A new ‘Trump Doctrine’ could start with Cambodia

This is not a paper “war game.” America’s military has already considered this hypothetical, and has bombed its enemies on Cambodian soil once before. This time the objective would be to remove China’s military from Southeast Asia, and more broadly the Indo-Pacific, which includes the South China Sea. A collateral effect of bombing Cambodia could be changes in power which non-violent measures, like sanctions, could not effect. America would “kill two birds with one stone.”

នេះមិនមែនជាសំណេរហ្គេមសង្រ្គាមទេ។ ទ័ពអាមេរិកធ្លាប់ពិចារណាលើការសន្និដ្ឋាននេះ ហើយបានទំលាក់គ្រាប់បែកទៅលើសត្រូវរបស់ខ្លួននៅលើទឹកដីកម្ពុជាម្តងពីមុន។ ពេលនេះ គោលបំណងគឺដើម្បីរំលាយទ័ពចិនចេញពីតំបន់អាស៊ីអាគ្នេយ៌ ដែលរួមបច្ចូលទាំងមហាសមុទ្រចិនខាងត្បូង។ ផលពីទង្វើនៃការទំលាក់គ្រាប់បែកលើទឹកដីកម្ពុជាអាចធ្វើអោយមានការផ្លាស់ប្តូរប៉ូលអំណាច នៅពេលដែលវិធានការអហឹង្សានានាដូចជាការដាក់ទណ្ឌកម្មគ្មានប្រសិទ្ធិភាព។ អាមេរិកនឹងសំឡាប់បានសត្វពីរព្រួញមួយពេលនេះ។

A new ‘Trump Doctrine’ could start with Cambodia

Christopher Beres

Op-Ed: Asia Time, By CHRISTOPHER BERES

Picture this: Somewhere in the South China Sea, which China claims as its own, a Chinese warship confronts a Philippine warship or, maybe it’s vice versa, and shots are exchanged. It doesn’t matter which warship fired first. The fight is on and the Philippines’ warship is soon joined by American warships that come to the aid of their treaty ally. China marshals its resources, calling more of its warships to join the fight.

China’s military, which has clandestine facilities in Cambodia, ostensibly for the “repair and maintenance of its warships and jet fighters,” is ready to perform its support functions. The Chinese have prepared for this eventuality, but so too have the Americans. Rather than bomb mainland China, which could escalate the territorial dispute into a world war, America bombs China’s military facilities in Cambodia and, while at the task, bombs Cambodia’s military facilities as well. After all, Cambodia is not merely China’s friend, it’s China’s military ally.

This is not a paper “war game.” America’s military has already considered this hypothetical, and has bombed its enemies on Cambodian soil once before. This time the objective would be to remove China’s military from Southeast Asia, and more broadly the Indo-Pacific, which includes the South China Sea. A collateral effect of bombing Cambodia could be changes in power which non-violent measures, like sanctions, could not effect. America would “kill two birds with one stone.”

Reality is also fraught with peril. The US is engaged in a cold war with China. China is militarizing the South China Sea. Cambodia supports China’s claims to the South China Sea. The US believes Cambodia will permit China to position troops on its territory. China provides Cambodia with nearly all of its military assistance and small arms. Cambodia has had little choice but to engage China because of the historical threat and domestically unpopular land grabs from Vietnam to its east. The Philippines’ admiralty would also like to drag the US into a fight with China. America views China as a threat to the post-World War II status quo in Asia in which the US has heretofore been pre-eminent.

And while the Cambodian government has many US-educated leaders who could be pro-US, America has not played this card to improve its relationship with Cambodia, apparently having embarked on a course of non-violent measures to punish Cambodia.

Cambodia has been unfairly subject to a punitive US foreign policy for a long time. However, America’s policy could become more interventionist in order to counter China’s possible militarization of Cambodia

Cambodia has been unfairly subject to a punitive US foreign policy for a long time. However, America’s policy could become more interventionist in order to counter China’s possible militarization of Cambodia.

The US should engage with Cambodia as an ally, do business with it, and try to influence its actions with respect to China. The carrot is better than a stick that has not worked.

The US Congress’ current policy seeks to sanction Cambodia’s leaders, to deny Cambodia access to loans from international financial institutions, to withdraw Cambodia’s trade preferences, and to elevate a defunct opposition party to the status of the legitimate government of Cambodia. President Donald Trump has appointed a new ambassador to Cambodia whose self-professed mission is to promote democracy and human rights and work with Congress to punish Cambodia. In this context, America is in effect not willing to work with the long-standing de jure government in Phnom Penh.

