The Southeast Asian Organization (SEATO)


Project: The Southeast Asian Organization (SEATO)
Author: Lem Chuck Moth

Started date: September/01/2013
Last updated: December/30/2014
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Note:
Since this paper is still drafted, the readers would be advised to ignore any context errors. The content is not final and subjected to be reviewed.


Like a double-edged sword, capitalism has its own dark side. Handling it right, it promotes prosperity. Handling it wrong, it becomes a strong destructif force that humanity had to face. Not long after the end of the World War II, capitalism came back at full force. A new era started with the formation of the free and the communist blocs splitting the world into two halves for their own dependency. Each one with its own support groups, the two worlds were set in a collision course. Partisanship started with a new set of high expectation for each nation of warlike policy to invest in the world conflict. Their feud soon started and grew to become the next generation of the New World crises. In its expansion, the Cold War ended its journey in the Indochinese War to be carried by both blocks in the heart of Cochinchina. The Southeast Asian Organization (SEATO) was formed to group collaborative nations in the sole purpose of supporting the American policy in the fight against communism. In a closer look, SEATO was actually a colonial organization in disguise that set Southeast Asia into another round of destruction by the Vietnam War. It was the last of the prophesied apocalypse events that brought the Meru Culture to its final end.
A Fig Leaf of the American Policy
From the beginning, SEATO was not intended to be the same as its parent, the European organization of NATO. In contrast to the latter that was specifically intended to safeguard European countries from external incursion, the SEATO was solely tailored to promote American Interest in Southeast Asia. Of its original objective, historians and political observers have from the start considered the Pact as a cover-up of the new American foreign policy (Notes: The American Incursion). Unlike NATO, the SEATO membership concerned mostly of third world countries. Many of them were even not located in southeast Asia. Looking for more benefit than contribution, each member's loyalty lied on short-term benefit generated mostly from the conflict created by American new policy makers. As had been done before during the colonial era, Bangkok saw SEATO as a new way to generate revenue through the association with the west. On the other hand, the American choice of Bangkok to play the role of the SEATO' s strategic base was not also a coincidence. Since it was formed, Bangkok was openly a pro-western state. It economic and politic policy is very much compatible with the Western World. During the colonization, Bangkok stayed as an independent entity by catering to both Britain and France, a policy that worked also well with America. On the plus side, Thailand presented itself as a capable military contender to communism. After the coup on 1932 that toppled the monarchy rulership, Thailand was ran by Western trained warfare military figureheads. During the Vietnam War, Bangkok became an American important partner in the fight against the Vietminh.
THE AMERICAN FOREIGN POLICY
After fighting off the control of Britain, America was building itself into becoming the next economic power of the world. At first, the plentiful of natural resources kept American colonists busy at home. It would not take long for America' s greed to launch its own odyssey for global economic opportunity. To compete with European rising superpowers, the American government was simply too inexperienced for seeking the control of the world. Nevertheless, America had learned from the French revolution that new environment would set America to have all the advantage to compete in the New World order. In a saturated world of bad practices, experience came as second to aggressiveness and America was already too eager to launch its own venture abroad.
The American Venture *
The inclusion of America in the Indochinese affair was not by accident. It was in fact a continuance of American policy that started at least since the beginning of the European colonialization of Southeast Asia. During the presidency of Andrew Johnson (1808-1875), a mission was conducted trying to setup a commercial relationship that secured the American advantage with Southeast Asian countries (Notes: The Peacock's mission). Among the countries targeted by the Peacock's mission, Hue was then under the Nguyen dynasty and Bangkok was under the Rama Dynasty. Both were known at the time as having close economic connection with China. The expedition however failed to generate enough prospective deal for America to start on campaigning its own venture in Southeast Asia. Very much under Chinese control, Hue was not free to make any offer with the far-reaching empire. On the other side, the talk with Bangkok did not yield better result. Cohered by other colonial powers already in charge of the region, Bangkok was obligated to reject any resolution with America that might jeopardize existing accords. With no economic prospective in sight, the American interest in Southeast Asia cooled off. During the presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt, America experienced the worst depression of its entire history. Not only that his foreign policy had shifted its focus; the American president also started to realize about the Japanese threat during the World War II. In a twist of fate, Vietnam and Bangkok became again the center of his focus point in the new deal with Southeast Asia. While the situation in Bangkok could be easily solved through reversing the Japanese enterprise against itself, Vietnam presented to the American presidency serious challenges. The dilemma was due to the interference of communism brought by Ho-Chi-Minh first time into the politic of Southeast Asia. Having his own unfavorable perception about the French protectorate of Indochina, he started sponsoring a campaign against both the French protectorate and the Japanese occupation (Notes: FDR's view on French colonial rule of Indochina). Under the Vichy regime, France' s weak control of Indochina propelled the Japanese move to fill out the gap. President Roosevelt' s main concern was to stop Japan at all cost from advancing further over the whole of pacific ream. In a desperate move to drive Japan out of Southeast Asia, he was willing to delegate the control of Indochina to any potential takers that were willing to challenge the Japanese move. Among his prospective suitors were the Commingtang free party of China and the communist party of Vietminh. The victory of the World War II however changed the whole situation. Under the presidency of Dwight D. Eisenhower, America came back in a big way to jump-start the Cold War. At the time that European colonists were losing their military strength, all obstacles were virtually cleared. Of their ambition over Southeast Asia, it was now or ever an opportunity to start on the American venture. Chasing out Japanese troops from their occupied territories, America made itself as the uninvited guest of Southeast Asian politic. Presenting itself as a superpower, America came with its own policy and initiative to be imposed on native countries in the pretext of fighting communism. Often challenging the International rule and regulation, the American policy was made by American think-tank for the safeguarding solely the American interest. Unlike NATO that was formed to prevent the World War III from destroying Europe, the SEATO was formed for a total different purpose. With no clear political agenda of its own, the SEATO pact as just a treaty to support the second Indochinese War, of which independent observers readily took it as no other than a promotional show off for the American military industry.
The American crusade against communism is in part an effort to prevent independent economic development. It also provides the psychological climate in which a continuing public subsidy can be provided to technologically advanced sectors of American industry for maintenance of a huge war machine . (WWA: Indochina and the American Crisis: P22).
Indochina was chosen to be the show room for the American military product and the Vietnam War was nothing more than an actual stage to present American strength. In the long run, it became a worldwide commercial opportunity to attract buyers around the world. In consort to the communist block, conflicts were induced in many part of the world through the cold war and market for armament was open for buyers of the alliance of both sides. The military industries soon became the most profitable venture through worldwide demand of military products. Included in the list was the American government itself that became over the time one of their big customers.
The government spent for more than the most enthusiastic New Dealer had ever proposed. Most of the output of the expedentures was destroyed or left on the battlefields of Europe and Asia. As the resulting increased demand send the nation into a period of prosperity the like of which had never been seen. (WWA: Indochina and the American Crisis: P23).
