George W. Bush and Genocide

Visit to Tuol Sleng: Khmer Rouge Genocide Museum

Nov 4th, 2004: George W. Bush “Wins” His Second Term of Presidency

It was the fourth of November 2004 and we were making our way through the narrow vibrant pathways of the Central Market in Phnom Penh. We were looking for the food court section planning to try out local Khmer breakfast. We stumbled out of the produce section with a couple of staple items — peanuts and longuns (the longuns in Cambodia are small but especially juicy, tasty and cheap) and found ourselves walking down a long row of butchers. Each stall had a different type of meat. Slabs of freshly cut pork ribs hung in one stand. The next displayed huge cow livers and other offals. Plucked chickens dangled above an arrangement of chicken feet across the way.

Arriving at the end of butcher’s row we passed through the central heart of the market from which its branches spoked out. This section was well lit. It gleamed and sparkled with the gold and gems sold at the stalls in that area. We passed into another branch and arrived at the food court.

We were newly arrived in Phnom Penh and had not had a chance to sample Khmer breakfast, so we explored the section to see what sort of fare was being served. It seemed to be mostly a basis of noodle broth soup with several variations. Neither of us particularly wanted soup that morning. Luckily, in the far corner was a fried noodle and rice station. We sat down and had a familiar meal instead of getting too adventurous. I found a drink stand and somehow ordered an ice-coffee that was pure condensed milk and took it back to my noodles in a take-away bag with a straw.

We were just settling down to our food when a young lad approached us selling newspapers. Today was his lucky day. George Bush had just “won” the U.S. presidential election, making it impossible to refuse to buy a paper. There on the front of The Cambodia Daily the long reach of U.S. politics smiled triumphantly out at us in the form of George W. Bush. We glanced over the article and finished off our noodles, wondering what the next four years were going to bring.

The Cambodia Daily