For John, BLUF: Former King of Cambodia dead at 89. Spotty record of rule. Nothing to see here; just move along.
From The New York Times we learn that King Norodom Sihanouk, of Cambodia, is dead at 89. He came to the throne in 1941 and survived for decades. Here is the period that interests me, as my second tour in Southeast Asia (SEA) was mostly spent fighting the Khmer Rouge—unsuccessfully, as it turned out. The result was a victory for the Khmer Rouge and "Year Zero" in Cambodia, as Dictator Pol Pot waged a campaign against those who might provide leadership for a counter-revolution. Many fled to Thailand, and from there to the United States.
Convinced that the United States had been behind the overthrow, King Sihanouk allied himself with the Khmer Rouge at the urging of his Chinese patrons, giving the Cambodian Communists his prestige and enormous popularity. Their victory in 1975 brought the ruthless Pol Pot to power, with King Sihanouk serving, for the first year, as the figurehead president until he was placed under house arrest and fell into a deep depression. Over the next four years, the Khmer Rouge regime led to the death of 1.7 million people and nearly destroyed the country.Today many Cambodians live in Lowell, and in Long Beach, California, where I graduated from High School some 42 years ago. Their gain, life, is our gain, great citizens.
Regards — Cliff