By: Tamarind Jitnoom
The Cambodian Coup of 1970 brought the removal of the Cambodian head of state, prince Norodom Sihanouk. Prince Norodom Sihanouk carried his political career neutrally and tolerated the American and South Vietnamese Army as well as the North Vietnamese army and Vietcong. It was during his vacation to France, when the coup, backed by the CIA and funded by US tax dollars and also US weapons, put an end to Sihanouk’s control and placed Lon Nol as head of state instead. The Green Berets who trained anti-sihanouk forces called Kampuchea Khmer Krom overran the capital of Phnom Penh and took control of the government. Later on Lon Nol’s Cambodian Army (Anti-Communist) aided by the US and South Vietnam went to war with the Cambodian Communists (Khmer Rough) aided by North Vietnam and the Vietcong killing many civillians along the way. This caused both the American public as well as the Cambodian populace to demonstrate antiwar protests all over the country and drastically affected American foreign policy.
Although it was never admitted that the US had anything to do with the overthrow of prince Norodom Sihanouk and their measures to save face from the Vietnam war, the underlying motive was there since the beginning of time when the Green Beret entered Cambodia. The US needed to weaken the North Vietnam Army/Vietcong and due to the fact that prince Norodom Sihanouk’s allowance of ports used by the North Vietnam Army/Vietcong, they made it possible by placing someone they can control and who aligned with their political aims. The social impact of using mercenaries to overthrow the government is so a leader whom swayed in the anticommunism direction would aid in the US need to win the war. Till this day controversy still exists amongst US involvement but foreign policy, but what is clear is that foreign policy was never the same and began to lead Americans to question their country’s involvement in any war or political havoc