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TABLE II.-COMPARISONS OF MAJOR CATEGORIES OF COMMUNIST MILITARY AID TO NORTH VIETNAM AND U.S. AID TO SOUTH VIETNAM1 [Dollar amounts in millions of U.S. dollars]
1 For reasons explained in the text, our figures on Communist aid to North Vietnam (some of which are soft estimates) are not readily comparable with U.S. aid appropriations for South Vietnam. Also, the data we have on Communist aid is kept on a calendar year basis while U.S. aid appropriations are keyed to a fiscal year cycle. The above table, however, gives a rough indication of the way the two aid packages break out in calendar year 1974 for Communist aid and fiscal year 1975 for U.S. aid.
2 Figures may not add because of rounding.
One reason for the wide disparity is a charge against the U.S. aid account for administrative expenses for the DAO in South Vietnam which has no known counterpart on the Communist side. There are also other items for which no counterparts on the Communist side are available, such as offshore maintenance servicing of military equipment, and construction.
STATEMENT OF GEORGE MCTURNAN KAHIN ON BEHALF OF THE FRIENDS COMMITTEE ON NATIONAL LEGISLATION BEFORE THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON FOREIGN ASSISTANCE AND ECONOMIC POLICY OF THE SENATE COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN RELATIONS ON S. 663, SUPPLEMENTAL MILITARY AID TO CAMBODIA, MARCH 6, 1975
My name is George Kahin. I am professor of government and international relations at Cornell University, and was director of the Cornell Southeast Asia Program from 1960 to 1970. I have engaged in research in Southeast Asia since 1948 and have visited Indochina on numerous occasions. My most recent visit to Cambodia was in August 1971, at which time I talked with many of the leaders in General Lon Nol's administration. Today I am speaking on behalf of the Friends Committee on National Legislation, which is widely representative of Friends' groups around the nation, but which does not purport to speak for all Friends, who cherish their rights to individual opinions.
I appreciate the opportunity to appear before you today and to comment on S. 663 which would authorize an additional $222 million in military aid for Cambodia in Fiscal Year 1975 and remove the ceilings on aid to Cambodia which were included in the foreign aid authorization bill passed by Congress last December.
We are opposed to any increase in military aid and we are opposed to any increase in the ceiling other than to permit necessary food and medical supplies to be distributed directly to needy individuals in Cambodia through international or non-governmental channels.
My own research makes very clear that responsibility for the outbreak of the tragic civil war in Cambodia lies with the very architects of foreign policy in the Executive Branch who now argue that the international prestige and credibility of the United States are inextricably tied to its insuring the survival of the present government in Phnom Penh through international or non-governmental channels.
Credibility and Honor
In Cambodia, United States officials assert that United States credibility and national honor are at stake. If this is so, it is imperative to distinguish between credibility for relief of human suffering as against credibility for a dogmatic perpetuation of past error. Let us also not fail to distinguish between the credibility and honor of the principal architects of our Cambodian policy-the CIA, the Pentagon, and Henry Kissinger-and that of the United States as a nation. And finally one should distinguish Lon Nol and Cambodia. He and his little entourage cannot be equated with that country, and their fall does not mean the fall of Cambodia.
If we are concerned with credibility and honor let us insist that the American supply lines to Cambodia be exclusively for food and medicine; that they be destined for the entire population of Cambodia, not for any particular regime; and that these humanitarian supplies will keep coming regardless of the political character of the elements that hold power in Phnom Penh.
Perspectives on the War
With American correspondents, TV cameras, and visiting Congressmen having a single angle of vision-from the inside of Cambodia's largest city looking out-it is understandable that they often project a very partial view of the war. In any war, if an outsider is suddenly set down within the camp of either side there is an understandable tendency to identify with those around him, and emphasize more fully with their problems and sufferings than with those outside or in the opposing camp that he cannot even see. Most of us have seen TV
coverage of the terrifying rocket attacks on Phnom Penh, but how many of us have witnessed the impact of the war on the areas outside of Phnom Penh where the vast majority of civilian casualties occur?
Cambodia is not just a capital besieged; it is a whole country in flames. The areas outside of Phnom Penh have produced 99% of the 700,000 civilian casualties and the nearly 3.5 million refugees that make up half the country's population. Moreover, the city limits of Phnom Penh constitute no ideological boundary, and the more than trebling of its population does not mean that those who have fled into the city have done so because they are supporters of Lon Nol. Regardless of their political views, people have streamed into Phnom Penh to escape death. They have fled there to get away from the cross fire, the bombing and the napalm-for outside of a few of the towns still held by Lon Nol's regime there has been no place in which to hide from aerial attack and artillery.
And it should be noted that both sides have formidable weapons. Indeed, some of the most powerful weapons in the arsenal of Lon Nol's opponents are captured U.S. heavy artillery. Probably the most important factor in creating Cambodia's three and a half million refugees was the long period of carpet bombing by American B-52's. When I was in Phnom Penh in mid-1971, Prime Minister Long Boret informed me that even then refugees from outside had swollen Phnom Penh's population from about 600,000 to 1.8 million, and by other Cambodians I was told repeatedly that bombing was the major cause of this influx. No U.S. commitment
Since this Administration has hinged America's continuing role in Cambodia so conspicuously on the question of prestige and credibility, it is incumbent to try to gain a much fuller understanding of the nature of our involvement there than either the Ford or Nixon Administration has provided.
