Thursday, September 27, 2007

As you are no doubt aware, Buddhist monks have led the largest protests against Burma's military-socialist junta, which has misruled Burma in various guises for almost sixty years, since the student democracy movement was crushed in 1988. Given the track record of this exceptionally brutal regime, only intense international pressure from the US, the EU and especially, Burma's major economic trading partner and supplier of military equipment, China,prevent an epic massacre.

As my blogging time is sharply constricted at present, I can recommend others who have been following these developments:

Pundita: Burma: Oh ho! The aged emperor is isolated!, Hello, CNN, we're trying to prevent a massacre, Diamonds are a dictator's best friend; beware the white heads!

Duck of Minerva: Crackdown, Photos from Myanmar

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I've grown to where I could accept Chinese tolerance and coddling of repressive regimes out of the hopes that similar positive relationships to those we had with Chile, South Korea, Taiwan, etc. in the Cold War could develop, but they all seem so damn incompetent (Sudan, North Korea, Burma, Cambodia, Angola) that I just see little chance for that.

If this is the case, we need to start hitting China hard on this issue, and I suggest the Pres. should unleash Speaker Pelosi on them. She's been remarkably quiet on China by and large for the past year in office and this is a shame, as much of her criticism of China in the past has been spot-on and relatively fair. Pres. Bush can appear to be the good cop in this relationship but nevertheless get the point across to Beijing.

Targeted sanctions against specific Chinese firms and individuals that do business with the junta would be a good start.

I'm all for Barnett's mature handling of China issues but the way he brushed off Mann's suggestion of a prosperous, authoritarian China two to three decades from now that continued to undermine US policy and objectives, as well as ideals, was highly idiotic. Thus, we can't get China to enact smarter policies until we force some self-interest into their calculations, which we haven't except in a small way over Dar Fur.

A fair response to the brand new Chinese weapons being used against NATO troops in Afghanistan would be the arming and training of a number of the rebel groups in and around Burma, many of whom are definitely not the white hat types but certainly have at the core of their activities (fighting the junta where possible in addition to their funding activities like drug smuggling) a legitimate right to resistance due to the proflic use of ethnic cleansing and terror by the junta against their people.

I say this because these protests are not going to succeed, because we won't spend the political capital and neither will the Chinese or the Russians to make the junta think long and hard about what we know is going to be their response; brute force, albeit intelligently applied in the sense that the internet and cellphone connections that have kept the world abreast of the events are being cut off one by one leaving the monks and other protesters to their fate.

These people were screwed the moment Pres. Bush declined to push the Chinese on the issue, which by itself would have done little in the short to mid-term because even China doesn't have that much juice in Burma. Long-term, yes, though the continuing flow of lucrative drug money, natural gas and oil resources would mean that there will always be some supporter in the world of the junta, whether its China, Russia or India.
Hi eddie,

True. Pinochet was a cruel man but, like Lee Kwan Yew, a far from a stupid one. He knew enough to hire competent help. China's clients are more like the bottom rung of ours during the Cold War (Mobutu, Diem, Somoza etc.) blockheaded and contrary as well as brutal.

I agree with you that Reagan Doctrine-ing the regime in Rangoon (actually, the junta moved their HQ some place obscure; obviously they fear being EBO'ed someday)is a viable option, particularly in concert with other forms of pressure. We need to split the ruling group though along self-interest lines for the regime to crack. Simple head on pressure will keep them united in the determination to pursue repressive policies

Absolutely correct. I mentioned on my blog the possibility of tempting the younger generation of officers to overthrow their elders who are truly responsible for the self-destruction of the country. If the junta is not damaged by all this (and I doubt they will be), we need to consider the combination of targeted sanctions, IO warfare pinging on the "fake Buddhist" label for the generals and ties with the junta itself on issues like drug smuggling. We'll have no other choice because there is certainly no silver bullet here, especially not China's influence.

That said, since China wants to pursue this erring on the side of stupidity, then we should make them pay. Speaker Pelosi and Minority Leader Sen. McConnell need to get together and make some sanctions happen that target Chinese companies and Chinese officials.
Free Burma!
International Bloggers' Day for Burma on the 4th of Octobe

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!“.

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