Vietnam Invading Cambodia during Khmer Rouge -- Question

HistoryFreak1912

Ad Honorem
Apr 2009
4,428
Alabama, USA
OK, so clarify something for me. Apparently during Pol-Pot's reign of terror on Cambodia, the Vietnamese, at some point, invaded and overthrew him (either with or without Cambodian rebels assisting them.) For some reason, I was lead to believe it was purely out of the goodness of their hearts -- they saw fellow Communists (even if they were Cambodians) suffering at the hands of a madman and decided they needed to take him out. And they figured they could do it without angering either China or the USSR.

But is that what happened? Did they invade just because of that or was it something else? All I can think of are the following:

-> Economic woes. Maybe their economy couldn't handle the strain of wave after wave of Cambodian refugees so they took the fight to Pol-Pot.

-> Pol-Pot threatening to invade Vietnam/his influences was creeping into Vietnam.

-> The Chinese told the Vietnamese to please do something about him.

Sorry if it sounds wholly ignorant and stupid, I'm not all that clear on this history and would like your professional answers. :D
 

heylouis

Ad Honorem
Apr 2013
6,501
China
the war lasted from 1978 to 1989.
however, the communist of combodia cease to exist since 1981. for 8 years of the total 11 years it was not pol pot who fighted with viet nam. and in another way, for that 8 years of 11 years, viet nam occupied over combodia, that was not for the fighting with communists.
 
Aug 2016
977
US&A
the war lasted from 1978 to 1989.
however, the communist of combodia cease to exist since 1981. for 8 years of the total 11 years it was not pol pot who fighted with viet nam. and in another way, for that 8 years of 11 years, viet nam occupied over combodia, that was not for the fighting with communists.
I'm interested in this too. I can see you don't think it was about Pol Pot. Why did they declare war?
 

heylouis

Ad Honorem
Apr 2013
6,501
China
I'm interested in this too. I can see you don't think it was about Pol Pot. Why did they declare war?
it is true the war ended pol pot's political life, and it is true pol pot was in conflicts with viet nam on territory and other stuff.

but to say that is viet nam's exact intention to end pol pot and do combodian people a favor would not be that true.

since the building of the viet nam's communism party, one popular idea among viet nam communists is to build a federation of indo-china to replace the L'Indochine française. this federation is intended to be controlled by viet nam, one of the strongest among indo-china countries---viet nam, laos, cambodia.

Ho Chi Minh supported to use the federation idea to unite all fraction from the three countries to fight with french, but he showed no special interest to push the idea into a reality to control over the other two countries.
although he did not actually have real power even during his life time, his symbolic powers delayed the others to try to build the indo-china federation.
those changed after the death of Ho Chi Minh. and then viet nam felt there were enough power after the viet nam war with US. laos had been already practically under ruling of viet nam, the only barrier was cambodia. so there was the war.

in fact, viet nam also attacked thailand around 1985. take a map, you can see the how far the distance is
 
Last edited:
May 2017
1,155
France
Hello.In 1979,I have met the colonel Deodat Dupuy Montbrun,author of the best seller "Roads without crosses, special commandos in Indochine":
He told me that the invasion of Cambodia by the vietnamese army had five reasons:
-the problem of the delimitation of the fronteers by the french colonial administration which has never been very clear.
-the vietnamese desire to become the new "gendarme" of the old french Indochine.
-the vietnamese desire to eliminate the "clique" of Pol Pot,Ieng Sary,Khieu Sampan and their complices who gave a bad image of the communism.
-the vietnamese desire to put at the power in Pnom Pen their friends of the FUNSK (National United Front of the Rescue of Kampuchéa) which was prosovietic.
-a strong message to China who was accused to manipulate the government of the "democratic Kampuchéa".
The campaign was very short;in four months the "red kmers" were defeated and obliged to transform their troops in guérillas like at the time of the colonel Lon Nol (Cardamones mountains,fronteer with Thailand).Their old russian weapons couldn t stop the elite of the vietnamese army who had a lot of modern american weapons.
So,the China imagined that her hour had ringed.
The chinese army which penetrated in the Tonkin,130 000 men, had no experience and was easily stopped after two weeks by the 25 000 men of the "garde fronteers" and of the batallions of the "reserve milicians".The vietnamese were so sure of their victory that they continue to send good troops to Cambodia.
As declared on french TV the general Bigeard,the chinese army was going to the catastrof.The total casualties were near 50 000 killed and disappeared....
 

