Saturday, September 29, 2007

What can be done to liberate the people of Burma?

By Michael J.W. Stickings

The totalitarians who call the country Myanmar, a military junta that makes up one of the most brutal regimes in the world, have clamped down on those who wish to liberate the country from within, the monks and other protesters who have had enough of being brutalized.

The insular rulers of that insular country, a country made ever more insular by the insular totalitarianism of those rulers, seem to care nothing for world opinion, nor for their country's place in the world. They have responded to internal dissent by cutting the country off even more from the outside world, notably by cutting off access to the Internet.

And, of course, they responded to non-violence with violence, with brutality, with murder. The "official" reports, those released by the totalitarians, the illegitimate "government" of what is rightly called Burma, play down this violence. They set the death toll well below what it must really be. The violence, much of it unreported, given the absence of international journalists and the control of whatever local media there are, has been widespread, as the totalitarians have sought to crush any and all opposition to their rule.

And yet the protests continue, the streets in Rangoon and elsewhere alive with hope:

Several hundred people have held protests in Burma's main city of Rangoon, despite three days of crackdowns on pro-democracy protests.

Protesters chanted slogans before being baton-charged by security forces, and at least two were severely beaten, eyewitnesses said.

In the central town of Pakokku hundreds of monks reportedly led a peaceful march of thousands of demonstrators.

Such incredible courage, such an admirable cause. But what is to be done? They cannot do it alone.


The cultists of national sovereignty -- which is to say, many at the U.N., many around the world who stand as apologists for genocide -- argue that the crisis in Burma is an internal matter and therefore that there is no cause for intervention. But there must be intervention where genocidal regimes are in power. Have we not learned the lessons of the last century, of Rwanda, Bosnia, now Darfur, and so many others? The question is rightly not whether to intervene but how to intervene. Obviously, military action is often not the answer. Whether through unilateral action (the U.S., mostly), treaty-based multi-lateral action (NATO), or international action (the U.N.), military responses to such crises may not be feasible, for a variety of reasons. So what else?

Diplomacy, sanctions, pressure. And this seems to be the course the U.S. and Europe are taking, and, for once, I cannot find fault with the position of the U.S. government, that is, with the Bush Administration:

The Bush administration stepped up its confrontation with the ruling junta in Myanmar on Friday, and officials said they were searching for ways to persuade China and other nations to cut off lending, investment and trade into the country.

But in a sign of how limited Washington's leverage is against the country, which has long been the target of American sanctions, officials said they were concerned that China, a trading partner and neighbor of Myanmar, would block any serious effort to destabilize the Burmese government.

The administration seems to regard the violent crackdown on Burmese monks as a long-hoped-for opportunity to get other Southeast Asian nations to rethink their insistence that they should not interfere with the internal politics of their neighbors. The hope is that American pressure might force the Burmese leaders into a political process that would drive them from power, if not from the country.

"What we are trying to do is speed their demise," said a senior American official. "The question is, do we have the diplomatic and economic influence to hit a bank shot here," by persuading Beijing, in particular, that its dealings with Myanmar could embarrass it as the 2008 Olympics approach.

Another senior official said the administration would try to persuade China to offer sanctuary to the leaders of the junta, in hopes it would get them out of the country. Other ideas include getting China and India to halt investment in new oil and gas projects, cutting off bank lending in places like Singapore to freeze Burmese accounts.

These are "techniques are modeled on the sanctions designed against North Korea," sanctions which have been somewhat successful in terms of cutting off (Western) investment and other engagement with the Hermit Kingdom. But there is only so much the U.S. and Europe can do without Chinese and Indian support. As long as the totalitarians in Burma have China and India to prop up their regime, efforts to "speed their demise" may not be all that effective.

Still, it's something -- and something (Bosnia) is better than nothing (Rwanda). With military action not feasible, the crisis in Burma forces the U.S. and Europe to pursue other means, notably diplomacy (through the U.N.), tougher sanctions, pressure on China and India, and, presumably (hopefully), secret efforts in support of the protesters and their cause.

The Burmese people need our help. This confrontation with their totalitarian rulers must amount to a lot more than talk if they are to be liberated.

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Climate conference feedback

By Carol Gee

(White House photo)

The climate conference in Washington has not been smooth sailing for OCP. Our Current President's efforts to derail the global climate change movement are hopefully not going to have much effect. What do others think?

Making gas --
(9/28/07), headlined "
Bush: Nations Must Reduce Own Gases." The headline makes me grin, for some reason. But they played the story absolutely straight. To quote:

George Bush, the US president, has said that countries must find their own methods for reducing emissions that cause climate change.

In a White House sponsored-speech to 16 major polluting nations, Bush also proposed that state leaders meet for talks on climate change next year, while renewing his opposition to mandatory caps on emissions.

. . . The 16 nations gathered in Washington for the two-day conference are Australia, Britain, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Russia, South Africa and the United States.

The bus has already gone --
BBC News (9/29/07) put it succinctly this way: "
Bush climate plans spark debate." To highlight the UK's utterly dismissive view, I quote:

The British climate envoy, John Ashton, said the US seemed isolated on the issue of fighting climate change.

"I think that the argument that we can do this through voluntary approaches is now pretty much discredited internationally," he told the Reuters news agency.

Bigger than Bush --
The New York Times
included a bit in the conference story
regarding German opinion. Germany holds the presidency of the European Union this year, and has not been shy about leading the EU on the issue of climate change. Each country going its own way has no appeal to Europeans, or the rest of the world, for that matter. To quote:

But critics in Europe and elsewhere say that approach will allow countries to avoid the tough choices they say are needed to slow climate warming and temper its disruptive effects: a rapid retreat of sea ice, and precipitation changes that have brought droughts and floods, damaging crops.

They favor tough new standards under a treaty to succeed the Kyoto Protocol, signed by 170 countries but rejected in 2001 by President George W. Bush. The Kyoto pact expires in 2012. The Europeans and others are looking toward a U.N.-sponsored conference this December in Bali, Indonesia, to move closer to those goals.

In a speech at the U.N. earlier this week, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany made her view clear: Contributions to fighting climate change from individual countries or groups of countries were welcome, but could “never be a replacement for a post-Kyoto agreement under the umbrella of the United Nations.” She called for global emissions to be halved by 2050.

