By R.J. Rummel
Published in The Wall Street Journal (July 7, 1986)
The international community was outraged at the American attempt to militarily prevent North Vietnam from taking over South Vietnam and ultimately Laos and Cambodia. “Stop the killing” was the cry, and eventually, the pressure of foreign and domestic opposition forced an American withdrawal. The overall number killed in the Vietnam War on all sides was about 1,216,000 people.
With the United States subsequently refusing them even modest military aid, South Vietnam was militarily defeated by the North and completely swallowed; and Cambodia was taken over by the communist Khmer Rouge, who in trying to recreate a primitive communist agricultural society slaughtered from one to three million Cambodians. If we take a middle two-million as the best estimate, then in four years the government of this small nation of seven million alone killed 64 percent more people than died in the ten-year Vietnam War.
Overall, the best estimate of those killed after the Vietnam War by the victorious communists in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia is 2,270,000. Now totaling almost twice as many as died in the Vietnam War, this communist killing still continues.
To view this double standard from another perspective, both World Wars cost twenty-four million battle deaths. But from 1918 to 1953, the Soviet government executed, slaughtered, starved, beat or tortured to death, or otherwise killed 39,500,000 of its own people (my best estimate among figures ranging from a minimum of twenty million killed by Stalin to a total over the whole communist period of eighty-three million). For China under Mao Tse-tung, the communist government eliminated, as an average figure between estimates, 45,000,000 Chinese. The number killed for just these two nations is about 84,500,000 human beings, or a lethality of 252 percent more than both World Wars together. Yet, have the world community and intellectuals generally shown anything like the same horror, the same outrage, the same out pouring of anti-killing literature, over these Soviet and Chinese megakillings as has been directed at the much less deadly World Wars?