Why Cambodia’s military history is so important to national security – The Diplomat

As we commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Paris Peace Accords, we would do well to recognize the importance of history, and in particular Cambodia’s military history, to the region and to the world. Cambodia’s history should be recognized as a national resource to inform the country’s strategic development, influence and leadership in the ASEAN region.

Military history has been described as the search for war and the analysis of victory and defeat; however, it also encompasses much more. Military history covers a range of topics from the rise and fall of regimes to the transformation of countries, and how humanity repeats and / or learns from its mistakes. Cambodia’s history is filled with unique teachings for the country, region and the world.

Cambodia was an important crossroads in the Cold War struggle between ideologies, political systems and foreign policy agendas. The history of Cambodia which has led to and includes part of the history of foreign interventions in the region shows how essential the country is to regional security, and the security of the region is to global security. Moreover, the mass atrocities, war and deprivation that marked so much of Cambodia’s history in the latter part of the 20th century provide important lessons on the conditions that precipitate and result from instability, war and genocide. Cambodia’s history is as much an illustration of the human spirit as it is a lesson in the depths of human depravity.

Cambodia’s history is also punctuated by numerous attempts by neighboring countries to encroach, occupy, and even usurp the territory of the Cambodian people. Studying the history of these past relationships, disputes and conflicts will not provide a roadmap for current or future diplomatic or military affairs; however, this story is a national resource that gives leaders strategic wisdom on how to manage relationships with neighbors and the world.

Cambodia’s history, and in particular its military history, provides an important resource for the development of strategic wisdom for the country, region and world leaders. Cambodia’s military history is instructive in how (and when) to exercise restraint wisely, when to be patient, and when to be bold in defense of national security. Cambodian military leaders can view Cambodia’s military history as a national resource to develop not only their own strategic wisdom, but also the professionalism of their organization and officer ranks.

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Samdech Pichey Sena Tea Banh, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of National Defense of Cambodia (seated left), and his Special Advisor, General Nem Sowat (standing right), Lieutenant General Meas Sina (standing left) and Youk Chhang (seated). The group was visiting a proposed military history area near the Anlong Veng Peace Center in Oddar Meanchey province along the Cambodian-Thai border. Photo by Ly Kok-Chhay, March 6, 2020.

Cambodia’s national security depends on a professional military organization. Professional military organizations need competent leaders who are not only strategists but also historians, because no successful strategy can be developed without an understanding of history.

History shapes the building blocks of all successful strategies. Military history ensures that strategy is informed not only by the operating environment, current tactics and doctrine, but also by the successes and mistakes of the past. The story can provide insight into the acceptability of a strategy’s goals, the feasibility of methods to achieve those goals, and how predecessors used the same or different strategies in the past. Military history is a key component of all combined military and national security strategies.

Member states and the collective leadership of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) also need leaders who are both historians and strategists. Cambodia’s military history is particularly important to the peace and security of the region, as many battles, struggles, and geopolitical strategies centered around Cambodia’s military history.

Cambodia has been a key center of gravity during the various wars, conflicts and struggles that plagued the region in the 20th century. Following the First Indochina War, Cambodia became independent, and during the Second Indochina War Cambodia was the epicenter of one of the largest aerial bombardments in world history. Cambodia’s geopolitical situation during the Second Indochina War made it a critical battleground between various competing actors.

During 1975-1979 the Cambodian people also suffered unspeakable tragedy under the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime, and although the Khmer Rouge were overthrown from power in 1979, Cambodia continued to struggle against war, famine and humanitarian crises resulting in the death, displacement, or resettlement of millions of Cambodians. The defeat of the Khmer Rouge was not only a strategic victory for Cambodia; it was a strategic victory for ASEAN and the world.

The military engagements, maneuvers and strategies that took place in Cambodia between 1979 and 1993 reverberated throughout the region, and to some extent many of these forces shaped (and still shape) the geopolitics of ASEAN today. hui. Cambodia’s military history is a history not only of military battles and maneuvers, but also of key political decisions and strategies that today remain important references to inform national security and ASEAN’s collective strategy in the Southeast Asia region.

As we celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Paris Peace Accords, we should take the opportunity to reflect not only on what we need to learn from the history surrounding these accords, but also how much we can learn from all over the place. history of Cambodia. The significance of this story has perhaps never been greater than it is today, as Cambodia prepares to assume the presidency of ASEAN in 2022.

As Cambodia prepares for its tenure as the rotating president of ASEAN, we must recognize this upcoming leadership role as an opportunity to leverage, among many other resources, Cambodia’s history to inform development, the collective partnership and leadership of the Cambodian peoples and ASEAN. Cambodia’s history is integral to the vision of collective peace and security for the ASEAN region.

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