Pol Pot’s Atrocities Still Matter, 45 Years After Khmer Rouge’s Fall

“Forty-five years ago last Sunday, Vietnamese troops seized Phnom Penh and ended Cambodia’s 45-month reign of terror known as the “killing fields.” Under the leadership of Pol Pot, the Khmer Rouge government implemented policies—forced labor, resettlements, torture, starvation—that led to the death of 1.7-to-3 million people, or at least 20 percent of the nation’s population. The regime destroyed the country, caused untold suffering, and left permanent scars.”

“The Cambodian revolution wasn’t spontaneous. Its leaders honed their philosophy while studying in Paris. And one usually finds intellectuals behind crazy notions. As the saying goes, “Ideas have consequences”—and they’re often tragic.
Cambodia’s leaders sought to create an idyllic and classless agrarian society, one that harkened to the Angkor Empire from the 800s. “They wanted all members of society to be rural agricultural workers rather than educated city dwellers, who the Khmer Rouge believed had been corrupted by western capitalist ideas,” according to the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust. Their philosophy echoed Mao Zedong, whose efforts to remake China led to unimaginable horrors.”

“In 1999, the “Black Book of Communism” tried to detail the number of civilian deaths caused by the world’s communist regimes—not deaths caused amid wars and civil strife, but direct massacres from the kind of policies so efficiently carried out in Cambodia. The authors came up with a figure of 100 million. These deaths don’t tell the entire story of fear, slavery, and repression. It’s simply unfathomable that any modern American could have a view of communist regimes that were any more favorable than the views most of us hold of Nazism.

Then again, ideological narratives grab hold of people in ways that are hard to understand. So many young leftists are nurtured in a university hothouse that divvies up humanity into fixed groups of “oppressor” and “oppressed.” They learned to have an endless faith in the government’s ability to reorder humanity. They probably haven’t been taught about what happens when officials are given unlimited powers to launch a “Great Leap Forward,” create “Year Zero” or design a “New Soviet Man.”

That’s too bad because the reason we live such free and prosperous lives is because we live within a system that limits the government’s power to take our property, throw us in prison, depopulate cities, execute us, force us onto long marches and put us in re-education camps. History proves that many people—including those who claim to have the best intentions—would do horrific things if they had such powers at their disposal. We can even point to horrors in the history of our own country, of course.”

https://reason.com/2024/01/12/pol-pots-atrocities-still-matter-45-years-after-khmer-rouges-fall/

Pakistani retaliatory strikes in Iran kill at least 9, raising tensions along border

“Pakistan launched airstrikes against alleged militant hideouts inside Iran on Thursday, killing at least nine people as it retaliated for a similar attack by Iran two days earlier and raising tensions between the neighbors at a time of escalating conflict in the region.
The unprecedented attacks by both Pakistan and Iran on either side of their border appeared to target Baluch militant groups with similar separatist goals. The countries accuse each other of providing a haven to the groups in their respective territories.”

“Iran and nuclear-armed Pakistan have long regarded each other with suspicion over militant attacks, but analysts say this week’s tit-for-tat strikes were at least partially in response to internal political pressures.

Iran is dealing with unrest against its theocracy and has faced pressure for action ever since the Islamic State suicide bombing. It is also seeking to flex military power at a time when militant groups it supports in the region — Hamas in Gaza, Hezbollah in Lebanon and Houthi rebels in Yemen — are engaged in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Pakistan, meanwhile, could not leave Tuesday’s airstrikes by Iran unchallenged, and it faces a crucial February general election in which its military is a powerful political force.”

“The Baluch Liberation Army, an ethnic separatist group that has operated in the region since 2000, said in a statement the strikes targeted and killed its people. “Pakistan has martyred innocent Baluch people,” it said.

Pakistan’s military also said the strikes hit targets associated with the Baluchistan Liberation Front, though that group did not acknowledge the claim.

HalVash, an advocacy group for the Baluch people, shared images online that appeared to show the remains of the munitions used in the attack. It said a number of homes had been struck in Saravan. It shared videos showing a mud-walled building destroyed and smoke rising from the strike.”

“Pakistan’s Baluchistan province, as well as Iran’s neighboring Sistan and Baluchestan province, have already faced a low-level insurgency by Baluch nationalists for more than two decades.

However, the groups targeted this week are different. Jaish al-Adl, the Sunni separatist group that Iran targeted Tuesday, grew out of another Islamic extremist group known as Jundallah that was once alleged to have ties to al-Qaida. Jaish al-Adl has long been suspected of operating out of Pakistan and launching attacks on Iranian security forces.

The Baluch Liberation Army, which has no religious component and has launched attacks against Pakistani security forces and Chinese interests, is suspected of hiding out in Iran. The Baluchistan Liberation Front is similarly nationalistic.”

https://www.yahoo.com/news/pakistan-air-force-carries-retaliatory-044100312.html

China is pushing the naval ‘grey zone’. Sooner or later, the shooting will start

“An Anzac-class frigate of the Royal Australian Navy stopped to conduct diving operations (to clear fishing nets that had fouled its propellors) in international waters off Japan when it was approached by a destroyer of the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN).
The Australian ship, HMAS Toowoomba, then called PLAN ship Ningbo to inform them that they had divers down and asked them to keep their distance. So far so normal.

In response to this, it appears the PLAN destroyer closed the Toowoomba and turned on her bow-mounted sonar, putting enough sound energy into the water to injure the Aussie divers. A spokesperson for the Australian Defence Minister said, “medical assessments conducted after the divers exited the water identified they had sustained minor injuries likely due to being subjected to the sonar pulses from the Chinese destroyer.””

https://www.yahoo.com/news/china-pushing-naval-grey-zone-151750851.html

How Myanmar’s resistance could topple its military government — for good

“A coalition of ethnic armed militias in Myanmar have launched what could be the best possible chance to overthrow the military government that has controlled the country since a 2021 coup ousted the democratically elected National League for Democracy (NLD).
If successful, this could be the groundwork for a more normalized democracy for a country that has historically been dominated by military juntas and dictators. Engagement from civil society has been high and is a key factor that can turn military victories into long-term successes. Still, nothing is guaranteed, and the fight is likely to be difficult.

On October 27, the Three Brotherhood Alliance, a coalition of three ethnic armed groups, launched a well-coordinated offensive in the eastern Shan state, the largest of Myanmar’s seven states by land area. The surprise attack successfully captured several government military installations by the Chinese border and has also inspired other armed groups to launch their own successful campaigns against the repressive Tatmadaw or State Administration Council, as the junta is called in Myanmar.

Myanmar has been under military rule for much of its history as an independent nation; as in many other Southeast Asian nations, democratic movements have struggled to gain traction against powerful and entrenched military interests. After a decade of democratic reforms driven by a series of popular uprisings against the military government, Myanmar seemed to break from the past; in 2015 and 2020, the country held free elections, which the NLD won handily. But the Tatmadaw seized power in 2021, igniting nearly three years of brutal civil conflict in which the government has killed thousands of civilians.

Though the Three Brotherhood Alliance and similar ethnic armed groups have not taken over the whole country and the Tatmadaw still has far more firepower than any of the armed groups, the October 27 offensive and ensuing military successes have kindled a cautious hope that the military dictatorship could be toppled.”

https://www.vox.com/world-politics/2023/11/25/23975516/myanmar-military-junta-tatmadaw-three-brotherhood-alliance-china