Kissinger in Cambodia

By all accounts, the death and destruction Henry Kissinger wreaked upon Cambodia never burdened him. But he bears responsibility for a brutal American bombing campaign and creating the conditions that spurred the Khmer Rouge to power.

From the mid-1960s through 1991, Cambodia suffered a devastating series of violent episodes. These included a civil war that pitted the Cambodian government against communist insurgents (the Khmer Rouge); heavy US aerial bombardment that killed thousands of civilians and destabilized the country; the genocidal rule of the Khmer Rouge, which led to the deaths of some 1.7 million people (21 percent of the population); and a decade-long Vietnamese occupation that saw continuous fighting between the Vietnamese-installed government and Khmer Rouge guerrillas (who were supported by numerous outside powers, including the United States and China).

In his roles as national security advisor and secretary of state during the Nixon and Ford administrations, Henry Kissinger bears significant responsibility for the destruction of Cambodia. It was Kissinger who administered the bombing campaign, which not only killed thousands of people (and still kills people to this day through “unexploded ordnance” — bombs that did not detonate at the time), but also spurred the Khmer Rouge into power.

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