Thai-Cambodian Border Clash Largely a Manufactured Conflict

The brief flare-up of fighting between Thai and Cambodian troops that killed 10 people last month was largely portrayed as a dispute over which country rightfully controls a Hindu-Buddhist temple that has stood along the border between the two for nearly a millennium.

Close observers of the region, however, explain that the recent troop buildups and violence are actually the product of a primarily manufactured conflict driven by nationalists scrambling to maintain a hold on power in both countries.

"Basically what you have here is a war of convenience between two governments that would both benefit from a skirmish that has almost no potential to escalate into a full-blown war," says Ernest Z. Bower, director of the Southeast Asia Program at the Center for Strategic International Studies in Washington.

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