Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Cambodia Artifact Highlights Issue of American Greed [Sotheby’s] vs. Khmer Heritage and American Values.
In this blog, I have taken the liberty to address an issue that is not very salient to most Americans and probably will have little import to anyone but me.
The issue is very simple. 
In an inconspicuous article written by NY Times correspondent, Tom Mashberg [Saturday, February 16, 2103], in an  article entitled, “Cambodia Sees Ethical Conflict In Import Panel” highlights an issue that involves the integrity of the US State Department. (posted earlier today)
  In particular, the case at hand involves a simple point of law of who really owns a 10th Century Khmer Statue worth $3million. 
Does the home country Cambodia own it because it’s part and parcel of the Khmer heritage?
  Or does a non-Cambodian Belgian consignor’s wife who claims she bought in good faith from a London Antiquities dealer in 1975 own it?
  The US State Department has warned Sotheby’s [The Famous Premiere Auction House which garners handsome remuneration for selling it even without a legitimate provenance] that in fact that 10th Century Hindu warrior statue was stolen from the crumbling temple in the ancient complex of called Koh Ker and rightfully belongs to Cambodia, not to the Sotheby’s or it’s ‘alleged owners’. 
  Why is this of particular interest to me at this moment in time when so much else is going on around the world? 
The answer lies within the US State Department. 
In the late 1980’s,  at the behest of the one of the more judicious and foresighted Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and the Pacific,  Dr Richard Solomon, former ex-aide to Dr Henry Kissinger and Director of the RAND Corporation as well as being a China, SE Asia expert, had requested my assistance in his strategy to disarm the Khmer Rouge and create the Paris Peace Conference on Cambodia in 1991. 
  At his direction and supervision, I went out as a Deputy Assistant Secretary of State [DAS] and worked along with him, Charles Twining [Cambodia Desk Officer] and other CIA/MI SE Asia experts and implemented a strategy that Solomon had envisioned which was blessed by the Sec State James Baker [one of our finest Sec States ever]. 
In a coalition of Perm Five countries –China, England, France, American, Russia—working in concert with the US State Department,  Dr Solomon and Sec State Baker successfully terminated the thirty year slaughter of Cambodia initiated by the brutal regime of Pol Pot, aided by Mao and his Gang. 
 No American soldiers had to be utilized, although in their extremely useful analytical way,  the Pentagon costed out for me the price of a war in Cambodia and the US Casualty tolls and assured me and others at the State Department that the military option was not on the table. 
  This was an example when a ‘no’ from the Pentagon is far more useful to the national security community than a ‘yes’ for war.  I would hope that more Sec States, Sec Defs and WH personnel learn the beneficent lessons of Foreign Service Diplomacy rather than war and pre-emptive actions.
In short,  a former Khmer Rouge Leader turned Anti-KR by the name of Hun Sen became the new leader of Cambodia.  And for over thirty years,  thanks to his leadership and the foresight of Dr Solomon and Sec State James Baker and in turn, POTUS, Bush SR- peace, stability and ‘democracy’ came to Cambodia.
Now, Cambodia is rightfully requesting to all the dealers and countries around the world to please remit any factotums of antiquities that have been part of their exceedingly rich Khmer Heritage. 
  From my perspective, this issue for Sotheby’s is not a conundrum.  Sotheby’s  and their client should be given a ‘reasonable finder’s fee’ and a ‘free trip to Cambodia’ and fetted by Hun Sen as a “FRIEND OF CAMBODIA”. 
 Maybe a plaque or some recognition should be given to the present holder of the Hindu Statue. 
  As for our State Department, they should honor the request of Cambodia ASAP. 
It’s morally right to allow a formerly ‘raped and ravaged’ country, like Cambodia, to attain some historical/psychological closure.  If any country could have been categorized as having PTSD,  it would have been Cambodia which had entered the reign of terror resulting in no small part because of American “saturation bombing”  initiated by Dr Kissinger---illegally.  
Now, Cambodia must assume it’s rightful place in South East Asia and to do so,  those honorable FSO’s at the State Department should acquiesce to Hun Sen’s requests because now, paradoxically, he is no longer the ex-terrorist Khmer Rouge leader, but the legitimate ruler of Cambodia. 

