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Starting in September last year, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad of Malaysia was strongly criticized by the Western media and some Western governments over the introduction of capital controls and the sacking of his deputy prime minister and finance minister Anwar Ibrahim, who was later tried for alleged criminal acts. It was thought that Mahathir was doomed to be overthrown by student and youth demonstrations. Now, however, the outcry has subsided, the political situation has been stabilized and capital controls have been deemed a success even by the anti-Mahathir Western media and IMF Managing Director Michel Camdessus.

The U.S. government recognizes that its attempt to influence events by having Vice President Al Gore call publicly for Mahathir’s ouster was a mistake. If the attempt had succeeded, it would have strengthened and expanded the power of the Islamic radicals and exacerbated conflicts with the Chinese community, leading to possible Kosovo-type ethnic conflict in Malaysia. Fortunately, such developments were prevented. In Cambodia the coup d’etat staged by the United States in 1970, with the goal of ousting Prince Sihanouk, was the starting point for the tragedies that have engulfed that country for the past 29 years. The U.S. gained nothing from that coup, succeeding only in expanding the power of the Khmer Rouge and contributing to the destruction of the state of Cambodia. This time, in Malaysia, the U.S. government only succeeded in discrediting itself as a partner in the Asian security regime.

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