Cambodian-Americans praise Mu Sochua

Friday, July 9, 2010

SRP MP Mu Sochua at her arrival at the Phnom Penh airport on 05 July 2010 (Photo: Yun Samean, RFA)

10 July 2010
By Taing Sarada
Radio Free Asia
Translated from Khmer by Heng Soy
Click here to read the article in Khmer

“Cambodia is lucky to have a brave daughter like her. I hope that there will be a lot of other women who will stand up like her. All the other men should be ashamed by her bravery.”
Overseas Cambodians praise the decision made by SRP MP Mu Sochua not to pay her fine. The Phnom Penh municipal court ordered her to pay a compensation to Hun Xen regarding the defamation lawsuit brought up by the latter.

Cambodian-Americans are calling Mrs. Mu Sochua a “famous heroic woman” who dared fight against the Cambodian justice system which is well known for being under the whim of the ruling party.

Im Sinith, a Cambodian-American living in Alabama, said that Mu Sochua’s struggle is undertaken to seek justice for herself and to set an example to the entire country: “They [the CPP regime] violated her rights, and she is the one who is sentenced instead. If there is arrangement made, then there would be no justice at all. To have justice, there should be no arrangement made. Therefore justice requires justice, so I want her to maintain her strong position in spite of the circumstances, we cannot just stand and watch.”

Saro Sivutha, the former president of the Student Movement for Democracy, said from Long Beach, California, that he praises Mu Sochua’s courage to dare bring reform to improve the justice system: “Cambodia is lucky to have a brave daughter like her. I hope that there will be a lot of other women who will stand up like her. All the other men should be ashamed by her bravery.”

The Phnom Penh municipal court and the Phnom Penh treasury issued an ultimatum for her to pay 16.5 million riels in fine because she lost her case in the defamation lawsuit brought up by Hun Xen.

On 06 July, the Phnom Penh court of first instance issued an order telling Mu Sochua to pay the entire amount of her fine within a period of 10 days starting from 06 July, otherwise, the police will arrest her and send her to jail.

However, Mrs. Mu Sochua used to indicate that she will not even pay one single riel and that she is ready to face her arrest.

Cambodian-Americans living in several US states announced that they will push their US congressmen and senators to put pressure on the Cambodian government should the police arrest Mrs. Mu Sochua.
READ MORE - Cambodian-Americans praise Mu Sochua

July 15th event in Phnom Penh: Buddhism, "The Opposite of Buddhism"

This isn't a "typical" announcement for Khmerization to post on the
website, however, (1) you do run stories about the state of Buddhism
in Cambodia, and (2) your website probably has at least a few regular
readers who would be interested in attending this lecture ... if
they're in Phnom Penh. On the 15th, the lecture will be in English
only: I am hoping to (subsequently) translate the full text into
Khmer, and then present it again to a broader audience.

Time and Place:

15th of July 2010
6pm – Baitong Restaurant
(7 Street 360/ Norodom Bd, Beung Keng Kang I)

The lecture is very much addressed to a Cambodian audience, and makes
explicit links to the problems Cambodian students and scholars are
facing today (in "inheriting" the European tradition of Buddhist

Best wishes,

[Title:] The Opposite of Buddhism: European Colonialism and Interpretation

[Author:] Eisel Mazard

[Abstract/Synopsis:] The legacy of European scholarship is burdened
with distorting biases; conversely, the "canon" of this scholarship is
increasingly available in digital formats, instantly accessible, and
used throughout Asia (even within Buddhist monasteries) and
incorporated into (seemingly) indigenous versions of Buddhist texts.
The formative influence of Imperialism, Christianity, Theosophy and
Aryan race theory in early European (mis-)interpretations of Theravada
Buddhism continues to have implications for the current generation of
scholars --both in Asia and in Europe. This lecture broaches some of
the outstanding problems of interpretation in the European tradition,
tracing out a few patterns over a period of centuries, with some
distortions originating in European colonialism but continuing to have
salience to debates about the content of Buddhist philosophy that
are ongoing (in Asia and Europe) today.

[About the Author:] Eisel Mazard is a scholar of Pali, the most
ancient language and literature of Theravada Buddhism, and of the
history, languages and politics of Theravada Asia. His research has
primarily concerned mainland Southeast Asia: Cambodia, Laos, Yunnan
and Thailand.

[A list of recent articles:]

READ MORE - July 15th event in Phnom Penh: Buddhism, "The Opposite of Buddhism"

Cambodian population to reach 17.5 mln by 2025 - [How many are Khmers and how many are Xmers?]

As Hun Xen claimed, Cambodia's morality squad is spearheaded by Generalissimo Bun Rany Hun Xen (L), Hun Xen's wife (Photo: The Phnom Penh Post)

July 10, 2010

Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen said Friday that his country's population will reach 17.5 million by 2025 citing the average birth rate at 1.54 percent per year.

In an open message to the World Population Day, Hun Sen said the Cambodian populations were recorded at 13.4 million in 2008 to about 14.3 million by July 2010.

He said with the capacity of having 3 to 4 children in one family and with an average birth rate of 1.54 percent per year, the country's populations will "reach 17.5 million by 2025".

He said women have played an important role in Cambodia's society and their roles have been elevated through the rectangular strategy set out by his government and their education was also recorded high.

Hun Sen said that literary rate among women at their ages of 15 and above was recorded having basic education from primary to graduate level was increased from 57 percent in 1998 to 71 percent in 2008.

Also, at the same time, women have been integrated and posted in the government cabinet, parliaments as well as other governmental institutions.

Cambodia holds it population census every 10 years and since 1993, Cambodia has held twice, one in 1998 showing 11,437,656 with 5.5 millions as males and 5.9 millions as females, and the second was in 2008 showed the populations increased to 13,388,910 with 6.5 millions as males and 6.9 millions as females.
READ MORE - Cambodian population to reach 17.5 mln by 2025 - [How many are Khmers and how many are Xmers?]

Long Beach nonprofit trying to help another young Cambodian heart patient

Doctors in Cambodia examine Bunlak Song, who was abandoned by his homeless birth mother at two days old.
Bunlak Song, 2, needs heart surgery.


By Greg Mellen, Staff Writer
Long Beach Press Telegram

"As we checked in at a small hotel," Chhun recalls, "she begged me, `Please help Bunlak, lok ta (grandpa), I hope and pray, and I pray very hard that you can save his life."'
At a dusty roadside store in Cambodia between Phnom Penh and the Vietnamese border, Peter Chhun found his latest cause, another life in the balance.

Bunlak Song, was only two days old when his homeless mother begged Siv Leng Chuy and Chin Song Hai, who were visiting their adult daughter in the hospital, to take her son. By nightfall the mother left the hospital and her child behind.

Bunlak's adoptive parents scratch out a living selling gas in plastic bottles to local taxis, motorcycles and tuk-tuks in their home village of Kampong Popil. But they have taken the boy in and say he has brought them luck.

However, they need a miracle if Bunlak, who will be 3 in October, is to live a normal life.

Bunlak suffers from several congenital heart defects, including a ventral septal defect, or a hole in the heart, and coarctation, or narrowing, of the aorta.

This has led to a variety of maladies, including hypertension in the lungs and a history of dyspnea, or labored breathing, since birth, according to a report by Dr. Luy Lyda of Angkor Hospital for Children.

Left untreated, the conditions could lead to a shortened life expectancy and declining health.

Chhun founded Hearts Without Boundaries, a small nonprofit in Long Beach to help children like Bunlak. Since 2008, Chhun has helped three destitute Cambodian children receive life-altering open heart surgeries not available to them in their home country.

Chhun annually travels to Cambodia with Variety Lifeline which provides minor heart procedures for children. He hopes after that visit to bring Bunlak to the U.S. in December if the boy is determined a good candidate for surgery.

In the interim, he hopes to broker a deal with a hospital to take on Bunsak.

Chhun's three previous clients, Davik Teng, Soksamnang Vy and Socheat Nha, were treated by surgeons who donated services and hospitals that either donated facilities or offered them at deep discounts.

Chhun met Bunlak and his family on a recent trip to Cambodia. He recalls talking to Chuy after a 5-hour trip to Siem Reap to have Bunlak examined.

"As we checked in at a small hotel," Chhun recalls, "she begged me, `Please help Bunlak, lok ta (grandpa), I hope and pray, and I pray very hard that you can save his life."'

Information about Hearts Without Boundaries is available online at The group also has a page on Facebook., 562-499-1291 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 562-499-1291
READ MORE - Long Beach nonprofit trying to help another young Cambodian heart patient

Chhang Song sidelined with health problems in Long Beach

Chhang Song, ex-Lon Nol regime minister, ex-CPP senator, renominated as CPP advisor in 2007 (Photo: The Phnom Penh Post)

Cambodian diplomat sidelined with health problems in Long Beach

By Greg Mellen, Staff Writer
Long Beach Press Telegram

LONG BEACH - Song Chhang had hoped to be celebrating this weekend in Washington D.C.

He certainly didn't expect to be in a bed in a nursing facility considering his life and wondering what the future holds.

"I still have so many things to do," the 72-year-old says wistfully.

There are stories yet to tell. He wants to see how things turn out in his Cambodian homeland. But now, he just doesn't know.

Chhang is a prominent if rather low-key Cambodian in Long Beach. He is French and American educated, the former Minister of Information for Lon Nol's government during the Cambodian civil war. In the United States he helped craft the legislation that paved the way for 150,000 refugees to flee Cambodia after the fall of Pol Pot's brutal Khmer Rouge regime, under which upwards of 2 million Cambodians died.

