Motives Behind the Vietnamese Occupation

Posted by: | Posted on: January 1, 2012

Note: this article is distributed by Dr. Naranhkiri Tith. It is important for us to read some academic paper in creating critical thinking about the fact of January 7, 1979.

Motives Behind the Vietnamese Occupation
Cambodia: A Nation in Turmoil; by Marc Leepson,
(Editorial Research Reports: Congressional Quarterly Inc., Washington, D.C. April 5,
   1985)

Western analysts disagree about the exact reasons behind Vietnam’s occupation of
Cambodia and its goals in that country. But there is near unanimous
agreement in the West that the reasons put forward by Vietnam are, in the
words of former U.S. Representative to the United Nations Jeane J.
Kirkpatrick, “a transparent deception.” 3 Vietnam’s Prime Minister Pham Van Dong,
in an interview published last year in Newsweek magazine, said his
government “could not stand by in good conscience and watch the Pol Pot
clique butcher millions of innocent Kampucheans in cold blood.”4 The
   evidence shows, however, that Vietnam knew of the Khmer Rouge terror for
   years prior to the invasion. “Hanoi showed not the slightest concern for the
fate of the Cambodian people while most of the killing was actually going
on,” Morris said. “On the contrary, Vietnamese Communist Party and
government statements were lush in their praise of Pol Pot and his regime.”
5

Some believe that Vietnam invaded Cambodia because it felt threatened by an
aggressive and unfriendly Khmer Rouge government, which launched raids into
Vietnam late in 1978. “The first thing that drives the Vietnamese is their
own security concerns,” said Linda Hiebert, co-director of the Center for
International Policy’s Indochina Project.6 “They would like to see a very
close relationship between the three countries of Indochina [Cambodia, Laos
and Vietnam! because that will maintain security on many levels – military,
economic, et cetera.” Arnold Isaacs, author of Without Honor: Defeat in
Vietnam and Cambodia (1983), agreed. “What is uppermost in the Vietnamese
minds is their own security,” said Isaacs, who was a war correspondent for
the Baltimore Sun in Indochina in 1972-75 “They feel they should be the
dominant power in the region and … the governments of Laos and Cambodia
should be friendly and not a threat….”


There  may be another factor behind the invasion: Vietnam’s desire to rid Cambodia
of a government that was closely aligned with Vietnam’s longtime enemy,
China. “The major national security concerns of Vietnam’s present leadership
are to successfully weather Chinese pressures and to consolidate all the
nations of Indochina into an alliance structure, said Southeast Asia expert
Carlyle A. Thayer.7 Stanley Karnow, a journal 1st and former Vietnam war
correspondent, agreed with that assessment. The “real reason” behind the
invasion, Karnow wrote in Vietnam: A History, was Vietnam’s “concern that
Pol Pot’s forces, underwritten by China, intended to embark on a campaign to
annex the Mekong Delta and other parts of Vietnam that had formally belonged
to the Cambodian empire; ‘When we look at Cambodia,’ a Vietnamese official
in Hanoi told me, ‘we see China, China, China.'”8

Some analysts dismiss this argument. Despite centuries of antagonism between the
   two countries, they note, China was a strong supporter of Vietnam in its
   wars against France, the United States and South Vietnam. “Without the
Chinese the Vietnamese probably couldn’t have ‘won’ the war against the
United States,” one expert who asked not to be identified told Editorial
Research Reports. “That nullifies allegations that the Chinese represent a
threat to the Vietnamese.” China stopped sending military aid to the
Vietnamese communists when they defeated South Vietnam in 1975, but
continued to support Vietnam economically until June 1978 when Vietnam
joined COMECON, the Soviet-dominated Council for Mutual economic
Assistance.

 Colonization Debate; Question of Thailand

There is some evidence that Vietnam’s long-range goal is to colonize Cambodia to
subjugate the Khmer people. Journalist Jack Wheeler, who visited Thailand
and Cambodia in July 1964, said that some 700,000 Vietnamese farmers,
fishermen, merchants, technicians, mechanics and others have been brought
into Cambodia as settlers since the 1978 invasion. The settlers, Wheeler
said, have “appropriated much of the best land” and gained control over
commercial fishing operations in the Tonle Sap (the Great Lake), a large and
bountiful fishing ground in the center of the country.11 A significant number of jobs in urban areas have been taken by Vietnamese settlers, many of whom do not speak the Khmer language.
“At least half the people in Phnom Penh who do mechanical work and the
trades … are Vietnamese,” a Cambodian analyst told Editorial Research
Reports. “The Vietnamese have taught Cambodians the Vietnamese language. So
colonization is real, no question about that….”

