10 January 2010

Malcom Caldwell...

Today's Observer carries a long article (I presume it is in the magazine section - I will find out when I finally venture out to get a paper) about Malcolm Caldwell, a Marxist academic who was, inter alia, a vocal supporter of Pol Pot's regime.

In December 1978 Caldwell was invited to visit Cambodia by the Khmer regime along with American journalists Elizabeth Becker and Richard Dudman (they were among just seven western visitors to the country during the Khmer Rouge's tyranny). On 22 December Caldwell had a cordial audience with Pol Pot, something that delighted him. In the early hours of the following morning he was murdered, almost certainly on the orders of the man he had met the day before.

Here is an extract from Elizabeth Becker's book When the War was Over. It is her account of what happened on that night.

Anyway the Observer article is interesting. It portrays Caldwell as a charming man (by all accounts he was) but very, very naive. Fair enough but I can think of many other descriptions for him. Sadly only a small handful do not involve expletives!

Last year Democratiya Magazine published an excellent essay on Caldwell (click here to read it, it is well worth it, I assure you). Written by Michael Ezra it is a far more damning critique of the man.

Caldwell represents the sort of person I hate the most in the world, the apologist of evil. While the Left sadly appears replete with such people, the Right is full of the same sort of scumbag too, so it is not the preserve of one part of the political spectrum. Whatever the political stripe people like Caldwell and his successors (George Galloway springs to mind) are not even useful idiots. Lucky for them few ever meet such an ironic death....


Susan English Mason said...

Jams, I made a valiant effort to read Ezra's article; however, I had to stop at page 5 or I would vomit.

And the U.S did nothing as I've said before.

James Higham said...

about Malcolm Caldwell, a Marxist academic who was, inter alia, a vocal supporter of Pol Pot's regime.

No surprises there.

beakerkin said...

There is some irony in the lack of historical insight displayed by Pouty. The deceased was a Marxist hack who obstructed US efforts during the Cold War. The USA was under heavy criticism from these same people to allow Communists to win.

In the USA noted hack Noam Chomsky called eyewitnesses to the Killing Fields liars based on Communist publications in Australia with a circulation of less than 200.

The usual rant from far left types
is that the Khmer Rouge wasn't Communist. This is amusing considering Mao was the model for this atrocity and the party like the Baath Party has its roots in French Communism.

Pouty unwittingly repeats the defense of Chomsky who has claimed the US bombing drove the Cambodians insane. This ignores the fact that identical crimes happened in China and the Soviet Union without bombings.

When Joan Baez criticized this brutality her fellow leftists turned on her.

Sorry, but Communists need to own up to their own history. A communist butchers a true believer
is entirely a Communist issue and poetic justice.

beakerkin said...

Great Article

This should be required reading for those who continue to espouse Communism. The Professor ignored evidence, history and was an apologist to a criminal idea.

The notion that communists should pass judgment on anyone is a farce.

susan said...

It's always amazing to me that human life always takes second place behind political and philosophical cant. People tend to believe what they believe and not what their eyes show them so they prevaricate.

jams o donnell said...

What to say about a man like caldwell.

Beakerkin Pouty Lips is saying that that the US did nothing to stop but then nobody did anything to stop the Khmer Rouge until the Vietnamese invasion.

On the contrary, the US effectively supported the Khmer Rouge after they were ousted. If provided aid to the anti-vietnamese coalition which included the Khmer Rouge.

beakerkin said...

Actually Jams that is not correct.
The Vietnamese did not invade to stop
the butchery. They were quite expert
butchers on their own. The whole episode was one crime family dealing with another. Communists do this all the time and we should not be surprised.

The USA was under pressure to end all aid to the government of Cambodia. This came from the sycophants on the left who talk of corruption in greater terms than butchery.

Most of the US aid went to the royalists. This is a story I followed at the time.The Vietnamese were invaders who set up a puppet government. This is quite predictable behavior.

