KING SIHANOUK

KING SIHANOUK

Described as one of the great survivors of the 20th century, King Sihanouk has been a pivotal figure in Cambodia’s history. As a prince he was a player in Cambodia’s emergence as an independent nation and helped bring Cambodia’s warring factions together during periods of unrest. He played a major role in trying to bring his war-torn country together after the end of the Khmer Rouge period and mediated between Cambodia’s rival factions.

At various times Sihanouk was both an ally and enemy of the Khmer Rouge. When the Khmer Rouge took power, Sihanouk made the unwise decision of returning home. He spent three years under house arrest, often with the threat of death hanging over his head, and then escaped to Beijing, dividing his time betweem there and Pyongyang, which had become like a second home to him. Sihanouk has repeatedly said that the only way to have lasting peace in Cambodia was to somehow include the Khmer Rouge.

King Sihanouk (1922-20120 had little political power but was greatly revered by the Cambodian people. He married Princess Monineath, also known as Monique, and had 14 children. He had a passion for music and film. He used to write and record songs and appear in amateur movies in which he played the romantic lead. He put out a news letter in which he wrote a number of articles promoting himself.

AFP reported: “Cambodia's former king Norodom Sihanouk was a political chameleon deft at moving with the tides that battered the war-ravaged nation for decades while remaining hugely popular with his people.Twice exiled and twice returned to the throne, Sihanouk abruptly abdicated in 2004 as old age and poor health took their toll on the colourful monarch. It was far from the first time he had caught observers off guard. Sihanouk repeatedly backed different regimes, including the murderous Khmer Rouge, during a life almost as tempestuous as his country's modern history. "Sihanouk is Cambodia," his official biographer, Julio Jeldres, once said.[Source: AFP, October 16, 2012]

Elizabeth Becker and Seth Mydans wrote in the New York Times: Norodom Sihanouk “was the charismatic Cambodian leader whose remarkable skills of political adaptation personified for the world the tiny, troubled kingdom where he was a towering figure through six decades. Crowned in 1941, when Franklin D. Roosevelt was president, he held on to some form of power for the next 60-plus years. He served as monarch, prime minister, figurehead of the Communist revolution, leader in exile, and once again as monarch until he abdicated in 2004. He handed the crown to one of his sons, Norodom Sihamoni, after which he was known as the retired king, or the king-father. [Source: Elizabeth Becker and Seth Mydans, New York Times, October 14, 2012 **]

“He survived colonial wars, the Khmer Rouge and the intrigues of the cold war, but his last years were marked by expressions of melancholy, and he complained often about the poverty and abuses of what he called “my poor nation.” Alternately charming and ruthless, he dazzled world leaders with his political wit and, in the process, raised the stature of his small Southeast Asian nation. He won independence for Cambodia from the French colonial rulers in 1953, using diplomacy and repression to outmaneuver his domestic rivals but without resorting to war, as his neighbors in Vietnam had done. **

King Sihanouk’s Life

Associated Press reported: “Sihanouk played many roles in the Cambodia he helped navigate through half a century of war and genocide. He was known as a revered independence hero, communist collaborator, eccentric playboy, and a cunning and sometimes ruthless monarch and prime minister. First crowned king in 1941, he stepped down in 1953 to pursue a political career. He became head of state, and during the Cold War tried to steer his country on a neutralist course. Eventually, however, his country became enmeshed in the conflict in neighboring Vietnam, leading to his first fall from power and culminating in the murderous rule of the communist Khmer Rouge in the late 1970s, during which about 1.7 million of his countrymen perished. His legacy became tainted because in an effort to regain his political influence, he made common cause with Khmer Rouge, though the regime never yielded power to him and killed five of his children. After the Khmer Rouge were ousted and Sihanouk regained the throne in 1993, he rebuilt his reputation as the conscience of his country. But Hun Sen, a tough and canny politician who had defected from the Khmer Rouge, undercut his influence, and a discouraged Sihanouk gave up the throne eight years ago. Sihanouk spent much of the rest of his life in China. [Source: Associated Press, October 17, 2012 ==]

Martin Woollacott of The Guardian wrote: “No monarch in modern times has embodied the life and fate of his country so completely as Norodom Sihanouk, who has died aged 89. He was king, then prince, then king again of Cambodia, amending his royal role according to the needs of the hour and his own volatile will. He was also a film-maker, journalist, editor and impresario as well as a leading, and often dominant, politician for more than 60 years. [Source: Martin Woollacott, The Guardian, October 15, 2012 =]

“He began adult life as a young king chosen by the French as a puppet. But, aided by the upsets of the second world war, he outfoxed the colonial power and led his country to independence. The epic tale continued as the prince protector shielded his people from the worst of the Vietnam wars, then as he held on through the dark years of usurpation and Khmer Rouge rule. =

“Cambodia returned to something resembling normal life, with Sihanouk once again on the throne. But his country's rehabilitation was terribly flawed, and until his abdication in 2004 he found himself presiding over a poor, corrupt and divided nation, ruled by a bizarre duopoly of enemies. Over the years he sometimes succeeded in using his power and influence to avert the worst. But this domineering, mischievous and hyperactive man was undoubtedly the part-author of his own and his country's misfortunes. =

‘Sihanouk managed to keep his country out of the conflict between the Americans and the Vietnamese for many years. But he must also bear some of the responsibility for the tragedies that then overtook Cambodia as it was drawn into the war, suffered from massive American bombing, and fell under Khmer Rouge rule. =

“How much responsibility is the great question raised by his life. Some would say that he dominated Cambodian politics because the political class was untalented, shortsighted and faction-ridden, and, as far as the left was concerned, too influenced by inexperienced and mediocre intellectuals. When Sihanouk was removed in the 1970 coup, these vices came into full play, at first in the incompetent, corrupt and unrealistic rightwing regime of Lon Nol and then, devastatingly, in the incompetent, ruthless and even more unrealistic leftwing regime of Pol Pot. =

“Others have argued that the failings of the political class, left and right, were in part Sihanouk's handiwork, since he undermined every development that might have led to multi-party politics. In abandoning his policy of balance, he forced many of those on the left, who would otherwise have continued in conventional politics, into the jungle, where they joined the Khmer Rouge. And although he joined forces with the Khmer Rouge after the coup, he proved wholly unable to influence them or to protect his people from them.” =