Who has the right idea --
Another President
is also having a big conference. Former President Bill Clinton's annual
Global Initiative elicited many energy and climate change commitments from members. Gideon Rachman's blog at the Financial Times (9/27/07), in a post titled "Gore: Climate change's Mr Realism," made an interesting point. To quote:

The last couple of days in New York have provided a chance to compare the styles of two presidents and a nearly-president. On Tuesday George W Bush spoke to the UN. On Wednesday, a few blocks from the UN, Bill Clinton opened his 2007 Clinton Global Initiative. And - in the opening session - he shared a platform with Al Gore. Rather to my surprise, I thought the famously wooden Gore gave the most impressive and charismatic performance of the three men - aided by the fact that the opening session of the CGI focused heavily on his special subject: climate change.

. . . By contrast, the man who pipped Gore to the presidency in 2000 still seems a little too relaxed about the problem. It is true that President Bush has moved on the issue. He now frankly acknowledges that there is a big problem, that mankind has contributed to global warming and that carbon-emissions need to be cut. But he is still resisting the idea of binding, international targets. Bush is about to convene his own global warming summit in Washington. But many people at the UN and at the Clinton Global Initiative still see the Bush administration's approach as a distraction and an impediment to a genuine global agreement. If Gore is right about the polar ice cap, even one more year without real American leadership on global warming is a big worry.

Greenland's glaciers tell the tale --
Speaker Nancy Pelosi's website
makes the point that the cliche, "a picture is worth a thousand words," is true. Rather than being an obstacle like OCP - in effect "fiddling while Greenland melts," Pelosi cared enough about the problem to go see for herself.

Meanwhile, the Russians are going about claiming the Arctic. At Ria Novosti's website, you can catch up with the "Russian Arctic mission."

(Cross-posted at South by Southwest.)

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Friday, September 28, 2007

We're more than even!

By Michael J.W. Stickings

The Canadian dollar briefly reached parity with the American dollar last week, before pulling back slightly. But today -- well, it feels awfully good:
The Canadian dollar has closed above parity with U.S. dollar for first time since November, 1976, closing up two-thirds of a cent at $1.0052 (U.S.).

The Canadian dollar vaulted back above parity early Friday and held on to its gains throughout the afternoon as commodity prices rallied and the U.S. currency continued to struggle.

The Canadian currency reached parity with its U.S. counterpart for the first time in 31 years on Sept. 20. Since then, it has risen above par during intraday trading a number of times but has failed to close above that level.

The generally weak American dollar has helped, of course, but another reason for the rise of the loonie (the nickname of our dollar) is oil: "'Among the G-10 nation currencies, the Canadian dollar is used more than any other as a proxy for oil,' Rebecca Paterson, global currency strategist at J.P. Morgan in New York, said in an interview. 'So when oil prices rise, anyone that wants to bet on oil and does not want to play the commodity market turns to the Canadian dollar.'" With the price of oil on the rise, almost reaching its record high today, the dollar has become a currency of choice for investors.

Why does it feel so good? Because, to some extent, national (and personal, insofar as the national is personal) self-identity is connected to the value of one's currency. If your currency is strong, you generally feel good about your country. It makes no sense, given the intricacies and inanities of the international currency market, but buying power matters -- the understanding that x amount of your currency buys y amount of another. It may not matter all that much whether the Canadian dollar is worth 70 U.S. cents, or 90, or a full dollar, or, as is currently the case, a tiny bit more than a full dollar. What does such "value," or worth, even mean?

And yet, it wasn't so long ago that the relative strength of the U.S. dollar and the relative weakness of the Canadian dollar -- relative to each other, that is -- seemed to put us at some sort of disadvantage. We could travel to the U.S. and our dollar just wouldn't buy all that much, or so it seemed. Our dollar was a joke, or so it seemed -- so we were told, regardless of whether or not it was true. That 10-dollar U.S. book cost a few more, seemingly many more, Canadian dollars, and, meanwhile, Americans could travel up here and spend their money with seemingly reckless abandon, so strong was their currency relative to ours. And this hurt our professional sports teams, and particularly the hockey teams we care so much about, all of them having to pay out salaries in U.S. dollars while taking in Canadian dollars. Those teams needed help, and got it, and it was necessary -- and embarrassing. And we sensed, with such a "weak" dollar, that Americans were laughing at us.

But not now. Now our sports teams seemingly have more money to spend. Now that 10-dollar U.S. book costs, well, about 10 dollars Canadian. The fact this this is bad for our tourism and export industries seems to matter less -- at least for now, at least to those not involved in those industries -- than the new found strength, the rising "value," of our currency. Laugh at us if you will, but our dollar stands firm tonight.

The loonie has gone up, and, with it, so has our pride, our sense of national self-worth. There is more to this great country than the fluctuating "value" of its currency, its "value" relative to the American currency, but, for now, for the first time in 31 years, it's nice to be more than even with our superpower friends to the south.

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Congressional strategy on dealing with Bush exposed by Salon comic!

By J. Thomas Duffy

Oh My God!

It's out there, on-line, for all the world to see ...

Ruben Bolling, via his Tom the Dancing Bug comic strip, has exposed the Congressional strategy for how they plan on dealing with The Commander Guy and his Grindhouse the remainder of their term.

The Garlic, making quick calls, reached Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi to alert her to the leak, and Pelosi was not fazed, indicating that "Not kissing President Bush's ass is off the table".

Check out immediately Do not tell President Bush about this!

Bonus Links

Ruben Bolling

Tom the Dancing Bug On Salon

(Cross-posted at The Garlic.)

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In case you were wondering, Chris Matthews is still a sexist jerk

By Michael J.W. Stickings

He may have massive crushes on the disreputable Judy Miller and the reprehensible Ann Coulter, but, for the most part, Chris Matthews and his balls of steel are scared shitless of powerful women, what with their feminism and sisterhood lunches, their unwillingness to play along with his chauvinism.

After the Democratic debate at Dartmouth on Wednesday, Matthews asked Chris Dodd whether he finds it "difficult to debate a woman". A stupid and blatantly sexist question, to be sure. One wonders why he didn't also ask the senator whether he finds it difficult to bring a woman to orgasm, whether he finds it difficult to deal with a woman's menstrual cycle, whether he finds it difficult not to smack a woman's ass when he finds one to his liking.

