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Mao and Pol Pot

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Soviet cogitations: 34
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 15 Aug 2011, 08:16
Pioneer
Post 17 Aug 2011, 22:36
What was Maos relation to the Cambodian leader Pol Pot? If they were on good terms did Mao know about the unspeakable attrocities being commited in Cambodia? What about Deng Xioping and Ho Chi Mihn>?
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 30 Aug 2008, 18:12
Party Member
Post 17 Aug 2011, 23:42
I think they got on ok. I think Mao had a soft spot for what he heard was happening in Cambodia (as in the policies the Khmer Rouge said they were doing; I don't think he heard about the genocide). He also probably supported them because they were something of a counter to Soviet-backed Vietnam.

I seem to remember reading somewhere (I think in Philip Short's Pol Pot: the History of a Nightmare) that Zhou Enlai warned the Khmer Rouge not to try and build communism without first building socialism and developing the means of production etc. Obviously they ignored this warning and went straight down an ultra leftist road with deadly results.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 24 Jun 2011, 08:37
Party Bureaucrat
Post 18 Aug 2011, 03:01
Given china was willing to go to war with vietnam over cambodia, i imagine they viewed them as a protectorate at the least.
Whether the atrocities were widely known, im unfamiliar with.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 12 May 2010, 07:43
Ideology: Other Leftist
Politburo
Post 18 Aug 2011, 04:15
Shining Path wrote:
What was Maos relation to the Cambodian leader Pol Pot? If they were on good terms did Mao know about the unspeakable attrocities being commited in Cambodia? What about Deng Xioping and Ho Chi Mihn>?

Well, Ho Chi Mihn was already dead by the point the Khmer Rouge took power, so that was irrelevant. I don't think Deng would have liked Pol Pot or the Khmer Rouge, but on the other hand, by that point, the damage between the PRC and Vietnam had already been done. I think that there's a difference between if these people would have liked what the Khmer Rouge ended up doing as opposed to offering them support to gain power as a fellow anti-imperialist movement, without the benefit of our knowledge.

As for Mao, I don't know if he liked what did happen, but he was supportive of Pol Pot or at least what he knew of the man and of his plans, whereas the PRC government continued this line, due to viewing Democratic Kampuchea as a fellow ally against imperialism and so-called "social-imperialism" aka Soviet influence in Southeast Asia (i.e., the pro-Soviet Vietnam). By the time the Khmer Rouge was in power, Mao had died as well, and the post-Mao government probably continued the policy simply because that was the official policy, and perhaps in ignorance of what was happening. The Khmer Rouge was then brought down shortly after Deng rose to power in China anyway, so I don't think it would have mattered a whole lot to him, but it probably made him fearful of increasing Soviet influence.

I don't know how much ideology played into this, but basically, playing at the game of geopolitics is fragging awful, if this is any indication.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 02 Mar 2004, 15:19
Ideology: Other Leftist
Old Bolshevik
Post 18 Aug 2011, 04:24
Quote:
I don't know how much ideology played into this, but basically, playing at the game of geopolitics is fragging awful, if this is any indication.

The more I think about it, the more China's foreign policy under Mao was cynical* and neorealist (this of course is before Waltz ever defined that term, but realists did exist as well.) in his foreign policy. (Not a bad thing necessarily, in fact in many cases it could be the only responsible thing.)

Socialist states and their foreign policies had little to do with ideology and more to do with preservation of sovereignty. China allied with Cambodia to limit Vietnamese influence. None of the South-east Asian socialist nations love each other. Easily comparable to Albania, Yugoslavia or Romania who in order to maintain their existance had to bounce the USSR off of either China, the West or both. Though they all did it in the name of socialism, revisionism, or whatever other fancy word fit their state-ideology. These terms seem more after-the-fact than ideological though.

I've said the same of the convenience of Mao defining what constitutes a nation and his foreign policy towards Tibet. Or of the defence of 'socialism' in strategic buffer states in Hungary or Czechoslovakia. (frag socialism in Romania, Yugoslavia and Albania, they weren't critical to the defense of the Soviets from a potentially aggressive future German/NATO forces.)

