The story showing how an incredibly brave journalist and his fixer/interpreter ultimately revealed the lies and sheep-like diplomatic blindness and hypocrisy of the professional classes during the slaughter and even how the whole issue possibly could have been avoided by an admission of the error of the catalytic bombing that ultimately brought the Khmer Rouge into power. It also demonstrates that once such insanity starts inside a country the insanity has to work its way towards its own demise, outside influence will never work.
It seems this lesson remains unlearnt! Look at DRC, Darfur in Sudan, Iraq, Afghanistan the stupidities of incredibly oil-rich countries on our continent whose people live in fear and poverty. Sure, Vietnam preceded the Cambodia slaughter but was instrumental in its happening and itself was an idiotic failure for both France and the US. The tale is quite simple: entering a civil war as an outsider does not work. The consequences of defeat are obvious, the rare occurrence of “success”, when running its time, leads to internal frictions of various players, some who may even have good intent, many who don’t! Iraq is an example; shock and awe leading to a divided nation.
I look at Syria, a country that re-emerged after the death of the Ottoman Empire after “the Great War”, a country whose history had gleaned the benefits of its proximity to the Middle East and Europe, had technical and intellectual skills in abundance, a powerful history and resources. The postwar settlement pushed the leadership that the French and British wanted into power; this leadership spawned, over the years, a country ruled by a dynasty that obviously suited the “colonial nations” despite its increasing cruelty. All that mattered was superficial peace and access to trade, especially oil. Convenience diplomacy?
Thus Syria ended up where social pressures exploded in 2010 with the initial peaceful protests of the “Arab Spring”. Thus Assad, once the friend, increasingly defends his powers as the initial resistance has become internationalised with new participants having own agenda! Now a massive civil war. Again, like Cambodia, external interference will never work and the UN is left looking stupid. And yes, I have to agree with the Chinese and Russians that armed interference is not an option; it cannot work, although I question their motives!
Whatever the outcome, in a world in economic stress, where a new dynasty enters China and the UN denies its limitations, a major Middle East conflict is a likely outcome! Do I see a world beginning to divide into those with “red bandannas” and those without?
The sadness is that almost all people have the same basic needs, “enough” and basic expectations “reasonableness”. Our institutional world, starting with the UN, has to rediscover its purpose otherwise the Spanish, the Chinese, the Yemenis and many others are going to enter the insoluble problem of conflict over reason. Bad economics may be crushed by social conflict?