For Matthews, what this question really amounted to was this: Do you find it difficult to treat a woman with respect, to take a woman seriously, to consider her an equal. You know, because feminism has really fucked things up. The women of Matthews' perfect world ought presumably to be on their hands and knees scrubbing the bathroom floor, or whatever else Matthew would have them doing in that position, Miller and Coulter included.

Later, as if to reinforce with viewers the sheer magnitude of his sexism, Matthews said this to debate moderator Tim Russert:

Let me tell you how short Hillary's leash is. She was asked by you, sir, about whether we're going to get full disclosure of contributors to presidential libraries. And she did not feel that she had the latitude in her husband's absence to give you an answer. She said, you'll have to ask my husband, as if you're a guy going door to door trying to sell someone and says you’ll have to wait for my husband to get home.

Yes, that's right, his view of Hillary Clinton, one of the most powerful women in the world and possibly the next president of the United States, is that she's on her husband's leash, presumably also on her hands and knees, unable to speak for herself, nothing without her dominant man. Forget her many accomplishments, her intellect, her character, her very individuality. Like all good women, according to Matthews, Hillary is very much the embodiment of the weaker sex. She may have her feminism and her sisterhood lunches, but, when it comes right down to it, she's a submissive, subservient object.

This was offensive enough -- so offensive, in fact, that I cannot do it justice here -- but, as Think Progress notes, it was also grossly misleading:

[A]s Media Matters points out, Clinton said that she had "co-sponsored legislation that would have sitting presidents reveal any donation to their presidential library." She could not answer whether or not the Clinton Foundation and the Clinton Library would "voluntarily" make such donations public in the absence of such legislation because she does not control those entities.

I have never been an ardent supporter of Hillary Clinton, and I do not support her now, but I respect and admire her and, with some concern, would support her in the general election. But this is not about Hillary, it's about the perception of Hillary, and of women generally, and especially of strong and powerful women, by a sexist fool with his own media platform on MSNBC, a sexist fool who frequently spews such offensive abuse.

Why he still has a job, let alone his own shows on a major cable news network, however pathetic, is beyond me. I can only conclude that his bosses are content to continue to provide him the platform to spew not just offensive abuse but political commentary that is often ignorant and misleading, riddled with bias and distortion.

If anyone needs a leash, it's Chris Matthews. But, then, maybe that would turn him on. Who knows what dark and demented fantasies lurk in that sexist little soul of his?

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Thursday, September 27, 2007

Something told me . . .

By Carol Gee

. . . to take a quick look at the Iraq Coalition Casualties website. It had been weeks since I had done so. What I saw sent a chill through me. A new milestone -- 3800 -- has been reached.
And I know that others will report this, also.

And I understand that is just a reported number, no more or no less tragic than #3799 or #3801. However, each of the three people killed in this set of numbers was absolutely and uniquely dear and precious to their families, buddies, friends and acquaintances. And to us.

What I do not understand is why. Something told me the U.S. invasion of Iraq was looming at the end of 2000. Something told me that Congress would go along. And they still are. And I don't understand that, either.

What I do understand is that 3800 brave men and women have died for their country during the war in Iraq. And I am so very sorry.

(Cross-posted at South by Southwest.)

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General Pace or General Disgrace?

By Capt. Fogg

Oh hell, let Congress censure me, but I'm an American citizen and I don't work for the government and I have a right to call it the way I see it. I have absolutely no obligation to respect the opinions of people I consider to be enemies of freedom and particularly those people on the public payroll who insist they work for an invisible entity not the taxpayers. I will not be bullied into worshipping authority or their authoritarian gods.

So when Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a Congressional hearing yesterday that our secular democracy should

"not through the law of the land, condone activity that, in my upbringing, is counter to God's law,"

I have to call it disgraceful. I have to call his "upbringing" disgusting and I have to call the private and legal behavior of consenting adults none of his God damned business. There is no religious test or requirement for service in the armed forces and our troops are not required to bow to the beliefs of generals.

Screw Pace, screw his superstition, arrogance and his upbringing - and as for his god - screw him too.

(Cross-posted from Human Voices.)

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If it is broke and you can't fix it

By Edward Copeland

During last night's Democratic presidential debate, most of the top candidates refused to commit to having all U.S. troops out of Iraq by the theoretical end of their first term in January 2013. Joe Biden had the most specific answer, saying that he would only keep troops if Iraq finally gets a political solution but if it's still the chaos it's in today when he took office in 2009, he'd start immediate withdrawal.

Of course, all the posturing and specific and nonspecific answers may be moot because once again one of the U.S. military's top officers, this time Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey, told Congress yesterday that the military has reached a breaking point where it will be unable to keep up its current activities, let alone allow for unexpected conflicts or new ones elsewhere. He told the House Armed Services Committee that the Army is "out of balance":

"The current demand for our forces exceeds the sustainable supply. We are consumed with meeting the demands of the current fight and are unable to provide ready forces as rapidly as necessary for other potential contingencies."

What's even more fascinating is that though Casey, who has just taken on the job of Army Chief of Staff, could have held a private hearing but requested a public one so that his words could be heard by everyone. Perhaps those on the inside of the military now finally are getting the guts to take disputes with Dubyaland out in the open, since this comes the same week Defense Secretary Robert Gates edited his prepared remarks to Congress about war funding bill to delete yet another unnecessary 9/11 reference that we can only assume was placed there by one of the Bush loyalists.

Though Gates did urge the funding without any strings, Casey addressed the cost of the war as well during his House hearing, saying the costs can only go higher.

Casey's testimony yesterday sent a clear message: If President Bush or Congress does not significantly reduce US forces in Iraq soon, the Army will need far more resources - and money - to ensure it is prepared to handle future security threats that the general warned are all but inevitable.

"As we look to the future, national security experts are virtually unanimous in predicting that the next several decades will be ones of persistent conflict," Casey told the panel, citing potential instability caused by globalization, humanitarian crises, and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction."

Responding to Casey's testimony, Rep. John M. McHugh (R-N.Y.) called the general's warnings "just downright frightening."

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Setting the stage for Dubya's Iran war

By Edward Copeland

The Senate backed a resolution urging Dubya to declare Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist group, co-sponsored by none other than Censorin' Joe Lieberman. While Democratic presidential candidates Biden and Dodd voted against it, seeing it for what it is, an attempt to lay the groundwork for war, Hillary Nothing-But-Ambition Clinton backed the measure.