According to Thai newspaper The Nation: “A mercurial leader, Sihanouk switched alliances frequently in a bid to steer Cambodia clear of the Cold War storm. He remained an influential figure through a tumultuous five decades of war, genocide and upheava and will be remembered as perhaps the most adaptable king in modern history. Reigning over the country during its most turbulent period, Norodom witnessed its political transition from an absolute monarchy to a fledgling democracy. [Source: The Nation, October 16, 2012 <>]

“A sharp wit and flamboyant style were the French-educated king's weapons in the struggle to find accommodation with colonial France. He then helped forge a bloodless transition to independence in 1953, going on to make a stand against imperialism by forging alliances with newly independent countries throughout the world. A confirmed nationalist, Sihanouk tried but failed to steer Cambodia away from the Cold War rivalry that was dividing Southeast Asia in the 1960s and '70s, taking a neutral stance. When his country was invited by Thailand to become a founding member of Asean in 1967, he countered that Asean was an imperial tool. Ever the francophile, he also asked that the new organisation use French as its working language. The request was denied. During the Cold War, Sihanouk was credited with modernising his country's education system and re-establishing ties with the US and Europe, though he was determined that Cambodia be seen as independent and non-aligned. He was one of Southeast Asia's main players during the so-called Vietnam War, which spilled into Cambodia with devastating effect and eventually helped bring Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge to power. As he struggled to control a changing political scene, Sihanouk held numerous posts, including prime minister, president and leader of various governments in exile.” <>

Fantasy of King Sihanouk

Philip Gourevitch wrote in The New Yorker: The first thing to remember about Norodom Sihanouk is that he was the titular head of the Khmer Rouge in the nineteen-seventies, when it held power under the command of Pol Pot, and presided over the extermination of nearly two million Cambodians. Never mind that Pol Pot (who was raised in the royal palace in Phnom Penh before being sent to school in Paris, where he became a Communist) called for regicide in his first published writing, declaring in 1952 that the monarchy was “a running sore that just people must eliminate.” Sihanouk was always in it for Sihanouk. [Source: by Philip Gourevitch, The New Yorker, October 15, 2012 ><]

“Having made a hash of his attempts to play Cold War forces off against one another on the edge of the Vietnam War, Sihanouk had been ousted and saw Pol Pot as his way back to power. Pol Pot saw Sihanouk as the perfect cover story for his revolution—a royalist front for the total erasure of Cambodian history and the fantasy of Year Zero. When I visited Cambodia just after Pol Pot’s death, in 1998, I wrote of Sihanouk: “His name became the Khmer Rouge’s greatest recruitment tool, and the most extreme Communist movement in history swept to power on royal coattails.” And yet, instead of being held responsible for helping to unleash hell, “that sexy Prince Sihanouk,” as Spalding Gray called him in “Swimming to Cambodia,” managed for much of the rest of his life to act as if he was as wronged as the great mass of Khmers. ><

“The second thing to remember about Sihanouk is that when he decided to start spending a lot of time abroad, after being restored to his throne in the nineteen-nineties, he moved to Pyongyang. Yes, of all the places on earth, Pyongyang—where Kim Il Sung’s insane misrule was killing millions of his own people by starvation (and those were the lucky ones who didn’t get sent to the North Korean gulags to be finished off). That’s where Sihanouk felt at home, in a place that almost no other human being with a choice would want to be seen luxuriating, as the guest of another dynast who purported to be the embodiment of the people whose lives he wasted on an epic scale and without apology. ><

“The third thing to remember, keeping Sihanouk’s accommodation of the Khmer Rouge and affiliation for Pyonyang firmly in mind, is the first thing that most of the obituaries will tell you: that the Cambodian people always remained respectful, even worshipful of him. Rather than seeing him as the personification of their wretched twentieth-century history, they imagined in him a national glory that he never represented except in fantasy. ><

“Like Pol Pot’s perverse ideology of annihilation in the name of nationalist authenticity, the mirage of Khmer monarchism—that the king was the nation’s greatness and glory made flesh—was concocted in Paris, untroubled by reference to historical reality. When the French colonized Indochina in the late nineteenth century, they discovered the magnificent temple and palace complex of Angkor buried deep in the jungle. Realizing that Cambodia had once been among the most sophisticated powers on earth, French scholars encouraged twentieth-century Cambodians to imagine that their decadent and largely impotent royal family carried all the promise of past Khmer greatness. The French built a fancy new royal palace in Phnom Penh, where Sihanouk came of age. So it was not as surprising as one might wish it was, that as the Khmer Rouge began their reign of mass murder, forty-some years ago, Pol Pot and Sihanouk paused to pose for photographs together in the Angkorian ruins. ><

“Sorting through the Sihanouk story, in 1998, I described the twisted influence of the French glorification of the Cambodian past on the Cambodian present: “To be told that you are mighty while being confronted by the fact that you are not is to be told that there is something wrong with you. When such a humiliating rupture between image and substance is left unrepaired, it can become eviscerating. It leaves you dangling from the gallows of Salman Rushdie’s formulation: ‘Shamelessness, shame: the roots of violence.’ ” ><

“After Pol Pot’s death, Hun Sen, the ex-Khmer Rouge cadre who has ruled Cambodia since 1985, was determined to crush the monarchy as well as democracy as he consolidated his power—and he has succeeded. Going back through my notes as the Sihanouk obituaries hit the wires last night, I came across this undated remark of the dead king’s, which I had flagged and highlighted, but which didn’t make it into my piece: “Time will inevitably uncover dishonesty and lies; history has no place for them.” It seems impossible that Sihanouk really believed that.” ><

Sihanouk’s Early Life and Family

Norodom Sihanouk was born in Phnom Penh, the Cambodian capital, on Oct. 31, 1922. Elizabeth Becker and Seth Mydans wrote in the New York Times: “A prince of the Norodom branch of the royal family, he was never considered a serious candidate to gain the throne. Instead, he was seen as a sensitive, if lonely, prince with a serious gift for music and, later, a passion for film. He received a first-rate French education, initially at a primary school in Phnom Penh and then at the Lycee Chasseloup-Laubat in Saigon, the best in colonial Indochina. He was only 18 when King Monivong died in 1941 and the French colonial powers tapped him as the unlikely successor.” [Source: Elizabeth Becker and Seth Mydans, New York Times, October 14, 2012 ]

