Losing Vietnam: How America Abandoned Southeast Asia

By Ira A. Hunt | Go to book overview

3
Cambodia

Background

From its inception, the war in Cambodia was closely associated with the conflict in Vietnam. The Khmer communist insurgency began as an offshoot of the North Vietnamese Communist Party in the late 1930s. Full-scale insurgency against the French, however, did not break out until 1947. After the French evacuated Southeast Asia in 1954, the communists were permitted to function overtly and did so until the early 1960s, when Prince Sihanouk began to crack down. The French had crowned him prince in 1941, at the age of nineteen, because they believed the fun-loving playboy was more controllable than his relatives. In 1953, Prince Sihanouk took control of Cambodia. Shortly thereafter, he stepped down from the throne, organized the Sangkum political party, and continued to govern the country as “the Father of Independence.”131 He sought political and economic ties with China, and although not a communist himself, he was partial to the North Vietnamese in their war with South Vietnam, collaborating with them to protect his own position and mollify his left wing. As a result, the United States cut off its economic aid to Cambodia. Sihanouk’s leftist economic policies, associations with the Chinese and North Vietnamese communists, and repressive police measures caused unrest in Cambodia. In March 1970, peasants from the border area of the country demonstrated in Svey Rieng, demanding the Cambodian government take action to prevent the North Vietnamese from taking their farmland and precipitating border incidents with the allied forces. Additional demonstrations followed in Phnom Penh, in which the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese embassies were sacked. Sihanouk, traveling in Europe, threatened to punish the offenders upon his return. The government leaders were afraid for their lives, and on 18 March 1970

-171-

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Losing Vietnam: How America Abandoned Southeast Asia
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations ix
  • Preface xiii
  • 1 - Nakhon Phanom 1
  • 2 - South Vietnam 5
  • 3 - Cambodia 171
  • 4 - The Mayaguez Incident 299
  • 5 - Thailand 311
  • 6 - Laos 317
  • Epilogue 321
  • Glossary 323
  • Appendix A - General Definitions and Processing Ground Rules for Combat Analyses 327
  • Appendix B - Jgs Assessments on Friendly/Enemy Activities of the Ceasefire 335
  • Appendix C - Jgs Letter to Dao on Fy 75 Funding 345
  • Appendix D - Excerpted Entries from a Mekong Convoy Sitrep 349
  • Appendix E - "… Execute Eagle Pull" 357
  • Sources 361
  • Index 377
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