Of course, you wouldn't know it by reading MSM stories, since they are covering for her again, but here is the Senate's official roll call vote.

WASHINGTON, Sept. 26 — The Senate approved a resolution today urging the Bush administration to designate Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a foreign terrorist organization, and lawmakers briefly set aside partisan differences to approve a measure calling for stepped-up diplomacy to forge a political solution in Iraq.

Since last month, the White House has been weighing whether to deem the entire Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist group or to take a narrower step focused only on the Quds Force, an elite unit of the corps. Either approach would signal a more confrontational posture by declaring a segment of the Iranian military to be a terrorist organization.


The measure proposed by Senator Jon Kyl, Republican of Arizona, and Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, an independent of Connecticut who votes with Republicans on war issues, relied heavily on testimony earlier this month by Gen. David H. Petraeus, the commander in Iraq, and Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker, the top American political official in Baghdad.

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A Patriot Act that isn't patriotic at all

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Slowly, ever so slowly, the USA Patriot Act is being exposed -- in the courts, if already among commentators -- for what it is, an un-American desecration of the Constitution:

A federal judge in Oregon ruled yesterday that two provisions of the USA Patriot Act are unconstitutional, marking the second time in as many weeks that the anti-terrorism law has come under attack in the courts.

In a case brought by a Portland man who was wrongly detained as a terrorism suspect in 2004, U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken ruled that the Patriot Act violates the Constitution because it "permits the executive branch of government to conduct surveillance and searches of American citizens without satisfying the probable cause requirements of the Fourth Amendment."

"For over 200 years, this Nation has adhered to the rule of law -- with unparalleled success," Aiken wrote in a strongly worded 44-page opinion. "A shift to a Nation based on extra-constitutional authority is prohibited, as well as ill-advised."

For over 200 years -- that is, until Bush, Cheney, and the executive power cultists took over. With 9/11, the hyped-up threat of terrorism, and the so-called war on terror providing cover, and with an opposition cowering in submission (even now, still), these authoritarian radicals have effectively tossed aside the rule of law and replaced it with the trappings of a police state.

The Constitution, I believe, is strong enough to withstand the Bush presidency, but it nonetheless needs its defenders, those willing to push back against the authoritarian radicals. With the Democrats mired in the quagmire of wishy-washy apologetics, we can be thankful that there are judges like Ann Aiken to rise to the historic occasion of standing with and for the American people and their civil liberties.

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Raiding monasteries in Burma

By Michael J.W. Stickings

This headline from Reuters tells you a great deal about the brutality of Burma's totalitarian regime:

Myanmar junta raids monasteries

Here's the latest:

[Burma]'s generals launched pre-dawn raids on activist monasteries on Thursday, ignoring increasingly desperate international calls for restraint in their crackdown on the biggest anti-junta protests in 20 years.


Some witnesses said as many as 100,000 people packed downtown Yangon, the former Burma's main city, on Wednesday and the streets echoed with a deafening roar of anger at the use of violence against the maroon-robed monks.

But the raids suggested the generals, who have lived with Western sanctions for years and frustrate their co-members of a Southeast Asian grouping with their refusals to heed calls for change, were not listening to the diplomatic clamor.

They dispatched military trucks to two monasteries in Yangon and arrested up to 200 of the monks accused of coordinating the demonstrations, witnesses said. Other sources said they also raided monasteries in the northeast.

We will continue to monitor this developing story, but, for now, see my longer post on the situation in Burma from earlier this evening.

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"Childrens do learn." -- George W. Bush

By Michael J.W. Stickings

In case you missed it, there was another embarrassing gaffe yesterday from the linguistic mangler-in-chief:

Offering a grammar lesson guaranteed to make any English teacher cringe, President George W. Bush told a group of New York school kids on Wednesday: "Childrens do learn."

Bush made his latest grammatical slip-up at a made-for-TV event where he urged Congress to reauthorize the No Child Left Behind Act, the centerpiece of his education policy, as he touted a new national report card on improved test scores.


During his first presidential campaign, Bush -- who promised to be the "education president" -- once asked: "Is our children learning?"

On Wednesday, Bush seemed to answer his own question with the same kind of grammatical twist.

"As yesterday's positive report card shows, childrens do learn when standards are high and results are measured," he said.

The White House opted to clean up Bush's diction in the official transcript.

Of course it did. Rewriting history -- literally, in this case -- is one of the things the White House does best. It takes a massive effort, one imagines, to turn truth into truthiness, all for the sake of a president who long ago was left way behind.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

"You most likely know it as Myanmar, but it will always be Burma to me."

By Michael J.W. Stickings

(So says Mr. Peterman to Elaine in "The Foundation," the first episode of Season 8 of Seinfeld.)

We have been following the situation in Burma closely in recent days, tracking the monk-led protests against one of the most brutal regimes in the world, a totalitarian military junta. The protests were getting larger and louder. As many as 100,000 people marched in Rangoon on Monday.

But, as I said in my last post on the situation, the totalitarians were not about to give in. It was easy to predict, but I predicted that they would soon fight back -- and with merciless brutality. And that is exactly what has happened:

The government said its security forces opened fire Wednesday on demonstrators who failed to disperse, killing one person, and witnesses said police beat and dragged away dozens of Buddhist monks in the most violent crackdown in a month of protests in [Burma].

You can find photos of the crackdown here. And, also from the BBC: reports from inside Burma, the government's view, and a valuable Q&A.

As the protesters were being brutalized, the monks beaten, the U.N. held an emergency session to address the situation and President Bush, in a move that ought to be applauded, announced new sanctions against the Burmese regime. "The United States is very troubled by the action of the junta against the Burmese people," a White House spokesman said this afternoon. "We call on them to show restraint and to move to a peaceful transition to democracy." In reality, the totalitarians will neither show restraint nor adopt democracy, and certainly not peacefully. Sanctions will speak louder than words, but those sanctions must be serious. And the problem is that no matter what the U.S. wants, the more powerful player in the region is China. And therein lies much of the problem:

In response to the violence, the United Nations Security Council called an emergency meeting on Wednesday to discuss the crisis, but China blocked a Council resolution, backed by the United States and European nations, to condemn the government crackdown. However, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon announced that the United Nations was "urgently dispatching" a special envoy to Myanmar, formerly known as Burma.