All of the blame for the Killing Fields belongs to Communists and folks like this Professor who actively worked to create these messes.

Susan English Mason said...

Beakerkin, I didn't claim half the codswallop you claim. I believe, however, historical facts do not require any insight on my part, or anyone else's part. The historical fact is that the U.S. did nothing. I'm off to finish my graduate thesis on terrorism and globalization. Ta!

beakerkin said...

The reason the US did nothing is that people like this professor maliciously undermined the US effort in the Cold War. The misdeeds of the NVA and the Khmer Rouge were sanitized. Brutal communist regimes were labeled as "agrarian reformers". Mythical third forced that did not exist were hailed as the solution.

The Nixon administration was also
hamstrung by Watergate which was not very unique historically. It was a stupid act but politicians from FDR, Kennedy and Johnson did
similar activities. The abuse of FBI files and IRS audits by the Clinton administration were far more serious.

While you are entitled to an opinion you are not entitled to your own facts.

The entire blame for what happened in Cambodia belongs to the Khmer Rouge and their far left Western apologists like Chomsky. There was nothing the USA could do. The far left made sure the wrong side won.
The people who paid the price for this treachery were the people of South East Asia.

Any attempt to portray the Communist Vietnamese who butchered
plenty as heroes is incorrect. The invasion of Cambodia by North Vietnam was an act of political rivalry. There was zero concern for the people of Cambodia.

Maybe you should spend time listening to refugees from those countries. They do not share your opinions and place the blame directly on the Khmer Rouge and Communism.

beakerkin said...


You can find the source about where the Western Aid went in Bogandor's Chomsky's 200 Top lies.

Also the facts about why Vietnam invaded are there as well.

Repeating fiction over decades does not change the truth. Lacquer and Schlesinger who are not on the right have noted Chomsky's pattern
of lies and abuse of the truth.

jams o donnell said...

Beakerkin the Vietnamese may not have acted to stop the Killing Fields, it was the climax of a low level war between the two countries from 1975 onwards.

What it did do was stop the killing fields. You cannot deny that.

Anyway this is nothing to do with Chomsky. I endured his writings on psycholinguistics at university I have never bothered with anything he did after.

Anyway It is a fact that bit Carter and Reagan provided significant support the the coalition which IMCLUDED the KHMER ROUGE. You cannot deny that. It is a fact that the Jhmer Rouge were by far the strongest militarily and thus were conducted much of the insurgency

Don't tewll me that the US did not give that tacit support.

Anyway Beakerkin, stop ranting and actually read what people are actually writing

beakerkin said...


On page 16 you will find a list of Chomsky's lies about Indonesia. Lie
number one states that the original source for the false claim is John Pilger and it was repeated by Chomsky. The site also lists a book that refutes the claim that the US provided diplomatic and military aid for the Khmer Rouge. Our players were the Royalists and this is well known.

Pilger and Chomsky authored this claim to obscure the record of the
far left in this matter. These self serving statement of US support for the Khmer Rouge are false.

I am glad you have come to yur senses about the absurd claim that Vietnam invaded to stop the genocide. That is a false claim that rises to the levels of bad humor.

I am sorry if this sounds like a rant to you. However, this information is false and the source of the false information is Chomsky and Pilger.

SnoopyTheGoon said...

"Lucky for them few ever meet such an ironic death..."

Not wishing anyone dead, it may be a good idea for many of that ilk to spend some time in the country of their passion. Like put the Spiv into Gaza for a year or two.

Although, upon second though, the Spiv will flourish there.

Michael Ezra said...


Thank you very much for your kind words about my essay.

@Pouty Lips

Thank you for at least attempting my essay, and I apologise that continuing reading it would make you vomit. I never had such an intention.

I will make some comment on your idea that "the U.S did nothing." The U.S. had done an awful lot in Asia, many American soldiers lost their lives trying to defend South Vietnam from Communist aggression.

The Nixon Doctrine, that was announced in 1969 was that "our Asian friends" would have to do more themselves in their own defence but that the US could "furnish military and economic assistance when required and as appropriate."