In this seemingly sidebar article about an insignificant Hindu Warrior statue lies a clue to all the miscreant deeds of past American administrations during the Vietnam Wars and the restorative actions of one Senior Diplomat,  Dr Richard Solomon, who risked his political career to initiate a Peace Treaty that no one thought possible. 
 Even yours truly left the State Department after the 1991 Peace Conference to return to a moment of FANTASY REALISM,  back to HOLLYWOOD for a taste of reality. 
  As I told my William Morris Agent in Hollywood, the studios and the talent agencies made the Khmer Rouge look like ‘pussy cats’.
  But who knew then that in Hollywood everything was a mirror image of reality. “Yes” meant, “no!” 
 “I read the script meant I did not read the script!”
  So thank you, Dr Solomon for allowing me to spend time in the jungles of Thailand and Cambodia in order to realize that life sometimes can be a ‘bitch!’  And if you work hard enough and can be tough enough, someone like me can even get two TV Miniseries completed and shown on TV.
It took, Pol Pot,  his horrendous legacy, Hun Sen, and working with the incredible Perm Five to realize my Hollywood dreams.  Btw,  it was the anti-UN , Ambassador John Bolton who gave Dick and me the necessary money to initiate the Peace Conference. 
 Life is funny,  and of course, the good guys aren’t as good as they seem and the bad guys aren’t as bad as they are portrayed. 
  Hun Sen take back your 10th  century statue.   Let the world understand how great your Khmer culture was and is.


  1. It's cool that the US worked to un-do the Khmer Rouge. I wish the US hadn't have overthrown Prince Sianouk in the 1970s and installed an enept military junta as the US did in Vietnam in 1963-64.

    What Americans never understood about Vietnam is that it was the CIA which ousted several Vietnamese governments in order to insure that the south would fight on - which as what few in the south wanted, certaily not the south Vietnamese military. First CIA and the State Department did away with President Diem and replaced him with General Minh, but Minh told Ambassador Lodge that he couldn't defeat the communists and favored a neutralist solution. As a result CIA got rid of Minh and installed General Khanh, who then also informed everyone that he couldn't defeat the communists, so CIA did away with him and installed General Khemh, who did the same thing so CIA got rid of him and finally installed Nuyen Cao Key...who said nothing but simply lost the war.

    In Cambodia it was the same. Prince Sinanouk couldn't defeat the communists and attempted to stay neutral so the CIA got rid of him and the result was an end to Combodian neutrality and an inevitable victory for the Khemer Rouge.

    It's nice to hear that later the US moved to help depose them, and I only wish the US had some similar concern for other failed states like Mexico right here on the Texas border. The US indifference for what's happened in Mexico is appalling.

  2. In Vietnam and Cambodia CIA and Presidents Johnson and Nixon were single-minded. They didn't want to face the realities that the communists held the upper hand. Whenever a local leader would try to fill them in on the realities and seek a realistic solution alternative to useless fighting the CIA would get rid of them.

    This was what lay behind the completely unnecessary escalation of a war that was totally predictable from the beginning would be lost by the US.

  3. Is it any wonder that after the war Nguyen Cao Key stated publicly many times that President Tue told him if they did anything to try to negoiate with the communists or end the war that the, "Americans would kill us" [President Tiu and Key].

  4. Yes, the Cambodian settlement is a noble achievement and should be studied by foreign service personnel.

    It should be a case study at foreign service schools.

    And because there was no appreciable violence few have heard about it, but they should.

    Cambodia was a casualty of the Vietnam War.

    That at present, America has good relations with the countries of Indochina, as a whole, and individually, is a testament to the Cambodian settlement, as observers (Vietnam) saw America, when it took its war bonnet off, could be pragmatic & reasonable.

    But I would also suggest the Cambodian settlement and regularization of diplomatic relations with Vietnam had as much to do with the inherent practicality and grace of the region's people.

    The People of Vietnam did not search out war, but did want freedom & independence, and once that was achieved, were willing to engage a former bitter enemy, America, in order to help their people move forward.

    Too bad America can't apply such a pragmatic mentality to Iran -- perhaps, newly confirmed Secretary of Defense Hagel can help in this regard.

    But this time, it needs to happen before the war and not after it (I doubt the Iranians would be so forgiving as the Vietnamese).

    But there is one major difference between Iran and Indochina: Israel.