The two political Parties *
By the time that Abraham Lincoln (1861-1865) took on the presidency, American politic had already split into two party lines. The Democratic Party continued on the policy of the founding fathers in using slaves to conduct corporate agricultural based economy. Composed mostly of Southern Land and slave owners, the democrats were then perceived as mostly conservative. On the other side, the Republican Party took on a different direction. Closely connected with European Industrial revolution, eminent members of this party were from the entrepreneurship of the American industrial age. The abolishment of slavery in Europe had a big impact on the two party lines. Liberal minds of the Republican Party brought the new development home and clashed with the democrats. Seeing the freeing of their slaves as a threat to their family' s business, the southern democrats were preparing for secession. The American Civil wars however reversed the whole setting. Losing the war, the southern democrats 's priority had shifted. Through machinery, the need of slavery was not that important anymore. At the same time, they used their wealth to invest in the new industrial age and joined in with the Republican Party. Now composed mostly of wealthy aristocrats, the party line shifted its policy. It was not before long that the Republican Party took turn to change its face value as a Conservative Party. Left from the trend, the liberal republicans had to shift side and joined the poorer democrats in making the new Democratic Party of today. Due to the composition of its membership, the two political parties switched their fundamental core ideology. It was in this political setting that America stood in the worlds politic until the outcome of the World War I, the two parties were then seen complementing each other to build America into becoming the New World power. While the Democrats were seen more focus on domestic agenda, the republicans on the other hand, made themselves becoming the driving force of foreign affairs. After the World War II, the victory had set America to be more than ready to take on the New World politic on its own account. Through the Cold War, America set sail for global expansion. Backed by the military industry, the American foreign policy took on the task of making itself a military superpower of the world. It was the military industries that hold-up the next American policy during the cold war. For that development, the Republican Party was seen more active in international conflicts than its democrat party counterpart (Notes: The new American Policy). In fighting against the communist, it was undeniable that America had taken on the lead in establishing the American policy around the world. In Southeast Asia, the formation of SEATO during the presidency of Dwight D. Eisenhower was a typical move of the Republican Party. On the surface it was destined to fight off communism, but deep down it was just another American business as usual. For the American people, moreover, fighting against the communists was made to believe as a noble cause for national security that the American president had to be conscious about. To win the election, candidate of both parties had to pledge his support to the new American cause. In the development, the new Democrat president elected John F Kennedy (1961-1963) continued on the work of his republican predecessor and set America head on in a collision course with Russia. The Cuban missile crisis could have been catastrophic to American safety if it was not discovered and averted on time. In the rush against time, Kennedy and Krutcheve could engage in a workable deal to solve the crises. It was a lesson to be learnt that Russia and America could not risk their own safety when it comes to the Cold War. When Kennedy was assassinated, the next Democrat president Lyndon B. Jonhson (1963-1969) reversed his predecessor's policy. By escalating the war, Jonshon transformed the Vietnam War into a full-blown Indochinese War. To international observers, Jonhson did what was expected of him to carry on the iconic policy that was well known of the American politic in regard to the world affair. With some exception, the initiation of the international conflict was done through the Republican party. The democrats were then expected to escalate the war regardless of its outcome. When the time come, the wrap-up of the war by the Republican Party insured that the whole affair would suit the American interest. For independent minds, the policy was not much reflecting the will of the American people, in the broad expectation of a real democracy as presented to both the American people and to the world. It was actually the interest of small groups of aristocratic background, acting as party line sponsors that constituted mostly the current policy of both American parties.
The Fight against Communism
For a young nation in the rising, the American temptation for power was not only natural but also crucial for the national pride. After all, America became now in the position to lead the free world and to benefit from it. After the end of the World War II, the popularity of the general Dwight D. Eisenhower was on the rise. Of his military achievements, he earned his hero 's welcome into the American politic. It was an opportunity for a change of career as the American presidency was now at his disposition. Like Napoleon had done before him, the new American president set America for the world expansion. Claiming itself as a hero of the unwanted war, America took on the same path adopted by England and France that became two of its strong allies. Through NATO, America included most the members of Fascist alliance into the core of its political and business partners. After the withdrawal of Japan from Southeast Asia, America stationed its troops over the occupied countries for itself. The Philippine was one among the new American army commanding posts that became since a military strategic location for the Free World organization. It was at a time that the Soviet Union had also adopted the same policy toward the New World Order. After taking hold of Eastern Europe, South Asian countries became next in the scope of the communist expansion. After the fall of China into communism in 1949, the situation became more critical when the Vietminh turned its nationalist affair into one of the high stake priorities of the commitern. For America, it was not only a provocation but also another opportunity to take on the Southeast Asian affair on itself. Nevertheless, America had to shift focus from becoming the sole initiator of the next Indochinese war. An Asian treaty was needed as part of the American Truman Doctrine of anti-Communist bilateral and collective defense. Upon returning from his 1953 Asia trip, the Vice President Richard Nixon strongly objected for the need of an Asian equivalent of NATO to counter-balance the threat of communism in Southeast Asia. After the withdrawal of French troops from North Vietnam, the Manila Pact was signed on 8 September 1954 in Manila to become later the Southeast Asian Treaty Organization (SEATO). President Dwight D. Eisenhower's Secretary of State John Foster Dulles is commissioned to be the sole support behind its creation. Following the American policy that was largely developed by the Soviet expert George F. Kennan, SEATO expanded the concept of anti-Communist collective defense to Southeast Asia. Despite its name, SEATO mostly included in its membership countries located outside of the region. They were bound by interests either in connection to the political and economic dependency of the region or simply by the prospected benefit as promised by the organization itself. The Philippines and Thailand were the only Southeast Asia countries that actually participated in the organization to receive real protection against communist subversion. Sharing a close tie with the United States, they were particularly facing with incipient communist insurgencies against their governments. Thailand became a member upon the discovery of the newly founded "Thai Autonomous Region" in Yunnan Province, now becoming part of South China. Apparently feeling threatened by potential Chinese expansion, Phibun saw in SEATO a pact that Thailand could rely on. It might have been this reason that Bangkok was chosen to become the next headquarters of the organization. Other regional countries like Burma and Indonesia were far more minded with domestic internal stability rather than concern of communist threat, and thus rejected joining it. Malaya (including Singapore) also chose to not participate formally, though it was kept updated with key developments due to its close relationship with the United Kingdom. The rest of Southeast Asia's countries including South Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos were prevented from taking part in any international military alliance as a result of the Geneva Agreements signed 20 July of the same year concluding the end of the First Indochina War. However, with the lingering threat coming from communist North Vietnam and the possibility of Indochina turning into a communist frontier, SEATO got these countries under its protection. It was an act that was supposed to be one of the main justifications for the U.S. involvement in the second Indochinese War (1955-1975). The rest of member countries were Australia, France, New Zealand, Pakistan (including East Pakistan, now Bangladesh), the United Kingdom and the United States.
IN DEFENDING THE AMERICAN ENTERPRISE
With China behind its back, the Vietminh ' s control of South Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos were a matter of time. Even though the Geneva accord ordered to pull off its troops and personnel from both neutral countries, the Vietminh left many of its disguised cells and agents, undetected by the international communities. On the other side, America took on the task of fighting communism in the French Indochina from France virtually on a new turf. To start on the Vietnam war, what America could count on besides South Vietnam were non-Indochinese countries. The first of such countries was Thailand.