Tulius

Ad Honorem
May 2016
5,877
Portugal
dupuydumazeldan,

Good post!

I didn’t read that book, but I was beginning to write a post that more or less had these two points that you mentioned:

“-the vietnamese desire to put at the power in Pnom Pen their friends of the FUNSK (National United Front of the Rescue of Kampuchéa) which was prosovietic.”
“-a strong message to China who was accused to manipulate the government of the "democratic Kampuchéa".”

For the Vietnamese, allied with the Soviet Union, Pol Pot seemed too much close to China, in a moment that was tension between the two countries (and that led to the war you mentioned).
 
May 2017
1,155
France
Thank you.In France, Mr Courdy (FR3 TV) responsive Asia in the DESS Diplomacy of Mr Zorgbibe (University Paris XI) has explained to us that the chinese disastrous ofensive has been decided by Deng Xiaoping,who wanted to bury definitively Hua Guofeng and to prepare a new economic mutation.
 
Aug 2015
1,888
Los Angeles
Hello.In 1979,I have met the colonel Deodat Dupuy Montbrun,author of the best seller "Roads without crosses, special commandos in Indochine":
He told me that the invasion of Cambodia by the vietnamese army had five reasons:
-the problem of the delimitation of the fronteers by the french colonial administration which has never been very clear.
-the vietnamese desire to become the new "gendarme" of the old french Indochine.
-the vietnamese desire to eliminate the "clique" of Pol Pot,Ieng Sary,Khieu Sampan and their complices who gave a bad image of the communism.
-the vietnamese desire to put at the power in Pnom Pen their friends of the FUNSK (National United Front of the Rescue of Kampuchéa) which was prosovietic.
-a strong message to China who was accused to manipulate the government of the "democratic Kampuchéa".
The campaign was very short;in four months the "red kmers" were defeated and obliged to transform their troops in guérillas like at the time of the colonel Lon Nol (Cardamones mountains,fronteer with Thailand).Their old russian weapons couldn t stop the elite of the vietnamese army who had a lot of modern american weapons.
So,the China imagined that her hour had ringed.
The chinese army which penetrated in the Tonkin,130 000 men, had no experience and was easily stopped after two weeks by the 25 000 men of the "garde fronteers" and of the batallions of the "reserve milicians".The vietnamese were so sure of their victory that they continue to send good troops to Cambodia.
As declared on french TV the general Bigeard,the chinese army was going to the catastrof.The total casualties were near 50 000 killed and disappeared....
You are saying 130k Chinese troops went up against 25k Vietnamese irregulars and lost 50k?
 

funakison

Ad Honorem
Oct 2012
5,381
Between a rock and a hard place
During the Vietnam War, Vietnamese and Khmer Rouge formed an alliance to fight both the U.S. and the regimes in their own countries. At first glance it seemed to be a strong alliance of like minded people against a common foe, but the Khmer Rouge leadership under Pol Pot feared that the Vietnamese were plotting to form a communist Indochinese federation with Vietnam as the dominant force. To avoid this the Khmer Rouge began purging Vietnamese trained personnel within their own ranks once the Lon Nol regime capitulated in 1975.
It was as early as May 1975, Khmer Rouge began attacking Vietnam. The cross border raids increased in both ferocity and frequency over the next few years, and despite a chinese attempt to negotiate a settlement Vietnam and Khampuchea remained at loggerheads leading to the christmas day invasion.