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The West’s return on investment?

Raoul Marc Jennar / Khmer Times Share:
The 1969 B-52 offensive in Cambodia was code-named Operation Menu. (U.S. Air Force photo) reuters

The moral high ground currently taken by the EU and the US on Cambodia seems hypocritical if the Kingdom’s turbulent history in the 1970s and 1980s is recalled, argues Raoul Marc Jennar.

The EU on February 26 and the United States the day after released a statement on Cambodia. Both expressed their concern over the “resources” and “contributions” they had “invested” in supporting the democratic process since the 1991 Paris Peace Agreement.

Money provided to build democracy in Cambodia seems to legitimise their systematic interferences in the domestic affairs of the country.

Apparently, money grants the right to dictate how a law must be written and how it must be implemented.

Money also gives the right to blame the ruling party, but to remain silent when the opposition launches appeals to kill ethnic Vietnamese. Likewise, Western democracies also remained silent when the opposition organised provocations to create incidents in a neighbouring country, and published fake treaties and maps with the aim of portraying the current leaders of Cambodia as traitors.

How can they also turn their eyes to the suffering of the Cambodian people when the opposition denied that there were crimes against humanity committed by the Khmer Rouge leaders, particularly at the S21 torture centre?

All of these irresponsible behaviours seem to enjoy the support of the EU and the US.

It is not surprising to see the similarities between the EU and the US as far as Cambodia is concerned. Since its inception, the EU has failed to show collective leadership and only sides with strong nations, sidelining the weak ones. The EU is not a community of values; it is merely a community of interests.

But back to the statements about their money “invested” in Cambodia. We should first ask the question: what was the price paid by the Cambodian people for Western support to the destruction of Cambodia by US carpet bombings from October 1965 until August 1973?

What was the price paid by the Cambodian people for Western silence during the genocidal Pol Pot regime? What was the price paid by the survivors of this regime for the embargo imposed on Cambodia during the 1980s and the support given by European countries and the US to the Khmer Rouge’s diplomacy and army?

If we compare the extremely high price paid by Cambodia and the Cambodian people because of Western policies during the 1970s and the 1980s with the money “invested” since 1991 to impose their model of democracy, it is totally unbalanced.

The money “invested” by the West since 1991 does not compensate the suffering the West inflicted on Cambodia for more than two decades. Far from that!

But it seems that the spirit of colonialism is still alive. Western arrogance and contempt are still there. They want to impose their values, culture, and mode at any price similar to the coup in 1970.

Raoul Marc Jennar holds a PhD in Khmer studies and is based in Phnom Penh.

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