He returned to Cambodia around 1994 and was part of the Cambodian People's Party until he was ousted in the late 1990s.

This weekend, Chhang had looked forward to speaking at a special dinner among diplomats and fellow Cambodians to recognize the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Cambodia and the United States.

The actual date of the beginning of Cambodia-U.S diplomatic ties was in July 15, 1950. That year, the U.S had sent its first ambassador to Cambodia to recognize its impending independence before the country's final separation from France in 1953.

Although relations have been rocky at times and even severed, in recent years the relationship has improved.

Later this month, there will be events in Cambodia to mark the anniversary, including a performance by Long Beach resident Sophiline Shapiro's Cambodian classical dance troupe of "Seasons of Migration."

Although he'd love to take it all in, instead, Chhang will have to hear second-hand from his bed at the Regency Oaks Skilled Nursing Care facility.

Initially, Chhang thought he suffered a stroke, but he says doctors are still doing tests.

Chhang traces his health problems to overextending himself in a recent visit to Phnom Penh for a reunion of war correspondents, or the "old hacks," as they called themselves. Before his ascension to Minister of Information, Chhang was a press liaison.

At the reunion, Chhang helped oversee the installation of a small memorial to the 37 journalists who died covering the civil war between 1970 and 1975. He was also part of a group that traveled south of Phnom Penh to plant a tree in memory of an NBC team killed there.

Chhang says he wrote and made eight different speeches over the reunion events.

Now he hopes to get out of his bed and do whatever he can to help his country. He had planned a speech about refreshing sometimes rocky relations between the U.S. and Cambodia before his country falls too much under the sway of China.

And he wishes to see a day when a more "spiritual leadership" comes to his country. That's would make the old man happy., 562-499-1291 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 562-499-1291
READ MORE - Chhang Song sidelined with health problems in Long Beach

Rendez-vous at No. 71 Sothearos Blvd in Phnom Penh on Thursday 15 July 2010 - Bring In Your Krama (BIYK)!

Please come out (in your kramas!)
on Thursday, July 15
to No. 71 Sothearos Blvd.
in support of outspoken parliamentarian and
champion of women's rights
Madam MU Sochua
when the police come to arrest her.

A visit with a hero (beautifully wrapped in silk krama) at her elegant home after being treated to a wonderful lunch at Atmosphere (Phnom Penh, 7 July 2010).

Thank you Anet Khmer for the correction!
READ MORE - Rendez-vous at No. 71 Sothearos Blvd in Phnom Penh on Thursday 15 July 2010 - Bring In Your Krama (BIYK)!

Cambodian Activist Chooses Jail in Standoff with Prime Minister

Cambodian opposition lawmaker Mu Sochua says she would rather go to jail than pay the prime minister for defamation. (Photo: Heng Sinith)

Kate Woodsome, Voice of America
Washington 09 July 2010

It is about the opposition party making all its efforts to fight a prime minister who acts as a dictator. And it is about time to make a move for change.” - Mu Sochua, Cambodian opposition parliamentarian
To be a critic of the Cambodian government is difficult and, sometimes, dangerous work. But to be a female activist is even more challenging in the male-dominated society. Mu Sochua, an opposition party parliamentarian, is one of the country’s most powerful women. She is now counting down the days until her arrest on charges of defaming Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Strong legs

It all started when Mu Sochua sued the prime minister for defamation. Last year, Mr. Hun Sen called Mu Sochua “cheung klang,” which means strong legs. Mu Sochua says “cheung klang” was used in a disparaging way to disrespect her gender and intimidate the opposition. She sued him for the equivalent of 12 cents in what she called a symbolic protest. The prime minister responded with his own defamation suit, alleging that her lawsuit unfairly disparaged him.

Cambodia’s courts struck down Mu Sochua’s case but upheld the prime minister’s. She has until July 15th to pay about $4,000 in fines. But she says she would rather go to prison.

“It is my conscience that tells me I have not committed any crime. It is my conscience that tells me that we have to stop living in fear, and fear of one man who has ruled Cambodia for over 30 years,” Mu Sochua says. “And for me, it’s a gender issue as well. Because if I allow it to happen, if I pay the fine, what does it mean to the value of women who represent more than half of the people of Cambodia?”

Women's rights

Mu Sochua was not always a member of the opposition. From 1998 to 2004, she served in the government as the minister of women’s affairs. Since then, many more women have joined the government. Mu Sochua says the social image of women has improved somewhat, but that the changes have not been institutionalized.

“The women who are elected from the ruling party, the party of the prime minister, unfortunately do not serve their constituency because they serve their party first,” she says. “Which means that they don’t challenge, they don’t monitor the implementation of the laws.”

Mu Sochua says she is unwilling to stay silent while Prime Minister Hun Sen intimidates the Cambodian people, including those in his own party.

“It’s not about me and the prime minister,” Mu Sochua says. “It is about the opposition party making all its efforts to fight a prime minister who acts as a dictator. And it is about time to make a move for change.”


Authorities have not said how long Mu Sochua would spend in prison if arrested. She says she is mentally preparing to be behind bars for six months. Her case is not unprecedented. In 2005, several human rights activists were also jailed for defamation but released in less than a month largely because of international pressure.

The world may be watching Mu Sochua’s case, as well. The Cambodian parliamentarian is a Nobel Peace Prize nominee and a U.S. citizen. But she says she is not using her status to try to avoid arrest. She says if going to prison will help illuminate Cambodia’s problems, then she is willing to do whatever it takes.

Western nations often raise concerns about democracy and human rights in Cambodia, but critics say they do not do enough to hold the Hun Sen government accountable. In June, foreign donors awarded Cambodia more than $1 billion in development aid on the same day the Supreme Court upheld the prime minister’s case against Mu Sochua.
READ MORE - Cambodian Activist Chooses Jail in Standoff with Prime Minister

“Shall Women Remain Silent?” A Roundtable Discussion

Press Release

“Shall Women Remain Silent?”
A Roundtable Discussion

We, a group of university students, individual advocates, and Cambodian women groups share an urgent concern regarding women’s freedom of expression. We believe in the potential that Cambodia has to become a great nation promoting equality and rights for all. Therefore, in view of the criminal charges against Member of Parliament H.E. Ms. Mu Sochua regarding the defamation of Prime Minister Hun Sen, we believe we must step forward. We support our sister Mu Sochua in her time of need and the issues on women’s rights that she and many women advocate for.

In the context of MP Mu Sochua’s trial and pending imprisonment on the 15th of July, we are organizing a roundtable meeting on Cambodian women in politics, to be held in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on Saturday, 10th July, 2010. Cambodian women will share their experiences, opinions, and hopes, followed by open discussion.

A formal statement will be released next week, followed by a petition currently being circulated throughout Cambodia.

For further information please contact:

Arun Reaskmey, Tel: 012236653
Chrek Sophea, Tel: 092293257

Event Details:

Saturday 10th July 2010.
Baitong Restaurant, Number 7, Street 360, Phnom Penh
From 3-5pm.
READ MORE - “Shall Women Remain Silent?” A Roundtable Discussion

Video on the 61st Kampuchea Krom Loss by the Khmer Kampuchea Krom Community

The 61st Kampuchea Krom Loss Memorial Buddhist Service to honor past heroic Khmer Buddhist leaders, clergies, heroes and fallen armed forces personnel and Commemorate June 4, 1949 France gives Khmer land, Kampuchea Krom, to authorities of colonial Vietnam until today.

To watch videos, please kindly click on this link:
READ MORE - Video on the 61st Kampuchea Krom Loss by the Khmer Kampuchea Krom Community

‘Unprecedented’ Cambodia, US Ties

King Sihamoni of Cambodia diplomatic papers from newly appointed US Ambassador Carol Rodley, 2009. (Photo: VOA Khmer)
Men Kimseng, VOA Khmer
Washington, DC Friday, 09 July 2010

It would be good if Cambodia could learn from a rich and democratic country, not a communist one."
Cambodia and the US are experiencing their strongest ties in 60 years, according to historians and other experts, in what has been a relationship with a lot of ups and downs.

Diplomatic ties were cut twice, in 1965 and 1975, and the countries were torn apart by the Cold War. Relations were strained further after the Cambodian People’s Party seized power in fighting in 1997. And the two countries occasionally clash on issues of human rights and democracy.

Despite all this, ties are growing.

“From economic growth projects to cultural exchange programs to military cooperation, the level of substantive collaboration is unprecedented,” Kenneth Foster, a spokesman for the US Embassy in Phnom Penh, told VOA Khmer. “In no time over the last 60 years have our two countries coordinated on a daily basis as much as we do now.”

Kenton Clymer, a historian of Cambodia-US relations, said Cambodia’s Cold War position and the US’s inability to “forge a policy” damaged the relationship. He suggested a non-ideological path of diplomacy to ensure a long-term relationship.

“It it is hard to predict the issues that will arise in the next, say, 60 years will be,” he said in a phone interview. “All I can say is that as long as both sides follow an intelligent and thoughtful diplomacy, that will prevent or at least mitigate problems that will arise.”

The US is now one of the biggest donors to Cambodia, providing development assistance topping $40 million per year. And unlike aid in the 1970s, which went to war-fighting, this aid is for development.

“Nowadays, cooperation between our two countries focuses on economic development, improving democracy, human rights [and] counterterrorism and fighting drugs and human trafficking,” Cambodia’s ambassador to the US, Hem Heng, told VOA Khmer in a recent interview.

Still, there are areas where Cambodia does not meet US expectations.

“Issues like human rights, democracy, and corruption are not properly addressed,” said Kem Sokha, president of the opposition Human Rights Party. “Whenever the US raises these issues, the government of Cambodia always objects. There are still disagreements over these big issues.”

