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why was the invasion of Cambodia controversial?
- MichaelLv 41 decade agoFavorite Answer
Cambodia was under the control of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge in that time period. They were brutal and slaughtered their own people. Also, they did not have the manpower to police / enforce their borders with Vietnam so North Vietnam used Cambodia as a refuge for their fighters / wounded soldiers / weapons / ammo / supplies.
American forces would pursue the Viet Cong only to find out that they had fled past the border into Cambodia and the U.S. respected Cambodia's borders so they could not pursue the Viet Cong into Cambodia.
The controversy came after Nixon announced that he would be deescalating the Vietnam conflict when Nixon approved raids into Laos and Cambodia in order to destroy supply depots. When this news hit the American public, they did not care about the pictures of massive amounts of captured ammo and weapons lying in piles. They only cared that the war had now entered another country which on paper means an expansion of the war which came right after Nixon said he would be deescalating it. It felt like they had been lied to and any evidence to the contrary looked like more lies and fabrications (i.e. they kept being told by the government that we were winning the war but every bit of news out of Vietnam seemed to say otherwise).
History absolves Nixon of this particular instance however because it was later found out that this new strategy approved by Nixon would have won the war within a single year because the North was hurting badly ever since the Tet Offensive. In fact, the North was relying heavily upon these safe havens in Cambodia / Laos in order to continue their campaigns in South Vietnam.
The other half of the controversy is that by invading Cambodia in order to destroy North Vietnamese supply depots, we would be breaking Cambodia's border (a possible act of war). I'm sure you've heard the phrase "fighting with one arm tied behind our backs" and it was evident here since in order to assume the moral high ground, we must respect the Cambodian border when our enemy does not do so (to our detriment). The North Vietnamese placed supply depots in Cambodia PURELY because they knew we would respect the Cambodian border even at the cost of American lives.
The argument in favor of "invading" Cambodia to destroy North Vietnamese supply depots were:
1) Cambodia was not enforcing its borders against the North Vietnamese and for them to object or start a war with us over us doing what the North Vietnamese were already doing would be pure hypocrisy.
1a) By the way, we only planned to "visit" Cambodia and not "stay" in Cambodia like the North Vietnamese had done in order to continue the war and that HAS to mean something.
2) Imagine "Cambodia" did not exist, but then also imagine that an empty space existed in its place but you are not allowed to enter this empty space for any reason. You are not allowed to fire bullets into this empty space even if bullets are fired at you from this space. You must not continue to drop bombs on any convoys which make it into this empty space. You must sit there and stare at your enemies in this empty space as they build up weapons which are intended to be used against you. There is no reason for you to NOT bomb the heck out of this empty space. Doesn't this just sound intensely ridiculous? Now come back to reality and realize that this empty space is actually called "Cambodia" and that sole fact is the reason why you can't do what needs to be done. You can say that you are against the Vietnam war, and you can say that you are against American soldiers dying in far away lands, but if the war can not be stopped right then at that point in time, then by allowing the North Vietnamese to continue to create a stronghold of Cambodia is to mean that more American soldiers would die. That goes against your beliefs and creates a paradox which rips a hole in space time which will in turn kill more people.
3) By violating the Cambodian border, we did not kill Cambodians (Pol Pot would do that instead)
4) Where exactly is the Cambodian border? I'm sure you could pull out a map and show me some lines, but can you show me exactly where those lines are? (will you point at a tree in the middle of a jungle and tell me, "yep the border is right there, and it's so obvious that you must be mentally deficient"). The North Vietnamese did not know where these lines were either, but they created their own line to demarcate the border, "Past this line, we no longer get bombed by the Americans". That's all the Cambodian border meant to them.
5) Our violation of the border was not with the intention of destabilizing the Cambodian government or attacking the Cambodian people. That has to count for something too.
6) Our temporary violation of the Cambodian border meant that we could and would evict the North Vietnamese from Cambodian soil... in fact we were doing Cambodia a favor that they could not accomplish for themselves (seeing as how stated earlier, they did not attempt to enforce their border against the North Vietnamese).
- BarricadeLv 51 decade ago
The US invaded Cambodia with the false belief that Cambodia had Viet Congs in there. US bombed the hell out of the country kill hundreds of thousands, that resulted in a rebel group supported by China to take over and commit genocide, which killed millions. There was no Viet Congs in America! They dropped more bombs than they did in Japan, a country that attacked them. A nuetral country was forced into war and are still suffering to this day, and US has really not done enough.
As for the Invasion of Cambodia by Vietnam. Many just don't like Vietnam since they are running a puppet state, history between Vietnam and Cambodia, etc.
- Anonymous5 years ago
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- Anonymous5 years ago
Wow, Thanks! Exactly what I was searching for. I tried looking for the answers on the internet but I couldn't find them.