Senator Edward Kennedy called it an infamous agreement, totally careless of Cambodian lives. Another view was expressed by the House majority Leader Thomas P. Tip ONeill. He said the bombing should stop because Cambodia is not worth one American life.
Geneva marked a historical split among the Khmer Communists. Those were taken to Hanoi remained there, growing older, more pro-Vietnamese and more remote from their country. But a few hundred Khmer Communist guerrillas dissolved Hanoi and stayed in the marquis after 1954. They saw the Geneva as an outright betrayal of the Cambodian resolution. Twenty-three years later, the Communist Prime Minister of Cambodia complained that this revolutionary struggle of our people and the war was booty that was subsequently captured, dissolved into thin air through the Geneva Agreements. The trouble in those days, he said, was that Cambodians did not know which direction to follow and which forces to rely on. Evidently Hanoi was not a reliable force and, in order to distance the Khmer Rouge from their Vietnamese origins, the Partys history was rewritten and its founding dated in 1960, not 1951.
In Paris on January 27, 1973, one week after Nixons second inauguration, the United States, the Republic of Vietnam, the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, and the Provisional Revolutionary Government of South Vietnam signed an Agreement on ending the war and restoring peace in Vietnam. Soon after dawn on the morning of January 29, 1973, the crump of mortars, the whistle of bullets and the whine of artillery shells began to die all over South Vietnam. In the wreckage of the provincial capital of Quang Tri, men on both sides tentatively lifted weary heads from foxholes and gazed silently upon one another.
But while the agreement was certainly an achievement, it was not designed or destined to bestow peace. In Laos a sort of peaceful transfer of power was arranged.
It is less easy to demonstrate why no solution to the war in Cambodia was found after the Paris Agreement.
The crucial point was that neither Washington nor Hanoi wanted a cease-fire in Cambodia before Vietnam. At least until 1973 each wished its associate to continue a limited war.So long as Lon Nol remained to conduct his holy struggle against the demon Communists no cease-fire was likely. From now the Thais and South Vietnamese were ostensibly Cambodias allies, but a unilateral settlement by the Khmers would likely bring South Vietnamese and possibly Thai incursions, which would subject the Khmer countryside to continue damage and destruction and possible foreign domination of another stripe. The threat was clear; the Cambodians could not win, but if they tried to retire, war would be waged against them as aggressively as now-by their current friends.
During the second stage, between summer of 1971 and 1973, the growing Khmer Rouge started to break away from Hanois control and to discard the totem of Sihanouk and his supporters; collectivists measures were begun. Then, from the time of the Paris Agreement in January 1973 onward, the Khmer Rouge were largely on their own; they depended on North Vietnamese logistics but had no guaranteed aid from any foreign power and were free to launch their own military initiatives.
But then in 1973, when the Paris Peace Agreement prevented American bombing of first Vietnam and then Laos, the entire Seventh Air Force was switched back to Cambodia. All of this had more to do with political and organisational requirements in Washington and South Vietnam than with the military needs of the Lon Nol government. Until August 1973, when Congress brought the bombing to an end, hundreds of thousands of bombs dropped by the American South Vietnam and Cambodian air forces onto Cambodia fell unreported and uncontrolled on areas occupied first by the North Vietnamese and then by the Khmer Rouge.
The language of the Paris Agreement placed no real formal obligations on Hanoi or Washington with regard to Cambodia or Laos.
During the course of his talks with Le Duc Tho, Kissinger had attempted to obtain an assurance that cease-fires could be arranged in Cambodia and Laos as well as in Vietnam. The North Vietnamese were able to give satisfactory assurances on Laos; Hanoi had always dominated the Pathet Lao. In Cambodia, however, no such guarantees could be given, because of growing tensions between the North Vietnamese and the Khmer Rouge. During 1972, when almost North Vietnamese combat divisions were withdrawn from Cambodia for the offensive in South Vietnam, reports of fairly constant fighting between the allies reached Phnom Penh and Washington. By the end of the year the Khmer Rouge were fielding an army of around 50,000 men, organized in regimes, and were strong enough to hold their own against Lon Nol, with only logistical support from the North Vietnamese.
Although Kissinger subsequently assured Congress there were no secret clauses to the Paris Agreement, Nixon had, at North Vietnamese insistence, written a secret letter to the Prime Minister, Pham Van Dong, promising such aid.
It is not clear what role Kissinger himself was prepared to take in any Cambodian negotiations at this precise moment. Before and after January 1973, he usually insisted that any Cambodian peace talks-unlike those concerning Vietnam-must take place between the two parties and that the United States could not be directly involved. Since each Cambodian side had always explicitly denied that there was any possibility of its negotiating with the other traitors (each, indeed, had condemned the leaders of the other side to death) the prospects for such talks were dim.
Yet Thieu himself and many American officials insisted that the existence of an anti-communist allied government in Phnom Penh was essential to the survival of South Vietnam.
