Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Cambodia Announces Delay in U.S. Military Assistance

Background Brief
Cambodia Announces Delay in
U.S. Military Assistance
Carlyle A. Thayer
August 14, 2013
[client name deleted]
I wonder if you had any thoughts on how the delay of U.S. military aid programs
move makes Cambodia look.
Q1. Does the government appear rash or extreme to do this proactively, in the midst
of criticism from the U.S.?
ANSWER: Cambodia’s reaction to external criticism, such as announcing the delay in
externally funded military assistance, is what one would expect from a country that
has long subscribed to the Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence. These principles
include mutual respect, equality, and non-interference in internal affairs. I doubt any
fellow member of ASEAN would be openly critical of the Hun Sen government for its
action. Countries like Indonesia, for example, would be empathetic to a certain
extent given U.S. military restrictions imposed after its intervention in East Timor.
Cambodia’s actions have been couched in ambiguity and are not directly
confrontational. They do not appear rash or an overreaction. They are a mild shot
across the bow to warn the U.S. and European countries of the consequences of
pushing their criticism of the conduct of the recent national election – which is
viewed as intervention – too far.
Q2. In terms of the U.S. pivot to Asia, does this indicate Cambodia under Hun Sen is
no longer viable as a partner for the U.S.
ANSWER: Cambodia remains a viable partner for the U.S. Cambodia has not
cancelled all aid. And Hun Sen can easily reverse course if it suits. So far domestic
matters in Cambodia have not reached a point where the U..S is likely to cancel all
military aid. The U..S is likely to continue to support Cambodia in training for
international peacekeeping under the UN and the US Navy is likely to call in regularly
with ship visits.
Suggested citation: Carlyle A. Thayer, “Cambodia Announces Delay in U.S. Military
Assistance,” August 14, 2013. All background briefs are posted on Scribd.com (search
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Thayer Consultancy provides political analysis of current regional security issues and other research support to selected clients. Thayer Consultancy was officially registered as a small business in Australia in 2002.

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