A new Opportunity for Thailand *
Now that Japan joined with the American pact, American policies in regard to its alliance had changed. As past collaborators of Japan, the Philippines and Thailand were now seen as valuable members of the organization. Needless to say, political figures that joined the fascist regime, Phibun in particular, had their career revived in a big way along side the free World. Phibun was once again in the position to take control not only of Thailand but also of Southeast Asia as well. He was welcomed by most of his people as his Tai nationalism had been well accepted and finally reached the heart of most northern Shan communities. On the other hand, Pridi and his civilian government was increasingly under scrutiny due to their past connection with communism. The death of the young king Ananda due to gunshot had been attributed to him without any substantial evidences. To avoid further complication, Pridi left the country in haste leaving his civilian government into other hand of his associate. In a stunner move, Phibun came back and launched another military coup to reestablish the nation of Thailand in 1948. He was well received from the American government and was entrusted immediately to take on the American cause against communism. In foreign affair, Phibun had always proved himself that he was not after all an enemy of the Free World. It was true that his return resulted in the lost of opportunities for both the British and the French business in Siam countries, nevertheless it opened a new business opportunity for America to take hold of Thailand, the first time in the history of Southeast Asia. Furthermore, his old resentment against the Chinese communities of Bangkok had resulted in a harsh treatment of Chinese well-established business and the strengthening of the new Chinese immigration law. In cooperating with Japan, Phibun had all along conducting a rigorous anti-Chinese policy against both the nationalist kuamingtang and communist Mao-Tse-Tong. In the fight against communism, he set Thailand next to Japan to become an ardent adversary of the communist world in South Asia. On the verge of the Cold War, the fascist bad practices were things of the past as the communist regime took on the important position against the free world. On the other hand, the policy was also well received in the palace where the new king Bhumibol Adulyadej was well aware of the threat of communism against his monarchy. As result, it created a better relationship between him and the king. In his next move, Phibun had to come out a major adjustment in regard to the monarchy. Still keeping the palace out of politic during most of his government' s control of the country, Phibun nevertheless allowed the king to have free access to the people. Another adjustment to be made was the promotion of Major-general Sarit Thanarat to become the top military strong man. As much as their career's advancement in the past were due mostly to their long time association, the rift started to show when conflicts of interest became imminent between the two. With the support of the chief of Police, Phao Sriyanon, Phibun' s past fascist temperament came back. As his holding on to power became less and less democratic, illegal electoral manipulation was the only way to secure the victory. In the election of 1957, his party won over a landslide majority. In a bold move, Sarit distanced himself from his former boss and denounced the fraud. At that exact moment, Sarit must to know that his chance had come and he would not let it passing by. To strengthen further his position, Sarit rallied public institutions, including colleges and universities, behind his cause. As the feud continued, personal interests became the targets of the political adversary to use against his opponent. Hoping to hit Sarit at his own game, Phibun decreed to limit the involvement of a military personal with corporation that was known as a major source of Sarit' s extra income. Sarit' s retaliation against his old boss was swift and efficient. Among the army officers who support the Tai nationalist movement of Phibun, Sarit excelled in making short cut of his career through political intrigues and military coup d' Etat. By now, he must to gain enough expertise in the launching of a coup d'etat as he had been masterminding successfully in the past. Nevertheless, he knew that the approval of American policy maker was crucial to secure the success of the campaign. In a normal situation, Phibun' s autocracy might still receive approval from the American Government. In the fight against communism however, it was clearly not what the American policy maker had in mind for a collaborator. In September 1957, Sarit launched a successful coup of his own to topple Phibum from power.
Sarit Thanarat and the Fight against Communism *
Unlike Phibun, Sarit had nothing much to claim on his Tai ancestry for political gain. In regard to his mother, modern Tai history indicated that she was a Lao native of the Khorat Plateau. About his father, there was no mentioning about his ethnicity nor of his background. Nevertheless, western scholars often brought in the fact that he had worked as a translator of Cambodian articles into Thai language. Many of his acquaintance however confirms that the father of Sarit Thanarat was a Cambodian of the Battambang Province. It explains how he knew the Cambodian language and also explicates the purpose of his translation' s work for the Tai Government. The circumstance that drove him to Bangkok and joined in the Siamese army was not an isolated event. It was the same that other Cambodians had moved from Battambang and Siemreap to find better living or to educate themselves during the time that the two provinces were under Siam. In fact, we had argued that northern provinces of Siam were part of the Khmer Empire since the start of history. Only late after the fall of Angkor that all these provinces were absorbed into the Siamese control of Ayudhya. During all these time, Buddhist Khmer literature was still preserved in their original forms by Khmer monks in pagodas of the old Khmer communities through out the Siam Country. In the Isan region where Sarit grew up, Khmer legacies still stayed strong until Phibun finally decided to make a change. Through the support of the Japanese troops, Battambang and Siemreap were again wrested from France to be included in the Siamese dependency. As soon as he got the two Khmer provinces under his control, Phibum took the opportunity to convert all the Khmer legacies to Tai. By now bilingual, the Siamese major Thangdy was very much in need by the Phibun' s government to convert what were in Khmer language into Thai. In the same situation of most natives living in the Khorat Plateau, he had to change his nationality to Tai. Being a mix blood of Khmer and Lao ethnicity, Sarit Thanarat could not care less of his new Tai identity if he had not met Phibun. In his early military assignment, Sarit was missioned in the Shan country where he supposedly met Phao Siyanon. Through Phao, Sarit joined in the Tai nationalist group, led by Phibun against the monarchy. From then on, he became an important player in the next coup of 1948 that brought Phibun back to Power. For most of his career, Sarit stayed in the background until another coup in 1957 that set him up as the top contender for the Siamese government. Led by Sarit himself, the coup toppled Phibun out of power. While the latter escaped to Japan, Sarit took on the Prime Minister post of Thailand in 1958. Unlike Phibun, Sarit was the perfect match that the United States was looking for a collaborator. To start, Sarit never pretended that he was a leader and had been working for a long time under the shadow of Phibun corrupted government. After his death, the revelation about his wealth collected during his long political career came out to the open. It became a scandalous crisis for the whole country to account for such tremendous size of corruption. Nevertheless the scandal was hardly a surprise to the American policy maker of Southeast Asia. It was just a small price to pay for the efficiency of an American collaborator. In the fight against communism, Sarit had proved his total loyalty to the free world as he had never lean to communism, even once. His standing was not only concerning the Siam country but also concerning its neighboring countries as well. It is also known that the Lao general Phumi Nosavan who was the Lao strong man in the fight against the Pathet Lao was also a close relative and a close associate of his. Under his premiership, the cooperation with the west was accentuated along with the modernization promised by the SEATO promotional package. On his ascending to power, evidences show that Sarit behaved hardly as a Tai nationalist but rather as an advocate to the western way of life. During his premiership that lasted until his death at 1963, Sarit reverted most of the Tai revolutionary work of Phibun and changed Thailand back to be more Siamese of the past. He had relaxed the Tai policy of his government and gave the monarch a much more visible public role. He also helped secure the position of the monarchy to the top as the central figurehead in the role of national unification. Likewise, the king Bhumibol Adulyadej started to resume more and more influence in the government of Sarit and of his successors. Through Sarit intervention, the palace would find in Khorat more popular support than in any part of the Siam country, including Bangkok itself (Notes: The Khorat Plateau and the King). In the same setting, the Palace also helped Sarit' s government to carry on the same foreign policy as in the old day. In regard to the Western World, Sarit knew that Thailand had to hold on to its suzerainty while catering to Western interest. This huge success in foreign politic was undeniably the specialty of the old Siamese court. Most western observers credited to Sarit of bringing it back to life, as needed in dealing with America.