*cynical only in that it was sold as ideological, which is not unique to the socialist nations in any way at all. In fact, recent American history illustrates this point elegantly.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 01 Nov 2003, 13:17
Ideology: Other
Forum Commissar
Post 19 Aug 2011, 10:21
In international relations one is always able to make compromises with a potential ally for strategic advantages. If there are ideological disagreements, these can be passed aside for pragmatic reasons. I do not think the CCP or Mao Zedong were especially bothered by the ideology of the Khmer Rouge. As others have said above, their main concern was certainly containing Soviet influence in South East Asia. The Khmer Rouge and Pol Pot were potential allies as well as Marxists and therefore there was little more to be asked. The main concern was countering the Vietnamese who were allies of the Soviet Union. Furthermore, the extent of this pragmatism can be seen in the brief anti-Soviet alliance between the US and China from the early 1970s till 1991. For these reasons and considering the Khmer Rouge also received US support, I do not think there was much ideological consideration. This is the nature of diplomacy and international politics. I am not justifying Chinese backing for the Khmer Rouge, only explaining what I think was the reasoning.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 02 Mar 2004, 15:19
Ideology: Other Leftist
Old Bolshevik
Post 19 Aug 2011, 13:33
and PI, that is how Mao's Theory of Three Worlds came about. (As an ideological justification for China's unfreezing of relations with the US as opposed to the socialist camp.)
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 01 Nov 2003, 13:17
Ideology: Other
Forum Commissar
Post 19 Aug 2011, 14:15
Quote:
and PI, that is how Mao's Theory of Three Worlds came about. (As an ideological justification for China's unfreezing of relations with the US as opposed to the socialist camp.)


That would make sense. The United States and Soviet Union were both among the first world, however in China's view the United States were the lesser threat. An alliance or at least a mutual understanding could be formed on this basis. Similarly aligning with anti-communist governments such as Mobutu Sese Seko's Congo could also be given justification. Again in that case it was Mobutu fighting the Angolans and other pro-Soviet groups. It was also another case of both America and China supporting the same side against the Soviets. This also happened in Afghanistan, both China and the US gave arms to the Mujahideen. I wonder to what extent the Three Worlds Theory came about as an ideological development or as an ideological tool to suit Chinese foreign policy.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 02 Mar 2004, 15:19
Ideology: Other Leftist
Old Bolshevik
Post 19 Aug 2011, 14:19
That's one for the history books, it depends on your interpretation of events. I think it follows a long line of ideological justifications for what were essentially pragmatic (or otherwise) foreign policy moves.

Like the fact that Mao's definition of what a 'nation' is excludes Tibet, that too is a very convenient ideological development.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 21 Dec 2010, 21:39
Pioneer
Post 11 Sep 2012, 19:54
I'm sorry to root out this old thing again, but I simply have to make this comment.

I've always wondered how some people can make Mao responsible for China's good relations with the Khmer Rouge. The obvious fact that he was China's leader at that time seems to be enough "proof" for some; but I think you can not blame this on Mao. The Khmer Rouge came to power in April 1975, a time when Mao already was a sick, old man. I think that initially everyone of us would have supported the Khmer Rouge, just like the Cambodian people did (though they quickly changed their mind). I think that almost none of us would have believed the news about cruelty and mass killings. Nowadays we do know what happened, but back in 1976 it must have seemed like some anti-communist, revanchist atrocity propaganda. I think everyone of us would have fallen into the trap of viewing the Khmer Rouge as a communist liberation movement that is slandered by the imperialists after its victory. Then, how should a sick, old man who was near to his death and had enough to do within his own country have read Pol Pot's face?

So, I think it is not Mao's fault that China supported the Khmer Rouge - I think he saw it as internationalist support for a communist liberation movement; he was too sick and old and close to his death to see it all through. The real crime to me is that after his death, the Chinese leaders continued to support Pol Pot and even attacked Vietnam in order to punish it for ending the Khmer Rouge regime. The new Chinese leaders were not old, sick and close to death, and at that time, it was generally known what Pol Pot and is clique had been doing. So this support is absolutely irresponsible.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 07 Oct 2004, 22:04
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Resident Soviet
Post 11 Sep 2012, 21:11
Mao was responsible because his foreign policy (and for a long period that which came after him) consisted mainly of sabotaging Soviet-supported socialists and communists all around the world. Hence once relations between the Vietnamese and Cambodian communists were strained (even before the end of the Vietnam war), it was inevitable for China to choose to support the anti-Soviet side; the Khmer Rouge. Based on similar Chinese policy initiatives elsewhere, I bet Mao would even have supported a bourgeois nationalist or neo-fascist regime in Cambodia before recognizing one that was pro-Soviet.

