Cambodia faces its history


Cambodia is finally taking a baby step to address its ugly history. A new book by Khamboly Dy, an expert on Cambodia's genocide, came out on Wednesday. Dy's A History of Democratic Kampuchea is significant because it's the first history book written by a Cambodian on the period from 1975 to 1979, when the Khmer Rouge terrorized the population and caused the deaths of some 1.7 million people. However, it was only approved for use a "reference text" in schools, so Cambodia's government—which is led by people with Khmer Rouge pasts—isn't exactly embracing truth and reconciliation with open arms. But it's a start.

You can download a PDF of the book here from the Documentation Center of Cambodia's website. Eighty-four pages are in English, with the other 125 pages in Khmer.

It begins eloquently:

Many Cambodians have tried to put their memories of the regime behind them and move on. But we cannot progress—much less reconcile with ourselves and others—until we have confronted the past and understand both what happened and why it happened. Only with this understanding can we truly begin to heal.


Don't go wobbly, Sarko

As Ségolène Royal and Nicolas Sarkozy jostle for position in the upcoming French presidential runoff, Sarkozy—generally thought of as pro-American—appears to be engaging in some ritualistic Yankee-bashing. He blasted the U.S. position on climate change in a recent interview. That's fair enough. But he also suggested that French forces may not be in Afghanistan for long if he's elected:


The long-term presence of French troops in that part of the world does not look definitive to me," he said in an interview with France-2 television.

That's quite troubling, particularly in light of the recent French withdrawal of special forces from the region. For the moment, I'm attributing Sarkozy's loose talk to the need to lure centrist voters skeptical of cooperation with the United States.