Martin Woollacott wrote in The Guardian: “Born into the royal family in Phnom Penh, the Cambodian capital, Sihanouk received his early schooling at the main French lycée in the Vietnamese capital of Saigon. But he received no significant further formal training in political or military affairs, or in the artistic and scholarly pursuits in which he dabbled throughout his life, and for which he had some talent. Never subject to any discipline and never facing any serious criticism in his artistic endeavours, he remained, as some would say he did in politics, an egotistical if gifted amateur.” [Source: Martin Woollacott, The Guardian, October 15, 2012 ]

Sihanouk married six times and fathered 14 children. Always by his side was his sixth wife Monique, an Italian-Cambodian he married in 1952. Woollacott wrote: “His early private life was flamboyant. During the 1940s and 50s he took at least six wives and consorts and fathered at least 14 children. The political management of such a large family, with its inevitable rivalries between different consorts and their sons, remained a problem for the rest of his life. Monique Izzi, daughter of an Italian father and a Cambodian mother, was his principal partner from the late 1950s.”

At the time of the birth of the current King Sihamoni in 1953 and that of his younger brother, Monique—a Cambodian citizen of French-Corsican and Khmer ancestry—had been one of King Norodom Sihanouk's consorts after being a constant companion since the day they met in 1951, when the young Monique Izzi won first prize in a national beauty contest. She was granted the title of Neak Moneang and the name of Monineath at the time of her marriage to King Norodom Sihanouk in 1952. Furthermore, Queen Monineath is a step-granddaughter of the late Prince Norodom Duongchak of Cambodia, and the daughter of Pomme Peang and of her second husband, Jean-François Izzi, a French-Italian banker. The Royal Ark website entry about the genealogy of the Cambodian royal family states that Sihanouk and Monineath were married twice, once on 12 April 1952, when she was 15, and again ("more formally", according to the website) on 5 March 1955. She is described as Sihanouk's seventh wife. [Source: Wikipedia]

Sihanouk’s Character

Elizabeth Becker and Seth Mydans wrote in the New York Times: “Criticized throughout his life for dramatic shifts in allegiances, King Sihanouk said he followed only one course in politics: “the defense of the independence, the territorial integrity and the dignity of my country and my people.” In fact, he skillfully manipulated the great powers, usually with the support of China, to ensure his survival as well as his country’s independence. His worst nightmare, he said in an interview, was to be pushed out of his country’s political life into a quiet retirement, like Vietnam’s last emperor, Bao Dai, who died in obscurity in Paris in 1997. Instead, King Sihanouk returned in 1993 as monarch and head of state after an accord brokered by the United Nations ended nearly 14 years of war in Cambodia. [Source: Elizabeth Becker and Seth Mydans, New York Times, October 14, 2012 **]

“Even in his darkest moments, the king never lost his flair for flamboyance or his taste for the finer things. As a young ruler and the scion of one of Asia’s oldest royal houses, he gained a well-deserved reputation as a playboy, a gourmand and an amateur filmmaker. In his years in exile with his wife, Queen Monique, he kept his Cambodian movement alive by lavishly entertaining diplomats and foreign officials with Champagne breakfasts and elaborate French meals. Denied any active role in government, he contented himself with the ceremonial position of king, still revered by many peasants. **

“Stories about King Sihanouk’s extravagance became a staple of the diplomatic circuit, especially as he turned his hand to his first loves — music and film. He entertained guests at his exclusive parties on his saxophone and embarked on a film career, eventually producing 19 movies for which he was director, producer, scriptwriter, composer and often leading man. **

Martin Woollacott wrote in The Guardian: “Sihanouk was a man of eccentric charm. Journalists who visited Cambodia in the difficult final years of his personal rule, when he was trying to manipulate both the US and North Vietnam, came to relish his extraordinary performances at press conferences. He would read out press clippings in his high voice and follow up with a stream of jokes and imprecations. He was a great talker, but his assumption of expertise was often false. [Source: Martin Woollacott, The Guardian, October 15, 2012]

AFP reported: “A self-described "naughty boy" with a taste for the high life and an artistic flair, he embraced the intrigue that swirled around his kingdom with the gusto of a character from one of the many films he directed, produced and starred in. Aside from his cinematic creations he wrote poetry and composed songs. But he was far from frivolous, emerging as a shrewd political survivor who entertained friend and foe with his charm and wit. "He had tremendous energy, but the problem was that his energy just led him eventually to exhaustion. Exhaustion with the problems of Cambodia, and straightforward physical exhaustion," said Australia-based historian Milton Osborne. "He was an insomniac who could call meetings at three o'clock in the morning," he said. [Source: AFP, October 16, 2012]

Sihanouk’s Political Influence in Cambodia

Martin Woollacott wrote in The Guardian: “Sihanouk was a Cambodian patriot who lacked neither energy nor courage. He was also often a conniving, arbitrary ruler who can be accused of never allowing his country's politicians the time or the room to reach maturity. After the 1970 coup, Sihanouk was written off as a man who would never again play a significant role, but he remained an important figure. His return to the throne was a piece of theatre intended to reassure Cambodians that in his person, there was some kind of connection with a better past and therefore a bridge to a better future. His orchestration of the succession had the same end in mind. Whether such a continuity was really re-established remains to be seen. [Source: Martin Woollacott, The Guardian, October 15, 2012 =]

“To Cambodians, Sihanouk represented continuity when so much in their country had been destroyed. They valued his warmth and his evident concern for his people, while recognising that he had made many mistakes. It was typical of Sihanouk that he started his own website, offering a running commentary on politics, by turn witty, acerbic or just dotty; and typical of Cambodians that the site attracted as many as 1,000 visits a day – a lot in a country of 13 million people with limited computer literacy. =

“Cambodia's extreme weakness – the mystery of how a power that once made all of south-east Asia tremble has fallen so low – has obsessed all its modern leaders and encouraged excessive and mystical solutions. Sihanouk, Lon Nol and Pol Pot all seemed to share the idea that there was some fount of strength and power to be found in the nation's traditions which, if tapped properly, would solve its problems. =

“Sihanouk saw it partly in his own person and in the monarchy: "I carry on my shoulders the overwhelming responsibilities of 16 centuries of royalty," he said in 1952. Lon Nol found it in the stars while Pol Pot and his associates believed that a total mobilisation of the population was the key. "If we can build Angkor, we can do anything," Pol Pot is supposed to have said – a sentiment all three men undoubtedly shared.. =

