Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Kampuchean people begin guerrilla war against invaders

Viet Nam, Backed by USSR, Seizes Phnom Penh

First Published: Unity, Vol. 2, No. 1, January 12-25, 1979.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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On January 7, the Vietnamese Army, backed by the Soviet Union, seized Phnom Penh, the capital of Kampuchea, and installed a puppet government there. The seizure of Phnom Penh was the culmination of a two week, all-out military assault against Kampuchea by Viet Nam. It was one of the shortest and most overwhelming military invasions in history, reminiscent of the Nazi blitzkrieg.

Starting on Christmas Day, over 100,000 Vietnamese troops invaded Kampuchea at a half-dozen points along the border. They came with heavy artillery, tanks and Soviet-made MIG 19 and 21 planes which bombed cities in advance of ground troops.

By January 1, the Vietnamese invaders had crossed the Mekong River and besieged a number of provincial capitals in northeast Kampuchea. In the next week they continued to bomb cities and cut off highways leading to the capital from the south, east, northeast and northwest. The Vietnamese killed hundreds of Kampuchean troops.

The Kampuchean troops and people put up a courageous resistance against the larger and better equipped Vietnamese army. The Kampucheans killed or wounded 1,000 enemy invaders from December 25 to 28 alone.

Following the seizure of Phnom Penh, heavy fighting continued in many parts of the country, particularly in western Kampuchea. Vietnamese air-strikes continued against the many areas of resistance. On January 8, Viet Nam also carried out bombing raids inside Thailand against the refugees who were forced to flee the country.

The Kampuchean people have vowed to keep fighting the Vietnamese and their puppets, and have taken up guerrilla war in the countryside. Premier Pol Pot stated on January 5, “The fighting will go on for eternity if necessary, until the aggressors have been completely defeated.’’

Phony “liberation front” can’t hide aggression

The Vietnamese authorities and their Soviet backers try to mask their aggression by promoting a phony “liberation front,” the so-called “Kampuchean National United Front for National Salvation.” Despite the Vietnamese authorities’ claims that the situation in Kampuchea is an “internal matter,” the “national front” is clearly directed from Hanoi and its members are all Vietnamese with a few Kampuchean puppets.

The Vietnamese authorities are bent on bringing down the Kampuchean government so as to establish their own regional hegemony in Southeast Asia. Kampuchea has long resisted Vietnamese attempts to force Kampuchea into a so-called Indochina Federation, headed and controlled by Viet Nam.

The Vietnamese have not acted alone, however. In fact, they would not be as brazen in their aggression without moral and material assistance from the Soviet Union.

It is the Soviet superpower which stands to gain the most out of the situation. The world’s biggest hegemonist is utilizing the lesser Vietnamese hegemonists to do their dirty work for them. The Soviets are using Viet Nam as the “Cuba in Asia” as part of its bid for world domination. It wants to secure control of Southeast Asia as its central means towards edging the U.S. out of the Asian continent, laying a strategic line from the Pacific to the Indian Ocean, and linking up with positions it has secured in Africa. It is also part of the Soviet Union’s aim to encircle China. This is all part of the Kremlin’s global strategy to outflank Europe and gain world domination.

But Kampuchea, which has always held a firm policy of non-alignment, stands in the way of the Soviets’ plans. The Soviet Union has always hated Kampuchea because of its opposition to Soviet imperialism. The Soviets refused to support the Kampuchean people’s war of liberation against U.S. imperialism. Instead the Soviet Union supported the U.S.-backed Lon Nol government and attacked the fight against the puppet dictator as “fratricide.”

Now the Soviet Union is using Viet Nam as its hatchet man in Asia and has gone all out to subvert Kampuchea’s independence and sovereignty. The Soviet Union’s aggression against Kampuchea and their support for the Vietnamese authorities’ efforts to construct an “Indochina Federation” is similar to the German fascists. In 1938, the fascists invaded, overran and annexed Austria as part of the Nazi plan for an all-German union.

Kampuchea asks for international support

On January 3 the Kampuchean government sent a message to the United Nations, appealing to “all countries and world organizations to immediately oppose the acts of aggression of Viet Nam and the Soviet Union against Democratic Kampuchea.” Foreign Minister Ieng Sary asked the UN Security Council to take steps to halt the aggression, a move which the Soviet Union was trying to block.

On January 9, former head of state Prince Norodom Sihanouk arrived in New York to appeal to the United Nations for international support. He was greeted at the airport by 100 people, who turned out in support of Kampuchea. At a press conference in New York, Sihanouk stated: “We are a victim of aggression, a brutal invasion coming from Viet Nam.” En route to the UN, Sihanouk spoke in Peking, where he stated that Kampuchea “will never submit to the criminal aggression by Viet Nam.”

The blatant military campaign against Kampuchea is not only an attack on Kampuchea’s independence, but is also a threat to Southeast Asia and the world. Thailand expressed concern at Viet Nam’s expansionism. Following the occupation of Phnom Penh, Thailand established a military alert along the Thai-Kampuchean border. Sihanouk commented “the more the Russians and Vietnamese eat, the better their appetite. (Next they will be) attracted by seductions of Thailand, and then Singapore.”

Chinese Deputy Premier Teng Hsiao-ping stated on January 7 that China would continue to extend assistance to the Kampuchean people, and denounced the Vietnamese authorities’ hegemonism. Teng stated, “Having brought Laos under their control by force of arms (Vietnam has 40,000 troops stationed in Laos – ed.) they further attempt with Soviet backing to annex Kampuchea and establish a colonial empire under their complete domination called the ’Indochina Federation.’”

The wanton Soviet-backed invasion by Viet Nam will not succeed in crushing Democratic Kampuchea. The Kampuchean people have a long history of fighting foreign aggressors and have already launched their war of resistance against the occupying army. The seizure of Phnom Penh did not represent the end of the war in Kampuchea. The war has just begun.