First of all, it must be emphasized that the United States has no treaty commitment to the Phnom Penh government, either directly or through SEATO. Cambodia is not a member of SEATO, and any extension of its protection via that treaty's protocol can be considered by the United States and other signatory states only if the Cambodian government requests it. Under Sihanouk Cambodia made no such request (and indeed specifically renounced any protection by SEATO), nor has Lon Nol's government ever done so.
Nor is there anything in the 1973 Paris accords that calls for American support to any Cambodian government. Indeed, in those accords the United States pledges that "Foreign countries shall put an end to all military activities in Cambodia . . totally withdraw from and refrain from reintroducing troops, military advisers and military personnel, armaments, munitions and war material" and that "The internal affairs of Cambodia . . . shall be settled by the people [of Cambodia] without foreign interference."
Present United States involvement, insofar as it is legal, depends exclusively on annual foreign aid authorization or appropriation bills. Congress has made very clear that such funding should not be regarded as any American commitment to the Phnom Penh government.1
Early U.S. efforts to destabilize Sihanouk government
The character and political legitimacy of the government in Phnom Penh should not be judged simply on the basis of its 90 per cent dependence upon the American taxpayer. Of more critical importance is the fact that its origins are tied closely to a covert and subversive U.S. intervention aimed at displacing Sihanouk's neutralist government by one willing to align itself with U.S. strategic objectives.
The key features in this Nixon-Kissinger policy can best be understood by reference to attempts under earlier American Administrations to destabilize Sihanouk's government. These go back at least to 1958 and centered about building up an oppositionist military force known as the Khmer Serei (Free Cambodians), armed and financed by the CIA, trained by it and U.S. Army Special Forces, and led by Son Ngoc Thanh, a bitter opponent of Sihanouk. Recruited primarily from South Vietnam's Cambodian minority (Khmer Krom) and operating from bases in Thailand and South Vietnam, these troops penetrated suffi
1 Section 7(b) of the Supplemental Foreign Assistance Authorization bill passed by Congress December 22, 1970 (P.L. 91-652) provides, "Military and economic assistance provided by the United States to Cambodia and authorized or appropriated pursuant to this or any other Act shall not be construed as a commitment by the United States to Cambodia for its defense."
ciently into Cambodia's border areas to tie up a substantial part of the small 30,000-man Royal Cambodian Army. These operations continued spasmodically well into the late 1960's and were generally regarded by the diplomatic community in Phnom Penh as calculated to keep a counter force available in case the United States might want to use it against Sihanouk, and more immediately to keep sufficient pressure on him to insure against his departing too far from an international posture acceptable to the United States. As is well known, this policy backfired, and was ultimately a major reason for Sihanouk's decision to break diplomatic relations with the United States, which he did in 1965. An ephemeral rapprochement
During the last year of the Johnson Administration, the counter-productivity of this policy had become all too evident, and although the Khmer Serei were not disbanded, the U.S. undertook an effort at rapprochement with Sihanouk's government. Apparently because of his worry over his deteriorating relations with China during the Cultural Revolution and his desire to keep the mounting air and ground war in Vietnam away from his border areas, Sihanouk welcomed this initiative and ultimately on June 11, 1969, the resumption of diplomatic relations with Washington was announced.
Under continuing U.S. prodding during the last months of the Johnson and the first months of the Nixon Administration, Sihanouk began to undertake actions helpful to the U.S. military effort in Vietnam. Although not extensive, these involved public criticism of Communist Vietnamese occupation of border bases enclaves and measures calculated to reduce the flow of overseas supplies to them via Cambodian ports. While apparently acquiescing to American demands to carry out hot pursuit of Vietnamese Communists a short distance into Cambodia, it is unlikely as some American officials have alleged, that he ever approved B-52 carpet bombing of areas inside Cambodia's borders; and it is quite certain that he was never willing to acquiesce in anything like the all-out American-Saigon military invasion against the border bases of the NLF and North Vietnam subsequently agreed to by his successor, Lon Nol. In any case, the extent of Sihanouk's concessions were evidently not sufficient to satisfy the Nixon Administration.
U.S. involvement in ousting of Sihanouk
By the early fall of 1969 plans were set in train that led to the coup against Sihanouk. While there is no doubt that there was considerable dissatisfaction with Sihanouk's rule among much of Cambodia's urban elite, there is little reason to think that those who mounted the coup of March 18, 1970, would have dared move against him had they not been encouraged to do so by American agents, promised prompt U.S. recognition and backing, and had they not been provided with tangible means for carrying out the coup. Nor can any rational person easily believe that immediately after they had ousted Sihanouk the coup leaders would have carried out their provocations against the much more powerful Hanoi and PRG unless they had been assured in advance of U.S. military support should that prove necessary.
