Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

USSR Pulls Strings – Vietnamese Revisionists Occupy Cambodia

First Published: Revolutionary Worker, SF Bay Area-Salinas Valley Edition, Vol. 4, No. 8, January 20-February 3, 1978.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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(WPS)–On Jan. 8, following a 16-day offensive by 100,000 Vietnamese troops ending in the capture of Phnom Penh, a puppet Cambodian group claimed “complete control” of Kampuchea (Cambodia). The government of Kampuchea headed by Premier Pol Pot has taken to the jungles to wage guerrilla warfare against the invaders.

It was less than four years ago that the peoples of Indochina (including the countries of Vietnam, Laos and Kampuchea) kicked out the U.S. after long years of fierce, heroic struggle against the savage onslaught of U.S. imperialism. Today Vietnam’s conquest of its neighbor and one-time ally against imperialism nakedly shows the betrayal by the leaders of Vietnam of everything which the peoples of Indochina fought for. It is back-stabbing treachery against millions of people the world over who supported the Indochinese peoples’ struggle as if it were their own.

Fighting has been going on sporadically between the two countries ever since 1975 over the refusal of Vietnam to recognize previously agreed-upon boundary lines between the two countries. This has escalated into attacks and attempted invasions by Vietnam on several occasions. In July 1977 Kampuchea decided to respond to any new Vietnamese attack by quick assaults across the border. Vietnam responded in December 1977 with such intensity that full-scale war erupted between the two countries.

Within a few months Vietnamese leaders were openly calling for the overthrow of the Kampuchean government, and on Dec. 3, 1978, the formation of the Kampuchean National United Front for National Salvation (KNUFNS) was announced. This is a patchwork of renegades from Kampuchea and is a creation of Vietnam’s. The idea is to create a Kampuchean puppet to mask Vietnam’s aggression against its neighbor. But it is all too apparent who is pulling the strings. The KNUFNS parrots Vietnam’s favorite phrases word-for-word and carries out the policies of its master, and Vietnamese troops do virtually all of the fighting.

Is this how a “socialist republic,” which is what Vietnam calls itself, does things? No! These actions are symptoms of the fact that Vietnam is not socialist. Vietnam’s leaders have repudiated Marxism, and have embraced the same sort of revisionism that characterizes the rulers of the Soviet Union–and in the process have betrayed the tremendous sacrifices and revolutionary struggles of the people of Vietnam. In fact, Vietnam’s actions show its leaders have fully degenerated into puffed-up pawns of the reactionary imperialist rulers of the Soviet Union.

These traitors openly attack Mao Tsetung, the greatest revolutionary, the greatest Marxist-Leninist of our time, and they spit in the face of the masses of Vietnamese people, declaring recently that “We will win because we have the sympathy and the broad and great international support of the Soviet Union and other socialist countries.” But it is the people of Vietnam who have brought their country its tremendous victories against imperialism in the past, not Soviet aid, and it is these same people of Vietnam who will eventually throw these parasites off their backs.

Along with their betrayal of Marxism and the Vietnamese revolution, these same traitors have sold out their country to Soviet social-imperialism. Vietnam is now a member of COMECON, the economic association which serves the imperialist interests of the USSR, and last November the two countries signed a “treaty of friendship and cooperation” which is actually a military alliance.


With Vietnam falling into the claws of Soviet social-imperialism, China’s new revisionist rulers have hastened to the pretended aid of Kampuchea. But it is an aid which is only pretended. Over the past year, as things became very serious for Kampuchea, China’s main efforts have been to get Kampuchea to become more “moderate” –in other words revisionist–just like them. In fact this Chinese program for Kampuchea is very similar to Vietnam’s calls and promises of “moderation”–it’s just to serve an opposing set of “great nation” interests.

China’s line is that Kampuchea’s only salvation is not to rely on the Kampuchean people, who defeated the U.S., but only on “acting nice” so as to please and get the support of reactionaries the world over, especially the U.S. government. China’s rulers have opportunistically used Vietnam’s aggression against Kampuchea in order to further their cause of building their own influence with the Southeast Asian countries and to help tie them even more tightly into the war bloc led by the U.S. imperialists.

And the U.S. too is playing its expected role–condemning Vietnam’s invasion for the purpose of checking a move by its superpower rival.

As well, the U.S. has been shouting its condemnation of Kampuchea for the past several years. In fact the capitalists’ media in this country have become hysterical, charging Kampuchea with “the most massive case of genocide since Hitler.” What is the truth of this charge?


The Kampuchean government is accused of evacuating the cities. They did, and for very good reasons. The cities were swollen with refugees who fled the countryside to escape U.S. bombing, which was some of the most concentrated of anywhere in Indochina. There was no food in the cities for these people.

In the months preceding the liberation of Phnom Penh, more than 8,000 people were starving to death in the imperialist-controlled cities every month, and tens of thousands more were getting almost nothing to eat. These people had to be evacuated to the countryside where the liberated peasants were producing a surplus of rice.

It is the grossest hypocrisy for the U.S. imperialists to raise a hue and cry about a supposedly brutal evacuation of the cities after they themselves had driven millions of peasants into those same cities by terror bombing and then left them there to starve. The U.S., of course, was using its planes for more bombing raids and not for bringing food to the cities! The grossest hypocrisy–but then what else can we expect from imperialists?

Besides feeding people, the new revolutionary government in Kampuchea needed to smash the organization of the puppets of imperialism who had been ruling. They needed to break up the covert counter-revolutionary gangs created by the CIA before the U.S. was kicked out. They had to deal with Russian KGB and Vietnamese agents plotting against the infant revolutionary government. Moving many people to the country was a good way of breaking up these organizations. And if any further proof is needed for the necessity of these measures, Vietnam’s naked aggression provides it. The Kampuchean government wasn’t imagining these threats.

The Kampuchean government is also accused of “brutal massacres,” etc. In general it is always necessary for the people making a revolution to execute notorious enemies of the people, and this has certainly happened in Kampuchea. But in addition the imperialists in this case have gone to great pains to fabricate wholesale lies and half-truths based on stories by ex-landlords, petty capitalists and former officers of the puppet government who have every reason to hate the revolution.

In particular, a set of photographs supposedly showing brutal executions and forced labor, which has been published again and again by the Western press as evidence of Kampuchean atrocities, has been shown to be a fake. It is revealing in another direction that these same photos and stories have been cited by the USSR and Vietnam as “evidence” to justify aggression against Kampuchea.


Vietnam’s actions now are a sickening betrayal of all that the Vietnamese people fought for with such heroism. After they had thrown one imperialist power out, their rulers have sold out to another one. It is also a betrayal of the struggles of people around the world, including in this country, who fought U.S. imperialism’s attempt to dominate Vietnam and the other countries of Indochina.

It is also a vivid illustration of the need for a truly and thoroughly revolutionary line and leadership. We do not want, and we do not plan, to go through the tremendous struggles and sacrifices of revolution only to have the revolution turned around.