Bangkok as the Headquarter of the Seato *
In joining the free world, Thailand had been active in joining the west to fight against communism. Thailand was the first Asian country to send troops to fight with the United Nation in the Korean War (1950-1953). Of its unique development, America saw in Bangkok as an ideal candidate for a regional commanding post of the free world. It was to stand against the communist expansion that the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) was formed in 1954 and Bangkok was chosen to be its headquarters in 1955. Since then, Thailand became the most active member of the organization in both the Cold War and later the Indochinese war. In the war against the communist Vietminh, Thailand had secured American troops with the much needed resources to support the war. Under Sarit's leadership, Thailand was well qualified to be chosen as the Seato' s headquarter. In the war of Vietnam, the American intervention started with the strategy of dividing and conquering. Through extensive study, the American policy makers must to know that feudal conflicts were plaguing Indochina and to some extend Southeast Asia since the fall of Angkor. A little stir would revive back ethnic and class hatred conflicts and set each group in a defensive mode often leading to a bloody fighting (WWA:North Vietnam: P.286). It became the most effective way to draw them in joining the American side. Migrant recruits who were dependent on the flow of American goods and war expenditures, have been drawn into a brutal war against the peasantry that was already converted by the Vietminh to become part of the Indochinese communist fighters. In Laos, the Meo have been recruited and set to fight against the Laotian Pathet Lao. At the same time, the Bangkok and Saigon governments were encouraged to lay claim on Cambodian natural resources. Under the SEATO protection, both countries were free to start on past venturing campaign against the neutral Cambodia under King Sihanook, in any way they could. During the Vietnam War, bad practices and war crimes were condoned as long they did not interfere with the war itself. Without a due process, the Cambodian army of the Lon Nol' s regime murdered Vietnamese civilians accused of spying for the Vietcong. In their operation inside of Cambodia supposedly against the Vietcong, the South Vietnamese army retaliated back on the Khmer peasants. At the mean time, the Khmer special forces from the Khmer Serei faction of Son Ngoc Thanh were channeled to fight the Vietcong alongside the Thai and South Korean troops brought into south Vietnam by the Americans (Notes: The Use of foreign Forces in the Vietnam War). Proving itself as a crucial member of SEATO, Thailand was entitled to receive the best of the reward from America. In 1959, SEATO's first Secretary General, Pote Sarasin, created the SEATO Graduate School of Engineering (currently the Asian Institute of Technology) in Thailand to train engineers. SEATO also sponsored the creation of the Teacher Development Center in Bangkok, as well as the Thai Military Technical Training School, which offered technical programs for supervisors and workmen. SEATO's Skilled Labor Project (SLP) created artisan training facilities, especially in Thailand, where ninety-one training workshops were established. As to the economic reform, Sarit was also credited for the change of Bangkok into becoming a new economic power of Southeast Asia. It is obvious that this transformation was due to the trust of the Free World onto him but Sarit himself had nothing to do with the change itself. His Tai compatriots of the Khmer and Lao ethnicity in Isan had not seen that much changes in their native communities. Sarit's death in 1963 however left Thailand in turmoil during which the Indochinese War had turned to the worst for America. Continuing on Sarit' s policy, Bangkok continued on being a close ally to America mainly due to the financial benefit received from the latter. For independent observers, Bangkok was no longer the home of the Tai people as it had never been in the past.
Bangkok becomes less and less a part of Thailand and more a part of the West. The transformation has been accelerated by the American use as a rest-and-recreation centertuary for the attack on the countries of Indochina. About half of the increase of the gross domestic product from 1965 to 1967 was attributed to military spending by the U.S. within Thailand. It led to the fears among Thai elite about the future of Bangkok, in the event of an American de-escalation of the War of Vietnam. (WWA: Indochina and the American Crisis: P21). This concern had been proved to be wrong at least until now. Even though America lost the war, Bangkok stayed still as a connecting node of global networking between the Free World and Southeast Asia. Thanks to the multinational corporation, Bangkok transformed itself to become one of the most industrious cities of Southeast Asia. Nevertheless, it is also known as one of the most corrupted Southeast Asian cities of today. On the same premises, America had also provided to other members of SEATO the same benefit package. In addition to joint military training, member states worked on improving mutual social and economic issues in a new development provided by the American funding (Notes: The Americanization). Nevertheless, SEATO' s crisis continued as the organization' s internal crisis arose. With no internal commitments, SEATO response protocol against the communist intervention of Southeast Asia was vague and ineffective. The pact was dissolved Just as the Indochinese war ended with the victory of the Vietminh (Notes: The End of the SEATO's Pact).
The American interference into the politic of Southeast Asia brought a new dilemma against the native countries of Southeast Asia. As we shall see, the shortsighted American policy had played the critical role in destabilizing the French Indochina. THE IMPACT ON THE VIETNAM WAR
To fight communism in Southeast Asia, America had to destroy the Vietminh' s establishment that was ironically the product of American own enterprise during World War II (The Impact of the World War II: The Fight again the Fascist regime: The Grand Alliance). As we recall back, the Grand Alliance initiative that resulted in the foundation of the Vietminh, was actually initiated by the American president Franklin D. Roosevelt. Established to fight off the Japanese fascist regime, the Vietminh took the opportunity of the World War II's crisis to built itself into becoming a power house of Southeast Asia. The Cold War moreover gave them the opportunity to start on its own wars. In the first Indochinese war, the Vietminh converted the Indochinese communist organization into freeedom fighting groups against the French Colonial rule. After the victory, the Vietminh used them again to start the second Indochinese war in the fight against the new imperialist America.