Unfortunately, the United States’ experience with China over the last 30 years since Deng Xiaoping’s gaige kaifang (the “Four Modernizations”) has been that  over time with economic development China has not become more open but more closed and militaristic. Cambodia is open and democratic and needs friendship from a democratic partner in the West.

America’s real objective in Cambodia is not a secret and has nothing to do with freeing Kem Sokha or reviving the Cambodia National Rescue Party; rather, it is to contain China to protect America’s legitimate national-security interests. Certainly, Cambodia also has its own national-security interests to protect vis-a-vis China.

It is in both America’s and Cambodia’s best interest to negotiate a deal to contain China.

As a gesture of goodwill, the US might consider forgiving Cambodia’s war debt, which totals around US$500 million, in the amount of $50 million for every year over the next 10 years. The cost to America’s national security should China gain a military foothold in Cambodia would be much greater than $500 million.

As for Cambodia, it must know that the US is a better strategic ally than China, one that does not have the same “hidden agenda.”

A new “Trump Doctrine” for Cambodia and other parts of Southeast Asia would enable the US president to apply “the art of the deal” to disrupting the current unsuccessful US policy in the region. The Trump Doctrine would extend the Monroe Doctrine to be “the doctrine of the world” and “upset the applecart” of the failed policies of the past. As with his bipartisan consensus trade policy toward China, the goal would be to end China’s aggression in the region permanently.Asia Times is not responsible for the opinions, facts or any media content presented by contributors. In case of abuse, click here to report.

Christopher Beres

CHRISTOPHER BERES

Christopher Beres is a lawyer who has represented Cambodia in international litigation. He holds a master’s degree in East Asian Studies from the University of Pennsylvania.

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nullការ​សាងសង់​អាកាស​យាន្ដដ្ឋាន​អន្តរជាតិ​មួយ​ដោយ​ក្រុមហ៊ុន​ចិន​ក្នុង​តំបន់​តារា​សាគរ​បង្កើត​ឱ្យ​មាន​ការ​ព្រួយ​បារម្ភ​

21 កញ្ញា 2019


រូបឯកសារ៖ ការដ្ឋាន​សាង​សង់​ព្រលាន​យន្ត​ហោះ​​ដែល​អភិវឌ្ឍ​ដោយ​ក្រុម​ហ៊ុន Union Development Group នៅ​បទុម​សាគរ ខេត្ត​កោះ​កុង កាល​ពី​ខែ​​ឧសភា ២០១៨។
រូបឯកសារ៖ ការដ្ឋាន​សាង​សង់​ព្រលាន​យន្ត​ហោះ​​ដែល​អភិវឌ្ឍ​ដោយ​ក្រុម​ហ៊ុន Union Development Group នៅ​បទុម​សាគរ ខេត្ត​កោះ​កុង កាល​ពី​ខែ​​ឧសភា ២០១៨។

គោលបំណង​របស់​ក្រុមហ៊ុន​នេះ គឺ​សាងសង់​ទីក្រុង​ដ៏​ធំថ្មី​មួយ​របស់​កម្ពុជា​នៅ​ទីនេះ ដោយ​មាន​ទីក្រុង​លំហែកាយ​ជាប់​ឆ្នេរ​សមុទ្រ សណ្ឋាគារ​ប្រណិតៗ និង​ផ្ទះ​វីឡា សួន​ឧស្សាហ៍កម្ម ស្ថានីយ​ថាមពល រោងចក្រ​ចម្រាញ់​ទឹក​ស្អាត និង​អាគារ​សុខាភិបាល​ជាដើម។ខេត្ត​កោះកុង — 

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Cambodia’s king a ‘prisoner’ in his palace

His control extends over the palace. The king is surrounded by the government’s watchdogs, overseen by Minister of Royal Affairs Kong Som Ol, an official close to Hun Sen. Sihamoni is closely chaperoned on his few trips outside palace walls, with the media kept away. Although the constitution endows him with considerable powers, these have never been granted.