Kem Sokha said Cambodia’s leaders often talk about US invasion and past mistakes, “but never talk about those of China.”

“It is obvious that current leaders lean to another side that is still contrary to the US stance,” he added.

The most recent strain came in December 2009, when Cambodia sent 20 Uighur Muslim asylum seekers back to China, in what some groups said was a violation of international obligations.

The US suspended a military aid package as a result, but there has been little other public fallout. China followed with a military aid package of its own.

That development disappointed some.

“It would be good if Cambodia could learn from a rich and democratic country, not a communist one,” said Yap Kimtung, president of the group Cambodia-Americans for Human Rights and Democracy.

However, it has not derailed the relationship, and a stream of celebrations are planned as July continues.
READ MORE - ‘Unprecedented’ Cambodia, US Ties

Scandal at Wat Srah Chork Pagoda

Report and Video by Uon Chhin, Radio Free Asia

READ MORE - Scandal at Wat Srah Chork Pagoda

Here comes the Indochinese Triangle ... to serve Uncle Ho's dream, courtesy of Uncle Hoon from Cambodia

Uncle Hoon Xhen with his Yuon and Lao colleague (Photo: AP)

Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam To Jointly Develop Triangle Area

PHNOM PENH, July 9 (Bernama) -- Parliaments of Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam have signed an approval for the three countries to jointly develop a triangle area, China's Xinhua news agency reported Friday.

Citing the joint statement, the agreement allows of having a joint-controlled border point as well as setting up of a website with English language as an international language and the three nations' national languages.

The joint statement was released on Friday after the two-day parliaments meeting, which kicked off on July 7 in Kratie province in Cambodia.

The meeting also discussed the roles of parliaments on how to help promote triangle development plan among the three countries.

The triangle development area covers four provinces in Cambodia: Rattanakiri, Stung Treng, Mondulkiri and Kratie, with three provinces in Laos and four provinces in Vietnam.

It is the annual meeting and Vietnam hosted the meeting last year.

In 2002, leaders of the three countries agreed to boost for economic benefit, promoting tourism, exchanging culture, as well as to well cooperate in social order, security and to reduce poverty.
READ MORE - Here comes the Indochinese Triangle ... to serve Uncle Ho's dream, courtesy of Uncle Hoon from Cambodia

K.Rouge prison chief sacks his international lawyer

François Roux (L) with Duch (R), his client (Photo: AFP/Getty)

Friday, July 09, 2010

By Patrick Falby

PHNOM PENH — Former Khmer Rouge prison chief Duch has sacked his international lawyer just weeks before a verdict in his war crimes trial, the UN-backed court said Friday, after a rift emerged in his defence.

Duch, whose real name is Kaing Guek Eav, cited "loss of confidence" in his decision to dismiss Francois Roux as counsel at the Cambodian tribunal, where there has been discord between his international and local lawyers.

Duch's defence strategy imploded on the final day of his trial in November when he suddenly demanded his release after months of admitting responsibility for overseeing the murders of around 15,000 people at the Tuol Sleng prison.

During most of the trial, Duch's defence team focused on getting a lighter sentence by downplaying his position within the regime and by highlighting his remorse, his time already served and his cooperation with the court.

Prosecutors said at the time that the 67-year-old's sudden U-turn had raised doubts about his admissions of responsibility and his pleas for forgiveness.

Roux said in November the change in plea was a "bad surprise" and apparently linked to political interference in the trial, noting that Prime Minister Hun Sen had previously said he hoped the tribunal would fail.

His appeal for release "calls into question Duch's plea of culpability, but also the competence of the court," the French lawyer told AFP at the time.

At his verdict on July 26, Duch will continue to be represented by his Cambodian co-lawyer, Kar Savuth, who is also known to work for Hun Sen.

Kar Savuth in November argued that Duch wanted to be acquitted on the grounds that he was not a senior member of the Khmer Rouge hierarchy, while Roux had argued for leniency based on his contrition.

Both the Cambodian lawyer and Roux refused to comment on the sacking.

Theary Seng, founder of non-profit organisation the Centre for Justice and Reconciliation, called the timing of Roux's sacking "really suspicious", saying it could "create confusion and cynicism" about the tribunal.

"We are already very concerned that Cambodian officials at the court take orders from the government and now we have this on the eve of the verdict, so I'm perplexed -- as are many others following this process," she said.

The court, set up in 2006 as a final chance to find justice for victims of the blood-soaked regime, had already been mired in controversy over alleged political interference and allegations about kickbacks in return for jobs.

Duch is charged with crimes against humanity, war crimes, torture and premeditated murder.

In hearings over nine months last year, the defence repeatedly said he only carried out orders out of fear he and his family would be killed.

Duch's jail was at the heart of the 1975 to 1979 Khmer Rouge regime's security apparatus. Men, women and children were taken from there for execution at a nearby orchard that served as a "Killing Field".

Under their leader Pol Pot, the hardline communist Khmer Rouge wiped out nearly two million people as they abolished money and property and set up huge labour camps in their bid to take Cambodia back to a rural "Year Zero".

Pol Pot died in 1998. The joint trial of four other more senior Khmer Rouge leaders is expected to start in 2011, while the court is considering whether to open cases against five other former Khmer Rouge cadres.

Sok Samoeun, president of Cambodia Defenders Project, a legal aid organisation that helps represent Khmer Rouge victims, said he was surprised Duch had sacked Roux as all the arguments in the case were completed.

"It looks like it's useless because the case is finished," he said.
READ MORE - K.Rouge prison chief sacks his international lawyer

Sam Rainsy summoned to court on 09 August 2010

Click on the kangaroo court summon to zoom in

READ MORE - Sam Rainsy summoned to court on 09 August 2010

"Oh! Chivit Rohaam!" a Poem in Khmer by Sam Vichea

READ MORE - "Oh! Chivit Rohaam!" a Poem in Khmer by Sam Vichea

Sacrava's Politiktoons No. 106: Down Under

Cartoon by Sacrava (on the web at
and also at
READ MORE - Sacrava's Politiktoons No. 106: Down Under

Dung's order to Hun Phany, the new Xmer ambassador to Hanoi: Complete border demarcation by 2012

Prime Minister meets Cambodian new ambassador

VOV News (Hanoi)

Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung received Cambodia’s newly-accredited Ambassador Hunn Phany in Hanoi on July 8.

PM Dung praised Cambodia’s achievements over the recent past, which have helped raise the country’s position in the international arena, and boost relations between the two countries.

He asked the ambassador to contribute to boosting comprehensive cooperation between the two countries, especially in trade and investment. He mentioned Vietnam’s investment projects in aviation, telecom, mining and rubber in Cambodia, which bring practical benefits to both sides.

The PM also asked for the completion of border demarcation between the two countries in 2012 as agreed by the two countries’ leaders and make good preparations for conferences of Vietnamese and Cambodian provinces sharing common borders to be held in Cambodia.

He affirmed that the Vietnamese Government, ministries and agencies will create favourable conditions for the ambassador to fulfil his term of office.

The Cambodian Ambassador expressed thanks to Vietnam for its valuable assistance over the past years and affirmed that he will try his best to contribute to strengthening relations between the two countries.
READ MORE - Dung's order to Hun Phany, the new Xmer ambassador to Hanoi: Complete border demarcation by 2012

Gates grant funds production of genetically engineered malaria drug

A Cambodian soldier offers blood for a malaria test near the Cambodian and Thai border, where efforts are underway to eliminate a drug-resistant strain of falciparum malaria (TANG CHHIN SOTHY/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

July 8, 2010

Posted by Kristi Heim
Seattle Times (Washington State, USA)

The Institute for OneWorld Health, a San Francisco-based nonprofit, said it has received $10.7 million from the Gates Foundation to begin commercial production of a key ingredient for malaria treatment.

In a partnership with drug company Sanofi-Aventis, the institute will use the Gates grant to prepare for large-scale production and commercialization of semi synthetic artemisinin by 2012.

Semi synthetic artemisinin is produced by a combination of genetic engineering and synthetic chemistry.

Artemisinin, the standard treatment recommended for malaria, is derived from artemisia, an herb found in Chinese medicine from the leaves of the wormwood tree.

While the parasite that causes the mosquito-borne disease has developed resistance to traditional drugs such as chloroquine, artemisinin in combination with other drugs is considered to be the most effective medication and credited with raising recovery rates globally.

The problem is its cost. Labor intensive extraction drives the price up and out of reach of most people in malaria prone areas such as sub-Saharan Africa.

This scientific paper describes the process, and this article offers a plain English translation of the project to use genetic engineering techniques to create microbes that can mass-produce artemisinin. (The University of Washington is also studying artemisinin's potential in cancer prevention.)

But even a more stable supply may not fully solve the problem of drug resistance when it comes to malaria. U.S. health officials say resistance to artemisinin is spreading.

The World Health Organization (WHO) warned last year that parasites resistant to artemisinin had emerged along the border between Cambodia and Thailand.

The Gates Foundation gave the Institute for OneWorld Health a five-year $42.5 million grant in 2004 to establish and validate a manufacturing process to make artemisinin-type drugs more affordable.
READ MORE - Gates grant funds production of genetically engineered malaria drug

Cambodia: Decline of Monk Morality?

Keat Chan Thuch (L), the provincial chief monk who got drunk and beat a clergymen, he was allegedly the protégé of Cambodia's Supreme Patriarch, comrade Tep Vong (R), himself a former member of the communist politburo
Neth Khay, the peeping tom monk who videotaped naked women, showing the police the location of his hidden video camera

9 July 2010
Written by Sopheap Chak
Global Voices Online

Since Buddhism is a state religion guaranteed by the Constitution and the fact that nearly all Cambodians are Buddhists, the recent reported decline of monk morality in the country is a cause of concern.