In the period of 1970-1975, during the Cambodian War, the US provided a substantial amount of assistance to Phnom Penh. Wilfred P. Deac commented (Road to the Killing Fields: The Cambodian War of 1070-1975 [Texas A&M University Press, 1997], p.221):

"The republic's five-year war cost the United States about a million dollars a day - a total of $1.85 billion, $1.18 billion of it in military aid - plus another $7 billion for air bombardment."


Please do not forget that it was a Vietnamese Quisling regime that took power in Cambodia after the fall of the Khmer Rouge. The regime also contained many former Khmer Rouge members including both Heng Samrin and Hun Sen. There was a particular issue with the UN seat, it could not really be vacant and the choice was recognising the PRK (People's Republic of Kampuchea) or the CGDK (Coalition Government of Democratic Kampuchea). If you are interested in what happened in Cambodia after 1979 and particularly why the leaders of the Khmer Rouge were not really brought to trial until now, I thoroughly recommend the following book:

Craig Etcheson, After the Killing Fields: Lessons from the Cambodian Genocide (Texas Tech University Press, 2005).

I hope this is of some use.


Michael Ezra

jams o donnell said...

THanks for your comment Michael. I will hunt down the book. I was not aware that Khmer Rouge serbved in the Vietnamese controled government. It should not surprise me. There was plenty of shit to go round

Leaving the KR representative in the UN was despicable. So what if the seat was empty.

As for Pouty Lips' comment I think it refers to the Killing Fields not what happened in the Vietnam War

Michael Ezra said...


It is probably not surprising that the new government had a lot of issues. The Khmer Rouge did not disappear overnight. Many were hiding out on the Thai-Cambodian border. The new government came up with what is known as the K-5 plan to fortify the border and destroy enemy bases in Cambodian territory. Given the length of the border this required a substantial amount of labour and labour forces were drafted to work on the plan. Etcheson states (p.25), "According to several estimates, 80 percent of these workers contracted malaria, and of those, up to 5 percent succumbed to the disease." Food was also in shortage and there were deaths via starvation. People hated this work. "According to one official from the Ministry of Defense who defected to Thailand, official Cambodian government estimates concluded 'in March 1986 that 30,000 people died since the beginning of the labour.'" (Etcheson p. 27) Etchenson's opinion (p.37) is that "K-5 was worse than a crime; it was a blunder."

In so far as obtaining evidence of the crimes of the Khmer Rouge to assist bring about successful trials, there were approximately 100 films taken by the Khmer Rouge between 1975-1978. The Cambodian Documentation Center wanted these films for evidence and requested them - but they mysteriously vanished from the country just before the Documentation Center was due to take possession. As Etcheson comments (pp.61-62) "Private explanations for the spiriting away of this cache of evidentiary materials have suggested that it was an effort to shield the reputation of Prime Minister Hun Sen, who is rumoured to appear in at least one of the Democratic Kampuchea-era films."

The tragedy for Cambodia clearly continued after 1979 and Etcheson explains it all very well.

In so far as Pouty Lips' comments, my own response was that America had done quite a bit to try and stop the Khmer Rouge getting in power in the first place.

I do not really want to get into some kind of political debate on the matter, but there are those that complain when America does intervene (as they did in Vietnam) and suggest that they shouldn't and then complain when America does not intervene. A bigger issue in relation to Cambodia are those (on the left) who try and pin the blame for the Khmer Rouge coming to power on American actions in the Vietnam War where they were bombing parts of Cambodia illegally being used by the Vietnamese Communists. They argue that this bombing drove Cambodians into supporting the Khmer Rouge and hence paved the way for their victory. This is nonsense. David Chandler (Brother Number One: A Political Biography of Pol Pot [Silkworm Books, Revised Edition 1999] p.90) makes it clear that by 1970 Cambodian Communists,with the aid of the Vietnamese, had been quite successful "in eliminating Lon Nol's army as a military force." Realistically, it was only a question of time before the Khmer Rouge came to power.

