It seems to debt is too old to be forgotten — not by the federal government, anyway. Now, fifty years after the US helped bomb the Cambodian countryside, Washington wants their money back.
Half a century after United States B-52 bombers dropped more than 500,000 tonnes of explosives on Cambodia's countryside Washington wants the country to repay a $US500 million ($662 million) war debt.
The demand has prompted expressions of indignation and outrage from Cambodia's capital, Phnom Penh.
Over 200 nights in 1973 alone, 257,456 tons of explosives fell in secret carpet-bombing sweeps – half as many as were dropped on Japan during the Second World War.
The pilots flew at such great heights they were incapable of discriminating between a Cambodian village and their targets, North Vietnamese supply lines – nicknamed the “Ho Chi Minh Trail.”
The bombs were of such massive tonnage they blew out eardrums of anyone standing within a 1-kilometre radius.
War correspondent James Pringle was two kilometres away from a B-52 strike near Cambodia's border.
“It felt like the world was coming to an end,” he recalls.
According to one genocide researcher, up to 500,000 Cambodians were killed, many of them children.
The bombings drove hundreds of thousands of ordinary Cambodians into the arms of the Khmer Rouge, an ultra-Marxist
The bombings drove hundreds of thousands of ordinary Cambodians into the arms of the Khmer Rouge, an ultra-Marxist organisation which seized power in 1975 and over the next four years presided over the deaths of more than almost two million people through starvation disease and execution.
The debt started out as a US$274 million loan mostly for food supplies to the then US-backed Lon Nol government but has almost doubled over the years as Cambodia refused to enter into a re-payment program.
It seems Trump was serious about other countries paying for their own defense. Even half-century-old disputes are on the table as the administration looks to lower its investment in foreign wars and securities.
Photo of Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen: Wikicommons