Vietnam claims that the settlers are former Vietnamese residents of Cambodia who
fled that nation during the period of anti-Vietnamese sentiment in the 1960s
and 1970s. But that appears to tell only part of the story. The settlers
include “what they call ‘Old Vietnamese’ ‹people who lived there before the
Pol Pot era …,” said Linda Hiebert. But there also are “New Vietnamese,”
who have not previously lived in Cambodia. “These people are young ‹often
draft resistors from Ho Chi Minh City [formerly Saigon] ‹or people who
simply find it much easier to make a living being small entrepreneurs inside
Cambodia,” Hiebert said. “There are apparently more restrictions on that
kind of activity in Vietnam than in Cambodia.” Hiebert, who visited Vietnam
and Cambodia in 1984, does not believe that Vietnam is out to colonize
Cambodia.

Vietnam’s long-term goals also might involve Thailand, a staunch U.S. ally that
basically has escaped the last four decades of war and turmoil in
neighboring Indochina. Some believe that if conditions were ripe ‹ if
Thailand were politically and socially unstable, for example, or if Thai
communist rebels gained popular support ‹ then Vietnam might move against
Thailand. “I don’t think [Vietnam] has an imminent intention of invading
Thailand,” said Rep. Stephen J. Solarz, D-N.Y., chairman of the House
Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asian and Pacific Affairs. “But I would not
preclude the possibility that if [the Vietnamese] could consolidate their
position in Cambodia, they would then attempt to support communist
revolutionary forces in Thailand, particularly in the provinces adjacent to
Laos that might, with assistance, have a better prospect of
succeeding.”

Morris believes that Vietnamese nationalism is traditionally expansionist and that “communist revolutionary values” shape Vietnam’s foreign policy. Still, he said, it is unlikely the Vietnamese would try to take Thai territory because
“the Vietnamese army, occupying Laos as well as Cambodia, and pinned down by
China to the north, cannot escalate much further.”12 Then, too, Thailand has a security treaty with the United  States. Any large-scale Vietnamese movement into Thailand risks war with this country, as well as with China, which has said it would fight to stop
Vietnamese expansion outside Indochina.

Finally, there are historic factors that buttress the argument that Vietnam has no
interest in expanding its influence beyond Laos and Cambodia. Vietnam’s
domination of Cambodia and Laos, Allan Goodman said, “is much more
consistent historically with what the Vietnamese have seen as their
patrimony and their sphere of influence, and is not an ‘opening wedge’ in an
effort to export their revolution throughout Southeast Asia. They own
Indochina and they want to make sure they do.”

____________________________________

3. Statement
before the U.N. General Assembly, Oct. 30, 1984. Kirkpatrick resigned her post
effective March 31.

4. Quoted
in Newsweek, May 14, 1984, p.
40.

5. Morris,
op. cit., p. 76.

6. The
Washington-based Center for
International Policy is a non-profit education and research organization
concerned with US policy in the Third World

7. Carlyle
A. Thayer, “Vietnamese Perspective
in International Security” (1984) p.72

8. Stanley
Karnow, Vietnam: A History (1983), p. 45.

9. Morris,
op. cit., p. 77.

10. China
which supplied the Khmer Rouge rebels with much of their military needs, has
warned that the latest Vietnamese offensive in Cambodia could bring about a
second Chinese lesson,” but many Western analysts are skeptical that this
will take place

11. Jack Wheeler, “The Khmer in Cambodia,” Reason, February 1985, p. 28.

12. Morris, op. cit., p. 82

Source:
Cambodia: A Nation in Turmoil; by Marc Leepson, (Editorial Research
Reports: Congressional Quarterly Inc., Washington, D.C. April 5,
1985)

—————————————————————————————–
Excerpt from a book titled “Following Ho Chi Minh: Memoirs of a Vietnamese Colonel”
(Bui Tin; University of Hawaii Press; Honolulu, Hawaii, Paperback edition,
1999)

(Comments: colonel Buu Tin, whom I met several times here, at the American Enterprise Institute,
in Washington DC, was a colonel and the editorial board for the North Vietnamese Communist Party newspaper “Quan Doi Nhan Dan” in Hanoi, North Vietnam.

He came in with the  invading Vietnamese forces in December 25, 1978 and stayed in Cambodia for
three years. Then in the early 1990, he defected to the West and now resides
in Paris. He was the Deputy Editor for the Vietnamese Communist party
newspaper “Quan Doi Nhan Dan.” Interestingly enough, he
said that one of the reasons for his defection was his opposition to Vietnam
occupation of Cambodia. He said that had Vietnam turned Cambodia to the
United Nations after the invasion, then it would have been politically
correct for Vietnam to have invaded Cambodia.

Here is what Bui Tin had to say about Pen Sovann and other Khmer Viet Minh who were under
Vietnamese control. Naranhkiri Tith Ph.D. Washington DC. December 8, 2011)

————————————————–
Extracts from Nui Tin’s book, pages 122-23;

“From the Khmer Rouge documents that I found, it was possible to
study their genocidal policy. In reality it was much more cruel and lethal
than that carried out by the Nazis during the Second World War. But it was
beautifully cloaked under the form of Communism, pure Communism, the purest
form of Communism, with a regime that was absolute because it was led by a
Communist party that was clear-sighted, in fact so clear-sighted that it was
a model for all other Communist parties throughout the world, so it was
claimed.

