Military Review

The overthrow of Cambodian Machiavelli


As king of Cambodia, Norod Sihanouk resisted the pressure of the United States

In the 50 of the XX century, the classic colonial powers retreated on all fronts.

This, of course, did not mean that yesterday’s colonies were seeking real independence, just the old metropolises were retreating under the onslaught of the “democratic empire” of the United States.

The Americans did their best to throw the French out of Indochina and take the fate of the local powers themselves. The United States has already penetrated into Thailand, seized South Vietnam and firmly established itself in neighboring states - South Korea and the Philippines.

The next target is Cambodia. A small, poor country seemed easy prey.

But suddenly the Cambodian king Norodom Sihanouk got in the way of American domination. A man of European education, a subtle diplomat and a born politician, he skillfully defrauded Washington.

Without refusing to cooperate and demonstrating readiness for a “constructive dialogue,” he turned into flint when the US put the question squarely, demanding to finally decide: with whom Cambodia is in a cold war going on, with the Western world or the Soviet bloc. Sihanouk always replied that his country adhered to strict neutrality and was open to cooperation with the whole world.

He did not give a reason for the military invasion of the Americans, had connections in the United Nations and enjoyed a well-deserved reputation as an enlightened monarch in Cambodia.

Sihanouk worked tirelessly to make the position of the masses really better. For the peasants, he was a real “king-father” without irony or mockery. Not everything worked, not all. But politics is the art of the possible, and the trend is important, and so the period of the rule of Sihanouk deserved to be called the “golden age”.

The Americans went ahead, knocking together a military bloc in Asia and Oceania - SEATO. They drew to their side New Zealand, Pakistan, Thailand and the Philippines, but whenever it came to Cambodia, they got a cone from Sihanouk.

In Washington, they gradually lost patience, and in the end they decided to act in the usual force of spirit. First, on their orders, Cambodia staged a transport blockade. Cambodia's trade with the outside world took place across the Mekong River, controlled by South Vietnam and by rail in Thailand. By order of the United States, both of these transport arteries were closed to Cambodia.

Further more - the troops of Thailand undertook to invade the territory of Cambodia, and sabotage detachments, supervised by the CIA, penetrated from South Vietnam to Cambodia. The goal is to provoke Cambodia into a deliberately suicidal war and get a reason to carry out the occupation of a small kingdom.

Sihanouk responded in his characteristic manner of a virtuoso politician. By that time, he headed the party, which is incredibly popular with the people, and warned the Americans that at the next party congress the question of the revision of neutrality would be raised. Washington understood: Sihanouk is not at all going to give up neutrality in favor of the Americans, but on the contrary is preparing a turn of Cambodia towards the USSR.

The United States immediately hung up, the blockade ended, but Sihanouk still established relations with Moscow and strengthened cooperation with Beijing. The United States again moved the troops of its satellite South Vietnam to Cambodia.

In addition, the Americans widely supported the intra-Cambodian opposition - the pseudo-communist groups of the so-called "Khmer Rouge", later included in history like fantastic sadists and murderers who killed millions of people. Formally, the communist rhetoric of the Khmer Rouge created a socialist image for them.

By the way, the fact of the genocide unleashed by the Khmer Rouge is still used by anti-communists as an argument against the communist movement. And this is despite the fact that the Soviet Union was one of the most consistent critics of the Khmer Rouge, but the Americans, on the contrary, supported them.

Of course, the United States began to "work" among the Cambodian military. The coup against Sihanouk was to be carried out by General Dap Chuon. But the first attempt to overthrow the legitimate government in 1958 failed. The French, dissatisfied with the increasing influence of the United States in the region, handed him information about the conspiracy. As a result, an American CIA resident rushed to flee Cambodia.

The cynicism and piquancy of the situation was also in the fact that the coup was prepared at the very moment when Sihanouk was on a visit to the United States and was solemnly welcomed by President Eisenhower.

In 1959, CIA agents simply tried to physically eliminate Sihanouk. In 1963, Sihanouk survived another assassination, which the Americans were behind. In the same year, the United States launched a financial attack on the Cambodian economy, triggering a crisis there.

