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Cambodia’s Curse

Friday, April 15, 2011

Veteran New York Times reporter Joel Brinkley, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting in Cambodia on the fall of the Khmer Rouge discusses how that country is still haunted by its years of terror. In Cambodia’s Curse: The Modern History of a Troubled Land, he looks at the results of efforts to pull the small nation out of the mire by making Cambodia a United Nations protectorate in 1992, and looks at the country, its people, and the deep historical roots of its modern-day behavior.

Guests:

Joel Brinkley

Comments [15]

khmer from Cambodia

Danny Seaman should get a reward for coming out with the truth.
Quote:
Before the Khmer Rouge, there was the U.S. military. In 1968 or Year Zero, I was a radio op for a small CIA/Special Forces team whose job was to train Cambo children to fight the Vietnamese.We gave them old M-1 rifles and tried to make them wear boots. These tribal people did not understand the concept of an actual country such as Vietnam or Cambodia. They travel the borderless jungles, women topless and men barefooted for thousands of years. They had no agriculture or education. They were poor soldiers, they enjoyed taking their families on ambushes. Did these children eventual become the Khmer Rouge butchers? I don't know.
unquote.

We`ve seen US Policy to repeat this kind of "developement aid" around the world to this very day. Afghanistan,Irak,some covert action in Myanmar, Iran etc. ?

Cambodia had it`s share of american bombs downloaded on them during the vietnam war if the weather was bad over the target area. Year after year there are victims by UXO but not a single step forward by the US to clean up their act here, or in Vietnam (Agent Orange) for that matter. Now in 2012 they even talk re-open Cam Ranh Bay in Vietnam and a smaller port in Sihanoukville Cambodia to keep the chinese at bay. What would the US say if the chinese or russians start position their navy in Cuba, Bahamas, mexico or canada=very unlikely ?

Jun. 11 2012 11:09 AM
George

I am wondering. There are areas that have good roads. And areas that are more remote. Have you visited both? And have you read his book? The NGO abuse is obvious for anyone to see. Is it true that most of the villages lack electricity? And potable water? Judging by what I have seen and read, I think it is true.

Dec. 04 2011 08:33 PM
Cmmdr RedHawk from bangkok

I'm not familiar with the bokk nor the plight of Cambodia - but I can speak for the ppl of Lao. same same. I am close (proximity) to Cambodia at present. I was here in 91,92. Re: china's efforts to deal with North Viet nam 78 - a great defeat for china - long live General Giap!

ex- recon ranger -

Apr. 27 2011 11:36 AM
rida from cambodia

Mr. Brinkley is a so crazy! who believe him that he know about people condition in angkor period. why America have meet financial crisis in 2008? because of a corruption of financial system of america?

Apr. 20 2011 03:54 AM
koun khmer

corruption in high school. That's my real story when i was in high school in phnom penh. u hit the point.everyday i went to the class, i had to pay at least 1000riel to the teacher.i don't blame my teachers. sometimes,i felt i wanted to drop out.But life must go on. Keeping moving forward and strong.

Apr. 20 2011 03:14 AM
Joseph Provede from NEW JERSEY

I have been to Cambodia and I dis agree with Mr. Brinkley. Mr. Brinkley portrays Cambodia as this downtrotted country still living in the past when in fact it is a country now on the move upwards with new condominiums on the rise in Phnom Pehn and more 5 stars than most majors citties in Siem Reap. I believe in 10 years Cambodia will be on par with Thailand in many ways. Yes, it is true the Khmer people respect the past. Thepast of the great Angkor civilization which when the 'Dark Ages' overshadowed Europe had a florishing dynamic empire. When is everyone going to get over this Khmer Rouge and Child prostitution rant. Your simply scaring away tourism nothing more. Go there for yourself and see. It's really a wonderful and fascinating place.

Apr. 19 2011 03:39 PM
James from Phnom Penh

Can't the international community force a new government? I live here, and it's like the mafia runs the place.

I was in a video store the other day, and the Cambodian woman owner was complaining about how they always pay their taxes, but not even the streets get repaired.

That's one among many thing. There are thousands of NGOs here, and they all rent in the posh part of town. It's not just the government that's correupt here. I've spoken to a few ex-NGO workers, and one of them told me that 7 cents out of every dollar actually reach needy people.

The NGO's are lining their pockets too.

How about boycotting Lexus for one? Everyone in the mafia here (I mean governement) drives a brand new black Lexus SUV. You can tell the devil is coming, because they blast their horns and drive through all the lights at 50mph. It your in the way, tough luck.