Khmer Rouge rhetoric actually created quite an impression because it
kept on repeating adjectives. But in reality it was carrying out a Cultural
Revolution along Chinese lines which was even more thorough and widespread
and offered no compromise. The Cambodian leadership were absolutely
self-confident that they could look after ‘their own house’ when the rest of
the world shut the door on it.

Consequently I approved of our policy of attacking and liberating
Cambodia. We had a right to defend our country against Khmer Rouge
atrocities. At the same time, it was an emergency operation to rescue a
whole people who were being reduced to misery and gradually killed off.
Senator McGovern of the United States had previously called for military
action to save the Cambodian people from being massacred but nobody
responded. Then when the Vietnamese moved in, maintaining strict discipline,
enduring hardship, bringing with them rice, salt, meat and vegetables,
stationing troops out in the jungle, sharing food, clothes and medicine with
the people of a neighbouring country, we received a lot of gratitude and
respect. Clearly it was a very magnanimous action.

This feeling would have lasted much longer if we had not subsequently
committed many mistakes. One was that we remained in Cambodia far too long.
I believe we should have withdrawn much sooner and unconditionally. After
the liberation of Cambodia, the disease of subjective arrogance took over
again. Within the Party, it was explained that we were carrying out our
international proletarian duty in strengthening the Revolution and expanding
it to other countries. But among the people it was regarded as the
equivalent of inviting oneself into a house belonging to somebody else.

‘After the liberation of Cambodia, the disease of subjective arrogance took over again. Within the
Party, it was explained that we were carrying out our international
proletarian duty in strengthening the Revolution and expanding it to other
countries. But, among the people it was regarded as the equivalent of
inviting oneself into a house belonging to somebody else.

The person primarily responsible for our policy towards Cambodia was Le Duc Tho. He had been
assigned by the Politburo to oversee in liberation and the construction of
its new Party and state apparatus. Even before our forces reached Phnom
Penh, he presided over a meeting held near Snuol in what is known as the
Fish Hook area of the border to set up a Cambodian government to replace
that by Pol Pot. Among those he chose was Pen Sovan who became
Minister of Defence and was later emerged as General Secretary of the
Cambodian Communist Party. His appointment came a little surprise to many
Cambodians because for several decades he had been a broadcaster
with the Voice of Vietnam as head of the Khmer language service. Then there was Chan Si who was also a member of the Vietnamese Communist Party.

Le Duc Tho usually lived in a villa behind Chamcar Mon, the royal palace on
the bank of the Mekong in Phnom Penh, and often convened meetings of key
cadres including the Cambodian Party General Secretary, the Prime Minister
and his cabinet. I once saw him talk to a group of Cambodian leaders
at the palace during 1981 and again in Thau Duc at the beginning of
1982. Had I not been personally present, I would never have
believed such scenes were possible. They all quivered with fear when Le Duc
Tho scolded them very outspokenly as if they were naughty children. I just
sat and listened to the speech, hoping that the interpreter was
mistranslating and softening its meaning, otherwise it would have been
appalling for the audience.

‘You comrades must study assiduously. You must work seriously. You
have to polish up your morals as Communist officials in order to be worthy
of the faith placed in us and the Revolution. You have to understand that
cadres must be carefully chosen and anybody who shows weakness will be
replaced. As for alcohol, you can drink but not too much. And for any
comrade to allow his wife to lead him by the nose to go trading is
impermissible.’

The removal of Pen Sovan from his position as Party General
Secretary and Minister of Defence in 1981, was also the work of Le Duc Tho.
Tho acting together with General Le Ducc Anh. On their recoomendation, the
Politburo in Hanoi accepted an ‘appeal’ from several members of the
Cambodian communist Party. The Cambodian people had nothing to do with the
rise and fall of Pen Sovan.

According to a Vietnamese adviser in charge of training Cambodian
cadres, Pen Sovan sometimes opposed Vietnam and sometimes his own Party. He
also expressed dissatisfaction with his lack of power as Party General
Secretary and the way his military authority was ignored by General Le Duc
Anh. Such an attitude was intolerable in the eyes of our leadership, so Pen
Sovan was taken back to Vietnam to spend the next ten years under house
arrest near Hanoi. He was only released and allowed to return to Cambodia
after the Vietnamese forces withdrew and the United Nations took over
responsibility for the country.
According to a Vietnamese adviser in charge of training Cambodian
cadres, Pen Sovan sometimes opposed Vietnam and sometimes his own Party. He
also expressed dissatisfaction with his lack of power as Party General
Secretary and the way his military authority was ignored by General Le Duc
Anh. Such an attitude was intolerable in the eyes of our leadership, so Pen
Sovan was taken back to Vietnam to spend the next ten years under house
arrest near Hanoi. He was only released and allowed to return to Cambodia
after the Vietnamese forces withdrew and the United Nations took over
responsibility for the country.”