Cold War in Asia - Cambodia under Sihanouk

  • Created by: Alasdair
  • Created on: 31-03-17 10:36

Salient facts of Cambodia

  • 1954 - gained indepedence from France
  • Until 1970 - governed by King Sihanouk
  • He wanted to maintain CW neutrality
  • Cam suffered due to Vt and US incursions
  • March 1970 - Gen. Lon Nol led successful coup against Sihanouk 
  • Nixon carpet bombs Cambodia 
  • 1973 - After US left Vt, US intervention and aid ceased
  • Incompetent Lon Nol regime vulnerable 
  • 1975 - Pol Pot's Communist govt. est. - supporters known as Khmer Rouge
  • International condemnation 
  • Pol Pot's Chinese allies invaded Vt. 
  • 1993 - UN organised coalition government for Cambodia 
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How important was Sihanouk in Cambodian politics a

  • Part of Fr Empire, Buddhist nation - 80% peasants and Khmer (ethnic Cambodian)
  • Capital City: Phnom Penh - only 20% Khmer; rest Chinese, Vt, Laos, Thais, Islamic Cham community 
  • Progress hindered by traditional rule of Demi God monarch
  • 1940-1945: administered by Fr under Jp control
  • 1941: Norodom Sihanouk chosen by Fr as next King (18yrs)
  • Sihanouk: modernist, encouraged development of political parties
  • 1946: Democratic Party won Cambodia's first national election
  • Later: national assembly suppressed by Sihanouk - found them too challenging
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Anti-Colonial Movements

  • Sihanouk saw Fr colonialism as best way to protect Cam from foreigners but anti-colonial movements grew, e.g. Viet Minh 
  • Issarak - Cambodian Independence Movement
  • Viet Minh wanted to - increase number of Fr opponents; secure sancturies within Cambodia; get weapons from Bangkok transported through Cambodia; spread Communism 
  • 1949: 1st significant Vietnamese intervention to Cambodia - 3000 VM in Cambodia 
  • 1951: Khmer People's Revolution Party (KPRP) est. Anti-colonials brutal (e.g. ate parts of enemies beleiving eating their internal organs gave you their strength)
  • Policies of Western colonial power had made Cam vulnerable 
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Sihanouk and Cambodian Independence

  • 1952: Sihanouk dismissed democratic government and instituted personal rule - promised independence in 3 yrs
  • 1954: Independence granted at Geneva Conference (followed Fr defeat at Dien Bien Phu)
  • This independence was given to Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia without consulting Cambodian Communists
  • China: Wanted to keep US out of SE Asia so pressed VM to stay out of Cam and Laos affairs (next decade largely happened)
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Sihanouk's problems

  • Many Cams felt he had too much power
  • Fighting in Vt affected Cam
  • 1967: Cam Comm party led Cam into Civil War
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Domestic policies

  • Opp silenced by Sihanouk - censorship, arrests, executions, rigged referendum 
  • March 1955: abdicated and formed People's Socialist Community (respect of Monarch, freedom to act as he wishes). Membership open to all who pledged loyalty to him.
  • 1958: moves to be inclusive - young leftists admitted to party but gov brutal & corrupt
  • Education improved: High schools - 1953: 8; 1967: 200. 
  • Education contributed to growing political fervour
  • Many educated unemployed turned to Communism. 
  • Peasant's chronic debt
  • Number of landless peasants grew: 1950: 4%; 1970: 20% - Pol Pot claims this to be vital factor in rise to power 
  • 1955-66 - relative calm in Cam overall
  • Sihanouk had deal with VM - secretly allowed to operate on Cam-Vt border as long as they didn't interfere in Cam
  • Harsh and effective repression of urban Comms by Sihanouk 
  • 1960: Comms in retreat
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Reasons for NV intervention

  • Johnson increased involvement in Vt
  • Led to increased NV activity in Cam and destabilised Sihanouk's regime. 
  • Cam's finances damaged - Vt rice crops ruined so Cam rice smuggled into Vt - Sihanouk missed out on export duties as source of revenue 
  • Ethnic Khmer on Mekong Delta fled Saigon's regime - entered Cam
  • From 1965, General Westmoreland's Search and Destroy tactics drove NV forces into Cam for sanctuary. US then persued them. 
  • US attacks on Ho Chi Minh Trail led to 'hundreds of people' being killed
  • This coincided with Cam Comm (Khmer Rouge - Cam Reds) led by Pol Pot. After 1966, called themselves CPK - Cam Comm Party. Pol Pot anti-Vt and pro-China
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Reasons for First Civil War 1967-1970

  • 1967 onwards: CPK against Sihanouk's giv
  • 1962-1966: Repression had failed to destroy Comms. 
  • 1966: Sihanouk allowed free elections - result very conservative. Conservative PM Lon Nol's troops angered peasants. Took peasant land and killed many.
  • --> Increased influence eof anti-Vt Pol Pot - encouraged by China
  • Rebellion failed -->
  • Pro-Vt among Cam Comm unethiastic 
  • Sihanouk's response ruthess 
  • Rebels not large in numbers: 1969: 2000-4000; 1970: 10,000.
  • Rebellions pushed Sihanouk's government to right.
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Increased US involvement in Cambodia

  • By 1969: Sihanouk believed Comms greatest threat. Moved to repair relations with US.
  • Jacqueline Kennedy (JFK's widow) invited to Cambodia.
  • Johnson told anti-Comm activity would be acceptable in Cam.
  • JCS urged action but Johnson feared Sino-Soviet reaction. Confined to bombing border area + mine laying and reconnaissance by US soldiers dressed as Viet Cong
  • 1969: Nixon - Operation Menu - over 3000 B-52 raids 
  • March 1969 to March 1970 = 160,000 tons of bombs on Cambodia
  • 1969: Doubled minelaying and reconnaissance missions in 1969. Leads Comms to move further into Cam --> destabilises Sihanouk 
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The Overthrow of Sihanouk

  • By 1970: de-stabilised within by Khmer Rouge and out by activities of Vt Comms, Saigon regime and US
  • March 1970: Overthrown due to right wingers. Sihanouk in France for obesity treatment.National Assembly replaced with Pro-American faction led by Lon Nol.
  • Reasons Sihanouk was overthrown:
  • Cam economy in dire straits but Sihanouk extravagant
  • Middle-classes disagreed with Sihanouk's policies
  • Lon Nol had profitted from selling supplies to NV. Anticipatd greater gains from US.
  • Lon Nol feared Sihanouk would turn on him. Encouraged by US military plus rt-wing National Assembly.
  • Sihanouk out of country too long.
  • Lon Nol not that popular. 
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