The Cambodian Peace Process: An Options Analysis
On September 26, 1989, the army of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam marched home from Cambodia, completing a decade-long assignment to defend the government in Phnom Penh from the possibility that the Khmer Rouge might return to power. The purpose of this chapter is to determine how the government of the United States decided on a new policy in light of this fundamental change in the situation.
War has visited Cambodia for much of its history. 1 French colonial rule was established in the nineteenth century. During most of World War II Vichy France was nominally in charge. When Nazi control over France ended, Japan moved in, but soon Anglo-French forces evicted the Japanese army from Indochina, and France sought to reestablish colonial rule. Prince Norodom Sihanouk, originally installed by Vichy France, was able to obtain independence from France in 1953, but he was the victim of a coup in 1970. Lon Nol, his premier, ousted him but remained in office for only five years.
In 1975, just before Saigon fell into the hands of North Vietnam, Pol Pot's genocidal Khmer Rouge seized control of Phnom Penh from Lon Nol's regime. Encouraged by China, the new Cambodian regime attacked Vietnam as soon as it came to power. Although at least thirty-thousand Vietnamese died from Khmer Rouge attacks from 1975 to 1978, Hanoi tried to settle its dispute with Cambodia peacefully. After Phnom Penh refused to negotiate, Beijing refused to mediate, and the United Nations failed to act on Hanoi's complaint about a breach of the