If you have not already done so, you may wish to read the
Introduction to Gnomica.
Saturday 29 September 2012
Read gnomica 1-100 here!
Cambodia wanted no part of SEATO.
We would look after ourselves as neutrals and Buddhists.
Norodom Sihanouk(31 Oct 1922 – )
The very names conjure up in our collective imagination horrifying [WARNING: some links bring up very disturbing photos of human inhumanity] images of the 1975-1979 nightmare that was the real-world implementation of all the ‘high theory’ discussed in Paris around seminar tables at the Sorbonne among the psychopathic Maoists like Pol Pot (19 May 1925 – 15 Apr 1998) and his ilk.
That horror story is well known.
Sihanouk, the on-again-off-again King who loved jazz and was into making films, went from being French puppet to being Khmer Rouge puppet to being king again. And lest I be misunderstood here, I am not – from the safety of my distant place and the security of my remote time – taking the man to task for doing and not doing what he didn’t and did before, during and after the Vietnam War. Not even Heaven knows all the kinds of dreadful, impossible situations he was forced into during much of his life, nor do I know enough about him, his country, and that era of Khmer Rouge rule to be making judgments.
But it is the statement above that I wish to consider here.
When SEATO was being formed in the mid-fifties, Sihanouk offered his bold declaration of his country’s ‘independence’ and view of itself as peace-loving Buddhists. It came eventually at astronomical cost to the people of Cambodia. It is perhaps reminiscent of that other political folly fatuously trumpeted a short generation earlier by another ‘leader’: “Peace for our time!”
Acquiescence to the encroachments of the bully – whether the one in the school yard that we read so much about today, or the one strutting across the contemporary world stage (depending on where you are, pick your own candidate[s]!) – is, historically viewed, not likely to have a good outcome for the one who acquiesces, whether a person or a polity.
The thought actually brings me up short, for while I bemoan and berate that constant beating of the American military drum and our readiness to engage in both quite silly (invasion of Grenada ) and quite serious (a currently nuclearizing Iran) contretemps, I fully appreciate that it is beyond naïve blindly and irresponsibly to ignore the realities of Realpolitik. The world is not always and everywhere such a nice place, and being ‘nice’ to the bullies out there is in my view not good strategy. I wish Matthew 5:44 were always solid advice, but it isn’t.
Listen to Teddy Roosevelt:
Speak softly and carry a big stick.
Listen to Henry Kissinger (and others before him):
Nations do not have friends, they only have interests.