(In October 1972 Kissinger had made his only visit ever to Phnom Penh. He stayed two hours. Lon Nol later said he had revealed very little of Washingtons plans for Cambodias future.) Lon Nol was evidently disturbed by the notion of a cease-fire; Swank soothed him by guaranteeing that enemy actions of any scope against Cambodia involving a cease-fire in Vietnam would be regarded as a violation of any agreement reached with Hanoi, and I stressed that air power based in Thailand would be deployed on his behalf in case of need.
Beginning in late February 1973, Sihanouk, Monique, the ever-present Ieng Sary as minder, and more than a hundred Vietnamese to assist and supervise travel down the Ho Chi Minh trail, left southern China headed for Cambodia. Travelling in Soviet-made jeeps, they reached Cambodian territory after eight days on the road and were met by Hu Nim, whom Sihanouk had regarded as a bitter enemy only five years before, and Son Sen, leading military figure in the Khmer Rouge. Travelling on, they were joined by Khieu Samphan and Saloth Sar, the future Pol Pot, and later again by Hou Youn and Sars wife, Khieu Ponary. Sihanouk now had about him the three men whom he had repeatedly castigated as traitors and enemies while he was still in power.
In the same vein a Cambodian Communist diplomat later complained that in 1973, after the Khmer Rouge refused to talk with Lon Nol, The Vietnamese signed their own agreement with the Americans and the B-52s which bombed Vietnam were all sent to pulverize Cambodia.
When Sihanouk returned from his trip to Cambodia he told Ambassador Etienne Manach that Khieu Samphan, the Khmer Rouge commander in chief, had said to him, Hanoi has dropped us.
In those days, the present King Norodom Sihanouk still tried to cover up that there were no North Vietnamese troops in Cambodia after Paris Agreement:
For his part, Sihanouk gave vent to his feelings in a diplomatic manner. He criticised peace-loving countries that sought to impose a cease-fire on Cambodia. He said American claim that
North Vietnam was still fueling the war were untrue-the resistance was no longer receiving aid. He denounced American peace plans which involved the partition of the country.
In Washington officials claimed that the North Vietnamese were shipping new men and materiel into South Vietnam and publicly alleged that there were still five thousand North Vietnamese troops operating against Cambodian forces.
The conservatives summoned traditional arguments: the Presidents hands should not be tied; this was not the time; the United States was bombing for peace.
The North Vietnamese, like the Americans, had sought a stalemate war in Cambodia. But the Khmer Rouge were seeking victory. After attempting to cut the governments supply lines they now closed in on Phnom Penh. Their principal motive, it is apparent, was fear that the North Vietnamese might betray them completely. In Cambodian terms that betrayal had already begun. Sihanouk complained to the New York Times in July that the North Vietnamese were now far more interested in American aid than in helping Cambodia. Suddenly you see Dr. Kissinger smile and Le Duc Tho smile at Dr Kissinger. They shake hands, and they go arm in arm and leave us alone. He later told another journalist, T. D. Allman:
We do not have enough ammunition. I look back to the Treaty we signed with the Pathet Lao, with the North Vietnamese and with the (Vietcong), at the South China Conference in 1970. We promised to fight to the end. Now the North Vietnamese sign agreements with Kissinger. No matter, we will fight one alone.The North Vietnamese want American aid so they do not help as much as they could. The Chinese play the big power game with America. Brezhnev and Nixon are friends. But we will not play the big power game. We will fight for the unity of our country.Nixon continues to pour arms into Phnom Penh. We get very little from our Communist allies. Still we will fight for Cambodia.
On several occasions he said he feared that Washington and Hanoi might agree to the partition of Cambodia. In these matters Sihanouk expressed ageless Cambodian fears, and there was no reason to suppose that he did not represent the feelings of the Khmer Rouge as well. Later the Khmer Communists claimed that the North Vietnamese entered into negotiations in 1973 in an attempt to swallow us, but they did not succeed. Pol Pot, the Party leader and Prime Minster after the war, commented If we had agreed to have a cease-fire in 1973 in accordance with the manoeuvres of the U.S. and Vietnamese enemies, we should have suffered a heavy loss. First of all, we should become slaves of the Vietnamese, and the Cambodian race would have entirely lost its identity.
For those men, 1973 confirmed a historic conviction that survival, let alone victory, could be guaranteed only by absolute independence and an astonishing fixity of purpose. As it was, the indifference of their allies and the assault upon them by the supporters of their enemy stamped out thousands upon thousands of them, and the survivors had neither the men nor the firepower for a final assault upon the capital when, after August 15, 1973, the rain re-inherited the skies.
When he had arrived in 1970 the glow of enthusiasm at least among the townspeople for Sihanouks removal and for the chance of fighting the North Vietnamese was dimming, but it was still perceptible. By the fall of 1973 it had long disappeared.
Since the Paris Accord, Swank had made little attempt to conceal from his staff his distaste for the continuing carnage in Cambodia. He asserted that the war is losing more and more of its point and has less and less meaning for any of the parties concerned. He could see no prospects for peace.