    Israel's neoconservative supporters, a small, but vocal and prominent group (given their various media platforms, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Foxnews, talk radio, Weekly Standard, et. al.) and the Greater Israel supporters, Lukud Party in particular, in Israel, see Iran as a obstacle to their plans.

    I have a hypothesis: There is a race against time.

    The neoconservatives, here in America, and Lukud Party, along with many others, in Israel, know that formal annexation of the West Bank and Gaza strip will make apartheid impossible to deny, it will be official policy.

    But that will not stand, here in America, and in the international community. Neither will transfer.

    Unless, there has already been a military attack on Iran, which can be used to obscure (military matters will hog the headlines) and justify (as military necessity) apartheid.

    That is why rummors suggest 2013 is when Israel will push (as stated by Netanyahu) for an American military strike on Iran. After 2013, with no advance in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, it will be impossible to deny the two-state solution is dead because of continued settlement expansion, as much as I and others may push a two-state solution.

    There are millions of innocent Israelis & Palestinians at stake.

    I submit a one-state, one man - one vote, solution is impossible, given both parties' determination to have a state of their own. As I've stated before, large scale murder & mayhem will result.

    But I'm willing to entertain theories or explanations on how a one-state solution could work (as I recognize the two-state solution is on life-support).

    Lukud and Netanyahu don't see Iran as an existential military threat, they see an Iran war (carried out by the U. S. Military) as a necessity to coverup and justify an apartheid Israel, that without an Iran war, would be held-up to Americans as an undeniable example that Israel is not a democracy with equal civil rights for all citizens.

    That claim has been the trump card for Israeli supporters for decades.

    Without that trump card and Israel an official APARTHEID STATE, Israel will be seen as a brutal, oppressive state, more in line with Bolshevism, reminding many that a significant number of Jewish people, in leadership roles, were part-n-parcel in one of the greatest mass slaughters in human history during the first two decades of Communist rule in Russia.

    Yes, there is a race against time.

    Bibbi wants his war to cover-up apartheid -- a supposed nuclear weapons program is just the excuse.

    Bibbi knows Iran will never give-up its rights to nuclear power under the NPT.

    Can Americans of good will save Israel from its own hubris?

    I hope so for Humanity's sake.

    1. I stated above, "[neocons & Lukudniks] see Iran as a obstacle to their plans."

      That needs correction:

      It should have read: "Neocons & Lukudniks see Iran as integral and necessary to their plans."

      Iran is not a geopolitical, military existential threat to Israel, given Israel's quantitative & qualitative military advantage (including 200 or so nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them to the target) partly provided by good old Uncle Sam.

      And Iran has not engaged in an offensive military attack & invasion of a foreign nation in a couple of hundred years.

      War with Iran is a necessary pretext, a piece of the puzzle, in a strategem to conquer & annex the West Bank with little or no respect or regard for the Palestinian People.

      My thinking & writing on this subject emanates from my concern that War with Iran leads to Regional War and quite possibly World War III.

      (See Russian and Chinese regional & global, strategic interests.)

      The United States of America is the safest country in the World.

      Unless there is World War III.

      Beyond the well-founded issues of morality and human respect & dignity surrounding the Israeli-Palestinian issue, I'm not willing to risk WWIII to indulge Israeli notions of grandeur and supremacy.

      There is another word Zionists need to fear beyond "apartheid" and that word is "anachronism".

      As in, "Israel is an anachronism."

      As in, "The apartheid state of Israel is an anachronism."

      The world would be a better place for not ever knowing if that is true or not.

    2. I don't like to see analogies made like refering to Israel as an "apartheid" state.

      Israel is it's own case and shouldn't be confused with a different situation just to put a point across.

      What Isreal does is in violation of many international laws and norms and that should be the point.

      Personally I wish apartheid were still in effect in South Africa and I think it's obvious that the ending of apartheid was the beginning of the end of South Africa as a civilized society.

      On the contrary Israel's conquests and colonizations are unwarranted.

  5. About Vietnam....

    When Vietnam fell to the communists in the Spring of 1975 not a single American was harmed by it.

    To sane people this would be the only rational measure of whether such an issue is of "vital national interest."

    Statecraft is bullshit.

    Policymakers are exaggerators and bureaucrats who have their own agendas and rarely if ever see any real national security or vital interest in anything.

    They just like to play games.