The Khmer Rouge

By: Sandra Dadda

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At first, the Cambodian communist movement emerged from the country's struggle against French colonization in the 1940s, and was influenced by the Vietnamese. They wanted to purify society and equality.

These issues over what Khmer Rouge was fought about differ from the issues from the U.S. Civil War because in the U.S., they fought over the idea of practicing slavery while in Cambodia, the people are treated like slaves, the Khmer Rouge wanted to basically start controlling their people.


  • Cambodia’s independence from France in November 1953 after 90 years of French rule.

  • Khmer Rouge starts in 1960 out of the growing opposition to the rule of King Sihanouk.

  • In 1963, leaders of the Khmer Rouge fled their home base of Phnom Penh and begin an armed rebellion.

  • In 1970, the U.S. invaded Cambodia looking to drive out the North Vietnamese from their military camps along the border. This just drove the Vietnamese deeper into Cambodia where they united themselves with the Khmer Rouge.
  • On April 17, 1975, the Khmer Rouge marched out and took over the capital city, Phnom Penh and drove people out of all the cities and into farms/camps.



Obviously, the Khmer Rouge had a clear advantage, as the way the Union did in the U.S. Civil War because the people didn’t really have anything to defend themselves with. The Khmer Rouge basically ruled over everyone in Cambodia and regulates everything everyone did. Such as, food portions, beliefs, clothing, behavior, etc.

The Khmer Rouge used guerilla warfare which is a form of irregular warfare in which a small group of combatants such as paramilitary personnel, armed civilians, or irregulars use military tactics including ambushes, sabotage, raids, petty warfare, hit-and-run tactics, and mobility to fight a larger and less-mobile traditional military.

This might be similar to warfare in the American Civil War because they also used guerilla warfare as the Khmer Rouge did.


There were no real technologies used in the war such as telegraph, drones, spy satellites, etc because their goal was to basically turn Cambodia into a middle age Cambodia.

This is totally opposite of what the United States tried to do in their civil war because they wanted to have a faster technology upgrade.


There were no steady official alliances.


A social reform or movement that occurred around this civil war is that every one was turned into peasants that was believed to be a pure form of society and a representation of good citizens.

They wanted to transform Cambodia into a rural, classless society in which there were no rich people, no poor people, and no exploitation. To accomplish this, they abolished money, free markets, normal schooling, private property, foreign clothing styles, religious practices, and traditional Khmer culture. Public schools, pagodas, mosques, churches, universities, shops and government buildings were shut or turned into prisons, stables, reeducation camps and granaries. There was no public or private transportation, no private property, and no non-revolutionary entertainment. Leisure activities were severely restricted. People throughout the country, including the leaders of the CPK, had to wear black costumes, which were their traditional revolutionary clothes.

This could be slightly similar to the American Civil War because the South wanted to control their slaves where the slaves are all equal to each other and they abolished everything that is considered a privilege.