On several occasions, monks have been found of engaging in violent behavior or misconduct including having sex or watching pornography. There was a case where a provincial chief monk reportedly got drunk and beat a clergymen who didn't file a complaint for security reason since the bully monk is recognized as the king monk in the province. Recently, a monk was caught making a video of naked ladies who went to his monastery for religious watering, a belief that the water provided by the monk will release all bad incidents or bring luck to people. The investigation which led to an arrest was followed by an enormous sharing of that nude video via bluetooth from phone to phone. This apparently raised a question over the emerging development of technology infrastructure in Cambodia where people can widely access porn materials more easily. However, as suggested by Chan Nim, the issue is left to the conscience of the people on the proper use of technologies.

On the other hand, there are many well-behaved monks who understand the role of technology in promoting religious teachings. While it is now common to see many blogs initiated by young people who discuss social, technological or personal issues, there are now Buddhism-themed blogs such as Bodhikaram, Saloeurm, Khmerbuddhism. An extensive teaching of Buddhist philosophy is now accessible online in the form of short commentaries, dictionaries, podcasts, or textbooks in both English and Khmer. Moreover, there are a number of monks who are effectively maximizing the internet in order to reach a wider audience. Venerable Saloeurm Savath, for example, has been rigorously sharing many Buddhist teachings via face-book which acts as a natural linkage with his laypeople who can easily reach him for more explanation on certain Buddhist Principle or issues.

Pagodas and monks are part of Cambodia's cultural and educational heritage. They continue to contribute a lot in society. It is hoped that monk morality can be strengthened to encourage the people to affirm their trust and faith in Buddhism which has hugely contributed to national reconciliation and psychological peace, such as the case of survivors of the Khmer Rouge Regime that kept applying Buddhist teachings to transform their revenge and anger to hope and peace of mind.
READ MORE - Cambodia: Decline of Monk Morality?

Cambodia questioned as peace exercise host

Under Hun Xen's regime, the army and the military police actively participate in inhumane forced evictions

NEW YORK, July 8 (UPI) -- A human rights group Thursday criticized the U.S. choice of a Cambodian military unit with a record of human rights abuses to host a peacekeeping exercise.

Human Rights Watch announced in New York the choice undermines the commitment of the United States to promote human rights in Cambodia.

The 2010 Global Peace Operations Initiative, of which the Angkor Sentinel exercise is a part, is a peacekeeper-training joint effort by the U.S. Departments of Defense and State. It is co-hosted by the U.S. Pacific Command, and will be the largest multinational military exercise held this year in the Asia-Pacific region, Human Rights Watch said, with more than 1,000 military personnel from 23 Asian-Pacific countries scheduled to participate.

The U.S. Defense Department funded construction of a $1.8 million training center for the 2010 initiative, which is scheduled to begin Sunday.

"For the Pentagon and State Department to permit abusive Cambodian military units to host a high-profile regional peacekeeping exercise is outrageous. The United States undermines its protests against the Cambodian government for rampant rights abuses like forced evictions when it showers international attention and funds on military units involved in grabbing land and other human rights violations," said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch.

The ACO Tank Unit has been involved in illegal land seizures for years, the organization said. The United States should suspend military aid to Cambodia until abusive people or units have been screened out, the group said.
READ MORE - Cambodia questioned as peace exercise host

Cambodia Behind Region in Investment

Cambodians cross the Tonle Sap river by ferry along a Chinese-funded bridge under construction at Prek Kdam village. (Photo: AP)

Kong Sothanarith, VOA Khmer
Phnom Penh Thursday, 08 July 2010

Cambodia has improved its investment environment, “but we have to fix other problems.”
While Cambodia has adopted a competitive investment strategy, it lags behind Asia-Pacific countries in terms of investment facilities and other factors, the World Bank reported Wednesday.

Cambodia is one of the more open countries to foreign investment, but its roads, ports and other infrastructure are not developed, according to the “Investing Across Borders” annual report.

“It’s a showcase to attract more foreign direct investment,” said Ngoun Meng Tech, secretary general of Chamber of Commerce of Cambodia.

Cambodia’s economy has struggled since the 2009 recession, and foreign investment has fallen from $1.2 billion in the first six months of 2009 to $1.1 billion for the same period this year. Experts say the country must now find ways to compete in a different global economy.

In Cambodia, it takes 86 days and 10 procedures to open a business, compared to other East Asia-Pacific countries, where the average is 68 days and 11 procedures, the World Bank reported.

Cambodia has improved its investment environment, “but we have to fix other problems,” said Ros Khemara, a member of the Cambodian Economic Association.

The World Bank also noted that Cambodia does well in the time it takes to lease land, but lags behind the region in the availability of land information.
READ MORE - Cambodia Behind Region in Investment

Group Returns After Fishing Boat Ordeal

Some of the repatriated men following their return (Photo: Ly Meng Huor, RFI)

Kong Sothanarith, VOA Khmer
Phnom Penh Thursday, 08 July 2010

“He said he spent a few years working as a fisherman and that he had enough money now to buy a car.”
Eight fishermen who had been trafficked on a Thai fishing boat were returned to Cambodia on Tuesday following their arrest off Indian waters.

One of the victims, Nob Chet, 35, said he was happy to be back after his ordeal. He said he was lured onto the boat by an intermediary who promised him more than $100 per month in salary.

The men came from Banteay Meanchey province, where they say a middleman approached them in September 2009 with promises of work for money they could not otherwise make.

The middleman “said the boat would go and come back on the same day,” Nob Chet said on his return at Phnom Penh International Airport Tuesday. “He said he spent a few years working as a fisherman and that he had enough money now to buy a car.”

Soon, the men say, they were caught in a trafficking network, denied their salaries until they jumped ship and were arrested. They were held by Indian authorities for six months and put under surveillance for another three months.

Eventually, some of the men were able to contact their families, who contacted local organizations, said Kim Sovanna, deputy director of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ legal department.

“And then we reformed our respective embassy, and we contacted the Indian authorities to settle the matter,” he said.

Police say they are now looking for these traffickers and others, who operate in India, Malaysia, South Korea and Thailand.
READ MORE - Group Returns After Fishing Boat Ordeal

US, Cambodia Set To Mark 60 Years of Diplomacy

Men Kimseng, VOA Khmer
Washington, DC Thursday, 08 July 2010

The embassy in Washington will mark 60 years of diplomatic relations with the US on Friday, with celebrations scheduled in Cambodia in weeks ahead.

The Cambodian Embassy has invited 200 guests and dignitaries for a performance of traditional dance and a live concert Friday, the Ambassador Hem Heng told VOA Khmer.

In Cambodia, the US Embassy is hosting a week of activities starting from July 18. On that day, the Pacific Fleet Marine Band will play a concert at Chaktomuk Hall in Phnom Penh, followed by another performance in Battambang town on July 20.

The award-winning “New Year Baby,” produced by Socheata Poeuv, will play July 19 at Chenla Theater in Phnom Penh. On July 21 and July 22, the government and US embassy are co-sponsoring a discussion of former ambassadors and historians that will be open to the public on both days. And on July 24, the embassy will host a public dance recital of “Seasons of Migration,” by master dancer Sophiline Shapiro, at Chaktomuk Hall.

The celebrations are part of a continued program to mark diplomatic dealings that have not always been smooth. The US was behind a coup that ousted then prince Norodom Sihanouk and preceded the rise of the Khmer Rouge. It also undertook a secret bombing campaign during the Vietnam War.

Relations between the two countries have improved in recent years, with the resumption of direct aid and the lifting of Cambodia from a trade blacklist, following soured relations in the aftermath of the 1997 coup d’etat.
READ MORE - US, Cambodia Set To Mark 60 Years of Diplomacy

Sacrava's Politikttons No. 105: US Sanctions

Cartoon by Sacrava (on the web at
and also at
READ MORE - Sacrava's Politikttons No. 105: US Sanctions

More Khmer Krom arrested

Ven. Thach Vannak

Dear President Thach Ngoc Thach, Bang and Friends:

This is the sad information regarding to two innocents Khmer Krom who were accused and arrested by Cambodian authorities to imprison at Takeo province. Former Ven. Thach Vannak who fled to Cambodia because of Vietnamese authorities’persecution was arrested on June 2, 2010 because Cambodian authorities searched his computers and saw the documents of Khmer nation leaders 1-2 and the root of 7 January and Mr.Thach Le who was arrested on May 28, 2010.

After they were arrested to imprison at Takeo no one helps his cases so far. I have just received the information from the wife of Victims and their friends who seek assistances. Therefore, I would you please help release this information to make their cases public concerned and get any intervention to free them.They are innocent people and become victims because they downloaded the books mentioned above to read.

I hope that you will kindly consider on this matter and made it publicly concerned.

Respectfully yours,

Sar Serey
READ MORE - More Khmer Krom arrested

FACTBOX: Land grabs and forced evictions in Cambodia

Dey Krahorm eviction (Photo: The Phnom Penh Post)

08 Jul 2010
By Thin Lei Win

BANGKOK (TrustLaw) - Tens of thousands of impoverished Cambodians have been forced off their land by foreign investors, powerful companies and individuals in the last decade as the economy grew, pushing up property values. Land-grabbing and forced evictions are worsening landlessness - a major impediment to cutting poverty and boosting development in the country.

Here are some of the most contentious land grabs and forced evictions in Cambodia.