The Birth of South Vietnam
When the Geneva accord recognized the independence of Cambodia and Laos from France, it also recognized the French Cochinchina as an independent state. The deathline was set at July 1956 for an election so its people can decide on their own fate. Of the resolution, the Vietminh had high hope that it became communist trough election. The dilemma was that the French Cochinchina continued to receive Viet migrants that along the line became now the majority of the population. To loose it to the Vietminh would result the French Cochinchina into becoming a part of the communist state of Vietnam and the prospect of losing the whole Indochina to communism, The American policy maker already saw the war' s prospective as the only solution to keep the Vietminh out of the south. Following the Korean war, they perceived the split of Korea into communist state of the north from the free state of the south to serve as a good model for Vietnam. The Soviet Union also appeared to adopt the same resolution. Nevertheless, there was a big difference between Korea and Vietnam that both superpowers appeared or had chosen to ignore. Unlike Korea where nationalism took hold of both the north and the south by the grass root movement, Vietnam was all along the product of colonization. In distinction from North Vietnam (originally known as Dai-Viet) that was formed as a Chinese colony, what is called South Vietnam was actually formed through the Nguyen' s conquest of Champapura and the occupation of Prey Nokor through their manipulation of the Khmer court. It had been since constant fight between Hue' s colonial rule and the natives until it was taken over by France to become the French Cochinchina. Following the Japanese mistake of attributing the country as a part of Vietnam, America continued on recognizing the country as South Vietnam with King Kao Dai as its legitimate ruler. On the other hand, the prospect of war would not deter the Vietminh from their long planned project since it was now at their disposition to take control of the country, either through election or battle. Added to their fortune, the strongman recruited by America to run South Vietnam, after the abdication of King Bao Dai, was also known to be in the same Viet nationalist circle that Ho Chi Minh belonged to. Acting as the Prime Minister of King Bao Dai, Ngo Din Diem presented himself as a perfect candidate for the subordinating role that America was looking for. Beside of aristocratic origin, he was among the first of Southeast Asian politicians with Catholic background. As had been done in the Philippine and South Korea, Christianity brought the new leadership of the country closer to the American policy. To receive the same recognition, Diem and his immediate family members were in the odyssey to promote Christianity into becoming South Vietnam' s state religion. Diem's devotion to Christianity brought the western religion into the fast spreading course the first time over the new country. For South Vietnam where Buddhism had always been practiced by the majority of the population, Diem' s intolerance to the Buddhist practices ended up into a serious social crisis. It was the start of an autocratic regime to be imposed on South Vietnam that led to his own downfall. Nevertheless, Diem drastic measures were at first well received by the American government. On his visit to United States in May 1957, he was received in high honor (VIETW: An Anguish' Peace: P. 59). The president Eisenhower hailed him as "an example for people who hated tyranny and love Freedom". Of his report presented to Washington, he presented himself as the best candidate to defend the American cause. The claim of destroying all the communist infrastructure set by the Vietminh previously during the World War II was checked out during his premiership for the court of King Bao Dai. Among his achievements was the land reform in the Mekong Delta, which he claimed to have fully converted back to the post-war arrangement. In promoting privatization, he allowed large holdings to landlords who were politically influential in Saigon. They became the sole supporters of his government and regime among the people of South Vietnam. For the poor peasants who received their land free from the Vietminh, a payment had to be made to keep the land (VIET: America's Mandarin: P.246). Diem claimed that the measure would punish and subsequently halt all their support for the Vietminh (The Impact of the World War II: The Fight against the Fascist regime: From Nationalism to Communism). What Diem did not report was that their anger against his policy, either he knew it or not, was the main reason in propelling them to join the Vietminh as recruit of the Vietcong fighters against America. By the time that president Kennedy took over the White House, it was already apparent that the South Vietnamese war against communism was going in the adverse direction. It would not take long to convince the new president that the culprit was Diem's government own doing. Supposedly reversing the Vietminh' s land reform, Diem's redistribution of land drove poor peasants into becoming communist fighters. Taking the advantage, North Vietnam started the war by sending several thousands of soldiers into the south with full supply of armament. They were mobilized from no other than South Vietnamese migrants to the north through the accommodation of the Geneva's accord. By now they have completed the Ho Chi Minh trail across Lao and Cambodia to supply the South with both personal and armament.
The Fall of the Diem Regime *
Another bright idea of Ngo Din Diem in the fight against Commuism was the formation of hamlets It was actually a project that gathered peasants together into governmental gathering places that, according to Diem's claim, served as concentration camps to prevent them from being approached by communist recruiters. At the contrary, the Vietminh found in Diem 's hamlet program quite accomodable to carry on their propaganda' s job. Arriving in the south, the Vietminh agents found in the camps suitable to meet the gathered people, often left without the presence of South Vietnamese authority.They moved from hamlet to hamlet to spread the communist doctrine and to enlist prospects for the southern communist organization, known as the Vietcong. At the mean time, Diem appeared to have no concerns at all about the communist infiltration into his controlled territory. While Nhu started to make contact with Hanoi to work out a possible deal, Diem focused himself in strengthening the support of his regime through reward and bribery. Supporters of his regime, of which a majority was catholic, were rewarded with confisgated lands to stay faithful for his regime. Previous rich landowners who were not in good term with his government were harassed and subsequently were forced to join the Vietcong for protection. On the religious front, his favoritism for Christianity created friction with other religious practices. Mahayana Buddhism that gained more and more acceptance among the new Viet communities of the south took on the lead to challenge Diem's regime. While unrest settled in, Diem and his catholic clique took it personally and pressed hard on cracking down uprising. Diem's brother, Ngo used his unlimited power as the head of the secret police, to quiet down opponents. Any objection against his brother 's regime were immediately crushed and blamed the outcome to the Vietcong. It turned out that Diem's policy was not much different from King Ming Manh' s of the past in regard to the French Colonial rule. After using French missionary to resuscitate back the court of Hue, the Nguyen court turned against the French missions (The Birth of Vietnam: The Nguyen Dynasty: The Viet Emperor Minh-Mang). Diem apparently felt that he was strong enough to stand against America for his own sake. For President Kennedy, it was clear that Diem' s self determination would drive the war with communism to a certain defeat. At first he saw that a coup would be needed to change the course of the event. Despite the threat, Diem stood firm in his own resolution. Confident that his policy would work best for Vietnam and himself, he continued to make contact with the Vietminh. Kennedy later changed his mind as he realized that Diem's action was actually a reaction to his own policy. After the Cuban incidence, President Kennedy and the Soviet president Khrushchev apparently had found other way to solve conflicts without recurring to military mean. While both America and the Soviet Union appeared to cool off in the Vietnam War and the Cold War as a whole, Diem saw a need to change his direction and the Vietminh did it the same. They knew that Kennedy already have a plan under way when he hinted that he would stop the war altogether after the next election. AS we shall see later, a prospect of converting South Vietnam into a neutral state was already under way by French president Challe Degaulle' s initiative. A plot against Diem would not only be unnecessary but at the contrary might have adverse effect on the new plan. As we shall see, the coup would not change anything on the nature of South Vietnamese government, but at the contrary sent out wrong message about the American policy in Indochina. Despite his effort, Kennedy found himself powerless to stop the plot. According to the American ambassador Lodge, it was already too late to divert the Viet generals in conspiring against Diem. Nevertheless, Lodge did not make any attempt to convey Kennedy' s late decision to the conspiring generals. Any time that they approached him to check on Kennedy's new standing, he assured them that the American Government would not interfere in the coup. It was actually what they needed to hear since what concerned them the most was the American objection. With good planning, the plot achieved its goal. On November 2 1963, both Diem and Nhu were assassinated in the back of an armored personal carrier. They were picked up by the rebel soldiers from their hideout at Cholon and were killed on their way to meet the rebel leaders supposedly for negotiation. Kennedy was particularly schocked when receiving the new of Diem's assassination. To the press, Lodge continued to affirm that the coup was done by Vietnamese generals and that the American Government had nothing to do with the proceeding. On his private assessment to Kennedy however, Lodge confirmed that it was in fact started with American preparation (VIET: Then End of Diem: P. 311). The first coup was actually conducted during the late presidency of Dwight D. Eisenhower, in November 1960. The coup failed as foiled by Diem and Nhu themselves. Kennedy must to suspect that the coup, being well executed this time, could not been carried on without any American guidance. It meant that his change of plan conveyed to Lodge who was in the assignment to oversee the coup, was not received well by the latter.
