This is a cross post. It was originally published on Harry’s Place on October 18th 2012, 12:17 pm
I have just noticed that last month Counterpunch published an article by Israel Shamir entitled, “Pol Pot Revisited.” Below I extract some highlights:
The Khmer Rouge experiment lasted only three years, from 1975 to 1978.
Surprisingly, Cambodians have no bad memories of that period. This is quite an amazing discovery for an infrequent visitor…..
Cambodia’s population was not halved but more than doubled since 1970, despite alleged multiple genocides. Apparently, the genocidaires were inept, or their achievements have been greatly exaggerated.
The Pol Pot the Cambodians remember was not a tyrant, but a great patriot and nationalist, a lover of native culture and native way of life. He was brought up in royal palace circles; his aunt was a concubine of the previous king. He studied in Paris, but instead of making money and a career, he returned home, and spent a few years dwelling with forest tribes to learn from the peasants. He felt compassion for the ordinary village people who were ripped off on a daily basis by the city folk, the comprador parasites. He built an army to defend the countryside from these power-wielding robbers. Pol Pot, a monkish man of simple needs, did not seek wealth, fame or power for himself. He had one great ambition: to terminate the failing colonial capitalism in Cambodia, return to village tradition, and from there, to build a new country from scratch…..
The Cambodians I spoke to pooh-poohed the dreadful stories of Communist Holocaust as a western invention……
If the Cambodians are pressed to name their great destroyer (and they are not keen about burrowing back into the past), it is Professor Henry Kissinger they name, not Comrade Pol Pot……
New Cambodia (or Kampuchea, as it was called) under Pol Pot and his comrades was a nightmare for the privileged, for the wealthy and for their retainers; but poor people had enough food and were taught to read and write. As for the mass killings, these are just horror stories, averred my Cambodian interlocutors…..
with capitalism, we have no future worth living, while socialism still offers hope to us and our children.
I see no reason to try and demonstrate the falsities that this vile and disgraceful article contains by citing from far more authoritative sources as to what did occur in Cambodia under Pol Pot. But let there be no mistake: the behaviour of Israel Shamir in writing it is no better than Ernst Zündel, David Irving and others who have denied the Holocaust. It is an insult to the Cambodian population and Counterpunch have sunk to new depths by publishing it.