The Heritage Foundation

Backgrounder Update #158

May 2, 1991

May 2, 1991 | Backgrounder Update on

Staying the Course for Bringing Peace to Cambodia

(Archived document, may contain errors)

(Updating Asian Studies Center Backgrounder No. 97, "Washington Should Listen to Its Friends and Take a More Active Role in Cambodia," December 14, 1989; Backgrounder Update No. 68, "The Cambodian Resistance Deserves Renewed U.S. Backing," February 1, 1988; Asian Studies Center Backgrounder No. 25, "Ten Years Later, Cambodia Still Bleeds," April 12, 1985.)

c Aid- d1m.'supp6rtirg aid to ffip i@onTcommunist Cambodian resistance. 11is r ze n liake 6ckb '-.1979when-tht..CarterAdmimstrAtion Vi6ffiEffii?\u223\'a7200,000- x pt. a p@\u223\'a7sud. 9 to reacting to lo -6f tim!66dia@ b6gdn proiv'iding srhall amounts of 'q'o'vte fti',. n6n-l ethal -aA ib@c qjRva\u223\'a7 -.A @ . I ig anbiF am-." -groups. -In iLn lmp@ob@ble-co4j'lfidii, tfig-noti-'C"@ii@fiuiii9ft6@rfit-lillas h'e- Nih6se4v ed Khmer Rouge, re" istedV Agg -, i6ina ki6nii1iiy.'-,, VTifiepup- qthei,With t pport s m s occu o; -had in: -ir ]A mpli .cating m@Vt&,s, the. P1,-Rq%t, gpl5ddiangovernment an stalled. PhnomPe . .'Fur.th'er'co Anlohi Penh reg'ime'w'as-it9blf tomposed'of former Khmer Roiuge @-fficiajg.-,Wfifli ifi'06W& -fr6m 1975 Khmer Rou I -deaths- & e, mi n until' 108 'ih'6' Fdi least on 'Alibn-Cam&6dia's, the ge were responsib e for the fe's, ullt of brut egiohal nfighting and starvation from failed -colnmiin'iit@agianan pqiicies. V C i @e c?',esshil, Drive.lif '1985, the'United Steps Congrqss took. the lead in exp@@dinj aid to the non-com- rpu'iiigt'resistance''el"ement-of the c6alition..DLringtha't''y'q'g,,'Reprq:senit'ativ;6"Siephen S61alrzitheNew "Y-q"r&I)e'inocrit-: goe-arheaded a success 15 infillo'n-in Ov6ft,)@6n4erhal aid to ful drive to appropriate.. 'b b'poini-6onimunist groups, the Khm er People's-Natio.nal Ubdratiofi Froni and the Arniee.'Nationale 'Sih,Afio'u-1'den'ne.',His argument: strengthening.the two non-communist fidionsw6uld.help. prevent. a [*Ot.jr1-- - - -f 'idiurn o the keh6cidal Khmer Rome or.a.consolidation'of p6w@r byth&Vietn@mese backedThnom. FY n regime.-ne.'Reagari.Administration approvied.of th, e congressio nl@l iffitia-tive @an&matchedjt with imvert, non'-kthal aid -chAnneled.througk@4q,Ceniril'.Irii@ili'ei Agency. n6e Vritfl 1989- 'support for the non-communist Ca m-bodian resistance within Congress and the Ad- str rew many -gltl- ough not All 'Vija!*M" itidn-temiffied high. in that year, bowevei,''Vie'tniam' w Ithd ;.of its oc- -capynig.forde-s from Cambodia. In response.,liberal 11j6mocfiik-t6ok-aim'At-'the MGdest $31..,milli.o.n in 'S. Sv,@.S. suppqrt for- the resistance. They arguid f4iat;hoii6iizifig US "di I inatic. ' -trade-xolati@qi ip 0 and M with na bvernment: ifrPhzirim.Petill Would-be the ,Vi6t' m aiid -softening the.U.S. stand agifiuf the 6offiffiVniii 66ft-safeguar'd-against, a return of the Xhn@6i k6ug'-e to power rrb-e -B U@sh Administration. wisely has shunned congressional pressure to reverse its Cambodia policy. %Ifbe Administration has argued that becau-s'@:the Phnom Pehh- efffinenvis riddledwithfopn Wcotd, -it- ig -an - dna;qceptA1Aq,..altern'ative T111"khmt-r. Rotige. offici -a- Is--and:has. amassed'a'diimal MLman righl@: 16- the: KhmerRouge@itself..What_is more-,: softenixig.pf .U! 4.pplicy toward r-ha-PiHai -and-FhnoMPp-OWq14!a% "pc'e*- 'essure- ib ent 16_cspn@p t.@, Rn@ d Na- no. 1. red 'pir- qn-both:1 esegoveff4 m s .1ywi e