In other words, there is only so much the U.N. can do. Both China and Russia -- hardly the world's great advocates of liberty and democracy -- oppose sanctions. Both countries "have argued that the situation in Burma is a purely internal matter. Both vetoed a UN resolution critical of Burma's rulers last January".

It will take more than Bono's prayers not just to resolve this crisis but to ensure that it is resolved, somehow, in the protesters' favour. A U.N. envoy could open up a dialogue with the totalitarians, but without China and Russia it is unclear how successful new and tougher sanctions could be.

But what else is there? Military action? That won't happen, not with China the dominant power in the region. And, given the Sino-Russian argument that this is purely a domestic problem, the U.N. is not about to send a peacekeeping force to Burma. Ultimately, it will take international pressure on China, along with vigorous and robust sanctions, to compel the totalitarians to back down.

But then what? It may be enough, for now, for the brutality to end. In the long run, however, only the overthrow of the military junta will allow liberty and democracy to begin to flourish in that brutalized land.



Time: "Monks vs. Police in Burma."

Times: "Eyewitness reports from bloggers inside Burma."

Sullivan: "Freedom's Front Line" -- with many great links.

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Caring about the work -- 2) speaking thoughtfully as we write

By Carol Gee

Bloggers write for ourselves and for others. Getting an audience depends on having something to write that is worth reading - quickly. Bloggers skim; we rarely study. If we are dedicated to our readers and our own standards, we try for truth and we expect to be good enough to be read.

This post is about activism, focusing on the Burma Story. It taken a great deal of work for others to ferret out the truth from Burma, from which no reporting has been allowed. Activism is a combination of knowing what is happening, knowing what others are doing to help the situation, and finally keeping up with what other writer/activists are saying. That means testing your truth against their truth.

Begin with the very recent straight news story - My trust of an AP wire service story is a given. I do not have to think about it. As a blogger I cannot gather my own news. I always post second-hand. As an activist I must know the latest about what is going on with any issue. So I began with the My Way headline that said, "Violent crackdown launched in Myanmar" - Sept. 26, 10:12 AM (AP). To quote the initial paragraphs,

Security forces shot and wounded three people, and beat and dragged away dozens of Buddhist monks Wednesday in the most violent crackdown against the protests that began last month, witnesses said. About 300 monks and activists were arrested, dissidents said.

Reports from exiled Myanmar journalists and activists in Thailand said security forces had shot and killed as many as five people in Myanmar's biggest city, Yangon. The reports could not be independently confirmed by The Associated Press.

The next step is to see what activists are doing about the issue. Jeremy Mak - Free Burma! Action Center gave me a quick look at the Burma uprising from an action perspective. The site appeared to be legitimate because of the subtitle describing their sponsor: " A Watson Blog hosted by the Watson Center for International Studies at Brown University." The post was titled, "9/28 Rally for a Free Burma at Main Green / USCB Petition / Email UN." To quote,

For those who care about human rights, there's a rally at Brown this Friday to show solidarity for protesting monks and civilians who are now, as you read this, demonstrating for regime change. They are risking their lives to overthrow the yoke of oppression that has choked them for the past 19 years.

The last step in getting prepared for your action is to read other trusted bloggers on the subject. As an example, skim this set of posts about the Burma situation written by a very fine blogger/activist. They were posted by my "boss," here at The Reaction, where I am a co-blogger. I trust his dedication to the best truth.

  • September 19, 2007: "From Florida to Burma -- a tasered heckler and tear-gassed monks."
  • September 22: "Burmese Monk Update" -- to quote:
    I applaud their efforts and wish them well. An enormous task lies in front of them, and success will not come without a great deal of sacrifice, but their cause is noble and just. The rest of the world -- and by that I mean the U.N., but also opponents of totalitarianism and other forms of political oppression everywhere -- would do well to come to their aid.
  • September 23: "Burmese Monk update II" -- to quote:
    Myanmar is what the ruling junta calls Burma, which is why we continue to call it Burma.
  • September 24: "Burmese Monk update III" -- it has a good picture.
  • September 25: "Burmese Monk update IV" -- to quote,
    The totalitarians will not give in. They will fight back, with merciless brutality. Which is why, more than ever, the democratic movement in Burma needs the support of the friends of democracy around the world. The opposition will be much stronger with solid international pressure behind it. Then, and perhaps only then, will the totalitarians be overthrown and, ultimately, brought to justice.

Today I found some things that are true, in my opinion by reading on the Internet. It sometimes takes a tremendous amount of work to find out the actual facts from within the blogosphere. And my truth may not be yours. But all I can do is my own best, and ask that you do your best also. Because I usually just trust what you say, as I expect to be trusted. That is probably naive, but I fear I am too old to change much now.

To be continued...

(Cross-posted at South by Southwest.)

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Can't risk anti-Italian food vote

By Edward Copeland

In the latest bizarre, control freak move by the Clintons, they are threatening famed New York Italian restaurant Osso Bucco with legal action if they do not remove a photo of Chelsea Clinton that has hung there for years since the former president and N.Y. senator's daughter dined there. Apparently, they fear it could be perceived as an endorsement of the restaurant and they wouldn't want to alienate people with other dining preferences. Funny, I could have sworn Chelsea was an adult.

"I was surprised to get the letter because the picture has been there a few years," (Osso Buco proprietor Nino) Selimaj told The Associated Press on Wednesday. "She's eaten here a few times."

The letter came from Bill Clinton's office and was written by Clinton counselor Douglas J. Band. It read:

Chelsea "was not consulted prior to this picture being displayed, and thus, her permission was not given for you to do so. We reserve the right to exercise any and all options available to us if you refuse to comply."

For such slick campaigners, you'd think they'd realize that this sort of thing only makes them look even worse. Is there any wonder I fear what could happen if the Democrats make the mistake of nominating Hillary as their 2008 standard bearer?

"A photo of a celebrity in New York is as common as a hot dog vendor" (Selimaj) said.

As a result, Hillary already has lost one vote: Selimaj's.

"I am really heartbroken," Selimaj told New York Post's Page 6. "Until this morning, I would have voted for Hillary. Bill was my favorite president of all time... I really hope they will reconsider."

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Breaking News! Bush reaching out to Columbia University's Bollinger with plum position

Believes school president can be asset in sliming war critics, up-front, face-to-face; Cheney wants him for more Iran bashing

By J. Thomas Duffy

It appears that Columbia University Lee Bollinger's 15-minutes in the spotlight yesterday may land him in the White House.

