Bombing of Cambodia

From Ohio History Central
Rhodes, James A. and Richard Nixon.jpg
Ohio Governor James Rhodes with President Richard Nixon, April 1968.

In March 1969, President Richard Nixon authorized secret bombing raids in Cambodia, a move that escalated opposition to the Vietnam War in Ohio and across the United States.

Nixon believed North Vietnam was transporting troops and supplies through neighboring Cambodia into South Vietnam. He hoped that bombing supply routes in Cambodia would weaken the United States' enemies.

The bombing of Cambodia lasted until August 1973. While the exact number of Cambodian casualties remains unknown, most experts estimate that 100,000 Cambodians lost their lives, with an additional two million people becoming homeless. Enhancing the destruction, in April 1970, President Nixon ordered United States troops to occupy parts of Cambodia. Nixon claimed that the soldiers were protecting the United States' withdrawal from South Vietnam. American soldiers quickly withdrew, but their presence, along with the air strikes, convinced many Cambodians to overthrow their government, leading to the rise of the Khmer Rouge, a communist and despotic government.

Many Americans opposed the Vietnam War. When media outlets publicized the events in Cambodia, critics of the war became more vocal. College students across the United States became increasingly outspoken in their opposition to the war. In Ohio, at Kent State University, students set fire to the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) building. Governor James Rhodes called out the Ohio National Guard to restore order at Kent State. The National Guardsmen opened fire on protestors at the campus, with four students dying. Students at other college campuses in Ohio and in the rest of the United States continued to protest the Vietnam War and its escalation into Cambodia.

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