tions efforts to negotiate a settlement in Cambodia. In any such settlement, effective non-communist factions are vital to moderating the power held by the Khmer Rouge and the Phnom Penh regime. The question of U.S. aid to the non-communist resistance now threatens to become a major confron- tation between the Administation and congressional opponents. To appease some of the opposition, Bush last November ended all covert aid for the Cambodian resistance. As a result, Congress approved $20 million in overt, non-lethal assistance to the non-communist resistance in the Fiscal 1991 Foreign Appropriations Bill. One limitation that the President was forced to accept, however, was a provision that all aid would cease if the non-communists cooperated, either "strategically or tactically," with the Khmer Rouge on the battlefield. Of the $20 million in allocated funds, the President is allowed to spend $7 million immediately without prior notification to Congress. The State Department, however, sensitive about offending Capitol Hill, has spent nothing. Only on April 18, after receiving petitions from members of Congress who support the non-communist resistance, did the State Department agree to spend the first $7 mil- lion, and then only with the understanding that it be used primarily to help the civilian refugee popula- tions under control of the non-communist resistance. Challenging Aid. Congressional opponents now are mobilizing against even this half-measure. On April 18, the same day that the State Department approved spending the first $7 million, Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell sent a letter co-signed by twelve other Senators and Congressmen to Bush. Claiming that non-communist Cambodian guerrillas have cooperated on the battlefield with Khmer Rouge units while battling Phnom Penh's military, and invoking the "anti-cooperation" provision of the 1991 Foreign Appropriations Bill, the letter charges that any further U.S. aid to the non-communists would violate U.S. law. With its evident threat to Administation policy, the letter aims to do to the non-communist Cambodian resistance what the Boland Amendment did to the Reagan Administration's support for Nicaraguan freedom fighters - cut them off entirely from American assis- tance. While the State Department carefully avoids confrontations with Congress, and congressional op- ponents of the Administration's policy turn Cambodia into a partisan issue to attack the President and usurp his ability to conduct U.S. foreign policy, the situation inside Cambodia is fast deteriorating. The non-communist resistance, uncertain of continued American support, is suffering defeats on the bat- tlefield. In addition, the more than 200,000 civilian refugees that the two non-communist factions ad- minister may now be deprived of much needed U.S. humanitarian aid. Finally, the major military offen- sive Phnom Penh launched against the non-communist resistance at the beginning of this year continues its success. To meet this latest congressional challenge, and to help bring about a negotiated settlement in Cam- bodia, Bush should take several steps aimed at safeguarding his Indochina policy. Among them: * * Immediately dispatch the flrst $7 million in aid to the non-communist resistance. This first in- stallment of non-lethal humanitarian aid, which requires no congressional notification, desperately is needed by the civilian populations under the protection of the non-communist resistance. Bush must not allow congressional threats such as the April 18 Mitchell letter further to delay sending this much- needed U.S. support. * * Order the Director of Central Intelligence to report on the continued presence of Vietnamese troops in Cambodia. Congressional opponents of Bush's Indochina policy argue that Vietnam has pulled all its troops out of Cambodia and, as a result, the U.S. should begin to normalize relations with Hanoi. In fact, U.S. intelligence sources indicate that not only have Vietnamese military advisors and support units remained in Cambodia, but Vietnamese soldiers actually have been supporting Phnom Penh's latest attack on the non-communist resistance. A comprehensive study of these findings has never been presented to Congress. Bush, therefore, should direct U.S. intelligence agencies to prepare a report on Vietnam's military presence in Cambodia since 1989, when Hanoi claims to have withdrawn its troops. This report should be made available to the appropriate congressional committees, and used by the Administration to underscore its insistence that Hanoi stop interfering in Cambodian affairs before the U.S. restores normal diplomatic relations with Vietnam. * * Direct U.S. intelligence agencies to report on the role of former members of the Khmer Rouge in the Phnom Penh regime. Many opponents of Bush's Indochina policy insist that the Phnom Penh regime is an acceptable alternative to the Khmer Rouge. Yet, most senior officials in Phnom Penh, in- cluding Prime Minister Hun Sen and President Heng Samrin, once held positions of authority in the Khmer Rouge. Many of these people, in fact, have been implicated in human rights abuses both while serving in the Khmer Rouge and under the current regime. To refute congressional critics, Bush should order the U.S. intelligence community to prepare comprehensive biographies of those Phnom Penh offi- cials known to have participated in human rights abuses against the Cambodian people. * * Pressure France and Indonesia to host settlement talks among the four Cambodian factions. Since early 1989, France and Indonesia have taken the lead in hosting U.N.-sponsored talks aimed at producing a negotiated Cambodian settlement. Over the past year these talks have been stalemated, owing largely to the intransigence of the Phnom Penh regime and Vietnam. Because neither Jakarta nor Paris wants to host a new round of talks likely to end in failure, the negotiation process has stag- nated. Phnom Penh, whose military offensive against the non-communists is doing well, is pleased by this delay; the non-communists, whose men are dying on the battlefield, want negotiations to proceed. The Bush Administration should increase its diplomatic efforts, and pressure France and Indonesia im- mediately to resume U.N. settlement talks. Finally, Bush should make a strong public statement con- demning Phnom Penh's intransigence. With the image of the U.N. as an effective peacekeeper boosted by recent experience in the Persian Gulf, the moment should be seized to produce an international settlement in Cambodia. George Bush should continue his current policy of aiding the non-communist resistance, and supporting U.N.- sponosored negotiating efforts. It is the best chance for bringing peace to wartorn Cambodia.

Kenneth J. Conboy . _ Deputy Director, Asian Studies Center

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