I hope this helps.


Michael Ezra

jams o donnell said...

Michael Thank you for providing this valuable information. It is much appreciated. I will certainly look to get hold of Etcheson's book

Susan English Mason said...

Maybe I can break this down to Barney the dinosaur level:

I said:

"Jams, I made a valiant effort to read Ezra's article; however, I had to stop at page 5 or I would vomit."

From Ezra's article:
This study suggests that the most likely number
of deaths due to excess mortality under the Khmer Rouge regime was 2.2 million of
which 50 percent were via violent methods. If this figure of 2.2 million is accurate,
based on Etcheson’s data for the population in advance of the mass killings, the
Khmer Rouge were responsible for the deaths of approximately thirty percent of
the Cambodian population.

And then I said:

"And the U.S did nothing as I've said before."

This is a historical fact. I did not address the "reasons" why the US or the rest of the world did nothing.

Caldwell was scum. No one should have done anything about his murder except piss on his grave.

Michael Ezra said...

@ jams,

A pleasure.

@Pouty Lips

I apologise if I did not misunderstood you. Nevertheless, thank you for attempting my article.


Michael Ezra

Susan English Mason said...

Michael, I tried to read the whole thing. I had bumped my head and was feeling nauseous and I couldn't stomach the descriptiveness of the brutality and when I got to the part of the shovel murders, and the description of the one survivor, I just imagined one of my own three sons and it made me physically ill. As a mother, I cannot imagine a soldier coming up and asking me if I am able to care for my sons and I tell them honestly - no - and then they throw them one by one into a tree. I happen to think that this was genocide on scales not ever seen before. It's just horrible and then Henry Kissinger says their (Khmer Rouge) leaders seem like nice gentle sorts of fellows. If they got away with this genocide on such a massive scale, then why would terrorists think the rest of the world has the balls to stop them?

Anyway, I'm recovering from a concussion so all I've been doing is apologizing for not expressing myself very well lately.

Michael Ezra said...

Pouty Lips,

I do appreciate you attempting to read my article. For your information, other the section that you found difficult to read I discussed how Malcolm Caldwell reported on Cambodia and it was like he was living in a parallel universe discussing the economic benefits of the Cambodian revolution. You are correct that I enclosed some stomach churning information.There is much more where that came from, but I was keen to include it in my essay to highlight just how bad it was under the Khmer Rouge and hence it would be obvious to readers that defending such a regime would be unacceptable.

I do not believe that Henry Kissinger ever said that the Khmer Rouge leaders were "nice gentle sorts of fellows" or anything like that. In fact, as the late Peter Rodman,formerly of the National Security Council Staff and Henry Kissinger's research assistant on the Kissinger memoirs, said (The American Spectator, July 1981), "Kissinger thought the free Cambodians had aright to survive."



Michael Ezra said...

That should be "after the section" not "other the section." Apologies for the tying error.

jams o donnell said...

Pouty, Michael this has turned out to be a very interesting comment string.

Much as I find Kissinger a vile man I would very much hope he didn't say anything of that sort!

At the end of the day the KR were one of the most evil rabble ever to rule a country. The idea that they could have survived after being deposed horrifies. Any support given to them by anyone disgusts, even to leave a KR mouthpiece representing the Cambodians at the UN.

Caldwell was a sickening character. Sadly he wasn't the first to champion evil and he wasn't the last. That does depress!

Susan English Mason said...

Unfortunately I don't have time to look up the quote I am attributing to H. Kissinger. So I will have to concede.

jams o donnell said...

I would hope even Kissinger was not that evil!

Susan English Mason said...

At any rate Kissinger had no problem with being friends with them. He did not let a little thing like genocide stand in the way of improving relationships with the band of murderers.

jams o donnell said...

One thing about Kissiner Pouty, if you cut him in half you would see the word "bastard" all the ay through his body, just like a stick of rock!