Category Archives: Britain

Myanmar Exemplifies Catch-22 for World Powers

 

The recent history and current situation in Myanmar is among the most tragic in the last century.  It ranks right up there with Sudan, Lebanon, Iran, Iraq, Zimbabwe, and North Korea among others.  But Myanmar’s, like Lebanon and Zimbabwe in some ways, is not tragic because of Genocide, for we are far from that, but it is tragic because of the fall of a culture and productive country.  Prior to the rise of the military Junta in 1990, Myanmar was fairly democratic and was a “shining star” in SE Asia.  They had a strong economy and a great and historical culture.  It is among the most beautiful countries in the world and has incredible architecture, and now it is all thrown away.  The military Junta, like all military controlled governments, will eventually turn the country into a garbage pile. 

The events of the last two weeks have been fascinating and frustrating to watch.  What a great sight it was to see thousands of Buddhist monks and their supporters stage massive protests against a repressive regime.  At the height of the protests I wondered how the Junta would handle it.  They could ill afford a Tiannanmen Square incident.  The military leaders had to know that mass killings of monks would cause massive outcry in the world community, an outcry that may force the world to act with stronger muscle than usual.  Monks are the human embodiment of peace and oneness, regardless of if you believe in buddhism or not.  They come across as pure, pious, and innocent, the world would not stand for well-publicized mass killings of such a people.

 Sadly, the Junta was aware of this and played their hand extremely well.  They allowed the protests, allowed the people to get most of it out of their systems and then instituted curfews and prohibited gatherings of people; pretty standard for authoritarian states.  Once the media and world attention lessened a bit the violence started, first just in short bursts – nothing more than a few beatings and occasional killing of an out of hand protester.  But the Junta had a larger plan.  They new that the real problem were the monks, the people were loyal to the monks and would follow them.  So what how do you keep power if you don’t have loyalty?  You make people fear you.  And that is just what they did.  Over the last few days the Military cleared the monasteries and temples of monks that were the harbingers of the protests and killed many of them in brutal fashion.  Reports are that thousands have been massacred

Why is there no outcry? no outrage?  Because the American public no longer cares.  It was exciting and fun to watch for a day or two, but we lose interest in world events pretty quick.  Why concern ourselves with different looking people in a land that exists somewhere in the world called Myanmar when we need to find out if Britany is losing her children.  And because there is no public outrage there is no government action.

But then again what are Western governments supposed to do?  This is the same catch-22 that we have in dealing with Sudan, Rwanda in the ’90’s, Congo, etc.  We have no vested interest in these countries.  We have limited resources.  Because of international accords, we are expected to respect the territorial rights of a country, etc. etc.   Myanmar is no threat to the U.S., no threat to Britain or Germany or France; militarily or economically.  Not only that, but China is a close ally of the Junta.  If we press to hard on Myanmar, we may have to deal with China.  What if China decides, because of our actions against their ally, that they are going to fully reclaim Taiwan militarily.  Then we have world war.  Certainly this scenario is unlikely, but not out of the realm possibility.   On the other hand, don’t countries like us and France and Britain who have freedom and democracy at least supposed to stand for human rights and protect those who can’t protect themselves?  We have an obligation almost.  How can we stand by and allow a mini (or perhaps soon to be major) genocide occur, regardless of the circumstance behind it.   This is the catch-22 for our country.   Usually, in these situations we deal with it through sanctions or other economic penalties. But all this does is hurts the people who are already being oppressed.  Sanctions can only work if all major countries are on board, but with China supporting the junta, they are a waste of time and will only draw Myanmar closer to China.  The currently policy against Myanmar is not working and will not work unless we get China on board, which won’t happen.  Unfortunately, I don’t know what the solution is (although I have a few ideas).  But that is the job of the policy makers and they will probably screw it up.  

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Filed under Britain, Burma, Democracy, Democrats, Election 2008, International Affairs, Justice, Law, Military, Murder, Myanmar, People, Politics, Republicans, Terror, terrorism, War

In Praise of France

Last week France (finally) announced that it is ready to help stablize Iraq. The childish attitude of the French over the past couple years about Iraq — the “they got themselves into this mess, let them get it out” attitude at the expense of a people who desparately need all the help they can get — is finally coming to an end. It has long been my belief that Iraq needs the likes of France and the U.N to help in stablization efforts. We don’t need the French to support us (the U.S.), we don’t need the help, what we need is the French to support the Iraqi people and government. We don’t need the French to send troops or armour or bombs, feel free to leave the military efforts to us (of course we won’t complain if they want to commit troops, that would be great). But what we and Iraq needs is French moral support. Iraq needs infrastructure, investment, government consulting, and the development of their oil industry. We need the U.S. and France to stand together and say, “we differed on the need to go to war, we differed on the way to reign in Saddam and the WMD program. But what is done is done and it is time to put aside our differences and work together for the good of the Iraqi people, security of the greater Middle-east and for the World.”

