Wednesday marked the 40th anniversary of the beginning of US bombing raids over Cambodia; a date met this year with few public commemorations or observances.
But in the days leading up to the anniversary, retired King Noro-dom Sihanouk posted US government documents on his personal website regarding America’s policy and involvement with Cambodia during the turbulent late 1960s and early 1970s.
Although the photocopied pages do not deal directly with Operation Menu, the codename for the bombardment, they illustrate the fragile and guarded relations between the nations.
One such document is a Decem-ber 1971 letter to National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger from John Holdridge, a US diplomat and member of the National Security Council, posted Wednesday. It concerns then-Prince Sihanouk’s ap-peal to stop US bombardment of Cambodia and end American funding for the republican government of Lon Nol, who had deposed him just one year before.
In it, Holdridge notes a conversation between US industrialist Cy-rus Eaton and the prince in which Eaton supports the prince’s position and chastises the US for its course of action in Cambodia.
“There has never been a greater example of cruelty than America has exhibited against that little county that never did any harm to us and sought friendship,” the letter quotes Eaton. The sentence is underlined by the retired King.
The signature at bottom of the documents shows Kissinger in-structed Holdridge not to respond to the prince or Eaton.
Two letters from February 1969, marked “SENSITIVE” from Kis-singer to US President Richard Nixon, detail treatment of four US airmen detained in Cambodia and the establishment of a diplomatic mission between the two countries.
On the night of March 18, 1969, 48 US B-52s dropped roughly 2,400 tons of explosives on Cambodia. The mission was dubbed Opera-tion Breakfast after the morning meeting at the US Department of Defense that authorized the attack.