The Escalation of the War *
Three weeks after Diem and Nhu's assassination, the elected American president John F Kennedy was himself killed during his first official trip to Texas. His death aborted the plan that, according to his own expectation, would stop the Vietnam War in a shorter time. Before his death, Kennedy was seriously interested in the resolution initiated by the president Challe Degaulle of France, of which the Soviet Union and China were also contemplating a prospect of South Vietnam ' s neutrality. If succeeded, the Vietnam War would have its chance to conclude itself without any more fighting. The prospect of Cambodia and Laos to stay neutral was moreover strengthened by the fact that South Vietnam became part of a neutral coalition against the Vietminh. It was furthermore the best solution so far for the natives, if allowed to vote for their own autonomy. Kennedy knew very well of the challenge ahead of him, but at least it gave peace a chance (Notes: The Myth). In a broader sense, the resolution was perfectly in accord with the Geneva resolution of solving the Indochinese conflict through voting. He had just a small widow of opportunity to work out the deal with all parties, including the Vietminh, into coming in an agreement. The small window closed after the coup against Diem succeeded by the proponents of the war who were consorting strong in America against the proposed resolution. The assassination of Diem moreover sent the message to the Vietminh that the war against them continued. Preparing for the next election, Johnson had to choose between the prospect of continuing the war against other alternative peaceful solution. His leaning to the war was clear as he conveyed to the war proponent groups to help him win the election: "get me elected and you get your war". Sworn as a new president, Jonhson kept his promise. After Diem' s assignation, the South Vietnamese government fell from one general to another without any improvement on the war against the Vietcong. An arrangement had been made to keep the power of South Vietnamese government into the hand of general Nguyen Van Thiev who was one among the conspirators of the coup against Diem (Notes: Nguyen Van Thiev' s background). In the next four years, he had adhered himself to the Lone ranger' s Texan style in conducting the Vietnam War. In the current situation, Johnson had to accept the hard reality that he needed to conduct the war virtually alone. Another hard reality that he had to face was that the enemies were not easily scared by the sound of his whip as most villains in the movie were. He would face the resistance of the most radical Vietminh' s leadership that had already proved itself tough to overcome during their first Indochinese war. With Ho Chi Minh 's guiding from the sideline, they were both determined and tactful. Due to the concern of International backdrops, each side at first took the precaution of keeping violations to the Geneva accord in the dark to the minimum. As time goes by, both contenders went openly in their own drive to win the war. Despite cautionary advises from fellow democrats, Johnson was determined to crush the Vietminh at all cost. As soon as Jonhson escalated the war by sending more troops to South Vietnam, the Vietminh also intensified its incursion into the south. As the infiltration was done through the Ho Chi Minh Trails, Johnson immediately requested the American congress to extend the war, not only into North Vietnam but also into Cambodia and Laos as well. His new measure required more commitment from America to supply more ground troops in addition to American advisers already working with South Vietnamese army. On August 1964, the American congress handed him the "Tonkin Gulf resolution" to conduct the war as he saw fit. Along with the escalation of the war, Jonhson changed South Vietnam into the Wild West. Corruption with all its attributes, drug, prostitution, and black markets became the surviving means of Saigon and South Vietnam's city dwellers. The situation sent shock wave back to America and created unrest that gave the Vietminh the opportunity to score big in psychological warfare. Like they had done during the battle of Dien Bien Phu, an iconic victory could as well conclude the war's outcome. For that, the Vietminh's leadership needed to come with another radical measures that until now they were hesitant to take. Out of concern about Chinese continuos claim over Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh had cautioned his disciples of avoiding Chinese complete dependency. Nevertheless, they had no other choices, as they knew that China was their only hope. On the move to take on the leadership role of the communist block, China was eager to take on the bid. In the new arrangement, the Vietnam War became back as the proxy of the Cold War in the new showdown between China and America. By dragging both Cambodia and Laos into the destructive war, both sides changed the Vietnam War into becoming the 2nd Indochinese War. As planned, the Tet festival assault was achieving its goal. Even though the showdown was a lot less than the Vietminh had hoped for, it nevertheless created a political backdrop in America that discouraged Jonhson from seeking his second term.
THE IMPACT ON CAMBODIA
The American policy in regard to the Cold War was not only about fighting off the Communist block. Through the SEATO pact, America wanted to replace Frane in the drive to monopolize the commercial intercourse with China. As Controls had already been set in both Thailand and the Philippines, the next target was the former French Indochina itself. During the 2nd Indochinese War, Cambodia was to suffer the most the adverse effect of the aggressive American policy. Just receiving independence from France, Cambodia risked loosing its suzerainty to America. To make the matter worst, Sihanouk' s stance against SEATO offended America to the point that he was instantly marked down by the American government.
King Norodom Sihanouk and the Stance against SEATO *
Unlike the French colonial work, the American involvement in Indochina started as a carefully planned state affair. It all began by a comprehensive study in helping the American government to set a policy making over the Indochinese affair. By now, Southeast Asian past had been made available throughout the French Institution of the "L'ecole Francaise de l'extrem Orient" and many other research institutions. A report had been compiled by the CIA to serve as an overall guideline to start on American Campaign in the Pacific region. In Cambodian case, the report provided enough information that could guide American officials to take care of the country properly. In contrast to Thailand and Vietnam, Cambodia presented a mysterious background and hidden challenges that America had to be cautious about. Gentleness, personal dignity and Cambodian pride were a few of Cambodian inherited traits that American should not openly offended. Nevertheless, the report still shared the same colonial belief that Cambodians were "by a large a passive and docile people" as such that they were disappointing material from the American view of interest. Most importantly, they were not educated and possessed the right mentality of the western world to be counted on acting in any positive way for the benefit of U.S. aims and policies. The conclusion was that the United States could not woo the Khmer society as a whole in the fight against communism, but could disrupted the Khmer menality enough to spread the privatization. The report also identified which social groups that could be both "effective" and "susceptive" to American manipulation. The target groups were found to be the middle-class urban that received western style of education and the military personals with western training. They were among the contemporary power elite that could be rapidly induced to the western way and made susceptible to exploitation. In that finding, the report was right about wooing Son Ngoc Thanh, the former leader of Khmer Issarac and later Sam Sary into forming the Khmer Serey' s guerrilla groups (Notes: Son Ngoc Thanh as a Nationalist). In close connection with the SEATO program, America could drive the whole Khmer intellectual to support the Lon Nol regime for the fight against the Vietminh (From Kingdom to Republic: The Fall of the Monarchy: The Birth of the Khmer Republic). The last of the Khmer social groups that could be persuaded was obviously the royal palace where conservatism was enforced through many centuries of foreign incursion. On the general policy, the report stressed on the monarchic tradition, which was (among the core of the Angkorian legacies) still adopted in Cambodian tradition. Unlike the French colonists who tried to use the monarchy to draw support from the Khmer people, America regarded the monarchy as a total obstruction to the American policy. Even though King Sihanouk, along with a great number of the Khmer court's members were leaning to the western way of life, the monarchy still hold on to the traditional way of keeping the Khmer people united under the throne. Since the early involvement of America, King Sihanouk saw immediately the danger that America had planned for Cambodia and denounced the American pact. Following the Geneva accord, king Sihanouk took on the neutrality stance because he knew that it was the only option that suited the interest of Cambodia.
In a world without pity, the survival of a country as small as Cambodia depends on your God and my Buddha. Neutrality is Cambodia's only hope, no matter what the United States dislike it.
Unfortunately, his pessimistic outlook was not shared by the free world' s view. From the very beginning, the first American ambassador to Cambodia, Robert McClintock could not abide Sihanouk's option of neutrality and had made it clear of his objection. As a deeper miscommunication between him and the American policy makers started, Sihanouk was particularly defensive in regard to the American way of doing business in Southeast Asia. His stance against SEATO would later put him at odd with the Free World and was immediately subject to suffering the consequence. The reaction that was typical of western arrogance against a leader of a small Asian country only strengthened king Sihanouk' s resolution. Nevertheless, Sihanouk knew that his neutrality stance, rejected flatly by the American bloc, does not protect him or Cambodia in the long run. At the time, he was acclaimed by the communist block but he knew that the support for Cambodian neutrality was only superficial. As conveyed to some of his western close confidants, his resolution was based on the projection that the American policy would fail and the reunion of North Vietnam to the south would be just a matter of time. When that happens, he knew that the Vietminh would turn against Cambodia.