Sources have told The Garlic that the Bush Grindhouse flocked to televisions, as Bollinger, face-to-face, with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad sitting a few feet away, and exorcised his school's invited guest, with blistering, double-barreled shots, including "Let’s, then, be clear at the beginning, Mr. President you exhibit all the signs of a petty and cruel dictator."

So impressed was the Grindhouse staff, that Vice President Dick Cheney, furiously scribbling in the margin of a newspaper, quickly whipped out his cellphone, calling former White House Smearmeister Karl Rove, ordering him to turn on his television and watch Bollinger.

Cheney, according to some of the staffers interviewed, was already making moves to bring Bollinger into his Iran Study Group.

"The President," offered one West Wing staffer who was present, "had tears in his eyes."

A spontaneous burst of applause and shouts erupted when Bollinger hit Ahmadinejad again with;

"For the illiterate and ignorant, this is dangerous propaganda. When you come to a place like this, this makes you, quite simply, ridiculous. You are either brazenly provocative or astonishingly uneducated."

Our sources tell us that Chief of Staff Josh Bolten was the first to suggest bringing in Bollinger for a White House position.

Bolten was overheard saying to The Commander Guy that "he can slime our war critics, face-to-face ... Walk right up the hill and lay into them ... He's got a brass set balls on him ..."

"Boy, does he ...," The Decider Guy was said to respond to Bolten, adding that "he might just take the shine off of Turd Blossom's mantle ..."

And, according to our sources, when Bollinger ended his attack on Ahmadinejad with "I am only a professor, who is also a university president, and today I feel all the weight of the modern civilized world yearning to express the revulsion at what you stand for. I only wish I could do better," Bolten was already on the telephone to Columbia University, making arrangements for Bollinger to come down to Washington.

Reportedly, late into the evening, extra speech writers were ushered into the White House, to begin writing custom, individualized attacks on members of Congress, in preparation of Bollinger coming in and doing a read-through for The Commander Guy.

The White House officially refused comment on the report, and, when asked as she rushed into the White House, Homeland Security Advisor Fran Townsend offered "I didn't know there was a Columbia University."

More as this story develops

(Cross-posted at The Garlic.)

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The world according to Nouri

By Michael J.W. Stickings

In what may be simultaneously the understatement and overstatement of the year, Iraqi PM Maliki said this in New York yesterday:

I can't say there is a picture of roses and flowers in Iraq. However, I can say that the greatest victory, of which I am proud... is stopping the explosion of a sectarian war.

He also said that Iranian intervention in Iraq has "ceased to exist".


This is a good news / bad news situation for President Bush and the warmongers. On the "good" side, they can take credit for what Maliki calls "the greatest victory," namely, the prevention of civil war. If he is right, then a case could be made, similar to the one already being made, that the Surge has been a success and that more Surge will bring more such success. But what if he is wrong? Or, more likely, what if he is being intentionally misleading, that is, what if he is essentially lying?

Maliki is surely right that Iraq is not "a picture of roses and flowers". But it doesn't take much to acknowledge that, and he would have deserved outright ridicule had he attempted to claim otherwise. But has "sectarian war" been prevented? Here, once more, the problem lies in language, definitions. Just what constitutes "sectarian war"? The situation on the groud in Iraq is complicated. There are intra-sectarian divisions just as there are inter-sectarian ones. In Anbar province, for example, Sunni elements, back by the U.S., are fighting al Qaeda, a Sunni terrorist organization. There are similar divisions among the various Shia factions. But here's the assessment contained in the January 2007 National Intelligence Estimate:

The Intelligence Community judges that the term "civil war" does not adequately capture the complexity of the conflict in Iraq, which includes extensive Shia-on-Shia violence, al-Qa’ida and Sunni insurgent attacks on Coalition forces, and widespread criminally motivated violence. Nonetheless, the term "civil war" accurately describes key elements of the Iraqi conflict, including the hardening of ethno-sectarian identities, a sea change in the character of the violence, ethno-sectarian mobilization, and population displacements.

Has the situation on the ground improved so dramatically this year that this is no longer the case? Surely not. There has been some success, however temporary, however isolated, but violence across the main sectarian division, Sunni-Shia, continues. It is civil war, of a kind.

So what is Maliki's game?

Is it to paint a rosy picture in order to push the U.S. out or to keep the U.S. in? Out, eventually, but, for now, the Surge serves Maliki's purpose, which is for his opponents, the Sunnis, to be weakened. If Maliki can keep the Shia militias under control, and if Sadr and others can restrain from engaging their opponents, then Maliki and his Shia allies can secure ever greater control in Baghdad while the U.S. hits the Sunni insurgency and sides with some Sunni factions over and against others.


But what to make of Maliki's claim that Iran is no longer engaged in Iraq? This hurts the ongoing effort of the warmongers to make the case for war with Iran, one of the major planks of which is the controversial, and largely unsubstantiated, claim that Iran is supplying arms to anti-U.S. forces in Iraq, that is, stoking the insurgency and indirectly attacking the U.S. itself. If Iran has committed what are essentially acts of war against the U.S., that is, if Iran started it, then what is to stop the U.S. from hitting back, from acting self-defensively? So the reasoning goes.

But if Iran has not supplied, or is no longer supplying, arms to anti-U.S. forces in Iraq, then this entire argument, this highly questionable rationale for war, crumbles. There is still the matter of Iran's nuclear program, and of Ahmadinejad's lunacy, and of Iran's likely ambitions in the region, but the key for the warmongers is not to have a repeat of Iraq, that is, another preemptive war. The next war, the coming war with Iran, must be seen to be not preemptive but, ultimately, defensive.

Again, though, Maliki may be wrong. (This would mean that Cheney and the rest are right.) If so, or, rather, if he is again being misleading, what is his game? Seemingly to stand in the way of a U.S. war with Iran.


More and more, what seems to be the case is that Maliki, and those close to him, including Sadr and the various Shia elements aligned with Baghdad, want the U.S. to get the hell out of Iraq as soon as possible. And the best way to push the U.S. out -- or to persuade it to leave sooner rather than later -- is to claim that the situation on the ground is improving, that reconciliation is underway, that the government is secure, and that Iran does not pose an immediate threat to the U.S. Then, and perhaps only then, can Maliki and his allies secure power in Baghdad, establish what would essentially be a Shia-run Iraq, and dominate the country.

