US President Joe Biden. AFP
CAPTAIN AMERICA …….. IS BACK
HELP IS ON THE WAY…
America is back, this slogan launched by Biden and repeated to satiety by the most important members of his Administration (Secretary of State Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin), signifies the return of the American pretension to lead the world. It is the return of: “what is good for the USA is good for the whole world”. This political goal is based on an erroneous analysis of the today world. A fault that can lead to war.
The international community, that is to say all the nations represented at the UN, ceased to be dominated by a single super power. It has diversified into nations which come together according to varying degrees of development and political and military rise. The world has ceased to be unipolar; it has become multipolar. It is a reality that no unilateral US pretension can change. Even by trying to unite the Western world and to present it as the only representative entity of the international community.
The international community is diverse. It has political regime that please Washington and Brussels, its valet, and others which are less appealing because of their authoritarian regime but which the two Western centers are accommodating because those regime have important strategic natural ressources or are good clients of Western industries of armaments, and finally others which do not please at all and which they have dealt with, since Biden’s arrival, with an increasing hostility. Today, most of the countries that have no strategic natural ressources and are not clients of Western industries of armaments wonder in which category they will be placed as the US has launched its “crusade of democracies” against China and Russia with the pretension to speak on behalf of the entire international community. To see countries from the second category taking part in this crusade is not the least of the ironies, even if one remembers that SEATO and NATO, supposed to protect democracy, also had genuine dicatures among their members.
How does the USA, which has so often violated international law (and recently in Iraq and Libya) and which defend, with the support of Europeans, multiple violations of internal law here and there, dare to dictate their law to the whole world?
As for Cambodia, the return of the USA is the return of very bad memories. And the list in long : during the years, 50-60 many attempts to destabilise the country and overthrow the legal government and even to assassinate the Head of State; support for the territorial claims by neighbours and for extreme right-wing Khmer militias based in the neighboring territories; the dropping of 2,756,941 tonnes of bombs from 1965 to 1973 on a country which waged no war on anyone; from 1963 to 1971, chemical warfare with Agent Orange; support for the coup d’état of March 18, 1970; invasion by US troops on April 29, 1970. After 1979, support for a military coalition dominated by Pol Pot’s men, embargo from 1979 to 1991 depriving survivors of the most fundamental human rights; during UNTAC, deliberate desire to oust the CPP from power. Since 1995, financial and technical support to the opposition.
What could Cambodia hope – or fear – from a return of the USA?
History teaches us that the USA are able of doing anything to achieve their ends. Did they not invent the fiction of “weapons of mass destruction” to hold themselves up against the international right to invade and occupy Iraq at the cost of more than one million victims? Did they not go beyond international law by cooperating with France and Great Britain in the destruction of Libya with the chaos that followed ? Biden was Obama’s vice-president when the democratically elected president of Honduras was overthrown by military officers close to the United States. We have already seen the American media quoting reports that invent from scratch the fiction of a Chinese military base in Cambodia. The pawns are set for the repetition of the deadly interference of the past.
What can we expect else? To watch the US attempt to increase divisions within ASEAN, within the Mekong region? To watch the US efforts to dismantle the natural solidarities between Asian and South-East Asian countries? To be forced to take side like other ASEAN countries? The creation of the Quad already provides a strong indication that these questions are relevant.
How can we not already perceive the first steps of an escalation which will lead to a fatal gear in which Cambodia will be involved in spite of itself and which will impose on the people, once again, to suffer US devastations?
It is absolutely clear that the interests of the ASEAN countries are not those of the USA. That these countries belong to a region of the world which no longer has the destiny of being under the tutelage of the West. Colonial time is over. And that it is up to Asian leaders to resolve among themselves the problems which arise between them.
The time has come to implement in Asia the Monroe doctrine and say all together to the Westerners that Asia belongs to Asian people.
Thomas Fowler is an expatriate observer based in Phnom Penh