Monday, May 12, 2008

Unnatural Disaster

Cyclones, Earthquakes, Floods, Hurricanes, Tsunamis, Typhons kill. The number of victims though is actually determined by unnatural means directly related to natural disaster. So far Myanmar (despotic for 'Burma') reckons that nearly 23K are confirmed dead and another 42K are missing.

Great Britain says casualties could top the 100K mark. But Burma's own unelected illegitimate rulers are awful slow in accepting and directing aid sent to save and comfort.

"The full scale of the disaster will only become apparent over the next few
days as relief teams are able to reach remote communities in cyclone-affected
areas. Assessments by the UN and other international agencies have been delayed
by difficulties with communications and access.

The situation is becoming increasingly perilous, with relief capacity inside the country already severely stretched. This is an ongoing crisis for the Burmese people, and we are working hard with others in the International Community to do all we can for the relief effort."

More people actually die after the hit than during it. Contaminated water spreads infection and disease. No shelter, no sanitation and no clean aqua transform disaster and tragedy into catastrophe.

So far the regime's response to the torment of their own people has been 'incendiary'
"We believe that the best way forward would be for the junta to provide
access, which the whole international community - including Ban Ki-moon -
is requesting.

"That's why we've been making direct approaches, but we've also been
speaking to other governments, including the government of China, urging them
that there should be a united front to say that the access needs to be provided

The Socialist Republic of the Union of Burma (way back in 1989 the military in Burma has dug Myanmar as a conventional name for the state which is a derivative of the Burmese short-form name Myanma Naingngandaw)

Burma is actually a resource rich land - oil, timber, precious stones and jade. CIA's dossier is quite revealing. A pop of 47.7 million - a lit rate of almost 90% and 31.5K online.
"Suffering from pervasive government controls, inefficient economic
policies, and rural poverty. The junta took steps in the early 1990s to
liberalize the economy after decades of failure under the "Burmese Way to
Socialism," but those efforts stalled, and some of the liberalization measures
were rescinded.

Despite Burma's increasing oil and gas revenue, socio-economic conditions
have deteriorated due to the regime's mismanagement of the economy. Lacking
monetary or fiscal stability, the economy suffers from serious macroeconomic

Most overseas development assistance ceased after the junta began to
suppress the democracy movement in 1988 and subsequently refused to honor the
results of the 1990 legislative elections."

And that's the real rub. Burma's generals know what happens when foreign humanitarians show up with goodies and hope for survivors. The relief effort after the 2004 tsunami brought change in Aceh where the massive international presence was one of the factors that persuaded the Indonesian government and rebels to bring their long conflict to an end.

Political change came to Pakistan after large numbers of foreigners were allowed into Kashmir after the earthquake there in 2005.

Planet Myanmar is a model for regime change. Fully stocked with misery, denied their fair and square elected leaders by junta and secret police, Burma fits the descript of a regime that torments it's own people - and for a xenophobic clique of intolerant self aggrandizing slave traders

"Burma is a source country for men, women, and children trafficked to East
and Southeast Asia for sexual exploitation, domestic service, and forced
commercial labor; a significant number of victims are economic migrants who
wind up in forced or bonded labor and forced prostitution.

Burma is a country of transit and destination for women trafficked from China for sexual exploitation; internal trafficking of persons occurs primarily for labor in industrial zones and agricultural estates; internal trafficking of women and girls for sexual exploitation occurs from villages to urban centers and other areas; the military junta's economic mismanagement, human rights abuses, and policy of using forced labor are driving factors behind Burma's large trafficking problem.

Burma does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of
trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so

This is significant. The UN should be used as a weapon like France hints to bring up the 'Atrocity Prevention' clause to drive the regime onto the defensive before driving them out of biz.

The last thing the generals now want is an influx of foreign aid officials and journalists to upset the equilibrium just as it holds a faux referendum on the new 'constitution' recently dreamed up.

Letting in a huge influx of foreigners (many dying to get there and render aid) could fuel more criticism of their political reforms, their corrupt inept gov and their 400K military that is actually quite good at squashing monks and unarmed protesters than building roads, managing humanitarian crisis and tending to their own people.

This horrible event and the Burmese Generals Clique horrific apathy about it could very well be an opportunity to implement the semi non violent regime change operational methodologies like Great Britain laid out in the Democratic Imperatives:

"In some cases, sanctions are not enough. In extreme cases the failure of states
to exercise their responsibility to protect their own civilians from genocide or
ethnic cleansing warrant military intervention on humanitarian grounds."

Former UN Relief cat Jan Egeland agrees -



Findalis said...

The trouble is that Burma is a sovereign nation. And they have a right not to let anyone in their nation if they want to. No matter how many are dying. This is their right. Invasion of Burma over humanitarian aid would be a bad precedent. What would happen if another Katrina like disaster would befall the US and the world demands that they send aid. Normally the US would welcome such help, but if the US said no, would we be open for invasion?

Burma is finally opening its borders and allowing aid in. It didn't take an invasion. Just some persuasion from many sides. I just hope it's not too late.,2933,355035,00.html

Ottavio (Otto) Marasco said...

One report I read today suggested sources telling that the Burmese military is slowing what aid is getting through, by unpacking and then repackaging the aid supplies with local insignia to make out that its been sent by the Government. Can you believe that? Time for an invasion on humanitarian grounds...

GrEaT sAtAn'S gIrLfRiEnD said...

Hi Findalis. Actually, Burma is not so sovereign. A military coup arrested the elected gov years ago and has illegitimately running the place.

Most democratic states actually plan to care for their own people in emergencies - even negotiating with agencies for future crisis.

Myanmar is an especial case. There is little to reccommend leaving the jumped up Generals in charge of the fate of millions who never elected them, who fear them - and like one of the links from BBC show - are sick of them and want to rejoin the democratic family of nations.

Karen Townsend said...

Terrific post, Courtney. The situation in Burma just breaks my heart. I so admire Laura Bush for keeping it in the forefront in this country, ever since the crackdown on the monks.

The fact is after Katrina we did accept donations from other countries. We do so as gestures of mutual friendship. Our government is not afraid of support from others.

Sweet irony that the very former U.N. high and mighty is now calling for 'invasion' when he not long ago accused the U.S. of being a stingy nation when it comes to foreign aid.

It'll be interesting to contrast the reaction from China that has now suffered devastating loss and destruction from the earthquake.

Rock on, Courtney.

Markfu said...

It has been reported that the military has been putting the names of its generals on the aid boxes it has received from other nations in a disgraceful propaganda display.

AmPowerBlog said...

"...Most overseas development assistance ceased after the junta began to suppress the democracy movement in 1988 and subsequently refused to honor the results of the 1990 legislative elections."

What a disaster!

If there was ever the case for another change of regimes, Myanmar's it.

Where are the left wing voices of "liberal internationalism"? Too busy attacking G.W. Bush for the next "Katrina" in South Asia.

Keep it up, Courtney ... you go girl!

Right Truth said...

I'm surprised at the lit. rate. The government in Burma is not legit, but don't expect anybody to go in with regime change now. Won't happen. Bush has too many eggs in one basket with the Middle East, Iran specifically, and Iraq.

The junta doesn't want the West, specifically the US to get any credit. At first they were taking the supplies for themselves. Then changing the packaging. They are evil.

Debbie Hamilton
Right Truth