More international attention needs to be brought to Cambodia. Many people here are sweet hearts and they don't deserve this.

Apr. 19 2011 01:42 AM
glenn from USA

BUDDHISM IS BASED ON LIVING IN THE HERE AND NOW IT IS ALSO A SIN TO TAKE LIFE IN ANY FORM. THEIR PEACEFUL NATURE IS NOT OUT OF FEAR BUT OR RESPECT OF LIFE, I SUGGEST YOU VISIT CAMBODIA YOU WILL LEARN THAT THESE ARE WARM NICE PEOPLE. BEST EGARDS GLENN

Apr. 17 2011 11:39 AM
Cambodia Khmer

"Further clouding his book are frequent errors. He describes the United Nations' 1993 peacekeeping operation as an "occupation," and then compares it unfavorably to the Allied occupation of Germany. He claims it is "rare to see Cambodians laugh." He confuses the Hindu faith with the Hindi language. He has China invading Vietnam in 1989, rather than in 1979. And why does he make the exaggerated claim that Cambodians are "the most abused people in the world"? "

Elizabeth Becker, a former correspondent for the New York Times and Washington Post, is the author of "When the War Was Over" (1986), a history of Cambodia and the Khmer Rouge. E-mail comments to books@sfchronicle.com.

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/04/16/RVTE1IKUA9.DTL

Apr. 17 2011 05:07 AM
Pariah Indeed from Bangkok, Thailand

People in Burma are not more prosperous than people in Cambodia. The World Bank estimates for 2010 puts the GDP per capita for Burma's citizens at $1,197 and at more than double, $2,470, for Cambodia. Burma has higher rates of malnutrition, child mortality is higher, the government spends less on education and health care, and Burma receives fewer aid dollars per capita than any other nation in the region by magnitude of ten. You don't need to look hard to find the facts....

Apr. 16 2011 05:33 AM
Danny Seaman from Queens

Dear Joel, Before the Khmer Rouge, there was the U.S. military. In 1968 or Year Zero, I was a radio op for a small CIA/Special Forces team whose job was to train Cambo children to fight the Vietnamese.We gave them old M-1 rifles and tried to make them wear boots. These tribal people did not understand the concept of an actual country such as Vietnam or Cambodia. They travel the borderless jungles, women topless and men barefooted for thousands of years. They had no agriculture or education. They were poor soldiers, they enjoyed taking their families on ambushes. Did these children eventual become the Khmer Rouge butchers? I don't know. Being a bad soldier does not mean you could not be a good murder.

Apr. 15 2011 01:26 PM
Calls'em from Fairfax Cty, VA

All of these horrors can be laid at the feet of American liberals that demonstrated against the Viet Nam war. In the spring of 1970, the US Military & the ARVN went in to Cambodia and were within a week or two of completely destroying the NVA. Records release years later by NVA support this. Nixon stopped the invasion short of victory because of bad press and demonstrations at home. As a result, millions died and societies and the environment were further destroyed instead of being liberated and saved. So, thank you mindless liberal sheep - you have blood on your hands.

Apr. 15 2011 01:02 PM
RJ from Prospect Hts

Didn't Cambodia at one point have a small successful unionized manufacturing center? Clothes, I believe?

Apr. 15 2011 12:35 PM

Thanks for the in-depth research for the lasting effects of trauma. However, I have to take issue with this being the first documented case of trauma being passed to second generations.

Please see the important research of Dr. Joy DeGruy Leary whose work looks at the trauma of slavery and trauma symptoms that are still clearly observable today in parts of America. Unfortunately we don't have to look as far afield as Cambodia to witness this phenomenon.

Apr. 15 2011 12:33 PM
hawkeye

It is impossible to take seriously anyone who says many people in Cambodia live as their ancestors did a thousand years ago. Cambodia has been visited, for better and mostly worst, by the modern world, for generations. Kids who bathe in ditches with their cattle (a reality, but not healthy) can recite the capitals of all the US states, because tourists give them dollars for this trick. There is nothing is Khmer culture that predisposes them to have accepted genocide. It's simply offensive to argue that Buddhism paved the way to accept their fate. It was a matter of who had power, along with the destabilizing effect of wars in Asia (including the US secret war over Thailand and Cambodia). Brinkley's analysis is...unsophisticated and vulgar.

Apr. 15 2011 12:26 PM

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