge. The social, political, and
economic structure was destroyed by a group of fanatics whose
adherence to their sacrosanct doctrine was merciless. William
Shawcross, in Sideshow asserted that:
Father Francois Ponchaud, who by then
interviewed over a thousand refugees, himself believed that the
higher figure [2 million] was more accurate by spring 1978, and
that, as a result of starvation, disease and execution, around
a quarter of the population had died... Such a massacre is hard
to imagine, and the figure could not be verified. But, in a sense,
this was not critical. What was important was to establish whether
an atrocity had taken place. Given the burden of evidence, it
was impossible not to agree with Hanoi's assertions that "In
Cambodia, a former island of peace... no one smiles today. Now
the island is soaked with blood and tears... Cambodia is hell
Although the Khmer Rouge are fully responsible for the atrocities
which they committed in Cambodia, the United States must at least
accept some responsibility for creating the conditions that provided
the Khmer Rouge with the opportunity to rise to power. Before
the American-South Vietnamese bombing and invasion of Cambodia,
the Khmer Rouge were a marginal force of about 3,000. The death
and destruction resulting from the actions of the United States
and South Vietnam drove hundreds of thousands of peasants into
the arms of the Khmer Rouge giving them the strength to eventually
take over the government.
Nixon's and Kissinger's Lies
The copious lies of both Kissinger and
Nixon to the American people and Congress made possible the clandestine
nature of and false justifications for the Cambodian incursions.
Some of the lies were:
* Nixon and Kissinger decided to keep
secret the bombing of Cambodia whose neutrality the administration
professed to respect.
* Records were falsified to conceal the
fact that the U.S. was bombing Cambodia.
* Nixon and Kissinger assured Congress
that the United States scrupulously declined to attack communist
positions in Cambodia before the spring of 1970.
* In 1970, Nixon claimed to respect Cambodian
neutrality and that the U.S. would not move against communist
* In 1970, Nixon lied to Congress when
he claimed that military assistance to Lon Nol was minimal. o
After Congressional approval for raids ending in June 1970 Nixon
and Kissinger claimed that the Cambodian operation was a success.
o The Cooper-Church amendment limited American bombing and Nixon
and Kissinger greatly exceeded those limits.
* Kissinger claimed that the sanctuaries
were uninhabited or only lightly populated by Cambodians.
* Kissinger claimed that the decision to bomb the sanctuaries
was in response to an "unprovoked offensive" by communist
forces in South Vietnam.
* Kissinger's insisted that the protection
of American lives was the principal reason for the bombing, but
regular American bombing occurred after the "unprovoked offensive"
had ended. . Kissinger's memoranda to the defense department claimed
L that no Cambodian lives were lost.
* Kissinger claimed on June 11, 1969,
that he and President Nixon "fully briefed" Senator
Stennis and Russell on the Menu operation.
The enormity of Nixon's lies afforded
him the opportunity to commit atrocities in Cambodia bordering
on genocide. In the Nixon impeachment hearings, the fourth article
of impeachment charged that Nixon:
... had violated his constitutional oath
of office in that he "on and subsequent to March 17, 1969,
authorized, ordered and ratified the concealment from Congress
of the facts and the submission to Congress of false and misleading
statements concerning the existence, scope, and nature of American
bombing operations in Cambodia and derogation of the power of
Congress to declare war... and by such conduct warrants impeachment
and trial and removal from office." (William Shawcross, Sideshow)
President Nixon's actions also violated the following clauses
in the United Nations Charter:
o Chapter I, Article 2, Paragraph 3 -"All
members shall settle their international disputes by peaceful
* Chapter I, Article 2, Paragraph 4 -"All
members shall refrain from the use of force against the territorial
integrity of any state" ...
American actions in Cambodia also violated the following clauses
in the Geneva Conventions:
* Convention IV, Part 1 ,Article 3, Paragraph
1 -"Persons taking no active part in the hostilities.., shall
in all circumstances be treated humanely";
* Protocol (1), Chapter II-"The civilian
population... shall enjoy protection against dangers arising from
* Protocol (1), Chapter III, Article 52,
Paragraph l-"Civilian objects shall not be the object of
o Protocol (1), Chapter III, Article 51,
Paragraph 4 "Indiscriminate attacks are prohibited. Indiscriminate
attacks are: those which are not directed at specific military
The United States also violated the following
clauses in the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of
* Article 2-"In the present Convention
genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent
to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethical, racial or
religious group such as: (a) killing members of the group; (b)
causing seriously bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) deliberately inflicting conditions of life calculated to bring
about its physical destruction in whole or in part..."
There was no doubt during the bombing
of the sanctuaries, the invasion of Cambodia and the subsequent
bombing until 1973, that many innocent Cambodians would be killed
and that there would be severe damage to the rural areas of Cambodia.
Given the number of bombing missions and the tonnage of bombs
dropped and the fact that the missions penetrated further and
further into Cambodia, it would be naïve to believe that
Nixon and Kissinger were not aware of the death and destruction
they were causing.
The bombing of Cambodia ranks as one of
the most evil deeds perpetrated by any country since World War
II. In addition to the approximately 600,000 killed by the bombing,
the United States must accept responsibility for the destruction
of the country and the estimated two million people murdered by
the Khmer Rouge.
Richard A. Falk, in Cambodia: The Widening
War in Indochina concluded that:
In essence, then, the Cambodian Operation
represents a step backward in the struggle to impose restraints
on the use of force in the conduct of foreign relations... The
Cambodian Operation is, perhaps, the most blatant violations of
international law by the U.S. government since World War II, but
it represents only the most recent instance in a series of the
illegal uses of force to intervene in the internal affairs of
a sovereign society.