Saturday, May 10, 2008

Asia Times: Invading Burma


The case for invading Myanmar

By Shawn W Crispin

BANGKOK - With United States warships and air force planes at the ready, and over 1 million of Myanmar's citizens left bedraggled, homeless and susceptible to water-borne diseases by Cyclone Nagris, the natural disaster presents an opportunity in crisis for the US.

A unilateral - and potentially United Nations-approved - US military intervention in the name of humanitarianism could easily turn the tide against the impoverished country's unpopular military leaders, and simultaneously rehabilitate the legacy of lame-duck US
President George W Bush's controversial pre-emptive military policies.


I have seriously considered this idea. If George Bush hadn't bungled Afghanistan and Iraq, there probably would be a case for doing it.

Since everything that this president has touched has turned to shit, the chances of bungling this operation are high.

He couldn't even save New Orleans after Hurricana Katrina. I doubt he could do much better here.

I don't think China would tolerate it. Or Russia. They'd prefer to see millions of people die before lifting a finger to help anybody. After all, that is there political legacy to the world-- killing millions of people.

I don't think Thailand would support it. There is too much corrupt business going on between the two militaries. And the Thai military don't like anybody messing with their rice bowls.

ASEAN would probably not support it. Those countries have their heads up their collective backsides. And Surin Pitsuwan has proven to be a horrible diplomat.

India and Japan might support it. But I doubt they would contribute to the cause in any meaningful way with money, strong political backing and materials.

African and Latin American countries might support it. But that would take a huge diplomatic effort.

The Europeans would probably support it. Australia and Canada would follow Europe. But would they pony up the money and help rebuild the country? Probably not. And they are not going to make any effort alone without the US carrying most of the political and military responsibility. That is the nature of the European beast. And they certainly won't face down China and Russia in the Security Council.

The Burmese might be able to dump the military themselves in light of what happened to Suharto of Indonesia after the 1997 crisis, but it would be hard to overthrow the government when people are starving and the Thai military is sending all the emergency food supplies to the Burmese generals.

I think in the final analysis nothing is going to happen, and you will have millions of people dying in the streets from lack of food, water and sanitation.

My heart really goes out to the Burmese people. When you are treated even worse than African countries in similar situations, you really know things are bad.


Red and White said...

Strangely enough I was having very similar thoughts about this only this morning.

hobby said...

Quite a good analysis, Fonzi.

It does look a hopeless situation, and the best hope I can see is that the Generals behavior will be the start of their own demise.

Hopefully the rank & file army members who also have relatives who have suffered from this disaster will at least start to think before giving unwavering support to the junta leaders in future.
The big worry however is that the Generals might be smart enough to cement the support of rank & file army by offering preferential treatment to them and their families who are suffering.

As for an invasion, I don't think a military invasion is what is required, but rather an humanitarian invasion - I think it's worth trying parachuting in supplies, together with helpful disaster relief/health/engineering type advice (not propaganda) written in Burmese, just to spread the word about what should be done.

Jotman said...

Since everything that this president has touched has turned to shit, the chances of bungling this operation are high.

That's a compelling argument.

That makes Hobby's second point all the more compelling. It need not be a question of "full scale invasion Vs let them starve."

We need to rethink relief. After all, the only thing that matters is that the people get the aid. How they get it is immaterial. So maybe conventional ways of delivering aid, which would seem to require large scale invasion, are not what we need to look at.