by Paul David Collins ©, April 27th, 2007
Cambodia has a serious problem. Many of the nation’s young people are having a hard time wrapping their heads around the fact that the Khmer Rouge conducted a campaign of genocide in their country. Some even deny that the genocide ever happened. This fact is revealed in a recent movie entitled Wanting To See The Truth, which “shows footage of young Cambodians who do not believe stories of the atrocities of the late 1970s” (“Khmer Rouge film reveals horror,” no pagination). Evidently, this epidemic of historical denial is promulgated on an institutional level because the “period is not taught in schools” (no pagination).
The danger of national amnesia that Cambodia is now facing is a result of the globalization of the postmodern paradigm. We all want to instantly grasp the “Big Picture” without taking the necessary trip down Memory Lane. A thorough study of history is the only way one can gain a firm understanding of modern realities. However, like children, we resist this fact with all our strength so that we might be able to live in a perpetual “now.” Even I find myself having to fight the urge and temptation to approach the topics I study as if they are videotapes that I can fast forward directly to the end.
The power elite have helped promote this sorry state of affairs. It helps conceal their involvement in history’s crimes and atrocities. The Cambodian “killing fields” are certainly no exception. The postmodern mind has difficulty seeing the bloody fingerprints of the power elite upon Cambodia during the period of 1975 to 1979. Nonetheless, those who bother to revisit the crime scene can discover these fingerprints.
NSSM 200: The Politics of Genocide
The motivation for the Cambodian genocide can be found in a document entitled National Security Study Memorandum (NSSM) 200. The National Security Council (NSC) under Henry Kissinger’s guidance put this document together in 1974. The thesis was quite simple: population growth in lesser-developed countries constitutes a threat to national security. NSSM 200 named target countries: