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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  • Free Burma!
    International Bloggers' Day for Burma on the 4th of October

    International bloggers are preparing an action to support the peaceful revolution in Burma. We want to set a sign for freedom and show our sympathy for these people who are fighting their cruel regime without weapons. These Bloggers are planning to refrain from posting to their blogs on October 4 and just put up one Banner then, underlined with the words „Free Burma!“.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:22 PM  

  • We can also become Buddhistic in our usage of Mind as Weapon, to install in our hearts a great and severe compassion for the oppressed people of Burma.

    We can engage in cyberwar, blogocombat, online debate, exposure of atrocities via blogs, Flickr, socnets, Twitter, podcasts.

    We can post photos on our blogs of peaceful Buddhist monk protest, and the astonishing rivers of saffron robes that flow toward universal democracy revolution.

    We can denounce our petty, immature "liberal vs. conservative" partisan mentality and stand together, metaphysically declaring total cyber/psycho-warfare on the massive bad karma military junta.

    We can imagine and believe for a swift and harsh response from the Universe and God and the Big Bang, against the Burma government.

    By Blogger steven edward streight, at 11:06 AM  

  • I need to see Gore and Carter gather together all the other surviving Nobel Peace Prize winners and travel to Burma Now.

    They need to demand to meet with fellow Noble Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. They need to remain in Burma as physical witnesses to the restoration of Democracy.

    What is the point of having the Nobel Peace Prize if any Military Junta can imprison any laureate anytime they want, as in the case of Aung San Suu Kyi and the monks of Burma?

    By Blogger New Orleans Ladder, at 1:02 PM  

  • No time for dreamers,newage or other "kharma"bulshit ideas, but time for basic actual REAL action! It has been brought up by the French at the UN that these murderers and sewerage of the earth type scumbag terrorists that rule and terrorize the poor,aged,afflicted and everybody else that come under their horrific control, should be arrested and brought to trial on charges of crimes against humanity for hindering the rest of the world from entering the country and supplying all the aid necessary to help these terribly poor and afflicted people,which is going to cause more suffering and death on top of what is going to be already an enormous amount. I believe that this will be the only sensible way to put a stop to all these atrocities ASAP. To intervene with millitary action is the only way to stop such evil. These scum think that they can get away with anything they like, and not be answerable to anyone for their heinous crimes.Well it's time to put a stop to all this type of crap,and make the useless UN do the job that they're for.I recomend that anyone who reads this,immediately get themselves,their friends and anyone else they can,to lobby their federal politicians as hard as they can to force the UN to bring these murderers to trial and justice ASAP. To keep putting pressure on these politicians and tell them if they haven't got the guts to get off their fat arses and do something about they'll lose your vote and the vote of so many others they can kiss their political careers goodbye.I also suggest that you get as many people as possible from near and far and all over the world to join in and have rallies and protests to bring as much publicity as possible also, to the evil doings of these murderers in Burma.But please put maximum pressure on politicians ASAP,especially in the USA being election time now, you will have a BIG impact. If you really care about these poor and enslaved people, you must act immediately while the the "DOOR" has been opened. Because if you do not act now while the opportunity is there, the chance may be lost to do a great and mighty and wonderful thing for those who have sufferd so much and will keep on suffering if this chance to save them is not taken advantage of. DON'T waste time,act now!!!! And keep on keeping on until the goal is reached!Many drops fill the bucket, so get everyone you can to help,so there will not just be a bucket of help for these poor people,but an OCEAN of help for them. PLEASE DON'T DELAY!!! They need your's and mine, and all the help they can get. Don't let them down while the chance is there!!! Be a REAL hero,and bring down an evil and murderous regime NOW and save millions of lives! No one is going to do it for us. WE have to take responsibility and Action NOW to help them NOW and do something NOW.Saving the lives of the innocent and helping those in need is part of the reason we live, and part of the reason of our existence!Real Heros save lives,Real Heros DO someting!!!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:51 AM  

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