The Kampuchean Problem: A Southeast Asian Perception

Courtesy Reuters

In the five years since Vietnam invaded Kampuchea to depose Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot and install its own client regime, the situation in Kampuchea has settled into what is widely viewed as a long-term stalemate. Despite strong international condemnation, and ongoing guerrilla resistance from the Khmer Rouge and other nationalist groups, Vietnam has retained close control over Kampuchea through its puppet leader, Heng Samrin, and has shown little apparent interest in either a military withdrawal or a political compromise settlement. U.N. and other efforts to initiate peace talks have been fruitless, and the prospect of a long-term Vietnamese occupation has seemed virtually unavoidable.

On closer inspection, however, it may be premature to accept the current impasse in Kampuchea as permanent. Such a judgment neglects several significant dimensions of the problem-most importantly the consequences of the existing situation for Vietnam itself. Five years after the invasion, Vietnam is still

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