Who were the Khmer Rouge Supporters?

Khmer Rouge Supporters

Almost all left-wing ideologies from Stalinism to Trotskyism and even Hoxhaism have had strong international supporters, but who and exactly where and are the Khmer Rouge supporters both in the past and present?

The overarching answer to this is that through the years many countries, groups parties and individuals supported Pol Pot, the Communist Party of Kampuchea and the Khmer Rouge. Nowadays though said support is almost Mon-existent and found merely in the fringes of society. The worrying exception to this though is within the younger population of Cambodia. Who were though the main Khmer Rouge supporters?

Khmer Rouge support from the 1960’s and 70’s

The Khmer Rouge received broad support from many in the west particularly in student circles alongside that of Vietnam and the Viet Cong. Said support came not just from those firmly on the left, but also peace activists, fellow travelers, and indeed useful idiots.

As with Vietnam this started to change as the mid 70’s hit and when the Viet Cong took over Saigon and the Khmer Rouge took over Phnom Penh. Theoretically at least this meant that much of South-Wast Asia, save Thailand was now free and socialism would lead to their development. At this point the Khmer Rouge were politically supported by China, the USSR and Vietnam.

This though was about to change drastically as the Khmer Rouge started to put their extreme views into place.

Did anyone support Democratic Kampuchea?

After Democratic Kampuchea came into being it did not take long for it to fall out with its former allies in Vietnam. This was directly linked to the Sino-Soviet split, Khmer Rouge relations with the Soviet Union, as well as geopolitical issues.

During this period those of the right, as well as supporters of the Soviet Block spoke out against Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge, while those on the far-left and in the Chine block generally supported the regime.

This was despot the fact that onwards the end China was starting to return to capitalism under Deng Xiaoping.

Many groups were formed during this time such as “Hands of Kampuchea”, while academics such as the tragic Malcolm Caldwell, not only spoke out for the regime, but also visited.

This of course changed drastically after the fall of the regime and the proof of its crimes, although many left-wing academics, such as Noam Chomsky still questioned “how many had actually been killed”.

Moderate Khmer Rouge Supporters

Despite the west and in particular the US being the biggest enemies of the Khmer Rouge their overthrow made them the perfect pawns. This meant that after Pol Pit left power the Khmer Rouge kept the United Nations seat for the country.

This support was further deepened after the Khmer Rouge and Sihanouk again made an alliance, now against the Soviet supported People’s Republic of Kampuchea.

This was known as the Coalition Government of Democratic Kampuchea (link) and was another example of where America and the west said they were supporting “moderate forces” including within the Khmer Rouge.

This was most famously put across by Margaret Thatcher in a clip you can see below.

And while it is denied or downplayed now, the question of “if the United States supported the Khmer Rouge” is a resounding yes.

The biggest supporters though were of course the Peoples Republic of China who did so not for ideological, but geopolitical reasons. At the time they feared the USSR much more than the United States.

How ironic now that Cambodia us now piggy in the middle between the US and its allies on one side, and China and Russia on the other.

Contemporary Khmer Rouge supporters

Despite the fact that ideologies as obscure as Hoxhaism to Strasserism still have followers there really was never any kind of Polpotism group to be noted. Of course like anything tiny pockets can be found online, but they are very negligible.

Perversely most supporters of the Khmer Rouge are now older former members in former bastions of the group, such as Pailin and Anlong Veng. Here people such as Ta Mok are still revered highly within these towns. It should also be noted that after the Win-Win policy many of the rulers in these areas are also ex KR.

Most shockingly though is the appearance of young Pol Pot apologists. These tend to be younger people, those accepted with opposition groups and those xenophobic against the Vietnamese. To them Pol Pot was not only the last “legitimate” leader, but also did not know “what was happening”.