Elizabeth Becker and Seth Mydans wrote in the New York Times: “Occasionally he interfered in politics. He undermined Prince Norodom Ranariddh, another son, by forcing him to accept a position as co-prime minister after winning the first postwar democratic election in 1993. Prince Ranariddh was ousted from that position in a coup by the other co-prime minister, Hun Sen, who became the country’s dominant power during King Sihanouk’s final years. [Source: Elizabeth Becker and Seth Mydans, New York Times, October 14, 2012]

Sihanouk Becomes King During the Turbulent World War II Period

Sihanouk was just 18 when placed on the throne in 1941 by French colonial authorities, but quickly defied his patron's expectations of a pliant king. Martin Woollacott wrote in The Guardian: “The French – representing the Nazi-puppet Vichy regime – placed Sihanouk on the throne in 1941, setting aside more qualified candidates, including his own father. Sihanouk was 18, interested in football, jazz, riding, movies and girls. But an early sign that the French were mistaken about his pliability came after the Japanese ousted them in early 1945. Sihanouk followed the unavoidable, Japanese-managed proclamation of independence with laws reinstating the Khmer alphabet and calendar. The French were soon back in charge and gave Cambodia a democratic constitution in 1947, reserving most power, however, for themselves. Sihanouk sometimes played the French game, as they had expected, but increasingly came to use French techniques of political manipulation on his own behalf rather than theirs. [Source: Martin Woollacott, The Guardian, October 15, 2012]

Elizabeth Becker and Seth Mydans wrote in the New York Times: “France had surrendered to Nazi Germany and was under Vichy control, worried that it would also lose its Indochinese colonies to Japan. The prince seemed the most malleable candidate, the one who would obey the dictates of French colonial officials. For the first three years, King Sihanouk, a true Francophile, met all their expectations. As World War II engulfed Asia, he was a loyal partner of the French colonial administrators, who collaborated with Japan and hoped to fend off a nascent Cambodian independence movement. [Source: Elizabeth Becker and Seth Mydans, New York Times, October 14, 2012 **]

“In those early years, King Sihanouk seemed uninterested in government. He filled his days pursuing women and, in the tradition of his forebears, had several consorts who eventually bore him at least 13 children. But in March 1945, as they were losing the war, the Japanese sought to oust the French in Cambodia. King Sihanouk stepped forward on the side of Japan and declared Cambodia the new independent state of Kampuchea. With Japan’s defeat, King Sihanouk welcomed back the French, largely ignoring the growing number of Cambodians who thought their country should remain independent. **

Sihanouk When Cambodia Became Independent After World War II

Martin Woollacott wrote in The Guardian: Sihanouk “took the independence card from Cambodia's embryonic middle-class politicians, launching, in 1952, his own "royal crusade for independence". Aided by events in Vietnam, he effectively showed the French the door. In 1955 he abdicated in favour of his father. This shrewd move enabled him to avoid the constitutional problems of trying to be king and the country's leading politician at the same time. Yet as "monseigneur" – the head of state – he never lost his monarchical aura, and indeed continued to exploit it in full.[Source: Martin Woollacott, The Guardian, October 15, 2012 =]

“The great loss was that between 1947 and 1958 pluralist politics could have emerged in Cambodia around the middle-class Democratic party, but Sihanouk, with the French egging him on in the early years, seized every opportunity to undermine that party and eventually destroy it. Cambodia became a quasi-dictatorship and one-party state under Sihanouk and the Sangkum Reastr Niyum (Popular Socialist Community). Nor were his hands as clean as he liked to maintain. His regime killed, imprisoned and intimidated opponents – admittedly on a scale dwarfed by later excesses.=

“Sihanouk's peak years came between 1955 and 1962, when his touch was sure and his dominance nearly absolute. He picked the candidates for the national assembly in 1958 and 1962, and expertly managed the cabinets. By sudden changes of direction, he managed to throw his rivals and allies off balance. As soon as a cabinet was formed or an assembly had gathered, even though he had chosen them himself, he immediately undercut the strongest groups and individuals. He had a sharp sense of the peasantry's needs and aspirations and continually played these off against the urban elite. On the radio, he endeared himself to rural folk with his jokes and rough language. He also gained popularity by a programme of school, road and factory building, though many of these ventures were ill-conceived.” =

Elizabeth Becker and Seth Mydans wrote in the New York Times, “By his own account, the king did not pick up the banner of independence again until 1951, using it to fend off challenges from democratic and Communist movements demanding an end to French colonialism. Taking advantage of the increasing French weakness from Communist victories in neighboring Vietnam, King Sihanouk persuaded the French to make Cambodia independent in November 1953 in advance of the 1954 Geneva peace conference that led to a divided Vietnam. Then in a cunning move, King Sihanouk announced he would give up the throne to run in his country’s first independent elections. Through a combination of repression, rigging and reliance on the votes of peasants who still considered him a god-king, his party swept the elections, and he set about creating Cambodia anew. [Source: Elizabeth Becker and Seth Mydans, New York Times, October 14, 2012 **]

“His brand of politics evolved into a one-party rule with some dissidents and rival parties pulled into his umbrella political party, the People’s Socialist Community. The towers of Angkor decorated the country’s new flag, one of the many ways that King Sihanouk used the massive temple complex at Angkor as a visible reminder that Cambodia was once the premier state and culture of the region. He maintained strong ties to France, hiring French experts to help run his government and French teachers for his schools. In Phnom Penh, he nurtured a cafe society of intellectuals while he left the countryside in what he considered a more or less bucolic state but that was, in fact, a backward region of grinding poverty. **

After Cambodia gained its independence Sihanouk quit the throne in favour of his father to pursue a career in politics. AFP reported: He repeatedly left political posts with a characteristic flash of theatrical anger over perceived slights, until becoming head of state following his father's death in 1960. In the decade that followed, he presided over a period of rare stability, now fondly recalled as Cambodia's golden years. His frequent public appearances -- Sihanouk seemed to relish working alongside rural villagers on various public works projects -- formed a close bond between the man and the country he ruled. [Source: AFP, October 16, 2012]