Among the instruments of influence on Cambodia, the Americans widely used to bribe representatives of the local establishment. But for the time being, nothing helped. Sihanouk firmly held the reins in his hands, and his position became more and more irreconcilable.

Pressure from the United States, frequent military provocations on the border with South Vietnam, and the assassination attempts led to Sihanouk breaking off diplomatic relations with America.

This did not mean that he rose to pro-Soviet positions, no, his motto was Machiavelli-style pragmatism. And when the Vietnamese communists invaded Cambodia, Sihanouk conveyed to the Americans information about the location of their bases. And when the US bombed these bases, the cunning Sihanouk spoke out in condemnation of the “aggressive policy of imperialism.”

As time went on, 60-years came to an end. Already, several US presidents have changed, and the staunch king of Cambodia successfully fought off all the attacks and provocations of the Americans. He did not allow to plunge his country into the chaos of civil war, as it happened in neighboring Vietnam, did not allow Cambodia to be drawn into the American SEATO, and it did not turn into a satellite of the USSR.

But when Richard Nixon came to power, and Henry Kissinger joined his team, the situation for Cambodia deteriorated markedly. The bombing of Cambodia by the Americans under the pretext of fighting the Vietnamese partisans became more intense. Sihanouk tried to expel the Vietnamese military units from its territory, but they ignored his demands, and it was very difficult to catch them in the jungles of Cambodia.

In the spring of 1970, anti-Vietnamese riots broke out in the Cambodian capital, the embassy of North Vietnam was crushed. Sihanouk was at this time abroad in a diplomatic tour.

Some experts believe that the riots were organized by Sihanouk himself. Allegedly his goal was to force the leadership of North Vietnam to withdraw their partisans from Cambodia. It is difficult to say how true this version is, but it cannot be ruled out. This is quite in the spirit of Sihanouk's Machiavellianism.

It was also argued that the attack on the Vietnamese embassy was overseen by the country's prime minister, General Lon Nol. Under this quiet, he, along with his colleague Sisovat Sirik Matak, carried out the overthrow of Sihanouk. By the way, Sirik Matak is Sihanouk's cousin, and his great-grandfather was a Cambodian king. From the dynastic point of view, he had no less rights to the throne than Sihanouk himself, and methyl in the new monarchs.

On March 18, units of rebel military units took up positions around the capital, and in parliament by a majority of deputies voted to deprive Sianouk of all powers. The deposed king was warned that it was forbidden to return to the country.

23 March Sihanouk from China radioed the people to raise a rebellion against the rebels. Many people responded to the appeal, mass demonstrations began, demanding the restoration of Sihanouk's rights, but the putschists cruelly suppressed the rallies.

CIA’s chief political analyst for Vietnam, Frank Snepp, later admitted that the Americans had been developing Lon Nol as a replacement for Sihanouk as early as the beginning of 1970.

Moreover, a few days before the coup, a report was prepared by the CIA, which confirmed the close ties between the conspirators and the United States. The report itself bore the eloquent title "Indicators of a possible coup in Phnom Penh" and, among other things, said that it was Syrik Matak and Lon Nol who organized the anti-Vietnamese rallies.

We also note another characteristic bar. Sihanouk, who was in exile, continued to enjoy the support of the people. And then the CIA experts carried out a sneaky operation. Using modern technical means, they created an exact copy of Sihanouk's voice and undertook to broadcast fake speeches of the ousted king to Cambodia.

Cambodian peasants heard a well-known voice on the radio, rushed to the receivers and were shocked. Sihanouk called on young Cambodian girls to have sex with Vietnamese guerrillas. In addition to this dirty provocation, the false Sihanouk also made other offensive statements, which of course undermined the authority of the real Sihanouk.

After the fall of the legitimate authority in the country, hell began. The army of North Vietnam began the invasion of Cambodia. In response, the United States sent its troops there, as well as units of South Vietnam. What Sihanouk fought against for many years became a reality. His country has become a battleground.

Soon the capital of Phnom Penh went on a siege, artillery bombarded the city, communications that supplied Phnom Penh with food were threatened, and American bombed Cambodia aviation. The Khmer Rouge militants have also intensified. Their leader Pol Pot was a protege of France, who did not want to put up with the loss of their colonial possessions in Indochina.