1. Dey Krahorm (Phnom Penh)

Set on a prime two-hectare (five-acre) plot of land facing the Mekong River, this slum had up to 1,400 residents. They say they hold land rights under a 2001 land law. Moreover, the prime minister declared the site a Social Land Concession in 2003, meaning it would be transferred to the poor, but the land still ended up in the hands of a company called 7NG.

Activists say unelected community representatives sold the land to 7NG in 2005 without the knowledge of the people living there. Talks about payments were still underway when the authorities evicted the residents in January 2009.

Scores, perhaps hundreds, of families were evicted, with violence involved. Rights activists and police said eight people were injured. Activists say few villagers received adequate compensation. The plot of land where Dey Krahorm was located is worth an estimated $44 million.

After the eviction, residents were transported by truck to Damnak Trayeung relocation site on the outskirts of Phnom Penh. Many are still homeless as of May 2010 and the Housing Rights Task Force said 70 percent of those relocated have moved back to Phnom Penh and are living in low-rent housing areas.

2. Group 78 (Phnom Penh)

Group 78 was another community living in central Phnom Penh on around three acres of prime real estate valued at more than $15 million, next to the Australian Embassy and in the same area as Dey Krahorm. According to Amnesty International, most of its 150 or so families who were evicted from the area in 2009 were poor street vendors, teachers or low-level civil servants who say they have been living there for nearly 20 years.

They have applied for formal title several times and have official documentation such as property transfer documents and family record books as proof of their tenure, but the authorities have repeatedly rejected them, activists said. The municipality offered four compensation options - all of them, according to rights groups, inadequate.

After threatening since June 2006 to evict the residents for different and often contradictory reasons, the city authorities did so in July 2009 using dozens of armed police. The families were forced to accept a compensation of $8,000 per household, which rights groups say is considerably below the market value of the land, is not enough to buy a house in Phnom Penh and fails to take into account the varied size of the families. The evicted now live on the outskirts of Phnom Penh but continue to work in the city.

3. Snoul (Kratie)

During the 2008 rainy season, the 250 or so ethnic Stieng families in four villages in Srey Cha Commune in Snoul district found excavators clearing their cassava plants. They later found out that in May 2008 the provincial governor had leased 769 hectares of their forest and farmland to an agro-industrial company for a rubber plantation without their knowledge.

The Community Legal Education Centre (CLEC) said the lease contravenes both the 2001 land law and later sub-decrees that protect indigenous lands. After 10 months, the land clearing was stalled but the Stieng families still lack the ownership documents they need to recover the land.

The company has filed a criminal complaint criminal complaint against three village activists. The CLEC is representing them and lawyers say unless the community proves it owns the land, the charges will hang over them for years. The CLEC also says the families rely heavily on the cassava plants for their livelihoods but cannot work on the fields while the dispute is going on.

4. Spean Ches (Mittapheap 4)

More than 100 families were evicted from Mittapheap 4 village, also known as 'Spean Ches', in April 2007. Many had lived there since the 1980s. Activists said they face an unsubstantiated claim of ownership by a powerful individual.

Although the villagers never saw her title alleging ownership of the land, the district authorities and the governor of the municipality issued eviction notices and told them to move. The villagers' complaints went nowhere and they were evicted.

Witnesses said 150 soldiers, military police and police armed with AK-47s, electric batons, wooden sticks and shields took part. They fired at the ground and above the head of villagers and beat the people who tried to salvage their property, resulting in 18 injuries. Thirteen men were arrested and imprisoned for more than a year and the houses were burnt down. The victims' families said they have since lodged multiple complaints with national authorities but to no avail.

5. Chi Kraeng (Siem Reap)

This is a complex, long-running dispute over 475 hectares of rice fields in Chi Kraeng district in Siem Reap. In March 2009, witnesses said 100 police shot and injured four farmers and detained at least nine people during a dispute between two different groups of villagers.

Rights groups said Chi Kraeng farmers' land was taken away from them by local businessmen with close ties to district and provincial officials. Media reports, however, said the dispute stretches back to 1986, when a large village was divided equally between Chi Kraeng and Anlong Samnor communes.

No policemen have been arrested in connection with the incident while 11 Chi Kraeng villagers remained behind bars. The police said they were not at fault.

6. Kong Yu (Ratanakiri)

Kong Yu (also written as Kong Yuk) and Kong Thom are two ethnic Jarai villages in Ratanakiri province in the highlands of northeastern Cambodia. The villagers and a powerful company have been embroiled in a legal dispute over 450 hectares of land since 2004.

Lawyers for CLEC and Legal Aid of Cambodia argue the disputed land is indigenous community land and as such, under the 2001 land law, it cannot be transferred to individuals outside the community. They also said the land sale contracts are invalid as the villagers had been tricked and pressured into signing them.

However, the authorities do not recognise the villagers as an indigenous community despite their evidence. In October 2008, the company's employees began clearing the farms and a burial forest despite an injunction from a provincial judge.

Moreover, 10 legal aid lawyers acting for the communities were threatened with disbarment and possible criminal charges, activists said. Formal complaints against them were made to the Cambodian Bar Association in June 2007. By the end of the year, all but two had resigned and stopped working on the case.

7. Boeung Kak (Phnom Penh)

One of the few large open spaces in central Phnom Penh, the area around Boeung Kak lake was once home to around 4,000 families who depended on the lake for their livelihood. Residents say they have been living here since the 1980s when they returned to the city after the fall of the Khmer Rouge.

Despite their claims to the land under the 2001 land law, the land management team, financed by the World Bank, refused to give them land titles in 2007. Soon afterwards, the land was leased for 99 years to a private developer, who started pressuring the families to leave the area.

In August 2008, the developer began filling in the lake, a move activists say could lead to severe flooding in the north of Phnom Penh. Over 1,000 families have already been evicted after accepting "woefully inadequate compensation under conditions of duress", said a group of non-governmental organisations who filed a complaint with the World Bank over its conduct. An investigation by a World Bank Inspection Panel is underway. More than 70 percent of the lake is now filled and over 3,000 families are still facing eviction.

Sources: Reuters, Losing Ground Report, Untitled Report, Land and Housing Rights in Cambodia Parallel Report 2009, Phnom Penh Post, Sithi Cambodian Human Rights Portal
READ MORE - FACTBOX: Land grabs and forced evictions in Cambodia

The dragon's gambling den

Gambling markets don’t come bigger

Macau is only the start: all Asia is coming out to play

Jul 8th 2010
The Economist
In Bavet, Cambodia, south-east of Phnom Penh, the $100m Titan King Casino opened in February this year. It joins a number of other Cambodian casinos near the country’s borders with Vietnam and Thailand.
LIKE its sister property in Las Vegas but twice as large, the Venetian Macao is built for MICE—meetings, incentives, conventions (or conferences) and exhibitions. It has 3,000 hotel suites, a 15,000-seat arena that has hosted concerts by Lady Gaga and the Police, expensive shops and restaurants and a warren of immense gaming rooms. Next door is the Plaza Macao, featuring yet more gaming, shops and spas, as well as a Four Seasons hotel and the grand residential Plaza Mansions.

Mr Adelson, the owner of the complex, rejects the traditional “hub and spokes” casino-hotel design that forces guests to pass through the gaming floor to do anything outside their hotel room, just in case they feel a sudden urge to chuck some money into a slot machine. His Plaza Macao has a separate entrance to the Mansions and Four Seasons, a long way from the gaming floor. This is for the benefit of Chinese government officials, who may not be photographed in a gambling environment.

Macau is the world’s biggest gambling market, and until 2001 it was entirely controlled by one company, Sociedade de Turismo e Diversões de Macau (STDM), headed by Stanley Ho. Mr Ho’s garish pair of casinos, the flagship Casino Lisboa and the newer Grand Lisboa, remain the most prominent gambling establishment in central Macau, but he now faces stiff competition from a pair of seasoned Las Vegas companies, Wynn Resorts and Sands China, a subsidiary of Las Vegas Sands, as well as China’s Galaxy Entertainment Group.

The contrast between Mr Ho’s flagships illustrates the way that Macau’s gambling market has evolved. Casino Lisboa is small, tightly packed, loud and smoky. Nearly all of the gaming floor is taken up by tables offering Macau’s two most popular games: baccarat—in which punters bet on the turn of a card—and sic bo, in which they bet on the value of three rolled dice. Both involve about as much skill as betting on coin flips. The Grand Lisboa, by contrast, has craps and blackjack tables, a poker room, a sports book, a number of restaurants ranging from the upmarket to an excellent noodle shop, and hundreds of slot machines. However, on a recent visit the sportsbook stood empty and unattended; a single poker table was occupied; blackjack action was scant; four employees stood around a craps table enticing passers-by to try their luck. By contrast baccarat and sic bo were going at full tilt. Old gambling habits die hard.

The competition from Messrs Adelson and Wynn ended Mr Ho’s monopoly (though his company still accounts for about one-third of the territory’s gambling market) and boosted Macau’s overall revenue. Last year the island’s 30-odd casinos generated income of around $15 billion. According to GBGC, a consultancy that specialises in the gambling industry, its overall gambling revenue in that year rose by nearly 10%, whereas North America’s fell by 7% and Europe’s by 12%. And Macau is going from strength to strength: in the first quarter of 2010 its gambling revenues were 57% up on a year earlier.

Mainlanders’ playground

The Chinese are known as passionate gamblers, and Macau is where they come to play. Steve Jacobs, the head of Sands China, reckons that four-fifths of his visitors hail from the mainland and the rest mainly from other Asian countries, notably Taiwan, South Korea, Vietnam and India. Most of the Venetian Macao’s revenue comes from wealthy guests, many of whom are on junkets organised by businesses in China that market them to visitors, plan the travel and extend credit to gamblers. The casinos provide the gaming and generally split the proceeds with the junket operators.