In August 1973, the fall of Phnom Penh had been widely expected. Journalists flocked to be there when the American bombing ended.
After a long and bloody street battle the Communists finally withdrew. Sihanouk later complained bitterly that, but for the treachery of Hanoi in withholding supplies, the town would have been captured.
While Communist advances were, to some extent, dependent on provisions from Hanoi, Lon Nols army became hostage to American materiel.
The T-28 fighter-bomber pilots would not descend below 300 feet; bombs and napalm dropped at sharp angles from that height were usually inaccurate. They undoubtedly killed a lot of people but not necessary those who were targeted.
Emory Swank comments that the only possibility of peace then would have been if we had taken the dramatic step of drastically reducing our support for the Phnom Penh government. It was one of possibility I suggested. The Chinese and North Vietnamese might have taken it as a step toward a negotiated settlement. But to Kissinger it would have been leading from weakness.
However, on January 28, the day before the Paris Agreement took effect, Lon Nol made what passed for the cease-fire offer Kissinger had promised Le Duc Tho. His statement makes clear his refusal to appreciate that a Khmer Communist organization existed and shows how qualified his gesture was:
By virtue of the Geneva Agreements of 1954 we have the right to repossess the parts of our country which have been illegally occupied by the North Vietnamese and Vietcong forces. To enable them to leave our territory in the shortest possible time, we will order our troopsto suspend their offensive operations and to establish contacts with the people to ascertain their welfare and to assure their protection. Incident which might impede their passage or jeopardize their installations will be regarded as actions by intruders who will continue to exercise our right of legitimate self-defence through defensive military operations throughout our territory.
For sure, we are gentle and kind Cambodian people; our lands, as already mentioned before, are getting shrank day by day, do not like to kill our Blood Brothers and Sisters, and we dont like to wage war, either, as the present King Norodom Sihanouk clearly told to his Khmer children and the world:
At the end of January, Sihanouk publicly declared that the Front was revaluating its policy. If the United States is prepared to act in a friendly manner with an independent and non-aligned Cambodia, we are prepared for a rapid reconciliation with Washington, he said. We are not warmongers. We dont want a bloodbath. We dont want to throw oil on the fire that is now dying out in Indochina.
In March 1974, for example, the Baltimore Sun correspondent remarked on incomprehensive brutality of the Khmer communists. He recalled that the conventional wisdom had always been that Khmer did not wish to fight Khmer and that once the North Vietnamese withdrew from Cambodia good sense would prevail.
But Lon Nol was still the White House choice, and after the bombing incident Nixon sent him a telegram to renew our expression of admiration for the Khmer peoples courage and steadfastness under your leadership.
The memorandum also asserted that the bombing was justified because the continued presence of North Vietnamese troops in Cambodia threatened the right of self-determination in Vietnam.
In fact, all that the Constitution required was that the President asks for Congressional authority to bomb Cambodia in order to prevent the Communist takeover of Vietnam, if that were indeed its purpose.
Americans helped Yuon leaders in Prey Nokor/present Ho Chi Minh City were to brutally kill Khmers paving the way for Yuon to plunder more land of Khmers. All Yuon leaders, who are not afraid of losing their peoples lives as long as they can secretly send their Yuon settlers to settle in Cambodia, (See more Cambodia is swamped by Yuon Settlers) to wag jungle war against Cambodians, have had Good Blessings from their masters Americans. American leaders always chop and change to betray their Good Allies as William clearly tells us as following:
At 6 A.M. on April 12, Dean sent letters to members of the government and to other politicians offering them places on his helicopters in two and a half hours time. To his astonishment the only senior official to arrive at the embassy was Saukham Khoy, the acting President. The day before, Saukham Khoy had sat, weeping for Cambodia, and told some journalists, The United States led Cambodia into this. But when the war became difficult the United States pulled out. Dabbing his eyes, he had speculated on the future: There are some Cambodians who say that if the United States stops aiding Cambodia then we should turn to some other great power. Who? Russia.
In an interview with the New York Times, Sirik Matak then warned that the regime could not survive, and he said that Sihanouk would win easily in a free election. He appreciated Washingtons reluctance to interfere in Cambodian affairs, but if the White House insisted on continuing to sustain an unpopular regime, We will fall to the Communists.
From the Khmer Rouge perspective, however, the severity of the bombings was matched by the treachery of the North Vietnamese. The Cambodian communists had refused to take part in the Paris peace talks. When North Vietnam and the United States signed the Paris Peace Accords on January 27, 1973, bombing missions over Vietnam and Laos were terminated. The fighter bombers and other aircraft thus released were diverted to strike Khmer Rouge positions in Cambodia. However, the end of the bombing in 1973 and subsequent cuts of aid to Cambodia did the most to ensure a Communist victory in Cambodia, as by 1975 the Lon Nol government had largely run out of ammunition.