See History After World War II

Sihanouk in the Vietnam War Period

Martin Woollacott wrote in The Guardian: “In the 1960s Cambodia's international position deteriorated. Sihanouk resisted pressures from South Vietnam and Thailand, including at least one serious plot, which he characteristically used as the basis for a film, Storm Over Angkor. He tried to keep in with communist and western states and to play them off against each other. [Source: Martin Woollacott, The Guardian, October 15, 2012 =]

“But such tactics were less effective with outside powers than they were domestically. In 1963 he ended US military and economic aid. For the rest of that decade a gradual loss of his control was apparent. In Phnom Penh, a restive, rightwing elite was becoming impatient with his foreign manoeuvrings and resentful of his restrictions on their economic and political privileges. In the jungle, the North Vietnamese were more heavily ensconced, and a Khmer communist movement was growing up under their protection. Internationally, Sihanouk was never able to repair the rift with the US, despite efforts at the end of the decade. He grew visibly disheartened, turning for distraction to film-making and the entertainment of foreign guests. "It is almost as if he despaired of governing the country," David Chandler wrote in The Tragedy of Cambodian History (1991). =

“When the plot against him took shape in 1970, he was in France. He did not rush home, as he had done on other occasions when his position was threatened, but seemed to dawdle in Russia and China. The coup brought Cambodia into the Vietnam war, a conflict for which, in spite of the boasts of Lon Nol, the new leader, it was wholly unprepared. Sihanouk, encouraged by the Chinese, went into a united front with the Khmer communists. =

Elizabeth Becker and Seth Mydans wrote in the New York Times: Sihanouk “put his nation on a modern footing in the 1960s, especially bolstering the education system, but his Buddhist socialist agenda did poorly and produced economic stagnation. When the Vietnam War threatened to engulf the region, he tried to carve out a neutral role for Cambodia, siding neither with the Communists nor the United States. But when the Vietnamese Communists began using the port of Sihanoukville and Cambodia’s eastern border to ship military supplies on what was known as the Ho Chi Minh Trail, he took steps to repair relations with the United States. He turned a blind eye when the Nixon administration undertook a secret bombing campaign in 1969 against the border area of Cambodia. But this only further unsettled his country and led to a coup that ousted him the next year. [Source: Elizabeth Becker and Seth Mydans, New York Times, October 14, 2012 **]

“In contrast to its neighbors — Vietnam to the east, with its war, and Thailand to the west, with its disfiguring modern development and militarism — Cambodia appeared to be a welcome oasis throughout the 1960s, with now Prince Sihanouk presiding as charming, benevolent despot, treating his citizens like devoted children. At the same time, he was imprisoning and sometimes executing opponents or driving others — notably the Communist leader Solath Sar, who would become Pol Pot — into exile and fueling discontent that fed growing political opposition and eventually armed insurrection. **

“Stories about King Sihanouk’s extravagance became a staple of the diplomatic circuit...All the while he was head of state of a country increasingly squeezed by the Vietnam War. He took his place as one of the leaders of the nonaligned movement of newly independent nations — Egypt and India among them — hoping to emerge from poverty and avoid taking sides in the cold war. Yet he also accepted the outstretched hand of China, which was convinced that the United States posed a military threat to its borders. **

“Crystallizing Cambodia’s hopes for avoiding entanglement was a speech in 1966 by the French president, Charles de Gaulle, in Phnom Penh calling for the end of the Vietnam War and the neutrality of Indochina. He paid King Sihanouk the ultimate compliment by saying Cambodia and France were alike, with “a history laden with glory and sorrow, an exemplary culture and art, and a fertile land with vulnerable frontiers.” But the war would spill across Cambodia’s border. With King Sihanouk’s acquiescence, the Vietnamese Communists used Cambodia for its logistics. When the Vietnamese sanctuaries expanded, he only mildly objected to the United States’s secret bombing of them. That bombing campaign was later cited in the articles of impeachment drawn up but never used against President Richard M. Nixon. **

In 1970, Sihanouk was toppled by a pro-American Cambodian elite who accused him of sympathizing with the Vietnamese communists and declared a republic, plunging the country into a disastrous civil war. “Despite the growing unrest in Cambodia, King Sihanouk was unprepared for his overthrow by Prince Sirik Matak, a cousin, and Gen. Lon Nol. Supported by the United States, the new government immediately allowed American troops to invade Cambodia from Vietnam.

The invasion ignited protests around the world, including those at Kent State University in Ohio, where national guardsmen killed four students. After his ouster, King Sihanouk fled to Beijing, where Chinese leaders persuaded him to join forces with Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge, the group of Cambodian Communists that had been seeking to overthrow him since the ’60s. **

Sihanouk and the Khmer Rouge

During the Cambodian civil war Sihanouk backed the anti-Vietnamese coalition comprising the Khmer Rouge, his son Prince Norodom Ranariddh and former premier Son Sann. For 13 years they fought alongside to expel foreign troops occupying Cambodia. After striking an ill-fated deal with the Khmer Rouge, the exiled Sihanouk returned to Cambodia as head of state, but he remained confined to the palace for most of the four years of Khmer Rouge rule. Sihanouk later condemned the Khmer Rouge for the genocide.

In the 1970s, AFP reported: Sihanouk “aligned himself with communist guerrillas, who later emerged as the Khmer Rouge and used him as a figurehead. When they took the capital Phnom Penh in 1975, they promptly emptied the city, exiling millions to vast collective farms and setting the country on the path to destruction in their drive to create an agrarian utopia. Sihanouk returned from China and temporarily remained head of state but was forced by the Khmer Rouge to resign a year later and was kept under house arrest with his family. He was unable to stop the bloodletting that left up to two million people, including five of his children...Sihanouk survived because China, a key backer of the Khmer Rouge, wanted to keep him alive. [Source: AFP, October 16, 2012]

Elizabeth Becker and Seth Mydans wrote in the New York Times: “Convinced that the United States had been behind the overthrow, King Sihanouk allied himself with the Khmer Rouge at the urging of his Chinese patrons, giving the Cambodian Communists his prestige and enormous popularity. Their victory in 1975 brought the ruthless Pol Pot to power, with King Sihanouk serving, for the first year, as the figurehead president until he was placed under house arrest and fell into a deep depression. Over the next four years, the Khmer Rouge regime led to the death of 1.7 million people and nearly destroyed the country.[Source: Elizabeth Becker and Seth Mydans, New York Times, October 14, 2012 **]

