Compared to all the other genocides that we’ve studied so far, this is the strangest to me. I’ve understood the motivations of the groups who have committed the genocide. at least in the reason why they chose the group that was persecuted. To me the Yugoslavian genocide of the Bosnian Muslims is so odd because I don’t really see how the Bosnians had any sort of power that threatened the Serbs. At least in the chapters that I’ve read so far, it doesn’t really seem like the Muslims did anything other than convert over 500 years ago. Many of the Muslims weren’t even particularly devout anymore. To me, it really does seem like the Serbian Nationalists were just power-hungry, trying to gain influence by any way possible. However, they blamed so many groups for their oppression, and lack of sovereignty, that I don’t understand why the Muslims were targeted. Is it because they were the most ‘other?’ It appeared to me that the Croats would have been the largest threat to their movement, especially since they actually did fight Serbs during WWII. I guess the argument could be made that there were far too many Albanians, but they didn’t even speak Serbian, while the Bosnians did. The Serbs and Bosnians are the same ethnicity, it does confuse me as to why there was so much animosity between them.
- Were Catholics persecuted in a similar manner by the Serbians?
- How did the Serbian Nationalists convince anyone that they were victims of genocide by the Albanians and under threat of genocide by Croats?
- Throughout many of the genocides we’ve studied, the group that is attacked is usually a group with some sort of power (either economic or political,) but it seems like the Bosnians didn’t really have that kind of power, why did the Serbs go after the Bosnians?
David Chandler’s book Brother Number One is an attempt to create a biography of the life of Saloth Sar, also known as Pol Pot. This turned out to be a difficult feat, since there aren’t a lot of accounts of his life. Pol Pot to shy away from fame, making it difficult to even determine who he was before the revolution until after he was removed from power. The thing that fascinated me the most about his life was that he never seemed to me very exceptional. I spent the entire reading trying to figure out why this man was chosen to lead the CPK. He wasn’t a great student. Although liked by his students as a teacher, he was never portrayed as a force of personality. He was extremely committed to the communist party, but I doubt that only a good work effort is enough to really elevate you to one of the highest positions of a political party. That kind of position requires a kind of charisma, something that makes them unique, which never becomes apparent in the book.
This might be because there are so few sources about the life of Pol Pot. I also found this weird. For someone born in the 20th century with family connections to the royal family to have such few records seems odd to me, even if he was living in Cambodia.
- Why did Saloth Sar choose Pol Pot as an alias? What is the significance of the name?
- Why do we know so little about Saloth Sar? He lived during the 20th Century and had a fairly privileged life. Why are there so few records of him?
- How did Pol Pot become the head of the CPK? Most accounts describe him as average, what made him unique enough to become the head of the communist party?