“Create two, three, many Vietnam!“the doctor and longtime companion of Fidel Castro, Ernesto Che Guevara, had boldly recommended the growing anti-imperialist movement in the Trikont before he himself died in the Bolivian jungle in the summer of 1967. Meanwhile, in almost all Western metropolises, agitated opponents of US Aggression against the peoples of Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos chanted the battle cry “Ho-Ho-Ho-Chi-Minh!“North Vietnam’s President Ho Chi Minh, whom his supporters affectionately called” Uncle Ho " on both sides of the border, was regarded as the ideal total hero of the liberation struggle against the murder machinery of the self-proclaimed guardian of freedom & democracy.
At the height of the war (mid-1960s), more than half a Million GIs were stationed in Vietnam alone. In addition, tens of thousands of American soldiers waged a “secret war” in Laos and devastated the neutral Kingdom of Cambodia with surface bombardment. The so-called Indochina by the former French colonial rulers served a Generation as a metaphor for the justified struggle of David against Goliath. Moreover, since the Vietnam War, which in Vietnam itself was more aptly called “the American War”, was the first “telegenic war”, the horrors of which were presented to a worldwide audience every evening on the screen, the imagery of the war was at the same time a potent ally of its opponents. A lesson from this: from now on, war should appear as a “clinical-sanitary” intervention in video clip Format, if possible, in order to keep the number of (potential) opponents of war at a low level. Even deeper is since the 1975 Slogan " 1. May-Saigon has sunk free” a solidarity movement that at that time represented a formidable political force worldwide. Projections and shortened perceptions as well as the respective policies of the rulers in Hanoi and Phnom Penh after the end of the war were responsible for this.
Already on 17 April 1975, two weeks before the final debacle of the USA in Vietnam and the panic-stricken flight from Saigon, Khmer Rouge troops marched victoriously into Phnom Penh in the neighboring country Cambodia and proclaimed Democratic Kampuchea as a new state. The formerly sleepy capital had swollen to a Moloch of nearly two million refugees during the US surface bombardment, which was only supplied with food during the final phase of the war thanks to an airlift maintained by the US Army. The mass of those who had fled there were peasants who had left their villages and fields in panic to escape the bombing and napalm operations.
For centuries, Cambodia was a peasant-village society in which communal property and communal production were more pronounced than feudal large - scale land ownership and individual land ownership. The center of power, the city-state (like the Angkor Empire) or city, was regarded as the epitome of tributary obliteration and at the same time offered protection against external enemies. During the French colonial period (end of the 19th century. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the citadels of urban power and domination were occupied by Vietnamese administrators alongside the French, while trade and commerce were a domain of the Chinese. In the course of Cambodian history, for the majority of the Khmer population, the city was not only a haven of internal exploitation, but also a social system shaped by domestic and foreign elites and ultimately foreign to them.
The formation of the Khmer Rouge as an opposition force only succeeded towards the end of the 1960s. Prince Sihanouk’s government had brutally crushed peasant revolts in the western province of Battambang, the country’s traditional rice chamber, fuelling protests and resistance among the rural population against increased crop levies and land expropriations. But it was only the extension of the US war of aggression to formerly neutral Cambodia that created the Basis for an alliance that would have been unthinkable years earlier. Suddenly, two political camps – here the Sihanouk royalists, there the nationalist Khmer Rouge-saw themselves united in an alliance. The common goal of the alliance forged in Beijing: the restoration of Cambodia’s sovereignty and the struggle against the Clique around the future Marshal Lon Nol, installed by Washington in the spring of 1970.
But the relationship between Cambodia and its big neighbour Vietnam was and remained far more tense and conflict-ridden than the international Indochina Solidarity movement ever wanted to acknowledge. Indochina was a French colonial construct: in 1887, France had made its three protectorates in Vietnam – Cochinchina in the South, Annam in the central and Tongking in the northern part of the country – together with Cambodia and Laos an arbitrary administrative unit, admittedly serving its interests, the Union of Indochina. The imputed unity and brotherhood between Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam (praised by the latter as the “three fingers of a fist”, namely their own) was always a hierarchical network of relationships with Vietnam as a leading power, which bent the smallest country in terms of population, and even inland Laos, but repeatedly opposed Cambodia.
Even the first Communist Party in the region, the Communist Party of Indochina (KPI), founded by Ho Chi Minh and his associates in 1930, retained the name “Indochina” until the early 1950s, with the Vietnamese Communist Party claiming the hegemonic position for itself politically and organizationally. When the Paris peace negotiations were concluded at the beginning of 1973, during which the North Vietnamese Politburo member Le Duc Tho and Henry Kissinger agreed on the withdrawal of US troops from Vietnam, the withdrawal of foreign troops-in this case Vietnamese – from Cambodia was explicitly excluded. These troops were operating in underground positions and were part of the Ho Chi Minh trail, over which supplies from North Vietnam rolled for the South Vietnamese liberation movement (FNL or NLF).
Already two years after their victory (1977/78), the Khmer Rouge were involved in deadly border conflicts with Vietnam – a legacy of history. For a long time, fear and fear existed against Vietnam, because it had already annexed parts of Cambodia (Kampuchea Krom, the “Netherlands” of Cambodia in the Mekong Delta, which is now South Vietnam) in the 17th century and its border with Cambodia in the West remained disputed. This conflict was fueled in order to distract from internal problems and to instrumentalize the latent hatred against hegemonic Vietnam. Provocation and Paranoia accompanied propaganda tirades that had to cringe at supporters of the once anti-imperialist liberation struggle. While Radio Hanoi at that time openly called on Cambodian soldiers and the population to overthrow the Pol Pot regime, denouncing its government as “reactionary”, its policies as “brutal and infantile peasant egalitarianism” and its leadership as “mercenaries of the Chinese rulers”, Pol Pot in return called for the murder of Vietnamese: “each of us must kill 30 Vietnamese. So far we have done it. We only need two million soldiers to kill 50 million Vietnamese.”
The invasion of Cambodia by Vietnamese troops at the turn of 1978/79 and the subsequent one-month Chinese “punitive action” against Vietnam from mid-February to mid-March 1979 marked the deep divide between the antagonists. At the same time, as a result of this deadly conflict, the once powerful international solidarity movement collapsed. For a while only small and comparatively insignificant groups remained, which in different ways apologetically took a position for this or that side, until they too fell silent at the beginning of the 1980s.