Cambodia: holding our noses for the greater good

The Wall Street Journal recently published an article on an agreement between Cambodia and China to let Beijing use the Ream naval base in Sihanoukville, Southeastern Cambodia. Despite vehement denials by Beijing and Phnom Penh that remind us of Shakespeare’s line that “the lady doth protest too much,” let’s stipulate for the sake of argument that the conclusions in the article have merit.

What is the United States prepared to do? The answer, not surprisingly, is not much.

Senate bill, S-1468, the “Cambodia Accountability and Return on Investment Act,” is the latest in a long list of unsuccessful U.S. attempts to force democracy onto a regime that sees it as an existential threat, a familiar pattern of trying to shame Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen into complying with policies that go against his own political interests. We seem determined to appear feckless to the Cambodian people we arguably seek to champion.

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