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Eisenhower and CambodiaDiplomacy, Covert Action, and the Origins of the Second Indochina War$
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William J. Rust

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780813167428

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813167428.001.0001

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“Change from the Top” (1956)

“Change from the Top” (1956)

(p.103) 5 “Change from the Top” (1956)
Eisenhower and Cambodia

William J. Rust

University Press of Kentucky

In April 1956, Prince Sihanouk made an incendiary speech in Cambodia that covered the full range of his grievances against the United States: pressure on the kingdom to abandon its neutrality, economic assistance that undermined the country’s sovereignty, and a hostile Western press—in particular Time magazine, which portrayed him as a “dictator” and “madman.” A letter from Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, intended to preempt further “anti-American attacks,” and Sihanouk’s combative response to that letter exacerbated US–Cambodian relations. The failing US effort to strengthen Cambodia’s alignment with anticommunist nations led to far-reaching policy guidance in National Security Council directive NSC 5612/1, which called for covert encouragement of Sihanouk’s anticommunist opposition. Characterizing US policy as “change from the top,” Ambassador McClintock expressed his own belief in aiding Cambodia for the sake of US interests.

Keywords:   John Foster Dulles, Time magazine and Sihanouk, NSC 5612/1

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