Monday, January 6, 2014

January 7, 1979, a Military Intervention by Hanoi

Unchecked Vietnamese troops' withdrawal from Cambodia 1989

By Khmer Wathanakam

 Gen. Le Duc Anh, an architect of a brutal K-5 Plan
When nations send their military forces into other nations' territory, it is rarely [if ever] for "humanitarian" purpose.  They typically pursue their national interest--colonizing, gaining military and economic strategic advantages, seizing natural resources, and so on and so forth.  But publicly, those nations try to justify their actions in term of high moral purposes--bring peace, justice, and save lives from genocide or other humanitarian purposes.  Accordingly, Vietnam has publicly claimed that it came to save Khmer lives from Pol Pot's killing field on January 7, 1979.  Based on Khmer history and a conventional rule of individual nation's foreign policy, January 7, 1979 is not a humanitarian intervention but a military invasion by Hanoi.

January 7, 1979 has become the most controversial date in Khmer history when the current regime was installed by Hanoi on this date declaring it a national holiday to commemorate its victory over Pol Pot regime which turned the country into a killing field.  The regime even goes further to call this date as a second birthday of Cambodian people, but according to a school of International Relations, every country on this planet always places its narrow national interest above everything in conducting its own foreign policy.  No any country can afford to become a Saint or Bodhisattva in this material world.  Thus, what Vietnam has claimed; first it contradicts to a conventional rule of individual nation's foreign policy, and second it contradicts to Khmer history that has proved that Vietnam is a true Khmer traditional enemy and invader--Kampuchea Krom and Koh Tral are the living proofs.

 Historically, after conquering Kampuchea Krom, Vietnam repeatedly failed to conquer a proper Cambodia at least three times: During a reign of Emperor Thieu Tri, in late 1841, General Truong Minh Giang (in compared with General Le Duc Anh in the 1980s) when he withdrew his defeated troops from Cambodia, he sent his letter to Hue in which he took the blame for losing Cambodia, to which he referred as "the emperor's rightful property."  Then he took his own life by poisoning.  After Geneva Conference 1954, again Ho Chi Minh failed to cut Cambodia into pieces by creating a autonomous zone for the Communist Khmer Vietminh--a predecessor of the current CPP.  And after 1970's bloodless coup against Sihanouk, at least 70,000 Vietnamese troops invaded Cambodia under a slogan to reinstate Sihanouk to the power.  Fortunately for Khmer, those Vietnamese troops were expelled from Cambodia by the Khmer Rouge at the end of 1973 after they had helped the Khmer Rouge to gain control nearly 70 percent of the country from the Khmer Republic.

All these military failures had embedded in the Vietnamese leaders' memory and motivated them to search for more suitable time and opportunity.  Vietnam, politically and militarily tried to place Cambodia and Laos under its patronage system.  In 1976, Vietnam convinced Pol Pot to sign a special friendship treaty among three countries--Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam-- but Hanoi's proposal fiercely rejected by Pol Pot.  The words "special friendship" with Vietnam just even infuriated Pol Pot and made him more suspicious about Hanoi's intentions.  After several violent armed conflicts along the border, Pol Pot ordered to cut diplomatic relationship with Vietnam in 1977; then the two countries were on a state of war, accusing each other of border provocations.

On a screen of Vietnam's foreign policy, military intervention to overthrow Pol Pot regime became its top priority to protect its border security and to fulfill its three unfinished missions in the past as its final conquest on Cambodia.  It was a great opportunity that Hanoi had waited for years and inspired by their ancestor's slogan, "a Journey Towards the West."  On Christmas Eve 1978, approximately 200,000 well-armed Vietnamese troops under a command of General Le Duc Anh--an adept military commander and a Communist hardliner--invaded Cambodia from multiple directions, encountering light resistance from Democratic Kampuchea forces. A quick fall of Phnom Penh caught the Vietnamese Commanders by surprised as they had expected more fierce battles with the well-disciplined Khmer Rouge fighters . After taking full control over Cambodia, General Le Duc Anh  formulated five key points to defense the Vietnamese occupation against the Khmer Resistance Forces from infiltration known as a " K-5 Plan," in parallel to "Vinh Te Canal excavation" imposed on Khmer by Emperor Gia Long in 1816.

How grateful it is! If Vietnam came to liberate Khmer lives from killing field and let Khmer take their own destination through democratic process as the U.S. has done in Iraq, Afghanistan, and recently in Libya.  After military interventions, those countries were allowed to hold free and fair election and rebuilt their economy. But Vietnam took opposite direction in 1979; it came to topple an extreme dictatorial regime of Pol Pot, and it replaced with another dictatorial regime of Hun Sen who has posed more dangerous to Khmer nation than Pol Pot in term of Khmer sovereignty and independence.  A flagrant K-5 Plan that killed thousands of innocent Khmer in the 1980s, the current economic concessions--Prey Land, Angkor Wat, Bokor Resort...  and rampant influx of illegal immigrants are clear evidences to corroborate that Vietnam explicitly came to colonize Cambodia and to seize Khmer natural resources, not in a mission to save Khmer lives.

Through historic and current aggression policies of Vietnam toward Cambodia, there is no feasible  explanation or evidence to convince that Vietnam came to save Khmer lives from Pol Pot's killing field on January 7, 1979 (a humanitarian intervention), but it is a great opportunity that Vietnam had premeditated for years.  No matter what atrocity Pol Pot had committed against Khmer people if Pol Pot was totally submissive to the Vietnamese patronage as King Ang Chan II, his successor Queen Mei, and the current leader Hun Sen, Vietnam would reward and protect Pol Pot to rule Cambodia until his old age as it has been grooming Hun Sen over three decades.  Therefore, January 7, 1979 is absolutely not a humanitarian intervention to save Khmer lives as Vietnam has claimed but a military invasion to conquer and to seize Khmer natural resources as all Khmer people are currently witnessing. 

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