(Re: "King Sihanouk and the US invovlement in Vietnam", by the King's official
biographer, Julio Jeldres, King's Birthday Commemorative Edition, Phnom Penh Post,
Oct 20-Nov 2).
When all else fails, lash out at a "super-power", preferably one in the
West, typically the U.S. This is a well-known tactic usually exercised to deflect
attention from present or pending domestic political stratification or when engaging
in allegorical "sandbagging" and historical revisionism.
To deny the funneling of supplies to the Vietcong and NVA is no more credible than
the cover that was created to shield the so-called "secret war" in Laos.
Cambodia did the former, the U.S. did the latter. In the case of Cambodia, the couriers
were the trucks of the Haklee company of the Peoples' Republic of China; in Laos,
it was the not-so-clandestine Air America.
And while the arms were flowing in from the south, rice was in transit across the
north of the country, from Battambang to the border areas with South Vietnam where
the Vietcong and North Vietnamese Army were said to be paying a higher price for
the rice than the government. Rather than negotiation, what followed was the 1967
incident in the Samlaut area.
As for the Americans being "out of place" in regards to U.S. involvement
in the "civil wars" in the region, that opinion was by no means the blanket
consensus in Southeast Asia. For one, Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Kwan Yew, in
an interview with Sir Robert Thompson, stated that "American involvement had
given Southeast Asia ten years breathing space to put its act together."
Corrupt? The South Vietnamese government? Yes, and there is reason to believe that
corruption also found a home in Phnom Penh, Vientiane, and Hanoi. So too, corruption
existed in one form or another in the halls of government in Washington, Moscow,
and Beijing. It is obvious that corruption was not bred by the war, nor was it a
To foist the suggestion that the U.S. was responsible for "opening the doors"
to communism is to verge on historical hallucination. Some have suggested that one
source of foment for that Communist push in Cambodia goes as far back as the incidents
surrounding the auto-coup of June 1952 and the subsequent five years of chaos. The
constitutional ground-work done by Prince Sisowath Youthevong was sullied. Political
reform in the wake of World War II and independence from France was to become a victim
of "infanticide" of internal origins. The writings of Say Bory stand as
sobering testimony and prophecy.
It is apparent that it was proper to accept Communist aid in the late 50's through
the mid 60's, as Soviet and Communist Chinese expertise was sought and received without
concern for the possibility of attendant influence.
Historical essayists from all perspectives of the years of conflict in Southeast
Asia sometimes border on crossing the line into the realm of speculation, perhaps
not on purpose, but rather because the times were so complex and complicated, just
like the personalities involved.
It is written that the Lord Buddha himself stated something to the effect that: "Never
is a man or deed wholly Samsara or wholly Nirvana: never is a man wholly a Saint
To cast the United States in the role as "midwife" to all of Cambodia's
problems in the past 40 years is a charade. However, if doing so serves as an avenue
of catharsis for some, so be it. Sociologists will suggest that some of the most
resilient relationships pass through occasional periods of turbulence, no doubt Cambodia
and the U.S. have travelled that route. Hopefully, the future will see less castigation,
and more conciliation, as this has been frequently espoused as a necessary basis
for the recovery of Cambodia.
And for the record, I am no one's "official" anything.
- Jim Yost, Texas, USA