Treason In WAR Time


Once Top Secret State Department Documents Show Treason In Wartime









1. I refer to the recommendations on Cambodia which you have approved/2/ and indicate below the action that has been and is being taken with respect to each of them.

/2/See Document 183 and its attachments.


2. I know that you appreciate that, in dealing with Sihanouk, who is Cambodia, we are dealing with someone who is not only proud and sensitive but also highly mercurial and temperamental. I feel that our policy of gracefully withdrawing aid and subsequently terminating diplomatic relations without any recriminations on our part has had a favorable influence on Sihanouk's attitude. A major additional factor, which is also beginning to influence his attitude, is the demonstration in Vietnam that we do not intend to abandon Southeast Asia to the Communists.


3. While resumption of diplomatic relations with Cambodia would of course be desirable, I agree that to seek to force the pace might well produce the opposite effect upon the Prince. However, we should continue a forthcoming and dignified stance toward him, keeping alert to any overtures he may make on resumption of relations.


4. At the present time from the standpoint of our interests the most important aspect with regard to Cambodia is the use of its territory by the Viet Cong. After, over the years, rejecting many bilateral and multilateral proposals for reducing incidents along the border, including those by the subcommittee of the UN Security Council in 1964, Sihanouk's increasingly urgent appeals over the last six months for the ICC to supervise his border seem to indicate that he now has real concern over the consequences of Viet Cong use of Cambodian territory. We have therefore regarded the expansion of the ICC, despite its limitations, as the most promising line of action open to us. With support from the British and Canadians, we have accordingly pressed the Soviets, Poles and Indians to respond positively to the Cambodian proposals. We have also made clear that we are prepared to foot the bill. Regrettably, after six months of silence, the Soviets have now rejected the proposals, apparently definitively.


5. While the Soviet action now seems to have closed the ICC track for the time being, we can take some satisfaction from the fact that our support for the proposal has improved our own relations with Cambodia. It has also again shown our willingness--and Communist refusal--to support any peaceful approach to the problem of Viet Cong use of Cambodian territory. However, Secretary Rusk is now discussing with UK Foreign Minister Stewart in Canberra what our next steps might be. One of the difficulties is, of course, that the Poles as well as the Indians will not move in the face of Soviet opposition. The Soviets are probably motivated by more concern for their relations with Hanoi than with Cambodia. This will certainly be apparent to Sihanouk.


6. Our views on the remaining recommendations are as follows:

     A. The Khmer Serei Problem

(1) Our efforts with the Thai and the Vietnamese on this have a long history. However, more recently, when we received intelligence last winter indicative of plans for a build-up of Khmer Serei forces and for large-scale attacks against Northwest Cambodia, Ambassador Lodge in Saigon and Ambassador Martin in Bangkok, acting on Secretary Rusk's personal instructions, made strong representations at the highest level to the governments of South Vietnam and of Thailand to urge an end to support of Khmer Serei activities. Both Prime Minister Ky and Prime Minister Thanom indicated a willingness to comply with our strongly-expressed wishes in this matter. Although we cannot be certain that support has ceased entirely, there have been almost no reports of Khmer Serei activity in recent months, except for a small clash in April.

(2) Perhaps more important, we have solid evidence that the Thai, at least, are disillusioned by the demonstrated ineffectiveness of the Khmer Serei and are anxious to damp down tensions in the border area. With this in mind they have asked the UN Secretary General to send UN observers to the border area, at Thai expense. The Secretary General has discussed the Thai proposal with the Cambodians and has expressed to them and to the Thai willingness to send a high-level representative to explore the possibilities of mediation and possibly of later sending teams of observers to both sides of the border. Sihanouk is apparently agreeable to this approach and has even talked of finding some means of re-establishing diplomatic relations with Thailand.


(3) We believe that for the present we should concentrate our efforts on encouraging the Thai initiative with the Secretary General. Should there be any indication of a resurgence of Khmer Serei activity or support by the Thais or South Vietnamese, we would then favor again making the strongest possible representations.



     B. Presidential Letter to Sihanouk

We agree that it may be desirable for you to send a letter to Prince Sihanouk by the three Senators (in August or September) or by Mr. Eugene Black (October or November). The draft prepared by your staff/3/ is a good one and we would at this time have only relatively minor changes to suggest in it. However, we should like the opportunity to review the draft and the desirability of sending the letter in the light of the exact situation at the time of the visits.

/3/See footnotes 3 and 6, Document 183.


     C. Unofficial Visits by Americans to Cambodia and Private Contacts Between U.S. and Cambodian Diplomats

(1) Since the severance of diplomatic relations in May 1965, the only important American visit to Cambodia was that by Senator Mansfield's party last November. We sought to have Cambodia included in Mr. Black's itinerary this spring, but the Cambodian Government indicated that it would not be convenient for him to come. We have sought also to maintain contact with the Cambodian Ambassador in New Delhi, who was Ambassador in Washington for many years and who is close to Sihanouk. For example, earlier this month Ambassador Bowles made a special point of explaining to him that the U.S. fully supported the ICC expansion proposal. Still another move of this sort is a recent friendly letter from Governor Harriman to the Prince, sent via the correspondent Robert Shaplen, who is visiting Cambodia next month.


(2) In addition to the possible visits by the Senators and Mr. Black, we will be looking for other possibilities, or alternatives, if these do not materialize. We will also continue to seek additional diplomatic and unofficial contacts, for example, through private Americans on good terms with Sihanouk. In doing so, we must of course accept the possibility of rebuffs. For example, when we sought some months ago to contact Son Sann, a senior Cambodian minister then traveling abroad, in order to pass a reassuring message to Sihanouk, he refused to see our representative (an acquaintance of long standing). Similarly, the Cambodian UN Delegate declined the recent White House invitation.


George W. Ball

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 Treason in Wartime: Once Top Secret DoS Documents

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