As the ASEAN juggernaut plunges into town, Phnom Penh’s elite are smiling broadly, puffing out their chests and standing tall on the international diplomatic stage. Everyone can feel the eyes of Australasia – and the world – focusing on the small nation of Cambodia.
But some of those eyes are peering into Cambodia’s more vulnerable diplomatic corners and the human rights abuses that are rife in this country of 15 million people.
Cambodia still bears the scars of arguably the most horrific human rights abuses of the twentieth century. Millions still live with the legacy of the systematic extermination inflicted by the Khmer Rouge in the late 1970’s.
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US President Obama and Russian President Medvedev will attend the sixth East Asia Summit in Bali this Saturday, November 19. This historic development will make the East Asia Summit one of the world’s most important leadership forums. It will also be another signal of a continuing global power shift that will make the 21st century the Asian Century.
US and Russian participation in the East Asia Summit represents an extraordinary achievement for an Asian integration process initiated by (originally 6, now 10) ASEAN countries during the Cold War. US military primacy will continue for at least for the first half of the 21st century, highlighting the importance for Australia of the ANZUS alliance.
President Obama will celebrate the 60th anniversary of ANZUS this morning in a speech to a joint sitting of the Australian Parliament. The ANZUS alliance protects Australia with US nuclear deterrence capability that is likely to remain an effective deterrent of military adventurism by a ‘rising’ China.
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