In 1992, Cambodia became a United Nations (UN) protectorate—the first and only time the UN tried something so ambitious. What did the new, democratically-elected government do with this unprecedented gift? Cambodians today live in the grip of a venal government that refuses to provide even the most basic services without a bribe. Nearly half of the Cambodians who lived through the Khmer Rouge era suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. A malnourished populace still lives as Cambodians did 1,000 years ago, while government officials are the only overweight people in a nation where the hungry waste away. These conditions have not, however, dissuaded the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) from acceding the Cambodian regime's desire to chair ASEAN in 2012. Prof. Joel Brinkley will turn an unsparing analytical eye on these and related aspects of Cambodian history, political economy, and foreign policy.
Joel Brinkley joined Stanford in the fall of 2006 after a 23-year career with The New York Times. At the Times he served as a reporter, editor, and Pulitzer Prize-winning foreign correspondent. At Stanford, he writes a weekly column on foreign affairs that appears in some 50 newspapers and web sites in the United States and around the world. He also writes on foreign affairs for Politico, and maintains an active public-speaking career. His research interests include American foreign policy and foreign affairs in general. Over the last 30 years, he has reported from 46 American states and more than 50 foreign countries. The latest of his five books is Cambodia's Curse: The Modern History of a Troubled Land (2011), already lauded by a reviewer in The American Interest as a "compelling" and "revealing tale of delusion and corruption" told with "panache." Copies of the book will be available for sale at the talk.