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342. Memorandum From the President's Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon 1

SUBJECT

  • Thoughts on Cambodia Policy From Our Chargé in Phnom Penh

Our Chargé in Phnom Penh, Rives, set forth his views on the Cambodian situation and the U.S. policy in preparation for an East Asian U.S. Chiefs of Mission Conference which has just taken place in Tokyo (Tab A).2

You may find his views of some interest. In brief, he says:

He is more sanguine than a few weeks ago, as a result of Cambodian efforts plus U.S. and other outside help.

The positive factors are Cambodian nationalism, continued support of the GOC by vital opinion groups, VC/NVA failure to win over the peasants in their areas, continued unity within the GOC, general high morale, the fact that the Khmer are a homogeneous race, recognizably fighting external aggression, and supply and organizational difficulties being experienced by the VC/NVA.

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He notes also the Asian support for Lon Nol, and the prospect that most countries, even France and the USSR, wish for a peaceful settlement and may influence Hanoi.

Among the negative factors, Rives lists FANK weakness, the poor economic situation, and the failure of the GOC officials to get out into the countryside.

Rives also expresses disappointment at the failure of most Asian countries to make a truly regional effort to protect one of their own members.

As to U.S. policy, Rives suggests:

  • —that we continue to act within the Nixon Doctrine, avoid direct military ground support and resist the temptation to move in and run things.3
  • —that we plan on FY 71 MAP support of at least $75 million.4
  • —that we launch an economic assistance program in cooperation with other sources, planning on a U.S. contribution of some $15–20 million.
  • —that we help with English teaching to enable the Cambodians to communicate with their neighbors and with us.
  • —that we redouble our diplomatic effort to persuade Asian countries to give concrete help and diplomatic support. (He wonders why we can't persuade India to be less unhelpful, given our enormous assistance program.)
  • —that we encourage closer coordination between Cambodia and its three neighbors.
  • —that we institute limited guerrilla type interdiction efforts along Cambodia's northern border.

Over the longer term, Rives believes that a military takeover is possible. If on the other hand, the nation moves towards a republic, it could either remain strongly pro U.S. or move towards a nationalistic and rather radical line. Much of the present support for the Lon Nol Government comes from opponents of Sihanouk who in normal times would be quite radical. Rives suggests that we look toward encouraging the flow of private capital in the post-war period, and plan for reconstruction of the Cambodian infrastructure together with interested states such as France and Japan.5

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 510, Country Files, Far East, Cambodia, Vol. VIII, 20 June 1970–20 July 1970. Top Secret; Sensitive. Sent for information.
  2. Tab A, a retyped copy of telegram 1519 from Phnom Penh, July 7, is attached but not printed.
  3. Nixon wrote “(correct)” in the margin next to this suggestion.
  4. Nixon wrote “(probably needed)” in the margin next to this suggestion and underlined the phrase, “plan on FY 71 MAP support of at least $75 million.”
  5. Nixon underlined the last clause of this sentence and wrote: “This report makes a great deal of sense.”