Chinese visiting rights, however, are tightly controlled by the government. Mainlanders need a visa to go to Macau, and the authorities are apt to change the frequency and duration of permitted visits on a whim. Last year, after a number of embarrassing stories about government officials using public funds to bet in Macau, mainlanders were limited to one visit every three months. Even so, Mr Jacobs said that visa restrictions are “one of the things I think least about”: the Chinese government is clearly happy maintaining Macau as a source of steady gambling revenue, close to but politically separate from the mainland. And with a population of over 1 billion, mainland China has enough people to keep the visitors coming despite the restrictions.

In fact, Macau draws so many punters that casinos are literally rising from the sea: the Venetian and the Plaza anchor a development known as the Cotai Strip, built on a five-kilometre piece of reclaimed land that links the two Macanese islands of Coloane and Taipa. The “Cotai” part of the new plot’s name comes from the first syllables of the two islands; the Strip part of it is clearly meant to evoke Las Vegas. Galaxy opened the Grand Waldo, the first resort there, in 2006; the Venetian and Plaza followed soon after and will be joined by two more Sands developments. There will also be new hotels from Raffles, Conrad, Hilton, Sheraton, Swissotel and St Regis.

Busting out all over

The Cotai Strip may be the most high-profile gambling development in Asia, but there are plenty of others. In the past few months Singapore has seen the opening of two large integrated resorts, Resorts World Sentosa and Marina Bay Sands, which cost about $10 billion. The Philippines Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) has launched a hotel-and-casino complex on a large chunk of reclaimed land in Manila Bay. According to PAGCOR, its partners in the venture—Australia’s Bloomsbury Investments, Malaysia’s Genting Group and Aruze, a Japanese company known mainly for its pachinko and slot machines—each stand ready to invest $2 billion-3 billion in the venture.

In 2008 the government of Vietnam granted Asian Coast Development, a Canadian company, the right to construct five integrated resorts on 169 hectares of beachfront land near Ho Chi Minh City. The first of them, the MGM Grand Ho Tram, is scheduled to open in 2013. In Bavet, Cambodia, south-east of Phnom Penh, the $100m Titan King Casino opened in February this year. It joins a number of other Cambodian casinos near the country’s borders with Vietnam and Thailand. In Japan the only legal forms of gambling at the moment are pachinko, the lottery and horseracing, but that could soon change. Mr Jacobs predicts that if the Japanese market were to open up, it would be five to ten times the size of Macau’s.

Yet many Asian governments, for all their eagerness to get their hands on more tax revenue, still remain ambivalent about gambling. Singapore charges its own citizens S$100 ($72) to enter its casinos but foreigners pay nothing. Only one of South Korea’s 14 casinos is open to the locals. Egyptian and North Korean casinos too will happily take foreigners’ money yet bar their own citizens. China rations mainlanders’ access to Macau. On the Chinese mainland the only legal form of gambling is a thriving lottery.
READ MORE - The dragon's gambling den

Bombs away! Remember Cambodia

Jul 9, 2010
By Ben Kiernan and Taylor Owen
Asia Times Online

The United States war in Afghanistan is "going badly", according to the New York Times. Nine years after American forces invaded to oust the repressive Taliban regime and its al-Qaeda ally, "the deteriorating situation demands a serious assessment now of the military and civilian strategies".

Aerial bombardment, a centerpiece of the US military effort in Afghanistan, has had a devastating impact on civilians there. Along with Taliban and al-Qaeda insurgents and suicide bombers, who have recently escalated their slaughter of the Afghan population, US and North Atlantic Treaty (NATO) aircraft have for years inflicted a horrific toll on innocent villagers.

When US bombs hit a civilian warehouse in Afghanistan in late 2001, then-secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld responded, "We're not running out of targets, Afghanistan is." There was laughter in the press gallery.

But the bombing continued and spread to Iraq in 2003, with the United States determined to use "the force necessary to prevail, plus some", and asserting that no promises would be made to avoid "collateral damage".

Afghan and Iraqi civilian casualties, in other words, were predictable if not inevitable. The show of strength aside, didn't the US underestimate the strategic cost of collateral damage? If "shock and awe" appeared to work at least in 2001 against the Taliban regular army, the continued use of aerial bombardment has also nourished civilian support for the Taliban and al-Qaeda anti-US insurgency.

In March 2010, the New York Times reported that "civilian deaths caused by American troops and American bombs have outraged the local population and made the case for the insurgency." Beyond the moral meaning of inflicting predictable civilian casualties, and contravention of international laws of war, it is also clear that the political repercussions of air strikes outweigh their military benefits.

This is not news. The extension of the Vietnam War to Cambodia, which the US Air Force bombed from 1965 to 1973, was a troubling precedent. First, Cambodia became in 1969-1973 one of the most heavily-bombarded countries in history (along with North Korea, South Vietnam, and Laos). Then, in 1975-79, it suffered genocide at the hands of Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge communists, who had been military targets of the US bombing but also became its political beneficiaries.

Despite key differences, an important similarity links the current conflict in Afghanistan to the 1970-1975 Cambodian war: increasing US reliance on air power against a heterogeneous insurgency. Moreover, in the past few years, as fighting has continued in Afghanistan supported by US air power, Taliban forces have benefited politically, recruiting among an anti-US Afghan constituency that appears to have grown even as the insurgents suffer military casualties.

In Cambodia, it was precisely the harshest, most extreme elements of the insurgency who survived the US bombing, expanded in numbers, and then won the war. The Khmer Rouge grew from a small force of fewer than 10,000 in 1969 to over 200,000 troops and militia in 1973.

During that period, their recruitment propaganda successfully highlighted the casualties and damage caused by US bombing. Within a broader Cambodian insurgency, the radical Khmer Rouge leaders eclipsed their royalist, reformist, and pro-Hanoi allies as well as defeating their enemy, the pro-US Cambodian government of Lon Nol, in 1975.

The Nixon Doctrine had proposed that the United States could supply an allied Asian regime with the materiel to withstand internal or external challenge while the US withdrew its own ground troops or remained at arm's length.

"Vietnamization" built up the air and ground fighting capability of South Vietnamese government forces while American units slowly disengaged. In Cambodia from 1970, Washington gave military aid to General Lon Nol's new regime, tolerating its rampant corruption, while the US Air Force (and the large South Vietnamese Air Force) conducted massive aerial bombardment of its Vietnamese and Khmer Rouge communist opponents and their heterogeneous united front, across rural Cambodia.

United States policy in Afghanistan has shown a similar reliance on air strikes in fighting the motley insurgency there. These strikes, while far more precisely targeted than the earlier bombing campaigns in Indochina, inflicted substantial civilian casualties in the first year of the Afghan war in 2001-02.

The Project on Defense Alternatives estimated that in a three-month period between October 7, 2001 and January 1, 2002, between 1,000 and 1,300 civilians were killed by aerial bombing, and The Los Angeles Times found that in a five-month period from October 7, 2001 to February 28, 2002, between 1,067 and 1,201 civilian deaths were reported in the media.

Deaths reported in newspapers should be treated with caution, but not all are reported, and the total was undoubtedly high. And the toll has continued long after the initial US invasion. According to Human Rights Watch, air strikes by the US Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and its NATO-led coalition, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), killed 116 Afghan civilians in 2006, and 321 civilians in 2007.

And the number rose again in 2008: according to a United Nations study on the humanitarian costs of the conflict, air strikes accounted for 530 of the 828 civilians killed that year by US or Afghan government forces. The same study found that between January and June 2009, 200 of the 310 recorded civilian deaths were caused by air strikes. Overall in 2009, the UN reported that 2,400 civilians were killed in Afghanistan, though the number killed by foreign and Afghan troops was down 25%.

While their large-scale killing of civilians presented a moral challenge to the US-led coalition forces, there has also been increasing acknowledgment of strategic costs accompanying these casualties.

In mid-2007, the London Guardian reported that "a senior UK military officer said he had asked the US to withdraw its special forces from a volatile area that was crucial in the battle against the Taliban" after the US forces were "criticized for relying on air strikes for cover when they believed they were confronted by large groups of Taliban fighters".

The paper added: "British and NATO officials have consistently expressed concern about US tactics, notably air strikes, which kill civilians, sabotaging the battle for ‘hearts and minds'."

NATO's secretary general added that NATO commanders "had changed the rules of engagement, ordering their troops to hold their fire in situations where civilians appeared to be at risk". More recently Command Sergeant Major Michael Hall, the senior NATO soldier in Afghanistan, has argued that many of the insurgents being held at Bagram air base had joined the insurgency due to deaths of people they knew.

He told the troops, "There are stories after stories about how these people are turned into insurgents. Every time there is an escalation of force we are finding that innocents are being killed." The same report cited a village elder from Hodkail corroborating this argument: "The people are tired of all these cruel actions by the foreigners, and we can't suffer it anymore. The people do not have any other choice, they will rise against the government and fight them and the foreigners. There are a lot of cases of killing of innocent people."

Yet the bombings have continued and the civilian death toll has mounted. In 2008, after US aircraft killed more than 30 Afghan civilians in each of two bombardments of rural wedding parties, the top US commander in Afghanistan, General David McKiernan, "ordered a tightening of procedures for launching air strikes" and proclaimed that "minimizing civilian casualties is crucial". In December 2008, McKiernan issued another directive, ordering that "all responses must be proportionate".