They will seek to swallow us up, as they have been swallowing our lands for centuries. (CAM: The Prince and the Chauffer: P. 45)
Sihanouk' s comment does only echo what a Cambodian had in his mind about the bleak future of Cambodia in regard to its two aggressive neighbors. History had taught the Khmer court enough lessons about the outcome of trusting either Thailand or Vietnam. Despite all his effort to outmaneuver the Vietminh, we shall see that circumstances had set Sihanouk to become one of the crucial factors in making his own prophecy coming true.
In the Pursuit of Neutrality *
Being of feudal background, Sihanouk knew that he would not fit into the communist pact of leadership. Of his free spirit, he also knew that he was the first to be purged according to communist doctrine. The dilemma was that he would not fit into the free world either. It was the conclusion of this rationality that forces him to stick firm to the core of his policy during the next Vietnam' s War. From there, he saw that neutrality was the only card left to play and he intended to play according to his own way. He was among the first of Southeast Asian leaders to reject SEATO' s protection knowing that the pact had neither mean nor will to protect him and his country in the long run from the communist block. By doing so, Sihanouk alienated against the collective rule of the Free World. He announced his decision while visiting Peking in 1956. Soon after the announcement, the American ambasador Strom was called to Washington to be informed that Sihanouk must go. Following the stop of American aid, the relationship between Cambodia with both Thailand and South Vietnam suddenly strained. At the same time, the operation of the Khmer Serei' s movement went into the open (Notes: The Khmer Serei activity against King Sihanouk). The relationship with Washington detoriated further when Sihanouk found out through French and Chinese intelligence that Dap Choun, the governor of Battambang and Siemreap provinces was set by the CIA to secede from his government. Dap Choun was later killed and the CIA' s plot was foiled. Since then the Cambodian army had to cope with a number of more incidents on the Thai borders and the South Vietnamese Air raid also began. The supply convoys up to the Mekong River, the country' s main artery, were also stopped. Although the United stated denied all the alleged denunciation, Sihanouk knew very well of his fate. By challenging the American policy, he had to expect more retaliation. Later attempts to assassinate him by mailed bombs to the palace further strengthened his determination that shaped up his government' s next foreign policy. So far, circumstances had saved him from personal attack directed from the American government. In return to more American conspiration against him, Sihanouk exploited the role of nationalist patriot to the fullest. Needless to say, he did it under a great stress knowing that America would look for any slight mistake to attack him. His new policy had put neutrality of Cambodia under scrutiny and to the Free World, it was a clear leaning toward the communist bloc. With no counter-balance, he was at the mercy of the latter. What he feared most was the Vietminh 's direct intervention into Cambodia. Seeing that only the communist block could prevent it from happening, he started to build his credit for the communist world. Hoping to draw the attention of some communist leaders to his side when the conflict between him and the Vietminh got out of hand. All he could offer to them was his natural flair for international politic. Late in his career as a head of state, he left the entire internal affair to his cabinet and concentrated mostly on foreign affair where he excelled the most. Of his casual character, he had succeeded to make friend with many powerful figures in the free world. Nevertheless, except for the French president Francois De Gaulle (1959-1969), most of his friends were outsider of the governmental power holders. One of them was Jacqueline Kennedy whom he had invited to visit Cambodia in 1967. To outsiders it might just a show of sympathy for the assassination of the late president John F Kennedy. Evidences however show that the friendship went clearly beyond their personal relationship. It was under the Kennedy and later the Johnson' s presidency that Sihanouk could have a break from personal attack by the American government. Along with De Gaulle, his stance for neutrality had apparently received attention from the international committees. In a new policy designed to move the cold war out from Southeast Asia, De Gaulle had pressed for neutrality of the French Indochinese states. In the new arrangement, Cambodia and Laos that have already been neutral could become big players in securing Indochinese neutrality. As South Vietnam was at the center of the conflict, the conversion to neutrality would set Indochina into a stronger peaceful buffer zone between the two blocs. With the Soviet Union and America good' s relationship under way, the success of the resolution lied only on China and the Vietminh. The assassination of President Kennedy however created a setback. It sent message to China that America was not in the mood to stop claiming the whole of Indochina into the free world. Under the president Johnson, the prospect of a neutral Indochina dashed and the war of Vietnam became back in vigor. For Sihanouk, the lost of opportunity shook the hard core of his policy. The first time of his career, he started seriously to see the need in strengthening the national defense. To make-up for the loss of American military aid, he allowed Cambodia to become one of the arm supply routes for the Vietminh. In a deal with China that he later regretted, he was allowed to keep one third of the shipment for the Lon Nol' s army. On top of that, the rice deal with the Vietminh also gave opportunity for his government to restore back the national economy. At the time, the Vietcong was willing to pay top price for the supply of rice in order to fight the South Vietnamese troops. To prevent the Vietminh's permanent incursion, he kept a carefully eye on the infiltration of the Vietcong inside Cambodia. Evidences show that with the tip from Lon Nol' s army, the American artillery shell and South Vietnamese planes could induce serious harms to the Vietcong settlements inside Cambodia.
In Connection with the Third World Countries
King Sihanouk decision for neutrality was in accord to the Geneva treaty that prohibited both Cambodia and Laos to take part in the new Indochinese conflict. As neither country received adequate protection from the International committee, the accords set the two countries at the mercy of both antagonist blocks. Preparing for the hot war to come, both America and the Vietminh took the two countries as wild cards for their monopoly game. Regardless of their will and determination, Cambodia and Laos were drawn into the destructive war at the disposition of both camps. Right after the Geneva accord, Laos fell immediately under the Vietminh' s interference. On the other hand, Sihanouk tried at first to resist the communist' s advance as much as he could by staying neutral. Through his initiative in foreign affair, he hoped to save Cambodia from the domino effect that already plagued the Third World Countries. His real success story was so far in dealing with neutral countries where he had made serious alliance with many contemporary leaders (Notes: The Third World Countries). His goal was to regroup as many of them into a pact that worked against the two blocks. He had invited many foreign friends to Visit Cambodia and he himself had made many friendly trips abroad. With the support of the French President Challe De Gaulle, Sihanouk' s drive for Southeast Asian neutrality appeared to work. Oddly enough, his effort received a good review from the communist world. While establishing relationship with the Soviet Union and Poland, he accepted aid from China. Evidences later show that he had succeeded to gain serious supports from many Asian communist leaders that included notably the Chairman Mao Tse Tong of China and Kim Ill Sung of North Korea. On his many trips to the communist worlds he collected aids that he proudly presented to the Khmer people as having no political attachment. For Sihanouk, it was nothing more that he could ask for. Apparently the communist block approved the neutral stance of Cambodia without any condition. He knew that to communist doctrine, suppressing the king and the monarchy was one of their top priorities. Yet, they were willing to support him despite of his aristocratic background and to the most extend his un-revolutionary playboy lifestyle. While committing himself to make friend with the communist block, King Sihanouk openly admitted his flair for western luxury of self-indulgence. According to his own biography, he later admitted that his own personal conductance was carried away by the western trend of free happiness. At the time that the hippies chanted the mantra "Make love and not war" Sihanouk along with his close friend Sukarno of Indonesia lost himself or herself completely to the vile lifestyle of the western world. Needless to say, it was at the worst time that the Vietminh intensified their campaign and showed no sign of stopping their relentless infiltration into Cambodia. When they took Laos completely under their control, foreign observers started to voice concerns on Cambodian future. Through the domino effect, they predicted that the falling of Cambodia was just a matter of time. Sihanouk responded to the critic by assuring that his policy was the most effective way (if not the only way) to keep Cambodia as an "island of peace". He justified the infiltration by the Vietminh as the latter' s fair policy in responding to President Johnson' s escalation of the War (Notes: The Breaking of Geneva Accord). It was after all the American rejection of the Geneva Accord that allowed the Vietminh to start on the Vietnam's war. By rejecting the prospect of stopping the war through alternative peaceful resolution, Johnson revived the American hostile policy in regard to the Third World Countries. As the Cold War was again in full force, Sihanouk started to see many of his friends falling one after the other, either by a military coup or revolution sponsored by either one of the two blocks. After President Sukarno of Indonesia lost his political career (by a coup coordinated by his own military general Suharto) in 1967, Sihanouk political standing changed. He would find out the hard way that he himself would be next becoming a victim of the Cold War. It was clearly to him now that the soft stance of his foreign policy had its own limit and that only the hard stance of military resistance now could persuade the Vietcong to change their mind. He also found out that despite their show of affection for him, the communist block could not care less about Cambodian future and would support the Vietminh all the way to win the Vietnam War. What Sihanouk had in mind now was to correct his past policy in regard to the American alliance. In his next political move, he used Lon Nol to initiate a deal with America. Apparently, he mistook the announcement of the "Nixon doctrine" of the war of Vietnam by the new elected president Richard Nixon, as a reversal of the late president Johnson' s policy. The promise of equipping local fighters to communism with American equipment and the reduction of American troops in the war sounded very much like a renewal of previous president Kennedy's policy. As we shall see later, he was not the only one to be misled by the Nixon' s doctrine. He soon knew that he just made another mistake by trying to repair the relationship with America without damaging his own alliance with the communist block.

