Was It Legal for the U.S. to Bomb Cambodia?


South Vietnamese marines rushed to the American Army helicopter after a sweep east of the Cambodian town of Prey-Veng during the Vietnam War.

“Is it acceptable to engage an enemy on the territory of a third country? It’s a question that has confronted Washington policymakers in recent years over ISIS forces in Syria and Qaeda operatives in Afghanistan and Pakistan. But in 1967, it was asked most urgently over the use of Cambodian territory by Vietnamese communists. What Washington policymakers decided then, and the way they continued to address the question over the following years, has had a significant impact on the shape of American foreign policy ever since. The National Liberation Front, also known as the Viet Cong, and North Vietnam established camps and supply routes on the Cambodian side of the border with South Vietnam to resupply their forces and undertake military operations against the Saigon government and its allies. As an avowedly neutral party in the war, the Cambodian government did not formally approve of the Vietnamese communists using its territory as a base area, nor would it give permission to American or allied forces to enter its jurisdiction to confront their enemies. This left decision makers in Washington in a bind. On the one hand, respecting Cambodian sovereignty allowed the enemy a sanctuary or safe haven and so hindered the American war effort. On the other, taking action against the enemy on Cambodian soil risked a public backlash, both within the United States and around the world. In December 1967, this dilemma came into sharp focus for President Lyndon Johnson and his advisers when Gen. William Westmoreland, the commander of American forces in Vietnam, recommended an attack on enemy units resting and regrouping in Cambodia after the Battle of Dak To the previous month. …”
NY Times

About 1960s: Days of Rage

Bill Davis - 1960s: Days of Rage
This entry was posted in ARVN, Cambodia, Henry Kissinger, Ho Chi Minh Trail, Lyn. Johnson, Nixon, NVA, R. McNamara, Viet Cong, Vietnam War and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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