“King Sihanouk was the titular president during the first year of the Khmer Rouge rule. He said he had resigned a year later and was put under house arrest with his consort, Princess Monique, in one of the palaces. There he listened to world news on a radio and, he said, at times wanted to commit suicide....Although King Sihanouk had aggressively pursued the Khmer Rouge before they came to power, arresting and often torturing them, he was so stung by the betrayal of the coup plotters that he agreed to head their resistance. His name and appearance in propaganda films and booklets helped the Communists recruit peasants in Cambodia and gave respectability to their cause in diplomatic circles. In the end, King Sihanouk helped bring Pol Pot to power. The Khmer Rouge won in 1975 and immediately began a reign of terror. Intellectuals, monks and anyone deemed a political enemy were murdered. Tens of thousands of people died of treatable diseases, overwork or starvation. **

Sihanouk spent the five years of war before the Khmer Rouge takeover mainly in Beijing and the North Korean capital of Pyongyang, with both governments providing him with lavish accommodation. Martin Woollacott wrote in The Guardian: He did make one trip to the Khmer Rouge zone of Cambodia with Monique, who wrote happily of the pleasant chalets prepared for them. But it was an alliance without warmth. After the Khmer Rouge took power in 1975, they discarded the united front, and Sihanouk was soon a prisoner in the royal palace. He could do nothing about the Khmer Rouge's terrible mismanagement of the country, with its hideous human consequences. Five of his children died during this period, and he was probably lucky to escape execution himself. [Source: Martin Woollacott, The Guardian, October 15, 2012 =]

“But after the Pol Pot regime provoked the Vietnamese into a full-scale invasion in 1979, Sihanouk again lined up behind the Khmer Rouge to oppose the occcupation and the Vietnamese-influenced communist regime of Heng Samrin. Apparently reckoning Vietnam to be a worse evil than the Khmer Rouge, he resisted occasional efforts by the Vietnamese to bring him over to their side. His decision helped to isolate the new regime, which, whatever its faults, had rescued Cambodia from a time of horror, and also contributed to the survival of the Khmer Rouge as a formidable force. =

“Many of Sihanouk's friends in the west found this course of action hard to accept. Had he made his peace with the new regime, he would have given it international respectability. That would have made it more difficult for the Khmer Rouge to win the foreign support they did. Western and Chinese policy was aimed at punishing Vietnam and cutting it down to size. The welfare of the Cambodian people was a lesser consideration for them, but ought not to have been for Sihanouk. However, the argument may overlook the deep-seated Cambodian fear of being absorbed by Vietnam, which Sihanouk certainly shared with his countrymen, including Lon Nol and Pol Pot.” =

King Sihanouk in Post Khmer Rouge Cambodia

Sihanouk fled to Beijing after the Khmer Rouge regime was ousted by the Vietnamese in 1979, living in villas there and in North Korea for the next 13 years. From exile, Sihanouk later condemned the Khmer Rouge but in the 1980s embraced a resistance coalition, which included remnants of the ousted regime, against Cambodia's Vietnam-backed government. Sihanouk pushed for peace, opening talks with Prime Minister Hun Sen's government after Vietnamese troops withdrew from Cambodia in 1989. Sihanouk's strength of will is largely credited with making the 1991 UN-sponsored peace accords possible. [Source: AFP, October 16, 2012]

In 1991, Prince Sihanouk was restored as a constitution monarch. In 1993, he returned to Cambodia after almost two decades of exile and then returned to Beijing treatment for prostrate cancer. After the 1993 election, while he was still in China, Prince Sihanouk was named as King. After that King Sihanouk continued to receive a healthy stipend from the Chinese government. He divided his time between Beijing, where he often got medical treatment, a palace in Phnom Penh and another place in Siem Reap near Angkor Wat. In the late 1990s he spent a great deal of time producing a photocopied bulletin that included his take on events in Cambodia, interviews with himself and newspaper clipping with personal comments.

Sihanouk could be both a peacemaker, mediating between rival factions, and troublemaker. He often criticized his country. In 2004, in a speech marking the 50th anniversary of Cambodia’s independence, King Sihanouk called Cambodia “a beggar state and jungle populated more and more by wild beasts.” In 1998, on the occasion of his 75th birthday, King Sihanouk said he would like to commit suicide but he can’t because he was a Buddhist. In 2002, King Sihanouk raised the possibility of abdication, saying that he would abdicate if parliament voted for him to step down.

Researchers have said there is no evidence linking Sihanouk to the Khmer Rouge atrocities despite his past alliance with the now-defunct communist movement, making it unlikely for him to be indicted by the U.N.-backed genocide tribunal.

King Sihanouk and the Khmer Rouge and in Post Khmer Rouge Cambodia

Elizabeth Becker and Seth Mydans wrote in the New York Times: Sihanouk “was rescued when the Vietnamese invaded Cambodia and overthrew the Khmer Rouge in 1979. But rather than turn against Pol Pot, King Sihanouk went to the United Nations and defended him, saying the country’s enemy was Vietnam. For the next 12 years, King Sihanouk provided a fig leaf of respectability for the Khmer Rouge as they and several non-Communist groups tried to evict Vietnam from Cambodia in the name of national liberation. The United States, China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations supported King Sihanouk, who maneuvered himself into a pivotal role in the final negotiations. Lined up against him, the Khmer Rouge and the rest of the resistance were Vietnam, the Soviet Union and Mr. Hun Sen, who was then the head of the Cambodian government established under the Vietnamese occupation. [Source: Elizabeth Becker and Seth Mydans, New York Times, October 14, 2012 **]

The Nation reported: “For years he shuttled back and forth between Cambodia and Thailand, working behind the scenes to bring a diplomatic solution to the conflict. Sihanouk's mercurial character was ever-present at the negotiation table and he was a pivotal figure in talks that eventually brought peace in 1991. He was restored as the constitutional monarch following UN-sanctioned elections. [Source: The Nation, October 16, 2012]

Martin Woollacott wrote in The Guardian: “Sihanouk had early on offered the Khmer Rouge cabinet posts in return for a ceasefire, amending this to advisory posts when it was pointed out that cabinet positions had to be filled by members of the assembly. He continued to pursue the idea of reconciliation with the Khmer Rouge, in spite of its record, perhaps on the principle that the more players are involved, the easier it is to manipulate them. Both Hun Sen and Ranariddh were soon vigorously pursuing reconciliation themselves: their competition for Khmer Rouge allies led to a coup by Hun Sen in 1997, of which Sihanouk initially seemed to approve. [Source: Martin Woollacott, The Guardian, October 15, 2012 =]