Reference:
  1. SEAPP: Southeast Asia Past & Present, by D.R. Sardesai
  2. THAI: Thailand: A short History, by David K Wyatt
  3. VIET: Vietnam: A History, by Stanley Karnow
  4. VIETW: The Vietnam War, by Mark Atwood Lawrence
Notes:
  1. Chronology
    1949: The People's republic of China was established; 1950-1953: Korean War; 1953-1961: Dwight D. Eisenhower (Republican) became president of USA; 1953-1964: Nikita Khrushchev became secretary of the Soviet Union Communist Party; The Geneva accord split the Vietminh's controlled arear from the south along the 17th parallel; 1954: The Southeast Asia Treaty was signed at Manila; 1955: The formal institution of SEATO was established at Bangkok; 1955: The second Indochinse War started; 1957: Phibunsangram was toppled by Field Marshal Sarit Thanarat; 1959-1969: Challes de Gaulle became president of the French Fifth Republic; 1961-1963: John F Kennedy (Democrat) became president of USA; 1963-1969 Lyndon B. Jonhson (Democrat) became president of USA; 1964-1982: Leonid Brezhnev became secretary of the Soviet Union Communist Party; 1966-1969: Chinese Cultural revolution took place; 1969-1974: Richard Nixon (Republican) became president of USA; 1975: The Vietnam War ended;
  2. The American Incursion
    In The Geneva Conference of 1954 on Indochina, Sir James Cable, a diplomat and naval strategist, described SEATO as "a fig leaf for the nakedness of American policy", citing the Manila Pact as a "zoo of paper tigers".
  3. The Peacock's Mission
    The Executive having, in the year 1832, resolved on an attempt to place our commercial relations, with some of the native powers of Asia, on a sure and advantageous basis, orders were issued to prepare the United States' ship Peacock (David Geisinger, commander), and the schooner boxer for that special object. (EEC: ChapterI)
  4. The new American Policy
    In foreign policy, America had projected itself as the champion of the democratic society of the world. At home, the aristocratic societies were seen gradually making pact between themselves to take on the control of both parties. As a result, the difference in foreign policy of the two parties became less and less noticeable as time goes by.
  5. The Khorat Plateau and the King
    During the abortive coup in 1981, when a group of young Turk military officers, critical of the failures of past military governments, seized government centers in Bangkok early on April 1, General Prem fled the capital in the company of the royal family and established headquarters at the provincial army base at Khorat. Soon a message from Queen Sirikit was read over Khorat Radio in effect supporting Prem' goverment.
  6. The Use of foreign Forces in the Vietnam War
    For Ho Chi Minh, these colonial maneuvers were not new and the Vietminh was well prepared to take advantage of the American maneuvers conducted during the War. As a matter of fact, he used the same tricks to set guerrilla fighter groups of the Laotian Pathet Lao and the Khmer communist of Cambodia to fight for the Vietminh' s behalf.
  7. The Americanization
    Such activities were overseen by SEATO's Committee of Information, Culture, Education, and Labor Activities, and proved to be some of SEATO's greatest successes. SEATO also provided research funding and grants in agriculture and medical fields. In 1959, SEATO set up the Cholera Research Laboratory in Bangkok, later establishing a second Cholera Research Laboratory in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The Dhaka laboratory soon became the world's leading cholera research facility and was later renamed the International Center for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh. SEATO was also interested in literature, and a SEATO Literature Award was created and given to writers from member states.
  8. The End of the SEATO's Pact
    With no internal commitments, SEATO response protocol against the communist intervention of Southeast Asia was vague and ineffective. Pakistan withdrew itself from the organization in 1972, after East Pakistan (Bangladesh) successfully seceded. With the help of India, Bangladesh became an independent state of its own through the Liberation War of 1971. During the Vietnam War, America ran the whole show and suffered the defeat while the neutral countries fell into the sway of communism. At the end of War, France withdrew financial support that started the process of phasing out the organization' s activity in 1975. After a final exercise on 20 February 1976, the organization was formally dissolved on 30 June 1977.
  9. The first Coup
    The first coup was conducted on November 1960 by disgruntled colonels Vuong Van Dong and Nguyen Chanh Thi. The coup failed its objective thanks to some commanders and generals that were still faithful to the two brothers. Instead of backing down, Diem strengthened his position among his trusted collaborators who had now turn to the opposition side.
  10. Nguyen Van Thiev' s background
    In Diem regime, General Nguyen Van Thiev was a commander of an infantry division that attempted to storm the presidential palace during the coup against Diem. His second in command, Nguyen Kao Ky was a pilot.
  11. The Third World Countries
    After the formation of the free and the communist worlds, the fight for controlling the world market and resources started. While few members of the blocks helped each other to collect wealth, other countries of the world had fallen behind. The third world country was then an identity given to the non-allied country that stayed (voluntarily or un-voluntarily) neutral to the Cold War. Their free will temperament moreover made them vulnerable to the exploitation (Notes: The Free Will vs the Free World). Without any syndicat to bind them together, they were subjected to become victim of the natural selection process.
  12. The Breaking of Geneva Accord
    It was the Vietminh who broke the Geneva Accord by infiltrating itself into Cambodia's territory. Nevertheless, Sihanouk was also blamed of breaking the accord by allowing that to happend. Considering that he had not much control on the situation, the blame was unjust as the whole world also shut their eye to the breaking of the Geneva Accord by both America and Hanoi.