Social Scientist. v 2, no. 16 (Nov 1973) p. 70.


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BOOK REVIEW

Review Article

Cambodia^s Struggle

MALCOLM CALDWELL and LEK HOR TAN, CAMBODIA IN THE SOUTH EAST ASIAN WAR, Monthly Review Press, New York and London 1973, pp 446, ^6.45.

Although now it is nearly one year after the signing of the Vietnam cease-fire, continued US actions in Cambodia reveal the depth of a resolve to hang on to Indochina, come what may. All the same, more than four fifths of the country is in the hands of the liberation forces and the Lon Nol regime in Phnom Penh is in a state of virtual collapse. Aroused by aggression, Cambodia has shown the transformation of a supposedly lethargic people from nationalism to resurgence and revolution.

This book analyses the history of Cambodia and the evolution of US foreign policy leading to the convergence of 1970 : the overthrow of Prince Norodom Sihanouk and the direct invasion of US troops. It contains detailed accounts of Sihanouk's pursuit of independence and neutrality, US intrigues, at home and abroad, which frustrated these efforts and his final emergence as head of state in exile in China, dedicated to Cambodia's national liberation in alliance with North Vietnam, the NLF and the Pathet Lao.

The united resistance of the Indochinese people against foreign aggression has a parallel in the 1884-6 anti-French struggle, one of the first people's wars of independence in Asian history. It was also fought in the name of a king, Norodom. France's 'pacification' campaign forced the various national and regional movements—especially Cambodian and Vietnamese—into a united resistance.

The French won and survived in Cambodia until the 1950s. Cambodia's economic value to France, in addition to the tax revenues, was enhanced with the introduction of rubber cultivation in the 1920s. This was to have a significant consequence. It was plantation workers radicalized and politicalized in the miserable conditions of the rubber estates



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