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Revisting the Killing Fields Genocide by definition is the deliberate and systematic extermination of a national racial or cultural group The Khmer Rouge a major political group during the 1950s to the 1980s was very secretive and was somewhat like the Nazis the Khmer Rouge were at least partially a reaction to the loss of political sovereignty and the social dislocation wrought by the regional wars of the 1960s and 1970s as well as an extreme and localized response to the growing question of Khmer identity in a region dominated and fought over by world and regional powers Shortly after its independence in 1954 Cambodia felt the pull of hegemonic powers The US China and Vietnam already had significant interests in the country but Sihanouk maintained control and a declared neutrality by playing off one state against another China was one of the first countries to send aid after independence initiating military aid in 1963 China supported Sihanouk publicly throughout his tenure as king and president and Zhou Enlai a longtime friend of Sihanouk strongly supported him but as the Cultural Revolution widened radical factions in the government supported the KR then the inner circle of the Communist Party of Kampuchea Etcheson surmises that this division reached into the CPK itself splitting the Maoist core that formed the nucleus of the Khmer Rouge from the more moderate Vietnamese influenced intellectuals 10 From the 1950s to the mid-1960s Cambodia prospered Modernization development and substantial foreign aid flowed in under Sihanouks rule As in the past however this prosperity was dependent on the behavior of Cambodias neighbors and on the policies of larger more distant powers Cambodia was neutral and at peace for as long as it served the interests of other states 14 From the mid-1960s Cambodia became more and more entangled in the regional war By the early 1970s as the Khmer Rouge gained strength and control over vast areas of the
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