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Background Brief Cambodia Announces Delay in U.S. Military Assistance Carlyle A. Thayer August 14, 2013

[client name deleted] I wonder if you had any thoughts on how the delay of U.S. military aid programs move makes Cambodia look. Q1. Does the government appear rash or extreme to do this proactively, in the midst of criticism from the U.S.? ANSWER: Cambodias reaction to external criticism, such as announcing the delay in externally funded military assistance, is what one would expect from a country that has long subscribed to the Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence. These principles include mutual respect, equality, and non-interference in internal affairs. I doubt any fellow member of ASEAN would be openly critical of the Hun Sen government for its action. Countries like Indonesia, for example, would be empathetic to a certain extent given U.S. military restrictions imposed after its intervention in East Timor. Cambodias actions have been couched in ambiguity and are not directly confrontational. They do not appear rash or an overreaction. They are a mild shot across the bow to warn the U.S. and European countries of the consequences of pushing their criticism of the conduct of the recent national election which is viewed as intervention too far. Q2. In terms of the U.S. pivot to Asia, does this indicate Cambodia under Hun Sen is no longer viable as a partner for the U.S. ANSWER: Cambodia remains a viable partner for the U.S. Cambodia has not cancelled all aid. And Hun Sen can easily reverse course if it suits. So far domestic matters in Cambodia have not reached a point where the U..S is likely to cancel all military aid. The U..S is likely to continue to support Cambodia in training for international peacekeeping under the UN and the US Navy is likely to call in regularly with ship visits.

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