Again new procedures failed to stop the slaughter from the air. Following an investigation into a 2009 air strike in Farah province that killed at least 26 civilians (the Afghan government reported a much higher toll of 140 dead), McKiernan's replacement, General Stanley McChrystal, issued new guidelines meant to minimize civilian casualties.

In earlier testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee, McChrystal had stressed the strategic importance of civilian protection. "A willingness to operate in ways minimizing causalities or damage ... is critical," he argued. "Although I expect stiff fighting ahead, the measure of success will not be enemy killed. It will be shielding the Afghan population from violence." So far the cost of failure, for instance by inflicting more civilian casualties, has included a political windfall for Taliban insurgents, who by 2009 posed a much stronger threat than they had in 2005.

Since the issuing of McChrystal's 2009 directive, however, air strikes have continued to kill civilians, the toll increasing with the escalation of the US ground war in response to the greater Taliban threat.

In February 2010 alone, 46 Afghan civilians were killed in just three strikes. An errant rocket attack on February 14 killed 12 civilians. Four days later, a NATO air strike mistakenly killed seven Afghan police officers. Another NATO strike on February 20 killed 27 civilians.

In comparison to the previous year, the three-month period from March to June 2010 saw a 44% drop in civilian casualties caused by the coalition. Yet, nine years after the US went to war in Afghanistan, bombing remains part of US strategy and the death toll in aerial strikes continues. In a March incident, a US air strike killed 13 civilians and in June, 10 more civilians, including at least five women and children, were killed in a NATO air strike.

One reaction to the McChrystal directive has been an increased US use of unmanned aerial drones to deliver air strikes. While proponents of targeted drone strikes argue that they offer greater precision, and therefore minimize civilian casualties, it is also possible that the greater ease with which they can be deployed could instead increase the number of raids and thus the civilian casualty rates.

For example, a Human Rights Watch report on civilian casualties in Afghanistan argued that most civilian casualties do not occur in planned air strikes on Taliban targets, but rather in the more fluid rapid-response strikes mostly carried out in support of "troops in contact".

A recent US military report on a drone strike that killed 23 civilians in February found that "inaccurate and unprofessional" reporting by the drone operators was responsible for the casualties.

In response, McChrystal repeated what he had said many times, "inadvertently killing or injuring civilians is heartbreaking and undermines their trust and confidence in our mission". In late June, in the second change of Afghanistan commander in 18 months, US President Barack Obama fired McChrystal and replaced him with General David Petraeus.

The resort to drones, while potentially useful for well-planned long-term surveillance-based strikes, could also enable the execution of more frequent troop support strikes. More generally, any shift to increased air power, even in conjunction with ground troops, will likely inflict greater civilian casualties.

The resulting local outrage could benefit an insurgency seeking civilian support and recruitment. While air strikes today can be much more accurate than they were in Indochina in the 1970s, it would be perilous to ignore a disastrous precedent: the political blowback of the US air war against Cambodian insurgents.

Raining bombs on Cambodia

On December 9, 1970, president Richard Nixon telephoned his national security adviser Henry Kissinger to discuss the ongoing bombing of Cambodia. B-52s, long deployed over Vietnam, had been targeting Cambodia for only a year.

In a "sideshow" to the war in Vietnam, American aircraft had already dropped 36,000 payloads on Cambodia, a neutral kingdom until the US-backed General Lon Nol seized power from Prince Norodom Sihanouk in a March 1970 coup.

The 1969-70 "Menu" B-52 bombings of Cambodia's border areas, which American commanders labelled Breakfast, Lunch, Supper, Dinner, Desert and Snack, aimed to destroy the mobile headquarters of the South Vietnamese "Vietcong" and the North Vietnamese Army (VC/NVA) in the Cambodian jungle. However, these and later bombardments forced the Vietnamese communists further west and deeper into Cambodia, and ultimately radicalized Cambodian local people against Lon Nol's regime.

After the US ground invasion of Cambodia in May-June 1970, which also failed to root out the Vietnamese communists there, Nixon faced growing congressional opposition to his Indochina policy. The president now wanted a secret escalation of air attacks, further into Cambodia's populous areas.

This was despite a September 1970 US intelligence report that had warned Washington that "many of the 66 ‘training camps' on which [Lon Nol's army] had requested air strikes by early September were in fact merely political indoctrination sessions held in village halls and pagodas".

Telling Kissinger on December 9, 1970, of his frustration that the US Air Force was being "unimaginative", Nixon demanded more bombing, deeper into Cambodia: "They have got to go in there and I mean really go in ... I want everything that can fly to go in there and crack the hell out of them. There is no limitation on mileage and there is no limitation on budget. Is that clear?"

This order ignored prior limits restricting US attacks to within 30 miles (48 kilometers) of the Vietnamese border and prohibiting B-52 bombing within a kilometer of any village, and military assessments likening the air strikes to "taking a beehive the size of a basketball and poking it with a stick".

Kissinger responded hesitantly, "The problem is Mr President, the air force is designed to fight an air battle against the Soviet Union. They are not designed for this war ... in fact, they are not designed for any war we are likely to have to fight."

The US insistence even today on using air power against insurgencies raises this same dilemma: perhaps even more than the civilian casualties of ground operations, the "collateral damage" from US aerial bombing still appears to enrage and radicalize enough of the survivors for insurgencies to find the recruits and supporters they require.

Five minutes after his telephone conversation with Nixon, Kissinger called General Alexander Haig to relay the new orders. "He [Nixon] wants a massive bombing campaign in Cambodia. He doesn't want to hear anything. It's an order, it's to be done. Anything that flies on anything that moves. You got that?" The response from Haig, recorded as barely audible, sounded like laughing.

As in Vietnam, the US now deployed massive air power over Cambodia to fight an insurgency that enjoyed significant local support. One result was more growth in the insurgency. In recent years the impact of the US bombing on Cambodia has become much better known.

An apparently near-complete Pentagon spatial database, declassified in 2000 and detailing no fewer than 230,488 US aircraft sorties over Cambodia from October 4, 1965, to August 15, 1973, reveals that much of that bombing was indiscriminate and that it had begun years earlier than ever officially disclosed to the US Congress or the American people.

A decade ago, the US government released to the governments of Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam extensive classified air force data on all American bombings of those countries. This data assist those countries in the search for unexploded US ordnance, still a major threat in much of the region, and it can also be analyzed in map and time series formats, revealing an astounding wealth of historical information on the air war there.

We now know, for instance, that from 1965 to 1969, before Nixon's "secret" Menu bombing even started, the US Air Force had dropped bombs on, among other places in Cambodia, 83 sites at which the Pentagon database described the intended target as "Unknown" or "Unidentified". The detailed record reveals that for these 83 cases, the US Air Force stated in its confidential reporting that it was unaware of what it was bombing. It nevertheless dropped munitions on those sites which it could not identify, in a neutral country at peace.

This practice escalated after the ground war began in Cambodia in 1970. For that year alone, the number of US air strikes on targets recorded as "Unknown" or "Unidentified" increased to as many as 573 bombing sites. American planes also bombed another 5,602 Cambodian sites where the Pentagon record neither identifies nor cites any target - 15% percent of the 37,426 air strikes made on the country that year.

Interestingly, after Nixon's December 1970 order for wider bombing of Cambodia, the number of such attacks fell in 1971, but that year still saw as many as 182 bombing raids on "Unknown" targets, and 1,390 attacks on unidentified ones (among the 25,052 Cambodian sites bombed that year).

The long-term trend favored more indiscriminate bombardment. In 1972, the US Air Force bombed 17,293 Cambodian sites, including 766 whose targets it explicitly recorded as "Unknown", plus another 767 sites with no target identified in the military database. These figures dramatically increased the next year. In the period January-August 1973 alone, the air force bombed 33,945 sites in Cambodia, hitting as many as 2,632 "Unknown" targets, and 465 other sites where the Pentagon record identified no target.

May 1973 saw the height of the Cambodia bombing. During that month, US planes bombed 6,553 sites there. These sorties included hits on 641 "Unknown" and 158 unidentified targets, at a rate of over 25 such strikes per day for that month.

Overall, during the US bombardment of Cambodia from 1970 to 1973, American warplanes hit a total of 3,580 "Unknown" targets and bombed another 8,238 sites with no target identified. Such sites accounted for 10.4% of the air strikes, which hit a total of 113,716 Cambodian sites in less than four years.

Also unknown is the human toll that these specific air strikes inflicted on "Unknown", "Unidentified" or non-identified targets, and the toll from the additional 1,023 strikes on targets identified only as a "sampan". Civilian casualties from the former, at least, are properly considered US war crimes (not genocide), though they remain unprosecuted.

However, it is possible to cross-check other information in the Pentagon bombing database with details that Cambodian survivors provided to Ben Kiernan in interviews he conducted in 1979-1981. We can also begin to answer important further questions concerning the strategic efficacy and political consequences of aerial bombing: Can insurgencies be beaten with bombs? What are the human and also the strategic costs of "collateral damage"? For a strategy of replacing or reinforcing ground troops with air strikes in Iraq and Afghanistan, Cambodia at least shows how strategic bombing can go disastrously wrong.

The new data transforms our understanding of what happened to Cambodia, even today one of the most heavily bombed countries in history. The total tonnage of US bombs dropped on Cambodia, at least in the range of 500,000 tons, possibly far more, either equaled or far exceeded the tonnages that the US dropped in the entire Pacific Theater during World War II (500,000 tons) and in the Korean War (454,000). In per capita terms, the bombing of Cambodia exceeded the Allied bombing of Germany and Japan, and the US bombing of North Vietnam (but not that of South Vietnam or possibly, Laos).

