There's been a lot written during the past few weeks about Bush's speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars about the consequences of an American withdrawal from Iraq. The blood-letting that occurred after 1975 - specifically the tragedy in Cambodia - has been held up by Bush as a direct result of the pull-out in Vietnam , and he has suggested that the same will happen in Iraq. I wouldn't argue that there will be chaos in Iraq after a withdrawal - if there isn't already - but there would be many who might argue with his rewriting of history in Vietnam.
In 1970 I was serving in 7 RAR and heard B-52s bombing across the border in Cambodia. We were well to the North of our usual area, and close enough to the border to hear the bombs landing. They were bombing the area in the off-chance that that villagers were harbouring NVA. You couldn't hear the aircraft - they were too high - just the sounds of hundreds of tonnes of HE shredding the countryside and flensing anyone unfortunate enough to be under them.
You don't endear yourself to a population by systematically shredding them.
Many historians believe that that this bombing campaign led to increased support by the Cambodian peasantry for Pol Pot and his butchers. Recent research by Kiernan and Owen has uncovered a strong correlation between villages targeted by the bombing and the recruitment of peasants by th Kyhmer Rouge.
Perhaps we should look past the spin used by George Bush in addressing an audience of war veterans. We (the veterans) are still being used by those in power, as we were in 1970. Those of us who lived the history are often surprised by current political and media interpretations.
I find the spinning of the history of our involvement in Vietnam bloody offensive.
I guess the Cambodian peasants found the bombing offensive as well - but like Vietnam Veterans in the 21st century, they probably don't count.
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