WAR AND HOPE: The Case for Cambodia by Norodom Sihanouk

WAR AND HOPE: The Case for Cambodia

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Since the history of independent Cambodia has been intimately bound up with the personal history of the flamboyant Prince, it's no surprise that ""the case for Cambodia"" is also the case for Sihanouk. Published in France last year, this is part chronicle, part program. Sihanouk recapitulates the history of Cambodia's quarreling factions of the left--the one-time Maoist Khmer Rouge, for the most part French-educated, and the Vietnam-trained Khmer ""Vietminh"" (Sihanouk's term). Relating events covered in greater detail by William Shawcross in Sideshow (Shawcross has written the introduction here), the Prince describes how he, Sihanouk, came to the position of ""enemy number one"" of the Khmer Rouge, and tells what he knows about the civil war that raged between the two factions, leading to the Vietnamese invasion and the devastation of the country. Only he can provide the leadership for a new Cambodia, Sihanouk argues, advocating a new Geneva Conference to put Cambodia under international supervision. Though he attacks China, he is careful to restrict his attacks to certain of Mao's policies--mainly the Cultural Revolution that served as a model for the Khmer Rouge regime; and generally he lavishes praise on his former Chinese hosts. Similarly, he condemns the Vietnamese on nationalist grounds while praising their war against the U.S. Only the Khmer Rouge are subjected to consistent attack, reflecting Sihanouk's belief that they must wither away before stability can come to Cambodia. For the others, he is leaving room to maneuver and negotiate. Though he provides a vague outline of a democratic Cambodia under his leadership, the policies are secondary to the person. And since Sihanouk, for all his bravado, has shown his patriotism and diplomatic skill before, there is reason to believe that he is right: the future of Cambodia may well rest with the Prince. In that case, the importance of this book will go beyond its value as a personal memoir.

Pub Date: June 30th, 1980
Publisher: Pantheon