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Navigating the Past and Shaping the Future: US-Cambodia Diplomacy in the Shadow of the Khmer Rouge

The Khmer Rouge, a radical communist movement that emerged in Cambodia in the 1970s, left a permanent mark on the nation's history. Led by Pol Pot, this brutal regime orchestrated a reign of terror that led to the death and suffering of millions. Today, the impending transition of power from the long-standing leadership of Hun Sen has triggered speculation about the country's future direction and a re-examining of the enduring legacy of the Khmer Rouge regime. The dark chapter in Cambodian history continues to exert a profound influence on the nation's collective memory, its socio-political landscape, and its approach to diplomacy.


The experiences of Ambassador Kenneth Quinn (1995 - 1999), Ambassador Charles Ray (2002 - 2005), and Ambassador Joseph Mussomeli (2005 - 2008) reveal the intricacies of US engagement with Cambodia over the last 30 years. Against the backdrop of Cambodia's tumultuous history, especially in the shadow of the Khmer Rouge regime, the stories and insights of three US ambassadors to Cambodia illustrate the evolution of US-Cambodia relations and the transformative power of diplomacy to nurture understanding, cooperation, and progress.  For his intern project, Josh Ford captured this legacy through interviews with diplomatic practitioners who watched history unfold. 

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