King Sihanouk and Cambodian Politics in Post Khmer Rouge Cambodia

Elizabeth Becker and Seth Mydans wrote in New York Times: “A party led by Prince Norodom Ranariddh won the elections. Mr. Hun Sen’s party came in second; the Khmer Rouge boycotted the elections. Furious that he had lost, Mr. Hun Sen and his surrogates threatened to reignite the war. King Sihanouk stepped in and persuaded the United Nations to create the position of co-prime minister for Mr. Hun Sen, effectively nullifying his son’s victory. However, King Sihanouk was returned to the throne and became king-father for the rest of his life. [Source: Elizabeth Becker and Seth Mydans, New York Times, October 14, 2012 **]

“Chastened, he maintained that he had been above the fray throughout, attempting to duplicate the role of national unifier played by King Bhumibol Adulyadej in neighboring Thailand. But for the most part, King Sihanouk sided with Mr. Hun Sen, his political son. Toward the end of his life, the king reduced his once hectic travel schedule and rarely ventured outside Asia. Beijing, where the Chinese government maintained a villa for him, was his most frequent destination. **

Michael Leifer, the Southeast Asia expert and professor at the London School of Economics who died in 2001, wrote that “the powerful myth of Sihanouk contributed to the people of Cambodia and the international community” repeatedly turning to him “as the font of national unity.” He added: “The record of the man, however, would suggest a greater facility for reigning than for ruling. He has been more at home with the pomp and circumstance of government than with its good practice.”

Martin Woollacott wrote in The Guardian:” UN officials to supervise elections, held in May 1993. They were won by the royalist party FUNCINPEC, which had been founded by Sihanouk in 1981 as a guerrilla movement, and the Cambodian People's party, now headed by Hun Sen and which had ruled in Pnomh Penh since the invasion in 1979. FUNCINPEC's success was undoubtedly due in large part to the still potent Sihanouk magic. In spite of his age and ill health, he played politics with much of his old vigour, and often with no more sense of responsibility than before. Encouraged by Hun Sen, Sihanouk had suddenly proclaimed himself president, prime minister and commander-in-chief without consulting either the UN transitional authority or his son Ranariddh, leader of the royal party. The votes in the election were still being counted. It was an attempted coup that reminded those who knew him well of the high-handed tactics with which he had divided and ruled Cambodia in the past. [Source: Martin Woollacott, The Guardian, October 15, 2012 =]

“Sihanouk then played a leading part, along with the UN transitional authority, in persuading Ranariddh to form a joint government with Hun Sen. Ranariddh's party had won the election by a wide margin, and joint government represented a dismal conclusion to the democratisation effort. The country has never recovered from the consequences of this concession to Hun Sen's entrenched power. The two sides have not co-operated except in a wary sharing of the spoils of office and in making empty promises to the international donors whose aid keeps Cambodia going.” =

King Sihanouk’s Health

Later in life, Sihanouk was plagued by numerous ailments including several types of cancer and increasingly spent long spells being treated in China. In April 2003, 80-year-old Sihanouk made a public announcement that his health was failing. Through the late 1990s and early 2000s, he shuttled back and forth between Cambodia and Beijing, where he received treatment for prostrate cancer, colon cancer, diabetes, hypertension, heart trouble. lung ailments, liver disease, and other health problems. Sihanouk was diagnosed with colon cancer in 1993. It was in remission until 2004. He had two strokes.

King Sihanouk suffered from severe mood swings and often made despairing public statements." In 1994, he told Associated Press, "I am very sad that I cannot save either democracy or the monarchy in my country." In 1997, he called Cambodia and "unhappy country" and "an oasis of war, insecurity and self-destruction." He repeated his desire to abdicate and said his Buddhist faith is the only thing that kept him from committing suicide.

In December 2008, King Sihanouk was diagnosed with lymphoma, his third bout with a cancerous disease. He was treated by Chinese doctors in Beijing that successfully treated his previous two cancers. In October 2009, after surviving his last bout of cancer, the ex-monarch posted a handwritten message saying he had lived too long. "Lengthy longevity bears on me like an unbearable weight," he said. [Source: AFP, October 16, 2012]

King Sihanouk’s Retirement and Death

In 1995, Sihanouk made plans to build a palace within walking distance of Angkor Wat where he would retire. In 1997, he spent two month mediating at Siem Riep. In early October 2004, King Sihanouk announced his retirement and then abdication, citing poor health. He had hinted that he was going to retire many times before and many thought he wouldn’t go through with it but he was serious this time. His son Sihamoni to took the throne.

Martin Woollacott wrote in The Guardian: Sihanouk’s “direct political influence, whether for good or ill, diminished as his health worsened, involving long absences from the country. But he displayed some of his old divide and surprise tactics when he insisted on abdicating in October 2004, forcing the government to form a royal throne council to approve his choice of Prince Norodom Sihamoni as his successor. In his remaining years, Sihanouk spent much time in China, where he died. [Source: Martin Woollacott, The Guardian, October 15, 2012]

After his retirement Sihanouk became officially known as His Majesty Father-King Sihanouk His wife became known as Mother-Queen Norodom Monineath Sihanouk. Sihanouk said he would remain active as “a (very old) retired ‘public servant.’” Some saw this as a kind of quasi-retirement that in affect meant that Cambodia had two kings. Sihanouk and his wife maintained the same privileges they had when the were king and queen. The official version of the king’s title was “The Great Heroic King, the Superior Father of the Khmer Nation’s Independence, Territorial Integrity and Unity.” The official version of the queen’s title was “Superior Mother of the Khmer Nation in Freedom, Dignity and Happiness.”

King Sihanouk continued to wield considerable influence after his retirement. In 2005 he demanded that Vietnam, Thailand and Laos return territory that was “stolen” by them so that Cambodia’s borders reflected those depicted on U.S. maps from the 1960. The initiative didn’t go down well with the pro-Vietnam government of Prime Minister Hun Sen.