That could, in all of this, be the "bad" side for Bush -- no more war in Iraq, no war with Iran -- but also, ultimately, the bad side for Iraq generally.

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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The meaning of Hillary

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Edward posted on Andrew Sullivan's response to David Brooks on Hillary Clinton earlier today. His impassioned conclusion: STOP HILLARY NOW!

Here are my thoughts, intended as an update to Edward's post but now a post on their own:

For blogospheric reaction to Sullivan's excellent post, and the David Brooks love-in-with-Hillary, bash-the-Netroots, up-with-the-"center" column to which he was responding, see Memeorandum. In particular, see the ever-acute Steve Benen: "I wonder if Brooks has actually heard Clinton’s stump speech, or caught any of her appearances on the Sunday morning shows a few days ago, or taken a look at her voting record this year. Clinton isn't stiff-arming the netroots; she’s delivering on most of what the movement wants to hear."

I would (will?) support her in the general election, but Hillary isn't my Democratic pick. I prefer Edwards and Obama (and, yes, of course, Gore). She's too much like her husband, too much of a triangulator, too cozy with the right, too much about personal ambition and naked self-interest, not committed enough to the liberal, progressive values that lie at the heart of the Democratic Party and my own political philosophy.

And yet I think Steve is right. Although Hillary is a lot like Bill, 2007 isn't 1991. The Netroots are a force in the Democratic Party and genuinely progressive values more mainstream than ever before. As Matt Yglesias, quoted by Steve, puts it: "'The left' has only been empowered to a pretty minor degree, but the 'centrist' wing of the party is... way further left on the merits than where it was in the late 1990s or the early years of the twentieth century. That, in turn, is largely a reflection of a renewed vibrancy on the left that's both pressured elected officials and expanded the boundaries of conversation. When the centrist strand in Democratic thinking came to represent school uniforms, promises to balance the budget each and every year of the Gore administration, and backing the invasion of Iraq that was one thing. If, instead, we're going to get universal health care, action to halt global warming, and diplomatic engagement with rival powers in the Middle East, that's a very different thing."

There is -- and I have -- a legitimate, credible concern that Hillary would, in some important respects, be too much like Bush, but Hillary would not be like Bush at all on most of the truly important issues: global warming; health care; Iraq, Iran, and the Middle East generally; the war on terror; taxes and pro-corporate spending; social issues like abortion and stem-cell research; and many others. As well, she is smart enough to understand just how profoundly important the Netroots are, just how central progressive values are to her party, as well as to the country as a whole. She would not (and politically could not) abandon them in order to implement some neo-DLC agenda, some delusional Brooksian centrism that appeals to the less bloodthirsty elements of the GOP.

Hillary isn't my pick, but -- and I may differ with some of my co-bloggers on this -- she wouldn't be that bad. In fact, on some of the issues that matter most to us, her apparent ability to unite her party behind her and to reach out to moderate Republicans -- whatever moderates are left -- could end up working to her, and our, benefit.


Update: From John Dickerson at Slate -- "How To Stop Hillary: Six Strategies For Her Democratic Rivals."

Hillary is well ahead in the polls, but she's "not invincible". Her rivals may soon go on the attack -- much more of an attack than they've mounted so far.

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What, me worry?

By Capt. Fogg

Bush's speech before the UN today was all about human rights violations in Iran and Burma and Syria and Belarus, but unless my hearing is going, I didn't hear any concern for the crackdown on the opposition to Pervez Musharraf in recent days. Perhaps that was not a proper venue, but the concern remains over incidents like that in Islamabad yesterday where police broke up a protest outside the Supreme Court which is hearing a case challenging the constitutional validity of General Musharraf's dual role as president and chief Army officer. Leaders of two political parties have been jailed and are being held incommunicado.

It's disturbing enough that Condoleezza Rice expressed concern over the arrests in this nuclear armed country that contains both moderate and extreme elements including Taliban and perhaps Osama bin Laden. So unsettling indeed that our embassy has issued a statement calling the arrests "extremely disturbing and confusing for the friends of Pakistan," and calling on the government to free the detainees. Our moral superiority in such matters, of course is severely wounded by our denial of habeas corpus to perceived enemies at the whim of our own government and suspicion of election tampering in the last two presidential contests.

Accusations, explanations and justifications are flying around from various factions too numerous for me to comprehend and the concerns of the US have been rebuffed by Pakistan's Foreign Ministry:

"If the U.S. Embassy is confused, it would be well advised not to make such statements,"

said spokeswoman Tasneem Aslam. That doesn't do much to make me feel better and I'm sure it makes Dr. Rice feel as ineffectual as she is.

Dictator and treader upon human rights that Musharraf may be, and possibly worthy as some of his opposition may also be, there are worse who would like to depose him and al Qaeda in Pakistan is a far less dubious reality than al Qaeda in Iraq. Will his attempt to stifle opposition play into the hands of the worst of that opposition? Pakistan's Daily Times worries about it and who's to blame the rest of us that understand even less of this complex and fragile situation from worrying? The only thing that will help me sleep tonight is knowing that George Bush and his administration are on duty.

(Cross-posted at Human Voices.)

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Hillary looks more like Dubya each day

By Edward Copeland

Andrew Sullivan had a great column today, pointing out how many more people are noticing that Hillary Nothing-But-Ambition Clinton is turning herself into a Bush Democrat, with no plans to abandon his disastrous policies in Iraq (and reportedly even getting advice from him). STOP HILLARY NOW!

The conservative Washington Establishment is swooning for Hillary for a reason. The reason is an accommodation with what they see as the next source of power (surprise!); and the desire to see George W. Bush's invasion and occupation of Iraq legitimated and extended by a Democratic president (genuine surprise). Hillary is Bush's ticket to posterity. On Iraq, she will be his legacy. They are not that dissimilar after all: both come from royal families, who have divvied up the White House for the past couple of decades. They may oppose one another; but they respect each other as equals in the neo-monarchy that is the current presidency.

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Caring about the work -- 1) thinking as we write or vote

By Carol Gee

Senators and House Members are doing a lousy job these days. U.S. public opinion polls rate them as failures. Perhaps legislators could learn something from how successful bloggers work. What these writers think and write, and how well they listen is key to their credibility.

