U.S. involvement in Cambodia, 1965-1975 : lessons from the tragedy of cold war intervention in Cambodia
Li, Ian Huiyuan
Date of Issue2018
S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
The trials of senior Khmer Rouge members by the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) since 2006 has raised public awareness towards the state-sponsored genocide perpetuated by the regime upon gaining power in 1975 following the Cambodian Civil War. Yet, while the trials suggest that responsibility for the massacres rested solely upon the leadership of the regime, the actual rise of Khmer Rouge took place against the backdrop of the Cold War, involving many of the major international actors such as the U.S. and the People's Republic of China (PRC). The U.S. in particular was heavily involved in Cambodia in the decade prior to 1975. This research therefore aims to explore how Cold War-driven interventions from 1965 to 1975 created the conditions that led to the decline and collapse of the both Prince Norodom Sihanouk's Royalist, and then Lon Nol's Khmer Republic governments in Cambodia prior to 1975. The evolution of the Cambodian Civil War is examined in detail, being reflective of the changing internal and external tensions that afflicted the country during this period, as well as of the shifting directions of its foreign policy. The history of U.S. intervention in Cambodia from 1965 is also traced, given its heavy involvement there during this period and the significant impact its actions had on developments within the country. Finally, the U.S.' intervention strategy itself is analysed to understand why it ultimately failed to achieve its objectives and in doing so, failed to prevent the Khmer Rouge's rise to power. The important pitfalls of intervention are then examined to provide lessons for future planners of such intervention strategies.
DRNTU::Social sciences::Political science