ការក្តោបអំណាចរបស់គាត់គ្រោបសង្កត់ទៅដល់ព្រះបរមរាជវាំង។ ព្រះមហាក្សត្រត្រូវបានព័ទ្ធជុំដោយកំឡាំងឃ្លាំមើលរបស់រដ្ឋាភិបាលដែលដឹកនាំដោយមនុស្សជិតស្និទ្ធបំផុតរបស់លោកហ៊ុនសែនគឺគង់សំអុល។ សម្តេចសីហមុនីត្រូវបានហែរហមជូនដំណើរទៅក្រៅរបងវាំងម្តងម្កាលយ៉ាងតឹងរឹងដោយគ្មានសារព៌តមានណាមកជិតឡើយ។ ទោះបីរដ្ឋធម្មនុញ្ញទទួលស្គាល់សិទ្ធិអំណាអោយព្រះអង្គក្នុងកំរិតមួយខ្លាំងក៏ដោយ ក៏អំណាចទាំងនោះមិនដែលត្រូវបានប្រគល់អោយព្រះអង្គឡើយ។

===

Cambodia’s king a ‘prisoner’ in his palace

By DENIS D. GRAYThe Associated Press

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — As the sun sets and the last tourist departs his vast, fairy-tale palace, the gentle, dignified man is left almost alone with memories of happier times, before he became the reluctant king of Cambodia — and perhaps its last.

King Norodom Sihamoni may be heir to a royal line trailing back some 2,000 years, but he always seemed more suited to the arts scene in Europe, where he was a ballet dancer, than the rough and tumble politics of his homeland. Now, close aides and experts say, he has become figuratively, and more, a prisoner in his own palace.

The chief warden: Prime Minister Hun Sen, who rose from a poor rural background to become a brilliant and crafty, some say ruthless, politician.

Hun Sen consolidated power in a 1997 coup as Cambodia slowly emerged from being dragged into the Vietnam War and its own civil war. While the country is nominally democratic, he uses all the machinery of government to lock up critics and ensure his re-election. Human rights groups allege that he and his business friends are enriching themselves, while most of the population remains mired in poverty.

His control extends over the palace. The king is surrounded by the government’s watchdogs, overseen by Minister of Royal Affairs Kong Som Ol, an official close to Hun Sen. Sihamoni is closely chaperoned on his few trips outside palace walls, with the media kept away. Although the constitution endows him with considerable powers, these have never been granted.

“I think we can use the words ‘puppet king.’ His power has been reduced to nothing,” says Son Chhay, an opposition member of Parliament and one of the government’s few outspoken critics. “The king must please the prime minister as much as possible in order to survive. It is sad to see.”

It wasn’t always so. Sihamoni’s flamboyant and charismatic father, Norodom Sihanouk, bestrode the country like a colossus for decades. Many regarded him as a god-king, and thousands flocked to the plaza fronting the Royal Palace for fireworks and other lavish celebrations on his birthday.

Sihanouk abruptly abdicated in 2004 following confrontations with Hun Sen. Son Chhay and others say Sihamoni accepted the crown under pressure from parents hoping to ensure the survival of the monarchy.

‘Sad, lonely, abandoned’ 
Seven years later, “sad, lonely, abandoned” are words sympathetic Cambodians often use when describing Sihamoni. The 58-year-old monarch spends much of each day signing documents, receiving guests and handling other routine business, then retires mostly to dine alone and read, says Prince Sisowath Thomico, Sihanouk’s private secretary and an adviser to his son.

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ហេតុអ្វីបានជាខ្ញុំសម្រេចវិលត្រឡប់ ទៅប្រទេសកម្ពុជាវិញ?

០៧ កញ្ញា ២០១៩ / 07 September 2019

ទីក្រុងប៉ារីស ថ្ងៃទី ០៧ ខែកញ្ញា ឆ្នាំ២០១៩

ហេតុអ្វីបានជាខ្ញុំសម្រេចវិលត្រឡប់ ទៅប្រទេសកម្ពុជាវិញ?

