9. Special National Intelligence Estimate1

SNIE 57–70


  • SNIE 57–70: The Outlook for Cambodia


Evidence on many aspects of the Cambodian situation is fragmentary and subject to conflicting interpretations. This is true with respect both to the situation within Cambodia and to communist intentions concerning it. Hence, this Estimate devotes more attention than is usual to identifying areas of particular uncertainty and to assessing alternative explanations. The principal conclusions of this Estimate are stated in Section III.


In the four months since Sihanouk’s ouster, the communists have overrun half of Cambodia, taken or threatened 16 of its 19 provincial capitals, and interdicted—for varying periods—all road and rail links to the capital, Phnom Penh. In the countryside, VC/NVA forces generally continue to move at will, attacking towns and villages in the south and converting the north into an extension of the Laos corridor and a base for “peoples’ war” throughout the country and in South Vietnam as well.
This being the situation, survival of the Lon Nol government will depend heavily on the extent of foreign assistance as well as on the will and ability of the people and their leaders to organize themselves for effective military resistance to the communists; on the unity and morale of the country in the face of hardship, destruction, and death; and on the reaction to the divisive political appeals issued in Sihanouk’s name. But of equal or greater importance are the capabilities and intentions of the Vietnamese communists; the extent to which they can bring pressures to bear on the Lon Nol government and the degree to which they are willing to allocate available resources to such an effort.

[Omitted here is the body of the report.]

  1. Source: Central Intelligence Agency, NIC Files: Job 79–R01012A, Box 390, SNIE 57–70, Outlook for Cambodia. Secret; Spoke. The CIA and the intelligence organizations of the Departments of State and Defense, and the NSA, participated in the preparation of this estimate. All members of the USIB concurred in the estimate except the representatives of the AEC and FBI who abstained on the grounds that it was outside their jurisdiction.