Good blog posts have interest and variety. The pieces are sometimes like newspaper stories or Op-ed pieces. Posts can be similar to mini- essays. Or the writing might resemble entries in a personal journal or diary. Our words must draw our readers to look further. Our regular readers become familiar with our style. They come back to hear our unique voices. For new readers, we also need to be recognizable; the audience must be able to identify with us in some small way.

Today, these examples of differing forms of blog writing interested me. I bulleted two versions of the same Congress story, opening with the straight news source. The news items were chosen to illustrate that:

  1. Congress does not do so well when there is too much compromise, resulting in watered-down bills.
  2. Congress rarely succeeds against the Bush veto.
  3. Democrats never united around the war in Iraq.
  4. Senators' presidential aspirations inevitably color their legislating efforts.

The second parts in each bullet are blog posts on the same subject, that were good and not so good and why.

  • News -- Senate Water Projects bill -- On Deadline -- by Michael Winter. Four short and well-written paragraphs on $23 billion proposed to spend.
  • Op-ed -- Bush eager for budget showdown -- ArgMax -- by John Irons. Short and tight - compare and contrast - of the true values of our current president (OCP) as he fights with Congress.
  • Mini-essay -- Democrats fail to pass anti-war bill -- Open Left -- by Paul Rosenberg. This is an example of why I lose readers when I get too long winded and elaborate - a long essay, rather than a mini.
  • Journal -- A Clinton-Bayh ticket for 2008 -- Mainstream Iowan -- a family blog. This is an example of why I lose readers when I do not follow the normal practices of citation, blockquotes, etc. We cannot easily determine authorship. I wanted to know more of what the blogger thought, as if it were a journal entry.
Good legislators care about their work just as good bloggers do. They must care a great deal in order to tolerate all that goes with a life in politics. If they thought more before making speeches or voting , their legislative decisions would enable voters to care a whole lot more about their work as law-makers.

My links: My "creativity and dreaming" post today at Making Good Mondays is about traveling in space.

(Cross-posted at South by Southwest.)

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Fear of Mahmoud

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Allow me to comment briefly on the Ahmadinejad in New York controversy:

So what?

Which is to say, so what that he's in New York? So what that he spoke at Columbia? So what that he's addressing the U.N.? So what that he wanted to visit Ground Zero?

Ahmadinejad is an appalling and reprehensible man. Columbia President Lee Bollinger got it mostly right: He's "a petty and cruel dictator" -- I say mostly because while he is both petty and cruel he is not entirely a dictator, not with a "supreme leader" above him, not with the Assembly of Experts, not with relatively powerful legislative and judicial branches in Iran. Ahmadinejad is a thug, and a tyrant, but not an autocrat.

Which, again, is not defend him in any way. Consider his denial of the Holocaust, his hatred of Israel, his position on women and gays. He said this, presumably with a straight face, at Columbia: "Women in Iran enjoy the highest levels of freedom." -- and -- "In Iran, we don't have homosexuals, like in your country." To which one must reply: No, they don't. You oppress them. -- Yes, you do. You execute them. And there was so much more, so much ludicrousness, but Bollinger was impressive, attacking Ahmadinejad's views with blistering sobriety, defending the event, the decision to invite Ahmadinejad to speak, the primacy of free speech.

Much has already been written on the controversy (see Memeorandum), but I want to single out Ezra Klein:

I genuinely don't understand the quaking fear over Ahmadinejad's interview at Columbia. When did America become so weak, so insecure, that we mistrust our capacity to converse with potentially hostile world leaders? Do we really believe the president of Columbia is so doltish as to be outsmarted by a former traffic engineer from Tehran? Do we really see no utility in publicly grilling prominent liars in such a way that their denials lose credibility? What do we have to lose from a foreign leader, even a hostile one, somberly laying a wreath at the site of a tragedy? When did we become so afraid? And for all the conservative talk that a loss in Iraq will diminish our reputation for strength and thus harm our security, how must it look when some three-foot tall Iranian firebrand keeps trying to dialogue with us and we keep dodging his calls?

To be fair, maybe Ahmadinejad isn't serious about "dialogue," at not of the constructive kind. Still, why not at least listen to what he has to say? Why not do what Bollinger did? Isn't that far more effective than calling him evil and calling it a day -- or planning for war?

Why not engage him -- and rip him to pieces?

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Burmese monk update IV

By Michael J.W. Stickings

The protests are expanding, but the totalitarians are preparing, once again, to clamp down on the opposition:

Myanmar's religious affairs minister warns the Buddhist clergy to restrain demonstrating monks, or else the government will act against protesting clerics.

As many as 100,000 anti-government protesters led by a phalanx of Buddhist monks marched Monday through Yangon, the largest crowd to demonstrate in Myanmar's biggest city since a 1988 pro-democracy uprising that was brutally crushed by the military.

From the front of the march, witnesses could see a 11/2 -kilometre stretch of eight-lane road was filled with people.

Some participants said there were several hundred thousand marchers in their ranks, but an international aid agency official with employees monitoring the crowd estimated said the size was well over 50,000 and approaching 100,000.

It is being reported that it is China, "the country's key trading partner and diplomatic ally," that is holding the military junta back. But for how much longer?

The totalitarians will not give in. They will fight back, with merciless brutality. Which is why, more than ever, the democratic movement in Burma needs the support of the friends of democracy around the world. The opposition will be much stronger with solid international pressure behind it. Then, and perhaps only then, will the totalitarians be overthrown and, ultimately, brought to justice.


NOTE: Can we all please stop calling it Myanmar? That's the name the military junta -- then the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC), since 1997 the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) -- gave the country when it declared martial law in 1989.

As Yale law professor Amy Chua puts it in her book World on Fire (p. 23): "Members of the majority ethnic group in Burma are called Bamahs (in the spoken language) or Myanmahs (in the written language). The newly independent state that emerged from the end of British colonial rule in 1948 was called the Union of Burma. In 1989, SLORC changed the country's name to Myanmar. (It also changed the names of various cities: Rangoon, for example, is now called Yangon.) In deference to the democratic opposition party, which has refused to acquiesce in the name change, the United States government currently refers to the country as Burma, and I do the same."

We all should do the same. Burma it is.


Previous entries in this series: here, here, here, and here.

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