ខ្ញុំបានស្គាល់ការនិរទេសខ្លួន យូរអង្វែងមកហើយ។ វាជាការឈឺចាប់មួយក្នុងជីវិតរបស់ខ្ញុំ តែវាគ្រាន់បើជាងការត្រូវគេលួចសម្លាប់ ឬការត្រូវគេចាប់ដាក់គុក ដែលជាវាសនាជៀសមិនផុត របស់មេដឹកនាំគណបក្សប្រឆាំងនៅកម្ពុជា មកដល់ពេលនេះ។

ខ្ញុំបានសម្រេចវិលត្រឡប់ទៅប្រទេសកំណើតរបស់ខ្ញុំវិញ ក្នុងឆ្នាំ ២០១៩ នេះ
ទោះជាត្រូវប្រឈមដីកាផ្តន្ទាទោសយ៉ាងទម្ងន់ និងដីកាចាប់ខ្លួនជាច្រើន យ៉ាងណាក៏ដោយ។ ការតស៊ូរបស់ខ្ញុំរយៈពេល ២៥ ឆ្នាំកន្លងទៅនេះ ដើម្បីទាមទារលទ្ធិប្រជាធិបតេយ្យ ជូនប្រជារាស្ត្រខ្មែរ ដោយប្រឆាំងរបបផ្តាច់ការមួយ ដឹកនាំដោយអតីតកម្មាភិបាលនិងទ័ពខ្មែរក្រហម បានធ្វើឲ្យខ្ញុំរងគ្រោះគ្រប់បែបយ៉ាង ដូចជាការប៉ុនប៉ងសម្លាប់រូបខ្ញុំច្រើនដងហើយ និងការធ្វើទុក្ខបុកម្នេញឥតល្ហែពីសំណាក់របបផ្តាច់ការនេះ ដែលប្រើតុលាការជាឧបករណ៍នយោបាយរបស់ខ្លួន។ តែខ្ញុំត្រូវវិលត្រឡប់ទៅប្រទេសខ្ញុំវិញ ដើម្បីថែរក្សា និងពង្រឹងអ្វីដែលខ្ញុំបានកសាងរួចមកហើយ ក្នុងនោះមានការបង្កើតសារព័ត៌មានប្រឆាំងមុនគេបង្អស់ ការបំផុសឲ្យមានបាតុកម្មមហាជនមុនគេបង្អស់ដើម្បីទាមទារសេរីភាពនិងយុត្តិធម៌សង្គម ការរៀបចំឲ្យមានកូដកម្មកម្មករមុនគេបង្អស់នៅតាមរោងចក្រនានា ការបង្កើតសហជីពសេរីមុនគេបង្អស់សម្រាប់កម្មករខ្មែរ និងការបង្កើតគណបក្សប្រឆាំងមុនគេបង្អស់ ដែលមានតំណាងរាស្ត្រ ក្នុងរដ្ឋសភា។ ថ្មីៗនេះ គណបក្សប្រឆាំងនេះ បានទទួលសម្លេងគាំទ្រ តំណាងឲ្យប្រជារាស្ត្រពាក់កណ្តាលនគរ ក្នុងការបោះឆ្នោតចុងក្រោយ ដែលខ្លួនទទួលបានការអនុញ្ញាតចូលរួម។

ខ្ញុំបានយកថ្ងៃ ០៩ វិច្ឆិកា ខាងមុខនេះ ធ្វើជាថ្ងៃមាតុភូមិនិវត្តន៍របស់ខ្ញុំ។ ថ្ងៃនោះ គឺជាថ្ងៃបុណ្យឯករាជ្យសម្រាប់ប្រទេសកម្ពុជាផង ហើយក៏ជាថ្ងៃរំលឹកការដួលរលំនៃជញ្ជាំងទីក្រុង ប៊ែរឡាំង ផង ដែលជានិមិត្តរូបនៃការទាមទារសេរីភាព ប្រកបដោយជោគជ័យ សម្រាប់ពិភពលោកទាំងមូល។ ចាប់តាំងពីឆ្នាំ ២០១៧ មក ប្រទេសកម្ពុជាឆ្លងកាត់វិបត្តិនយោបាយមួយដ៏ធ្ងន់ធ្ងរ ដែលអាចនាំឲ្យមានផលប៉ះពាល់ដល់ប្រទេសជិតខាង ក្នុងខណៈដែលភាពចម្រូងចម្រាស់ ក្នុងតំបន់អាស៊ីភាគអាគ្នេយ៍ មានសភាពកាន់តែតានតឹងឡើងៗ។ ការរំកិលទៅរកអំណាចផ្តាច់ការ នៅប្រទេសកម្ពុជា ត្រូវបានឆ្លុះបញ្ចាំងដោយការរំលាយដោយអត្តនោម័ត គណបក្សសង្គ្រោះជាតិ ដែលជាគណបក្សប្រឆាំងតែមួយគត់ក្នុងរដ្ឋសភា ទន្ទឹមនឹងការចាប់ខ្លួននិងការឃុំខ្លួនមកដល់ថ្ងៃនេះ នៃប្រធានគណបក្សសង្គ្រោះជាតិ គឺលោក កឹម សុខា និងការបង្ក្រាបយ៉ាងសាហាវ មកលើសកម្មជនគណបក្សប្រឆាំង មន្ត្រីសង្គមស៊ីវិល និងសារព័ត៌មានឯករាជ្យដែលនៅសេសសល់ទាំងប៉ុន្មាន។ ការវិលត្រឡប់ទៅរកអំណាចផ្តាច់ការនេះ ត្រូវបានផ្តន្ទាទោសដោយអង្គការសហប្រជាជាតិ សហគមន៍ប្រទេសដែលកាន់លទ្ធិប្រជាធិបតេយ្យ និងអង្គការសិទ្ធិមនុស្សអន្តរជាតិជាច្រើន។