Pol Pot has to stay apart. He received his primary education in a Catholic school, then went to study in Paris. It was there that he was brainwashed by a radical ideology, only in its outer wrapper similar to the communist one.

Returning home, he immediately joined the local left and engaged in propaganda and information work. By the 60 years, Pol Pot had already moved to the top of the Khmer Rouge roles. Militants began with petty terrorist attacks, but gradually turned into a formidable military force.

Where did the Khmer Rouge come from? weaponswho taught them to fight, as a weak and marginal party has become one of the country's leading political forces - this is a topic for a separate discussion, beyond the scope of the article. Here I will only note that April 17 of the year 1975 of the Pol Pot division took Phnom Penh. Norodom Sihanouk was called upon to return to his homeland, and when he arrived, he was arrested.

The new government has launched a social experiment unprecedented in the world. The inhabitants of the cities were forcibly evicted to the villages, where they were to engage in peasant labor. Thousands of people died on the way or soon after arriving at the place, old people, pregnant women, just physically weak people could not stand the displacement. Tens of thousands of people were immediately shot.

Previously, the multi-million population of Phnom Penh was reduced to 20 thousand people. The same fate befell the other most developed centers of the country. The rural population also began to move, moving the inhabitants of eastern Cambodia to the west of the country, and the western peasants, on the contrary, were driven to the east.

The Cambodian army was reorganized. From now on, teenagers and even children of twelve were sent to the service. Workers were held prisoners of concentration camps. And they were obliged to combine labor at the factory with work in the field.

Not only all higher, but even all secondary schools in the country were banned and closed. Most intellectuals were executed. They killed almost all the doctors.

The official ideology operated on such theses:

1. Schoolchildren and students should not study (except in elementary school), their job is to build a country;

2. Intellectuals are not suitable for anything;

3. Diplomas cannot feed;

4. Instead of pen in the hands should be hoe

Buddhist priesthood was en masse either destroyed or transferred to the position of prisoners who were used in the most difficult jobs. For maximum humiliation of Muslims, pig farms were organized in mosques. Catholics and Protestants were persecuted even more brutally, although it would seem that much more? They were almost completely killed without any talk.

Of course, the people tried to protest. In various regions of the country, people driven to despair rose to fight. The insurgents "Khmer Rouge" were killed with a special invention. They were not just shot, but smashed their heads with a hoe.

At the beginning of 1977, the capital garrison spoke out against Pol Pot, but was defeated, and his commanders were burned alive. But this did not stop the growing opposition movement, in which high-ranking "Khmer Rouge" became involved.

In May, 1978 rebelled units of several divisions. They were joined by government officials, workers and peasants. And again it was unsuccessful, but gradually the regime lost its ability to counteract self-hatred on the part of the population.

Opposition to Pol Pot appeared even among his old comrades. The forces to control the country among the Khmer Rouge were becoming less and less, and areas free from their power - more and more. In fact, in Kampuchea, as Cambodia began to be called, a civil war began, and Pol Pot also fought a war with Vietnam, which ultimately became the decisive factor in the defeat of the Khmer Rouge regime.

In January 1979, the Vietnamese army entered Phnom Penh and overthrew Pol Pot, who, however, managed to escape.

Fearing Vietnam's gain, the Americans began to support Pol Pot, and China helped him. As a result, he again gathered around him the most frostbitten supporters, who for many years carried out forays from the jungle.

In 1990, the Vietnamese army left Kampuchea, and Norodom Sihanouk again became one of the country's leading politicians, and soon regained the throne. Now the king of Cambodia is his son Norodom Syamoni.
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  2. Denis Obukhov
    Denis Obukhov 8 December 2015 19: 47
    "As for the Khmer Rouge, they did not have a communist ideology. Communism is an ideology of reckless progress, which has its pros and cons. And the Khmer Rouge had a perversion of Taoism - a complete return to nature."
  3. cte-power
    cte-power 8 December 2015 21: 15
    the dead are in the United States - so much grief scattered scum around the world