Not only was the total payload dropped on Cambodia significant, and much of it indiscriminate, but also, the bombardment began much earlier than previously disclosed. The "secret" 1969-70 Menu campaign, when later uncovered, caused congressional uproar and provoked calls for Nixon's impeachment, but we now know that US bombing had actually started over four years earlier, in 1965, as Cambodian leaders had claimed at the time.

These early tactical strikes may have supported secret US Army and Central Intelligence Agency ground incursions from across the Vietnamese border. During the mid-1960s, the Studies and Operations Group, US Special Forces teams in tandem with the Khmer Serei (US-trained ethnic Cambodian rebels from South Vietnam), were collecting intelligence inside Cambodia. Perhaps the US tactical air strikes supported or followed up on these secret pre-1969 operations.

This revelation has several implications. First, US bombing of neutral Cambodia significantly predated the Nixon administration. Early individual bombardments of Cambodia were known and protested by the Cambodian government. Prince Sihanouk's foreign minister, for instance, claimed as early as January 1966 that "hundreds of our people have already died in these attacks".

The Pentagon database reveals escalating bombardments. From 1965 to 1968, the Lyndon B Johnson administration conducted 2,565 sorties over Cambodia. Most of these strikes occurred under the Vietnam War policy of then-secretary of defense Robert S McNamara, which he subsequently publicly regretted.

Second, these early strikes were tactical, directed at military targets, not carpet bombings. The Johnson administration made a strategic decision not to use B-52s in Cambodia, whether out of concern for Cambodian lives, or for the country's neutrality, or because of perceived strategic limits of carpet bombing. However, Nixon decided differently, and from late 1969 the air force began to deploy B-52s over Cambodia.

Why did the United States bombard a small agrarian country that attempted to stay out of a major war, and what were the consequences?

In the first stage of the bombing (1965-1969) the US goal was to pursue the Vietnamese communists retreating from South Vietnam into Cambodia, then to destroy their Cambodian sanctuaries, and cut off their supply routes from North to South Vietnam, through both Laos to the north and later, the southern Cambodian port of Sihanoukville. These early US attacks failed to find, let alone hit, a mobile Vietnamese headquarters, or to stop the flow of weapons and supplies.

The second phase of the bombing (1969-1872) aimed to support the slow pullout of US troops from Vietnam, ironically by expanding the war to Cambodia in the hope of winning it faster by attacking the Vietnamese communists from behind. Lon Nol's 1970 coup facilitated much more extensive US action in Cambodia, including the short ground invasion and the prolonged carpet bombing, until 1973.

In 1969, Nixon first introduced B-52s into the still secret US air war in Cambodia to buy time for the US withdrawal from Vietnam. Later, as Emory Swank, US ambassador to Lon Nol's Cambodia, recalled, "Time was bought for the success of the program in Vietnam ... to this extent I think some measure of gratitude is owed to the Khmers."

Former US General Theodore Mataxis called it "a holding action. You know, one of those things like a rear guard you drop off. The troika's going down the road and the wolves are closing in, and so you throw them something off and let them chew it." Thus Cambodians became a decoy to protect American lives. In its attempt to deny South Vietnam to the Vietnamese communists, the US drove them further into Cambodia, producing the domino effect that its Indochinese intervention had been intended to prevent. Phnom Penh would fall two weeks before Saigon.

The final phase of the US bombing, January-August 1973, aimed to stop the now rapid Khmer Rouge advance on the Cambodian capital. US fear of this first Southeast Asian domino falling translated into a massive escalation of the air war that spring and summer - an unprecedented B-52 bombardment, focussed on the heavily populated areas around Phnom Penh, but also sparing few other regions of the country. As well as inflaming rural rage against the pro-US Lon Nol government, the rain of bombs on non-combatants also reduced the relative risk of their joining the insurgency.

The impact of the resultant increased civilian casualties may not have been a primary strategic concern for the Nixon administration. It should have been. Civilian casualties helped drive people into the arms of an insurgency that had enjoyed relatively little support until Sihanouk was overthrown in 1970, the Vietnam War spread to Cambodia, and extensive US bombing of its rural areas began.

Even before that, the initial US bombardments of border areas had set in motion a highly precarious series of events leading to the extension deeper into Cambodia of the impact of the Vietnam War, contributing to Lon Nol's 1970 coup, which also helped fuel the rapid rise of the Khmer Rouge.

The final phase of the story is better known. In 1973, the US Congress, angered at the destruction and the deception of the Nixon administration, legislated a halt to the Cambodia bombing. The great damage was already done. Having grown under the rain of bombs from a few thousand to over 200,000 regular and militia forces by 1973, the Khmer Rouge took Phnom Penh two years later. They then subjected Cambodia to a genocidal Maoist agrarian revolution. Is there a lesson here on combating insurgencies?

Apart from the large human toll, perhaps the most powerful and direct impact of the bombing was the political backlash it caused. Because Lon Nol was supporting the US air war, the bombing of Cambodian villages and its significant civilian casualties provided ideal recruitment rhetoric for the insurgent Khmer Rouge.

The Nixon administration knew that the Khmer Rouge were explicitly recruiting peasants by highlighting the damage done by US air strikes. The Central Intelligence Agency's directorate of operations, after investigations south of Phnom Penh, reported in May 1973 that the communists there were successfully "using damage caused by B-52 strikes as the main theme of their propaganda"

Years later, journalist Bruce Palling asked a former Khmer Rouge officer from northern Cambodia if local Khmer Rouge forces had made use of the bombing for anti-US propaganda:
Chhit Do: Oh yes, they did. Every time after there had been bombing, they would take the people to see the craters, to see how big and deep the craters were, to see how the earth had been gouged out and scorched

The ordinary people ... sometimes literally shit in their pants when the big bombs and shells came. Their minds just froze up and they would wander around mute for three or four days. Terrified and half-crazy, the people were ready to believe what they were told ... That was what made it so easy for the Khmer Rouge to win the people over ... It was because of their dissatisfaction with the bombing that they kept on cooperating with the Khmer Rouge, joining up with the Khmer Rouge, sending their children off to go with them.

Bruce Palling: So the American bombing was a kind of help to the Khmer Rouge?

Chhit Do: Yes, that's right ... sometimes the bombs fell and hit little children, and their fathers would be all for the Khmer Rouge.

The Nixon administration, aware of this consequence of its Cambodia bombing, kept the air war secret for so long that debate over its toll and political impact came far too late.

Along with support from the Vietnamese communists and from Lon Nol's deposed rival, Prince Sihanouk, the US carpet bombing of Cambodia was partly responsible for the rise of what had been a small-scale Khmer Rouge insurgency, which now grew capable of overthrowing the Lon Nol government, and once it had done so in 1975, perpetrated genocide in the country.

The parallels to current dilemmas in Iraq and Afghanistan, where genocidal al-Qaeda factions lurk among the insurgent forces, are poignant and telling.

Today, the technology of US bombing has become more sophisticated. "Unknown" targets are bombed less frequently and collateral damage is now lower than it was. Yet it remains high, and perhaps these days, information travels faster.

What are the strategic consequences of the continuing civilian death tolls that US forces inflict in Iraq and Afghanistan, and of the outrage they spawn among rural communities there? Are they worth the risk, let alone the moral consequences, to say nothing of the implications under international criminal law?

The January 13, 2006, aerial strike by a US predator drone on a village in Pakistan, killing women and children and inflaming local anti-US political passions, seems a pertinent example of what continues to occur in Afghanistan and Iraq. "Collateral damage" in this case, even undermined the positive sentiments previously created by billions of dollars of US post-earthquake aid to that part of Pakistan. Aside from the killing of innocent civilians, how many new enemies does US bombing create?

In the lead-up to the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, neither the US media nor the George W Bush administration seriously included the impact of civilian casualties in public discussion of the overall war strategy. Even with official assurances that civilian casualties would be limited, when it came to a decision to bomb a village containing a suspected terrorist, the benefit of killing the target trumped the toll on innocents. This misguided calculus is quite possibly a fundamental threat to long-term Afghan and American security.

If the Cambodians' tragic experience teaches us anything, it is that official disregard of the immorality and miscalculation of the consequences of inflicting predictable civilian casualties stem partly from failure to understand the social contexts of insurgencies.

The reasons local people help such movements do not fit into Kissingerian rationales. Nor is their support absolute or unidimensional. Those whose lives have been ruined may not look to the geopolitical rationale of the attacks; rather, understandably and often explicitly, many will blame the attackers.

Dangerous forces can reap a windfall. The strategic and moral failure of the US Cambodia air campaign lay not only in the toll of possibly 150,000 civilians killed there in 1969-1973 by an almost unprecedented level of carpet, cluster and incendiary bombing, but also indirectly, in its aftermath, when the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime rose from the bomb craters to cause the deaths of another 1.7 million Cambodians in 1975-79.

These successive tragedies are not unrelated. It is only predictable that an insurgency in need of recruits may effectively exploit potential supporters' hatred for those killing their family members or neighbors. That Washington has yet to learn from its past crimes and mistakes is a failure of strategic as well as moral calculation. Until it does, America's hopes for Afghanistan and for its own improved security may be misplaced.

Ben Kiernan is the Whitney Griswold professor of history, chair of the Council on Southeast Asia Studies, and director of the Genocide Studies Program at Yale University ( He is the author of How Pol Pot Came to Power (1985), The Pol Pot Regime (1996), Genocide and Resistance in Southeast Asia (2007), and Blood and Soil: A World History of Genocide and Extermination from Sparta to Darfur (2007). Taylor Owen is a doctoral candidate at the University of Oxford. They wrote this article for The Asia-Pacific Journal.
READ MORE - Bombs away! Remember Cambodia