ការវិលត្រឡប់ទៅរកប្រព័ន្ធឯកបក្ស ដូចសម័យកុម្មុយនីស្ត ក្រោយពីការរំលាយគណបក្សសង្គ្រោះជាតិមក និងការរំលោភសិទ្ធិមនុស្ស ជាបន្តបន្ទាប់ទន្ទឹមគ្នានេះ គឺជាការរំលោភកិច្ចព្រមព្រៀងសន្តិភាព ទីក្រុងប៉ារីស ឆ្នាំ ១៩៩១ ដែលតម្រូវឲ្យប្រទេសកម្ពុជា ប្រកាន់ខ្ជាប់លទ្ធិប្រជាធិបតេយ្យ សេរី ពហុបក្ស។ កិច្ចព្រមព្រៀងទីក្រុងប៉ារីសនេះ ក៏ធានាផងដែរឲ្យមានការបោះឆ្នោត ដោយសេរី និងយុត្តិធម៌នៅកម្ពុជា និងឲ្យមានការគោរពសិទ្ធិមនុស្សជាមូលដ្ឋាន សម្រាប់ប្រជារាស្ត្រខ្មែរ។

Continue reading “ហេតុអ្វីបានជាខ្ញុំសម្រេចវិលត្រឡប់ ទៅប្រទេសកម្ពុជាវិញ?”
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Buying Cambodia: China’s long embrace of a tyrant

CAMBODIACHINESE SEPTEMBER 1, 2019

Buying Cambodia: China’s long embrace of a tyrant

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen (L) shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping before their meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on April 29, 2019. Photo: AFP/Madoka Ikegami/Pool

Buying Cambodia: China’s long embrace of a tyrant

Authoritarian PM Hun Sen has reportedly given Beijing the green light for a naval base on the Gulf of Thailand

ByJONATHAN MANTHORPE

It is always sound policy for observers of international politics to greet reports from intelligence agencies with a raised eyebrow and caustic smile.

All intelligence agencies have their own agendas, and they are by definition staffed by people inclined towards conspiracy theories and disaster scenarios.

It is only when leaked intelligence material fits into a pattern of proven truths, and when a government allows a named official to publicly support the intelligence allegation that it is worth taking the story half seriously.

For these reasons, the claim that China will build its own military facility at Cambodia’s Ream Naval Base in Preah Sihanouk province on the Gulf of Thailand deserves re-examination.

The story first appeared in the Wall Street Journal on July 21 and was immediately denied with a suspicious amount of bluster by both the Chinese government and Cambodia’s leader of 34 years, Hun Sen.

Hun Sen dismissed the story, saying Cambodia’s constitution forbids the country from hosting foreign military bases. But as he has driven a bulldozer through every major aspect of the Cambodian constitution to keep himself in power for decades, and made the country little more than Beijing’s vassal state, invoking the constitution is not a convincing argument.

For Beijing, acquiring a naval base at the heart of Southeast Asia would be a significant security and force-projection multiplier when coupled with the seven military bases it has built on islands constructed on shoals in the South China Sea. It would also be one more gem in Beijing’s so-called “string of pearls” strategy, including Hambantota in Sri Lanka, Gwadar in Pakistan and a full-blown military base in Djibouti.

Washington and other western administrations have been watching with suspicion and concern Beijing’s 20-year charm offensive aimed at Hun Sen. This has led to both the Cambodian economy and Cambodian foreign policy being dominated by Beijing’s interests.

Continue reading “Buying Cambodia: China’s long embrace of a tyrant”
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