As for whether any of us would believe the news about the cruelty and mass killings, I think most of us would (excluding the hardcore Maoists). This story was one of the few during the Cold War where Soviet and Western press were nearly unanimous in their condemnation. Unfortunately for the West the media demonstrated shock at the horrors while their leaders continued to support the Khmer Rouge regime's representation at the UN, but that's another story.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 28 Jan 2008, 19:10
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Komsomol
Post 13 Sep 2012, 01:48
You might also want to see the article at Marxists.org Anti-revisionist archive on Western Maoist visits to Cambodia and their stances on Pol Pot which often mirrored that of Peking.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 21 Dec 2010, 21:39
Pioneer
Post 14 Sep 2012, 09:18
By the way, I've found an interesting article analysing the Khmer Rouge regime. It is interesting because it is really an analysis, not just agitation against or in favour of them. Although very critical, it sets some points right; it rejects some of the common accusations against the Khmer Rouge, but on the other hand it comes up with some new. Unfortunately it is a quite long German text, but I will translate those passages being of interest for our subject. I don't want to quote all the different sources for every quotation or something, but if somebody is especially interested in it, I will provide the sources.

On the "Maoist regime" in Cambodia:

"It is often said that the Khmer Rouge had been some "ultra-Maoists", inspired by the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution. But this is not sustainable: The Great Leap Forward intended to build up communism within three years (what, by the way, is not true - R.), the Four-Year-Plan of the Khmer Rouge should create export surplusses in order to enable them to buy weapons or industrial facilities. Angkar definitely didn't like the idea of "bombing the headquarter", i. e. horrifying the own party bureaucracy on a regular base. The Maoist theory of the neccessity of a temporarily alliance with the national bourgeoisie was even explicitly rejected by the Khmer Rouge: "In Cambodia, there is no national bourgeoisie; all bourgeois are foreigners." The close alliance with China - at that time already on the road to "Socialist market economy" - was not so much about ideological similarities, but merely about a common enemy - the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, that was an ally of the USSR."

On the leftist disbelief in the rumours of the cruel regime in Cambodia:

"For quite a long time, leftists couldn't believe that "Democratic Kampuchea" was ruled by such a cruel regime. And there were reasons for this: "Falsifications and purposive lies that easily could be proven wrong made the rare sources unreliable." For example there was the report of a French doctor from April 1975 about several cruelties that definitely never happened, there were alleged eye witness reports from the Thai-Cambodian border from people who haven't been in Cambodia at that time, there were falsified photographs produced by the Thai secret service in order to influence the election, and there was the famous photo with the subtitle "A Khmer Rouge buys a gun only one day after liberation" - actually he told looters to stop immediately. With all that in mind, the attitude of western leftists may be unpleasant, but it is understandable: In light of the total isolation of Kampuchea, information could only be received from the Khmer Rouge's opponents, and this information was not very thrustworthy."

soviet78 wrote:
As for whether any of us would believe the news about the cruelty and mass killings, I think most of us would (excluding the hardcore Maoists). This story was one of the few during the Cold War where Soviet and Western press were nearly unanimous in their condemnation. Unfortunately for the West the media demonstrated shock at the horrors while their leaders continued to support the Khmer Rouge regime's representation at the UN, but that's another story.


Well, I for example think I wouldn't have believed it. The Western media are always lying about socialist states, and some Soviet media at that time used the same "logic" as the Maoist media did - everything from China or their allies must come straight from hell. So, in light of that, I think I would have viewed this reports at least as highly exaggerated. By the way, though I like Mao and his China in general and though I have somewhat of a Maoist past, I don't consider myself as Maoist, at least not anymore.

soviet78 wrote:
Mao was responsible because his foreign policy (and for a long period that which came after him) consisted mainly of sabotaging Soviet-supported socialists and communists all around the world. Hence once relations between the Vietnamese and Cambodian communists were strained (even before the end of the Vietnam war), it was inevitable for China to choose to support the anti-Soviet side; the Khmer Rouge. Based on similar Chinese policy initiatives elsewhere, I bet Mao would even have supported a bourgeois nationalist or neo-fascist regime in Cambodia before recognizing one that was pro-Soviet.


Well, this however can hardly be denied. The Chinese attitude towards the Soviet Union is partially understandable, but at that time it had gone way too far and was totally out of control. So, in that way, Mao (or better, the leaders of the CPC at that time) for sure is responsible for their support. On the other hand, I wonder how the Soviet Union would have thought of (and treated) a pro-Chinese regime in their region ...
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 01 Nov 2003, 13:17
Ideology: Other
Forum Commissar
Post 18 Jan 2013, 10:02
russianvendor wrote:
Pol Pot was not "Mao's wrath on capitalist country populace". It was American mischief that triggered mass murders committed by Pol Pot. Just like how they made Abu Nidal terrorists paranoid and ended up killing each other until nobody was left, it was a psy op trickery that caused the Cambodian genocide. Blood is in their hands. This is the nicest way I analyze the events that led to the massacre or genocide. I hope I don't end up as a troll.


Maybe you would like to explain it. It is known that the United States offered support but what do you mean by this psy ops?
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