10.07.2019 Author: Joseph Thomas

Cambodia Warns of Foreign Regime Change “At Any Cost”


US and European-driven regime change efforts persist even in Asia where socioeconomic progress and stability have been on the rise. So persistent are these efforts that regional leaders have openly warned about them recently.

Reuters in its July 4th article, “Cambodian PM says those seeking ‘regime change’ risk return to war,” would claim:

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, whose government is accused of suppressing human rights, said on Thursday that foreigners were risking returning his country to war through what he called stirring up turmoil and seeking regime change.

The article also stated (my emphasis):

Cambodia had risen from poverty to becoming a lower middle income country, and it aimed to graduate to the upper middle income by 2030 and high income by 2050, he said. But some groups and institutions maintained “a single political agenda of regime change at any cost”, Hun Sen added.

Reuters would continue by reiterating claims that the current Cambodian government is guilty of a variety of abuses including “trying to silence dissent” according to “U.N. experts” and the European Union.

What Reuters omits from its article is that virtually every aspect of this “dissent” is funded and directed by Washington.

Cambodian Dissent is Made in America 

Just as Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen alluded to, many of the “dissidents silenced” are media platforms literally run by foreigners. This includes the US State Department-funded and directed Voice of America and Radio Free Asia as well as the previously American-owned and operated Cambodia Daily newspaper.

There are also political entities like the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) whose members regularly operate out of Washington D.C. itself.

CNRP leader Kem Sokha has openly admitted to Washington’s role in propping up his party and its bid to seize power in Cambodia not through elections, but through the same sort of destructive colour revolutions that have swept through Eastern Europe, North Africa and the Middle East.

The Phnom Penh Post in its article, “Kem Sokha video producer closes Phnom Penh office in fear,” would go over the many admissions made by Kem Sokha:

“…the USA that has assisted me, they asked me to take the model from Yugoslavia, Serbia, where they can changed the dictator Slobodan Milosevic,” he continues, referring to the former Serbian and Yugoslavian leader who resigned amid popular protests following disputed elections, and died while on trial for war crimes.

“You know Milosevic had a huge numbers of tanks. But they changed things by using this strategy, and they take this experience for me to implement in Cambodia. But no one knew about this.”

“However, since we are now reaching at this stage, today I must tell you about this strategy. We will have more to continue and we will succeed.”

Kem Sokha would elaborate further, claiming:

“I do not do anything at my own will. Their experts, professors at universities in Washington, DC, Montreal, Canada, hired by the Americans in order to advise me on the strategy to change the dictator leader in Cambodia.”

Beyond US-funded media and a political party virtually run out of Washington D.C., there are so-called nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) entirely dependent on US and European financial assistance and who use (some might say, abuse) “human rights advocacy” in a one-sided effort to advance the opposition’s political agenda.

These include Licadho funded by USAID and the Cambodian Center for Independent Media (CCIM) funded by US National Endowment for Democracy-subsidiary the International Republican Institute, Open Society, the British and Australian embassies as well as Canada Fund.

Mentioning any of this would have given Cambodian PM Hun Sen’s comments not only crucial context, but also obvious justification to both his government’s concerns and the measures they’ve taken to combat this extensive foreign interference. Instead, Reuters elected to omit this information from their article.


In the climate of paranoia back West where Washington, London and Brussels all pose as fighting against nebulous foreign influence allegedly emanating from Moscow or Beijing, it is curious indeed that these same capitals would accuse Cambodia of violating “human rights” merely for stemming open, documented and very much admitted foreign meddling in its own internal political affairs.

If Western capitals can predicate an adversarial posture toward Russia and China on mere accusations of supposed “influence operations,” why are nations like Cambodia labelled “human rights violators” for confronting open and extensive meddling from abroad within their own borders?

PM Hun Sen would also make another good point. Reuters would quote him as saying:

They always accuse the royal government of Cambodia of violating human rights in Cambodia even though human rights workers in their own countries are filled with xenophobia, racial discrimination, and mistreatment of immigrants.

This is in reference to the extreme, even absurd hypocrisy of Western nations singling out nations across the developing world as “human rights violators” while committing some of the worst abuses around the globe themselves. This is done not only back at home in Western nations as PM Hun Sen pointed out, but also abroad amid the many interventions the West involves itself in.

Western accusations are not made out of any genuine concern for human rights, but out of a cynical attempt to hide their political agenda behind such concern, often and ironically trampling human rights in the process.

Washington’s War on Asian Independence 

US-European meddling in Cambodia is in itself disturbing. The capacity for this meddling to destabilise not only Cambodia but also its neighbours in Southeast Asia threatens the lives and livelihoods of tens of millions of people.

What is equally disturbing is media organisations like Reuters deliberately omitting context to concerns Cambodia has voiced, attempting instead to portray the nation as making excuses to eliminate legitimate opposition instead of fighting very real and dangerous foreign interference.

As to why Cambodia as well as its ASEAN neighbours face ongoing US-European interference, we need only to look at growing ties between Beijing and Phnom Penh and the closing window Washington, London and Brussels face amid their attempts to reassert primacy in the region.

Recent articles like Reuters’ “US presses Cambodia over possible Chinese military presence,” grant further insight into why the West is interested in regime change in Cambodia.

The article would claim:

A letter to the Cambodian defence minister, seen by Reuters, reflects concern in Washington about the Chinese military presence in Southeast Asia, where China is increasingly assertive over its contested claims in the South China Sea.

The letter from Joseph Felter, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for South and Southeast Asia, asked for more information on the decision to decline help to repair a training facility and boat depot at Ream Naval Base.

Neither China nor Cambodia, both nations located squarely in Asia-Pacific, owe Washington an explanation over bilateral ties or their activities within the region, a region thousands of miles away from Washington.

The article would claim Washington was concerned over the prospect of China establishing a military base in Cambodia.

For the US which maintains hundreds of military bases around the globe including in nations it is illegally occupying to be concerned over China possibly establishing its second base overseas (its first is in Djibouti) and one that would be located within Asia, well within a reasonable “sphere of influence” for Beijing, indicates just how far departed from rational foreign policy Washington has become.

The article also mentioned Cambodia’s support for China amid US-led efforts to stir up conflict in the South China Sea.

Regime change aimed at Cambodia is clearly meant to reverse Cambodia’s and the rest of the region’s drift from beneath Western primacy toward regional independence with Beijing and its allies, not Washington, underwriting and benefiting from the region’s future fortunes.

While Cambodia and its neighbours have had obvious and heated differences in the past, foreign interference in Cambodia, if successful, will only lead to successful interference among Cambodia’s neighbours, friend and foe alike. The US is not involved in Asia-Pacific for “human rights” or to underwrite the region’s self-determination, it is there to determine Asia-Pacific’s future based on its own best interests. These interests include eliminating competitors at any cost.

PM Hun Sen’s warning of foreign-backed opposition groups pursuing regime change “at any cost” is a microcosm of and warning to the region. If the US cannot control Cambodia outright and benefit from its resources and population, it will ensure no one else can either. And if the US cannot maintain primacy over Asia and all within the region, it will ensure instability and conflict prevents anyone else from doing so as well.

Joseph Thomas is chief editor of Thailand-based geopolitical journal, The New Atlas and contributor to the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

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