With this turn of events, Marcos claimed:
Thus the immediate post-war period up to the 1960s saw the Philippine foreign policy virtually hitched to the American wagon. But Filipino leaders then felt no sense of betrayal of the national interest, for they fully believed that under the circumstances of the time, it was the prudent course to follow. As articulated then, this view of our foreign relations sufficed perhaps for the challenges of the immediate post war era, in the subsequent decades of the late 60s, the 70s, and the 80s, its limitations were to become glaring as the world moved into a conclusive tide of fervent change. And so we discovered the new environment for Philippine foreign policy.
President Marcos’ foreign policy in the 1970s was molded by the gradual American withdrawal in the Vietnam War. President Richard Nixon insisted on the reduction of American presence in the Vietnam War because of the increasing social and material cost for his country. He said:
. . . while the US would honor its treaty commitments, it would not get involved in any more wars like Vietnam and would reduce its military commitments and presence in Asia.
The formation of the ASEAN and the subsequent establishment of diplomatic relations of the Philippines with the communist countries like the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China were done specifically because of the gradual withdrawal of American forces from the Indo-Chinese peninsula. The renegotiation of the American bases was also a major result of the Nixon Doctrine.
From the 1970s, the Cold War started to slow down with both the USA and USSR engaging in negotiations. As Aileen S.P. Baviera points out:
The thawing of the Cold War brought to the fore new developments and variables that need led to be examined in the formulation of our foreign policy agenda. Foremost of this developments is the end of bipolarism and the sharp ideological division between ‘East’ and ‘West.’
B. Communism in Cambodia: The Surging Tide of Maoism in Mainland Southeast Asia
A powerful Hindu state of Funan emerged around 100-550 CE on the gulf of Thailand in what is now known as Cambodia. Jayavarman II established the Angkor Wat Empire in 802 CE. Oral tradition claims that a Brahman named Kaundinya built the capital and changed the country name to “Kambuja”
In the 14th century CE, an invading force from the Kingdom of Thailand occupied Angkor. In 1884, King Norodom I was forced by the French to subject the country under the colonial rule of France. From 1863 to 1953, Cambodia was a French protectorate.
In 1953, France granted Cambodia its independence after the tedious campaign of King Norodom Sihanouk. When he abdicated the throne to become head of state, he kept Cambodia neutral in the escalating war between Vietnam and Laos. However, on November 25, 1965, King Sihanouk instructed General Lon Nol, Chief of Staff of the Royal Khmer Armed Forces to sign a military treaty with the People’s Republic of China. Most notably, it stipulated the following terms: 1) Cambodia would permit the passage and the refuge of Vietnamese combatants in the border regions, granting them protection if necessary and permitting them to establish command posts; and 2) Cambodia would permit the passage of materials coming from China and intended for Vietnam.
While King Sihanouk was visiting the Soviet Union in 1970, he was removed from power by General Lon Nol. The coup d’etat placed the country in political and economic turmoil. The consequences were severe economic disruption, corruption stimulated by massive American aid to the Lon Nol government, and an increase in popular support for the antigovernment communist insurgent Khmer Rouge, backed by China. On October 9, 1970, Premier Lon Nol established the Khmer Republic with himself as the new leader. Civil war ensued in Cambodia because the new republic was pro-US and the communist Khmer aided by the USSR and the People’s Republic of China wanted the return of King Sihanouk.
Premier Lon Nol lost the bitter fight for Cambodia and was forced into exile on April 1, 1975. The Lon Nol government surrendered on April 17, 1975, just five days after the US mission evacuated Cambodia. In 1975, the communist Khmer Rouge took over Phnom Penh and changed the country’s name to Democratic Kampuchea. More than one million people died to begin with, including not only the victims of Pol Pot’s killing fields, where members of the ruling elite were cut down, but also hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children who died from diseases and starvation directly resulting from the regime’s misguided and draconian policies.
These massacres were done to create a classless communist society. Urban settlers were forced by the Khmer Rouge to work in communes patterned after those of the People’s Republic of China. The Pol Pot regime, whose ideology focused unthinkingly on the importance of national pride and self-sufficiency, perceived the Angkorean era as a time when an enslaved people, naturally endowed with creative skill, built hundreds of temples and kilometers of irrigation canals not for themselves as a group as they were in theory to do after 1975 but for their masters, whose ideology or style the communists made no effort to explain. With the communist takeover in 1975, the Khmer Rouge wiped out everything that reminded them of Cambodia’s history.
C. The Fall of Laos: A Communist Domino Effect in Indochina
It was the foundation of the Kingdom of Ayudhya in 1351 (north of modern-day Bangkok) and its military competition with Sukhothai to its north that provided the space for the formation of the Kingdom of Lan Xang in Luang Phrabang. In 1353 CE, a Lao Prince named Fa Ngun united all the Lao fiefdoms and formed the powerful Kingdom of Lan Xang (The Kingdom of a Million Elephants.)
In 1884, Auguste Davie, a French diplomat, saved the life of King Oun Kham of Luang Phrabang from the dreaded Hos (Chinese bandits from Yunnan). He persuaded Oun Kham to accept French protectorate. It was in 1893 that the three kingdoms of Luang Phrabang, Vientiane and Champasak united to form Laos under the French protectorate.
France granted independence to Laos on October 22, 1953. King Sisavang Vong became its monarchial ruler from 1953 to 1959. On his death in October 1959, he was succeeded by his son Savang Vatthana.
Laos was plunged into civil war when the Royal Lao government under Prime Minister Souvanna Phouma met destabilization plots from the communist Pathet Lao under Prince Souphanouvong. Attempts in 1957 and 1962 were initiated by Prime Minister Souvanna Phouma for a coalition government, but they failed. The ceasefire signed in February 1973 and the formulation of another coalition government in April 1974 proved to be futile.
On December 2, 1975, President Souphanouvong and Premier Kaysone Phomvihane declared the People’s Democratic Republic of Laos. Laos was placed under communist rule and it maintained close ties with the Soviet Union and Vietnam in 1978. According to Premier Kaysone Phoumvihane:
That great event gloriously ended the national democratic revolution in our country, completely terminated the yoke of the cruel and depraved rule of the feudalist and colonialists and opened a new era – the era of independence, freedom and socialism – for our nation.
D. The Spread of Communism in the Middle East: The Case of South Yemen
The ancient Romans called Yemen the Arabian Felix, which means “fertile” or “fortunate” in Arabia. In the entire Arabian Peninsula, Yemen had the greenest hills and most fertile lands. What is now Yemen was the Kingdom of Saba from the 10th to the 2nd century BCE. It was on the 7th century that the Arabs in the north introduced Islam. About 886 CE, the first Zeidi leader seceded from the Abbasid Caliphate and proclaimed the independence of Yemen.
The Ottoman Turks took over Yemen from the 16th to the 20th centuries. However, the collapse of the Ottoman Empire after World War I changed the political landscape of Yemen. North Yemen became independent while its southern counterpart became a British protectorate.
When Imam Muhammad al-Badr was overthrown on September 27, 1962, General Abdullah Sallal proclaimed the establishment of the Yemen Arab Republic in the north. South Yemen came under the control of the communists. A strong communist party was installed in 1970. In 1963, civil war ensued between the Communist National Liberation Front (NLF) and pro-Egyptian Front for the Liberation of Yemen (FLOSY).