On the occasion of HM King Norodom Sihanouk's retirement the Cambodian National Assembly coined a new word for the retired king: preahmâhaviraksat where vira comes from Sanskrit vi-ra, meaning "brave or eminent man, hero, chief", cognate of Latin vir, viris, English virile. Preahmâhaviraksat is translated in English as "King-Father" (French: Roi-Père), although the word "father" does not appear in the Khmer noun. As preahmâhaviraksat, Norodom Sihanouk retained many of the prerogatives he formerly held as preahmâhaksat and was a highly respected and listened-to figure. Thus, in effect, Cambodia could be described as a country with two Kings during Sihanouk's lifetime: the one who was the Head of State, the preahmâhaksat Norodom Sihamoni, and the one who was not the Head of State, the preahmâhaviraksat Norodom Sihanouk. [Source: Wikipedia]

Sihanouk died of a heart attack in October 14, 2012 in Beijing. He was 89. After lying in state for three months at the royal palace in Phnom Penh, he was as part of a week of elaborate funeral ceremonies. The Thai newspaper The Nation reported: “Sihanouk will be missed by the many ordinary Cambodians who respected - even cherished - his leadership. To the outside world he will be remembered as a leader who struggled to maintain Cambodia's independence while forming alliances to protect it...He was, perhaps, unique as a leader who assumed so many roles while still managing to retain the aura of kingship.

In November 2006, Associated Press reported: “Sihanouk said he wants his body cremated after he passes away. Sihanouk said in a handwritten statement posted on his Web site that his ashes should be put in a marble urn, blessed by Cambodian Buddhist monks and placed in a stupa he had built for his "most-loved daughter Kantha Bopha," who died at the age of four from leukemia in 1952. The stupa is located inside the Royal Palace in the capital, Phnom Penh.[Source: Associated Press, November 30, 2006]

Wailing Cambodians Line Streets as Sihanouk’s Body is Returned to Cambodia

In October 2012, Associated Press reported: “The body of Cambodia's late King Norodom Sihanouk returned to his homeland. welcomed by hundreds of thousands of mourners who packed tree-lined roads in the Southeast Asian nation's capital ahead of the royal funeral. A Boeing 747 arranged by the government of China — a steadfast friend of the late monarch for decades — brought back the body, which was accompanied by Sihanouk's widow, Queen Mother Monineath. Also on the plane was Sihanouk's son and successor, King Sihamoni, and Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, who had traveled to Beijing to retrieve the body.[Source: Associated Press, October 17, 2012 ==]

“The casket was carried on an elaborate motorized float from the airport to the Royal Palace, where Sihanouk will lie in state for three months. During that time, the public can pay respects before the body is cremated according to Buddhist ritual. Monks and soldiers rode the float, designed to represent a giant golden phoenix-like bird. Crowds had gathered since morning along the eight-kilometer (five-mile) route, many wearing white, a color of mourning in Buddhist tradition. Officials estimated the crowd at more than 200,000, while state television broadcaster TVK later said about 500,000 people had turned out. When the float passed by, wailing grew louder among the onlookers. Many, especially the elderly, bowed low with hands pressed together above their heads in a mark of respect. Some tossed flowers. =

“Thousands of people, some with tears in their eyes, gathered outside the palace in swelteringly hot weather, many of them kneeling before a huge portrait of the late monarch on the main wall, which was also adorned with lights. They carried flowers, lit candles, burned incense and prayed. "I needed to come here today to pray and see the body of the king because he dies only one time, not twice," said Khy Sokhan, a 73-year-old woman in a wheelchair outside the palace. While older people seemed more emotionally affected, younger people also came to grieve. A young woman who traveled with her family from Kampong Cham province in eastern Cambodia described mixed emotions. "I am happy because I have a chance to come to Phnom Penh see the coffin of the grandfather-king with own eyes, but I feel so sad to see him passing away," said 20-year-old Kay Savath. =

King Sihanouk’s Funeral

Reporting from Phnom Penh, Thomas Fuller wrote in the New York Times: “The sound of artillery shells thundered across this city as part of the final, elaborate salute to the late King Sihanouk. The flourishes included military bands, attendants in traditional dress banging large gongs and rows of officials wearing white shirts and black armbands. Some 15,000 civil servants took part. Tens of thousands of onlookers knelt on the roadside with their hands clasped as a funeral procession looped through the city, pausing for an incantation from monks and ending at the site next to the royal palace where the king’s body will be cremated. Several people fainted in the tropical heat, including the powerful deputy prime minister, Sok An, who was carried away by aides.[Source: Thomas Fuller, New York Times, February 1, 2013]

The current king Norodom Sihamoni, watched the procession from the gate of the royal palace with his mother, Norodom Monineath. Hun Sen, the authoritarian prime minister, played a relatively low-key role, sitting with other officials in a float shaped like a mythical bird. But analysts said that the spectacle was his way of drawing on the popular legacy of the late king as the father of the modern nation who led the campaign for independence from France. “The policy of the government is to promote his memory,” said Pung Kek, president of the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights. “Hun Sen wants to be seen as the protector of the monarchy.”

There was little reference to the darker side of the late king’s leadership: lending his prestige to the Khmer Rouge and helping them come to power. The group’s rule left 1.7 million people dead. Government announcers eulogized him as a leader who built national character along with factories, schools, roads and hospitals. “He is the father of integrity and the father of national unity,” said one announcer, whose comments were carried on loudspeakers around the city and on national television, which broadcast the procession. “He is the best king ever,” the announcer said.

The government has declared a week of mourning. Civil servants were given two days off and businesses along the procession route were ordered to close. “All entertainment centers and broadcasters must refrain from displaying excessive happiness,” a government statement said. Mourners praised the king for many virtues, including generosity. Keo Sina, 56, who owns a cake shop on the outskirts of Phnom Penh and walked with nine other members of her family to see the procession, said she remembered the king delivering aid to her village when she was a child. “Today is the last day that we can see the king,” Ms. Keo said. “He sacrificed his life to the country. I hope his soul rests in peace.”

Cannons, lined in formation along the banks of the Mekong River and loaded with shells provided by Vietnam, fired as the chariot carrying the king’s gilded coffin rolled past at a mournful pace. “It reminded me of the battlefield,” said Mey Thorn, a bicycle rickshaw driver here in Phnom Penh watching the procession. “Things are better now, getting better and better.”

Image Sources:

Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, Tourism of Cambodia, Compton’s Encyclopedia, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, The Economist, Global Viewpoint (Christian Science Monitor), Foreign Policy, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, NBC News, Fox News and various books and other publications.

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© 2008 Jeffrey Hays

Last updated May 2014

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