In relation to that war, the cables give insight into some of the tactics employed by the Vietnamese to topple the Khmer Rouge, including allegedly training up Cambodians to operate as subversives in their homeland. They also reported the Khmer Rouge assertion that the murder of British academic and Khmer Rouge sympathiser Malcolm Caldwell during a trip to Cambodia was perpetrated by infiltrating enemy agents. Elsewhere in the cable, they relayed reports that the killers had been dressed differently from most cadres, and noted that, at the very least, the killing would be great propaganda for the Vietnamese.
“That such an incident took place in their presumably heavily guarded compound in Phnom Penh will be a propaganda coup for the Vietnamese, who have been harping for months on how insecure the Pol Pot government is,” reads a cable from the China US Liason Office to the State Department on December 23, the day of Caldwell’s death. —- “[Chinese foreign minister] Huang Hua noted that having defeated the US and acquired large quantities of US arms, the Vietnamese had ‘swollen heads’, and that they have long harbored plans for an Indochinese Federation,” reads a cable from the US Embassy in Malaysia to the State Department on April 27, sent after a meeting with a member of a Swedish government delegation that had just visited China.
Khmer Rouge senior defence personnel look at a map during the 1970s. Cables from the State Department released on WikiLeaks earlier this week outline the US’s reluctant backing of the brutal Pol Pot regime. AFP
A trove of more than 500,000 US diplomatic cables from 1978 released by WikiLeaks on Wednesday includes hundreds that paint a vivid picture of a US administration torn between revulsion at the brutality of Pol Pot’s government and fear of Vietnamese influence should it collapse.
“We believe a national Cambodia must exist even though we believe the Pol Pot regime is the world’s worst violator of human rights,” reads a cable sent by the State Department to six US embassies in Asia on October 11, 1978. “We cannot support [the] Pol Pot government, but an independent Kampuchea must exist.”
Sophal Ear at Occidental College in California compares Cambodian politics to a game of cat-and-mouse “where only the mouse changes”.
But the cat still has to run for re-election, and the next one, which Mr Hun Sen and Mr Sam Rainsy both say they will contest, already looms. Mr Hun Sen is 62 years old, and has said that he intends to rule until he is 74. Yet Cambodia’s young electorate is tired of decades of corruption and thuggish rule. Even with all the resources at its disposal, the CPP may not win the next election outright and deals may need to be cut. Prince Norodom Ranariddh, who heads Funcinpec, also says he plans to run but, given his party’s abysmal showing in 2013, he offers the prime minister little. Mr Kem Sokha’s frequent and unflinching criticisms of the prime minister render him an unlikely partner. That leaves Mr Sam Rainsy as the most appealing choice.
Politics in Cambodia
The faithful couple
An unlikely rapprochement after a long stand-off
Hun Sen (left) with Sam Rainsy: their new silken road
AFTER Hun Sen bet $5,000 on Manny Pacquiao defeating Floyd Mayweather in boxing’s “fight of the century”, the Cambodian prime minister refused to pay up, arguing that the Philippine hero did not deserve to lose to Mr Mayweather on points. So far, so usual for Cambodia’s strongman: boxing is just like an election, really, only less violent. The opposition has long claimed that Mr Hun Sen’s ruling party stole the last election, and there has been blood on the streets since.
So what to make of the unusual: the recent spectacle of Sam Rainsy, the opposition leader, consorting with Mr Hun Sen, his nemesis who has ruled Cambodia for 30 years and who drove Mr Sam Rainsy into exile for the better part of a decade?
Mr Sam Rainsy’s Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) had been in a stand-off with Mr Hun Sen’s Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) since the election in 2013. A parliamentary boycott and a series of street protests followed, as well as a violent government crackdown on dissidents. An uneasy truce was negotiated last July. Yet last month, in plain view near the temples of Angkor Wat, here were Mr Sam Rainsy and Mr Hun Sen celebrating the Cambodian new year together along with their wives, chatting amicably to locals.
So far as Mr Sam Rainsy is concerned, there is now sweetness and light. “I used to hate Hun Sen,” he says. “But then it came to my mind that I should not hate anyone as a human. I should only hate and combat any bad crimes that a person has committed.” Mr Hun Sen has had an epiphany too: he and Mr Sam Rainsy “must stay together because, at the very least, we have the same Cambodian blood.”
This part, the author Mr. Sophan Seng, interestingly described the trend of “Culture of Dialogue” vs. “Culture of MAD Politics”. MAD is derived from “Mutually Assured Destruction”.
Historically significant, the WWI and WWII as well as the Cold War, the world faced destruction from military confrontations and MAD tactics. But by realizing such destructive behavior, each party sit down to face up through verbal communication, not weaponry confrontation any more.
This new embracing to dialogue is called “Enlightened Era”.
Cambodia was not exceptional in receiving and being ruined by this confrontational approach or MAD politics. But while the world had resumed MAD politics, Cambodia was still having aura of MAD politics from the world. Cambodia was engaging in civil war, killing and atrocity, and foreign occupation etc.
Though the UNs came to help setting up and monitoring the election and crafting democracy for this country, the leaders have failed this country shamefully.
But the election result on 2013 is the turning-point for Cambodia has been emerged.