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Hazen, "Kampuchea: the foreign policy behavior of external powers: 1954-1982," 1983

USC dissertation in International Relations.
August 27, 2009

Sebhat Merse Hazen, Ph.D

Abstract (Summary)

This study examines the problem of Kampuchea in the context of the foreign policy behavior of external powers towards that country. Initially, the problems of Kampuchea were intimately interwoven with the war in Vietnam in the late 1960's and early 1970's, which led to the extension of U.S. military actions into Kampuchea.

The data in this dissertation suggest a number of reasons for Kampuchea's problems, such as: the U.S. bombing, the coup against prince Sihanouk and the consequent drawn out civil war, the impact of Sino-Soviet dispute, factionalism within the Khmer Rouge, the border war with Vietnam, Vietnam's intervention in Kampuchea and China's invasion of Vietnam.

The causes and consequences of the conflict in South East Asia have been the subject of disputation. Yet, Kampuchea under the Pol Pot's rule saw the problem in terms of national survival as a nation with its problem with Vietnam. Vietnam viewed Kampuchea as a secondary problem whose main importance lay in the connection with China. China, in turn, regarded Vietnam as a trouble maker in the region by its ties to the Soviet Union. Clearly, Kampuchea's problem is further compounded by the strong connection of great powers rivalry that could precipitate serious implications and repercussion on international politics.

Both descriptive and analytical methods are used to review the history of the area, pattern of interaction, and ideological factors which combined the three major conflict structures converged to form the essential elements of an explosive compound: Vietnam-Kampuchea, China-Vietnam and the strategic triangle of the U.S.-China and the Soviet Union.

The Sino-Vietnam conflict has deepened as a result of Hanoi's security relationship with the Soviet Union, which in turn exacerbates Sino-Soviet tension. Because of the existence of these dangerous situations which could result in a wider conflict in South East Asia, there is an acute need to avert such a potential disaster.

A genuine rapprochement between the Soviet Union and China will lead to the solution of the problem between Vietnam and China, as well as the resolution of the problem of Kampuchea.