What does Broken
Promises say about the United Nations?
Instead of celebrating the United Nations’ 60th
anniversary, the Citizens United Foundation sought to develop and
project a film to raise awareness about its foibles. The Citizens United
Foundation used genocide survivors versus United Nations’ officials to
uncover every stone about the organization. Some lurid events that the
movie draws on are the Rwanda and Bosnia killings and the Pol Pot
scandal in Cambodia.
Not long after Rwanda achieved independence from the Uganda monarchy,
war broke out in Rwanda between two sides: the Rwandese Patriotic Front
(RPF) and the official Hutu wing, which had taken power in 1962.
The bloodshed began in 1990, when the RPF (Tutsi-dominated) seized
Rwanda’s working government. In 1993, compensations were called at the
The arrangement called for the two groups to share the government
equally. Fighting continued, though, and the issue became a
controversial issue for the U.N.
At the time, Kofi Annan (now Secretary-General) was head of U.N.
peacekeeping, and Izbal Riza (see Oppposition 2) was his deputy. U.N.
peacekeepers in Rwanda warned them of the impending slaughter of the
Hutu by the Tutsi, but they ordered the peacekeepers to stand by and let
the massacre continue. Even though over 800,000 people died in Rwanda,
the Untied Nations hesitated to call it a genocide and actively
intervene. Instead, the U.N. established the United Nations Assistance
Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR) to provide funds to Rwanda. No funds were
ever provided. The foreign affair seemed thus wrapped in hopeless
In the end, death ended the war, not peace. The RPF invaded Kigali,
Rwanda in the summer of 1994, and Hutus refugees left their homelands to
escape the Tutsi.
Pol Pot Scandal:
Indochina, the French colony of Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Thailand,
fell to the Soviet Union in 1954, King Norodom Sihanouk established a
communist government in North Vietnam. Saloth Star (later known as Pol
Pot) was a Cambodian at this time that created his own regime while
Sihanouk was in leadership. When western participation in Cambodian
politics started inclining during the 1970s, pro-western Lon Nol
overthrew Sihanouk’s influence.
resentment, Sihanouk joined Saloth Star’s recruits. Their coalition became the
Khmer Rouge and gained power from the popularity of Sihanouk and the hostilities
created by United States intervention in Cambodia at the time. Indeed, the
United States intervention in Cambodia under President Nixon comes into harsh
questioning when in regards to Saloth Star’s Khmer Rouge. Some say that if the
United States had not intervened in the first place, the Khmer Rouge would not
have received support. For instance, John Pilger, with The Nation, stated
that “The invasion [that is, the United States’ attack in Cambodia in the 1970s]
provided a small group of extreme ethnic nationalists with Maoist pretensions,
the Khmer Rouge, with a catalyst for a revolution that had no popular base among
the Cambodia people…U.S terror was critical in Pol Pot’s drive for power,” in
When the United
States ended the war with Vietnam in 1973, Lon Nol’s government
suffered. The Nixon administration, still immovable about letting Vietnam fall
to communism, continued to bomb Cambodia and remove Khmer Rouge recruits. In
1974, though, Khmer Rouge resurrects and captures the city of Odongk, killing
20,000 citizens. At that time, Khmer Rouge also captured Phnom Penh, and Lon Nol
fled to the United States. More conflict continued between Khmer Rouge and the
United States when Star’s recruits, in 1975, seized the United States S.S
Mayaguez, a merchant ship on a passage to leave the Vietnam shores. This
affair was labeled the Mayaguez Crisis, and Saloth Star changed his name to Pol
with his zenith, Pol Pot declared April 17, 1975 his “Year Zero.” He began
wiping out western culture, intellectuals, and capitalism. Pol Pot’s goal was an
agrarian society for Cambodia. John Pilger described the scene after visiting in
1979, “When the afternoon monsoon broke, the streets nearby ran with money as
thousands of brand-new banknotes washed away in the gutter. Children, orphans,
collected and dried them for fuel; I can still hear the crackle as the money
burned.” Although genocide in Cambodia was obvious, Pol Pot became the official
prime minister of the Democratic Kampuchea, his new state under the Khmer
Rouge, in 1976.
Thai, Laotian, and Vietnamese borders sat in conflict, and other world powers
come into play—China, the Soviet Union, and the United States, for example.
Vietnam turned towards Soviet Union. Pol Pot’s regime, long supported by China,
continued its relations with the nation. At this time, the United States too
realized the benefits in supporting China in Indochina. The United States’ null
accomplishments in Vietnam made them eager to play off from the dangerous
relations between China and Soviet while undercutting Vietnam simultaneously.
States got a chance to act on their theory when Vietnam invaded Cambodia in
1978. During 1979 and 1980, the United States and China backed the Khmer Rouge’s
takeover in Indochina. Ironically, the United States, one time at war with
Cambodia, began using its finances to support a vigilante like Pol Pot.
United Nations is Involved
Irony came in
again when the United States, the United Nations, and China stop all of
their trade and communication with Cambodia in the 1990s. It started after the
UN peacekeeping force implemented elections in 1991, which Sihanouk won and
resumed position as president of Cambodia. Then, in 1993, the United States,
China, and the United Nations banned aid to the suffering nation. In fact, a
United Nations embargo stopped trade from the World Health Organization from
moving into Cambodia.
says that the “pertinent question is: Will those foreign governments that backed
Pol Pot while wringing their hands now help rebuild the country they helped
devastate?” Other questions remain too. For example, do nations decide to
intervene in an international crisis based on sincerity of imperialistic
concern? The United Nations, with the help of the United States, seemed wiling
to back the suffering Cambodians when their interests were to play on the
rivalries of China and Soviet Union, but what happens after the benefits of the
aiding countries run thin. Furthermore, questions about why America would
support a criminal like Pol Pot wear on, making the entire issue a diplomatic
What is this book?
Written by three UN field
workers, this book tells of scandals, parties and absurd play.
The UN tried to block the publication of the book, but it was
pushed through despite.