So far, the adminstration of Sarkozy in France is starting out better than we Americans could have hoped. It does not look like Sarkozy will be a puppet of the U.S. but it also does not appear that he will fight us on every little thing. The best defense that the Western world will have against extremism and the rise of the East (China, Russia, and Iran) is a united front lead by the U.S., UK, and France.

All in all, things are looking up in Iraq and undoubtedly this played a large part in France’s decision. The French decision will only help to improve the economic and political situation in Iraq. The U.S. and Iraq need to welcome the French with open arms.

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Filed under Air Force, American History, Anti-War, Army, Britain, Conservative, Democracy, Democrats, Election 2008, History, International Affairs, Iraq, Iraq / Military, Legal, Liberal, Liberalism, Media, Military, Politics, Republicans, Terror, terrorism, United Kingdom

Wisdoms of Winston Churchill

Winston Churchill is one of the mose revered men of the 20th Century.  While not everyone thinks highly of him, most people do.  He was a steady leader for his country in a time of immense crisis in the heat of World War II.  He was a close ally with FDR and the two of them together lead the West to victory in the “Great War.”

I am by no means a Churchill historian (although we do have a common ancestor not too far back), but I respect what he was able to accomplish.  A few weeks ago I was looking for a specific quote that was attributed to him and, as a result, read many of his other quotes, a few of which are quite applicable today. So I thought I would share some of those; a nice light read heading into the weekend.

Applicable to our current political situation

“An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last” — Amen to that

“I have always felt that a politician is to be judged by the animosities he excites among his opponents”  — If this is true, Bush could be the best President ever!

“It has been said that Democracy is the worst form of government except all others that have been tried.”

“It’s not enough that we do our best, sometimes we have to do what’s required.” –Terrorists seem to follow this (at least according to the rationality of their own mind)

“Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry up as if nothing ever happened.” — Congress?

“Never, never, never believe any war will be smooth and easy, or that anyone who embarks on the strange voyage can measure the tides and hurricanes he will encounter.  The statesman who yields to war fever must realize that once the signal is given, he is no longer the master of policy but the slave of unforseeable and uncontrollable events.”  — Bush and Rummy could have used this in ’03, Dems and Libs from then on (at least the first sentence).

“One ought never to turn one’s back on a threatened danger and try to run away from it.  If you do that, you will double the danger.  But if you meet it promptly and without flinching, you will reduce the danger by half.”  — Reagan and Bush understood this.  The rest of America (or at least 71%) doesn’t.  By the way, Terrorists get it too; see Mogadishu and now AQI in Iraq.

“To build may have to be the slow and laborious task of years.  To destroy can be the thoughtless act of a single day.”  — Hence why Iraq is so difficult and why we Americans need to be more patient.

“So they [the Government] go on in strange paradox, decided only to be undecided, resolved to be irresolute, adamant for drift, solid for fluidity, all-powerful to be impotent.” — We eptomize this.

“We shall not fail or falter; we shall not weaken or tire.  Neither the sudden shock of battle nor the long-drawn trials of vigilance and exertion will wear us down.  Give us the tools and we will finish the job.”

“Never give in — never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense.  Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”  — Fantastic!

Some fun and perhaps inspiring ones:

“For myself I am an optimist – it does not seem to be much use being anything else.”

“I am prepared to meet my maker. Whether my maker is prepared for the great ordeal of meeting me is another matter.”

“The British nation is unique in this respect: They are the only people who like to be told how bad things are, who like to be told the worst.”  — This could be the truest thing he said!

“Don’t talk to me about naval tradition. It’s nothing but rum, sodomy, and the lash.”

“We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.”

“Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.”

“I like pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down us. Pigs treat us as equals.”

“He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire.”

“All great things are simple, and many can be expressed in single words: freedom, justice, honor, duty, mercy, hope.”

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