The heirs of Angkor: an analysis of Khmer Rouge viability
Locke, Charles E.
Buss, Claude A.
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The purpose of this thesis is to address the question: "What accounts for Khmer Rouge viability?" One approach, which will be used in this thesis, is to analyze the Khmer Rouge through their 'self definitions' -- located in their myths, rituals, and symbols -- to better understand how they perceive themselves, their cause, and their future and how those perceptions can be used to defeat adversaries. This study focuses on insurgent activity as a battle of ideas using the Khmer Rouge as a case study To analyze the application of this plane to insurgent viability, this study looked to the 'symbolic dimension,' a medium of political exchange that defines reality through symbolic means, To provide linkage between symbols and viability, the symbolic actions of the Khmer Rouge are applied to five elements of insurgent viability: legitimacy, popular support, organization, external support, and defeating adversarial response. All five elements are covered from the origins of the insurgency in the 195Os, through their victory in 1975 and demise in 1979, concluding with their actions today. This thesis demonstrates that the Khmer Rouge insurgency relies on symbolic activity as one mean of viability. Using ethnic discrimination myths and nationalist rituals, the insurgents swept to power in a rural based movement. However, fanatical beliefs in myths of common blood ties and racial purity drove the regime to destruction. To resurrect the movement, the Khmer Rouge play on the weakness of the present government utilizing democratic symbols as well as former racist themes to replace the malevolent image of their governing years with an image of their perception as heirs to rulership.
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