Whether or not U.S. funds and personnel were directly involved in the coup, U.S. mercenaries were. During the course of the previous year, under the aegis of General Lon Nol, there occurred a series of what were officially described as "rallyings" of some 2,000 of the CIA-supported Khmer Serei to the Royal Cambodian Army and police force. Infiltrated under Lon Nol's direction into a number of key army and police units, they were later to emerge as the main activists among the anti-Sihanouk forces that sacked the Hanoi and PRG embassies in Phnom Penh and applied pressures on the Cambodian deputies who were cowed into voting for Sihanouk's removal from power.
What is clear in retrospect but which was of course not appreciated at the time was that these CIA mercenaries were rallying not to Sihanouk, but to General Lon Nol, and on terms worked out between the latter and the head of Khmer Serei, Son Ngoc Thanh, in negotiations that probably began as early as September 1969 (soon after the unsuspecting Sihanouk had appointed Lon Nol as his prime minister). That these Khmer Serei "ralliers" have been termed the "Trojan Horse" that undermined Sihanouk is appropriate-a Trojan Horse, it should be noted, that was paid for by the United States and presumably directed by its agents. That there had been an understanding respecting further U.S. support should Lon Nol's group encounter difficulties after its seizure of power, is suggested by the promptness after the coup of March 18, 1970, with which the
United States sent him reinforcements of additional U.S.-trained and financed Khmer Krom-that is, members of South Vietnam's large Cambodian minority. Within a few weeks of the coup a total of approximately 4,800 of these men, seconded from either the Saigon army or directly from American-led Khmer Krom Mike Forces were flown into Phnom Penh aboard U.S. planes. According to Son Ngoc Thanh, the Khmer Serei's leader, with whom I discussed this matter in mid-1971, the total American-trained and financed Khmer Krom (including Khmer Serei, Mike forces, and others) who had by then been infused into the Royal Cambodian army was in excess of 10,000.*
Consequences of the administration's Cambodia policy
It has been almost five years now since Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger supported Lon Nol in a coup d'etat against Sihanouk. That policy has proven so unacceptable to the Cambodian people that their country was plunged into a bloody civil war. So little popular support did the U.S. Administration's new protege secure and so quickly did the tide of battle begin to flow against him that the invasion of Cambodia by American troops six weeks later, for which the coup had opened the way, was as much concerned with maintaining Lon Nol's regime in power as in attaining the original objective of rooting out Vietnamese Communist border sanctuaries. And of course the weakness of the military's rationale for that invasion as well as the quality of intelligence guiding U.S. army officers who pressed for it, was almost immediately exposed, as the Vietnamese opponents simply moved their base areas deeper into Cambodia, and the legendary COSVN headquarters for the NLF was never found. The state from which Prince Sihanouk had been ousted ceased to provide American and Saigon military forces with a neutralist flank flawed only by Vietnamese Communist border enclaves. Within the course of only a few months the country whose neutrality had helped contain the war in Vietnam was now engulfed by that war, while it was being torn apart by a civil war of its own that the American-backed coup had precipitated. And as is well known, within a very short period the border bases of the Vietnamese Communists were back in business and considerably more extensive than before.
The overthrow of Sihanouk and the American military invasion on its heels have shattered Cambodia's precarious neutrality and internal peace. The small military and urban elite that have been induced by U.S. economic leverage to maintain their backing of Lon Nol have not endowed his government with legitimacy and effective authority among Cambodians. From the outset it has been obliged to compensate for this absence by a degree of U.S. support that has been even more extensive and critical to its survival than that of any other U.S. client state-well over 90 percent of its present budget. For his part, the ousted Prince Sihanouk has been obliged to ally himself with the Cambodian Left, including ironically-some of those very elements whom he harassed during the last years he was in power.
Character of the opposition
There has clearly been an effort on the part of the Ford Administration to employ a line similar to that once used in Vietnam with respect to the NLF and to persuade Congress and the public that the opposition to Lon Nol is "faceless," enrolling Cambodians of no real stature. The leadership of the opposition government of the National United Front of Cambodia is actually a rather impressive group. In addition to the well known Sihanouk, it includes as its present prime minister Penn Nouth, a respected former Prime Minister of Cambodia; Chau Seng, former Secretary of State for Agriculture; and Hout Sambath, former Ambassador to the United Nations. It also incorporates some of the best talent among Cambodia's younger generation, Khieu Samphan, Hu Nim, and Hou Yuon. Before he left his post in Sihanouk's government in 1967, Khieu Samphan, who holds a French degree in economics and who is currently Minister of Defense in
This was an elite group of ethnically Cambodian South Vietnamese trained by U.S. Special Forces. 3 There is some reason to believe that the Khmer Krom involved in the March 8 riots against the NLF in the border province of Svey Rieng were Mike Force personnel sent in directly across the border from U.S. bases in South Vietnam.
4 A former South Vietnamese Congressman from Vinh Binh reports that from his province 7,000 Khmer Krom soldiers from the ARVN were dispatched to Phom Jenh shortly after the anti-Sihanouk coup, including three lieutenant colonels who were then promoted to full colonels. If Mike Forces are included, he estimated in February 1975 that a total of 30,000 Khmer Krom soldiers from South Vietnam had thus far been sent to fight in Cambodia.