How To Convince Nations With Influence Over Burmese Junta To Halt Violence?

Posted by Sean McCormack
October 2, 2007

Last week, the military junta that has ruled Burma as a dictatorship for decades brutally suppressed demonstrations by Buddhist monks, democracy activists, and ordinary citizens calling for greater freedom in that country. Although the bloody crackdown was universally condemned by the international community, the United Nations Security Council has failed to pass resolutions that either condemn the violence or take binding punitive action against the regime.

Many countries that could have influence in Burma have sought to preserve their economic and strategic assets by propping up the regime.

What should be done to convince those nations with the greatest influence over the Burmese junta to use their influence to halt the bloodshed and establish a framework for sustained democratic reform?

Comments

Comments

Quinn
|
Texas, USA
October 5, 2007

Quinn in Texas writes:
The U.S. government uses dictators if it suits U.S. interest, once they've outlived their usefullness, they are then demonized. Backing a brutal dictatorship is something the U.S. government is quite familiar with. I'm always amazed at how the U.S. Gov has kissed and made up with it's past enemies, but still holds a illegal economic strangle hold over Cuba. Cuba has nothing to offer economically, so the USG can affort to bully them into submission. An old Joe Stalin tactic, starve them, hold an economic gun to their head until they realize what a great thing democracy is. 'WE WILL CRUSH YOU IF YOU DON"T SEE THINGS OUR WAY'.

Back to the subject at hand. Nothing bothers the Burma Govt. There is only token noise spoken from world leaders as Burma doesn't have any economic interest worth the fight. Not like the oil rich Middle East, where is is worthwhile economically to wage war. At least that was the game plan. The Burma Govt doesn't think much of hollow words. What ever actions are taken, will mean little, and this will soon disappear from peoples minds.

Admirer H.
|
Burma
October 5, 2007

A.T.K.H in Myanmar writes:
The democratic forces for change inside Myanmar need assistance from the international community to succeed. However, international pressure must come in its most effective form: collective action. The United States can do more to bring about a peaceful solution to this standoff, sustain the momentum for change, and promote democracy in Myanmar. While our emotional need to do something shapes our response to this recent crisis, we must also keep in mind what is good for the people of Myanmar.

First, instead of acting alone, the United States should build an international consensus to formulate a collective response to condemn the regimeãs violent repression of dissent and press for lasting political and economic reforms. Likewise, gathering support from the EU and the United States' other allies on a common position may be more effective when trying to convince Myanmar's neighbors to act.

Second, the United Nations Security Council may not be most appropriate forum to take action given that the last attempt to formulate a resolution there met a rare Sino-Russo double veto. Instead, the United States should put its full support behind the "good offices" of the United Nations Secretary-General to build a consensus among China, India, and ASEAN member countries to use their political and economic influence to encourage the military government in Myanmar to stem the violence, foster a peaceful dialogue, and begin the process of national reconciliation.

Myanmarãs neighbors should act now. First, unexpected escalation of sporadic protests over fuel prices into a country-wide anti-government movement may have come as a surprise to the ruling generals. Though the government in Myanmar acted violently and inexcusably in repressing the demonstrations, the level of relative restraint shown - when compared with their violence in 1988 - and the decision to allow the United Nations special envoy to enter the country suggest the regime may be open to dialogue under the right circumstances. Moreover, the need to generate political support for the recently completed national constitutional convention may motivate the military regime to listen. Coupled with the pressure exerted by the Myanmar people themselves, a common position from China, India, and ASEAN could encourage the military regime to implement lasting reforms.

Although the United States has minimal political and economic leverage over the military regime, it is in a unique position to encourage Myanmarãs neighbors. First, it has significant influence over China, India, and ASEANãthe countries that can most effectively influence the military regime in Myanmar. Second, it is in the best interest of these countries to have a peaceful and prosperous Myanmar for regional stability. Most importantly, the United Statesã moral commitment to freedom resonates in Asia, especially among the people of Myanmar. In the long term, we must again become an important player in the Burmese peopleãs cause for freedom.

That said, the United States faces a number of challenges. First, The United States must rely on Myanmar's neighbors to effect changeãthe same neighbors that have supported the regime in the past. Ten years of U.S. unilateral sanctions have depleted our already-minimal political and economic leverage over the regime and alienated some of our allies in the region. Not only did Myanmar's neighbors refuse to join the US led sanctions in the past, we may not be prepared to employ the kind of leverage necessary for them to act on our behalf now. Likewise, the idea that political stability in Myanmar will lead to better economic opportunities may not be incentive enough for Myanmar's neighbors given their geopolitical interests.

Second, it will extremely be difficult to create a common position among Myanmar's neighbors since their interaction with the Myanmar regime is shaped by their specific economic and geopolitical interests. To create a common position amidst this diversity will require us to frame properly what we want them to use their influence for. For example, it is highly unlikely that a common position grounded on regime change and promotion of democracy will ever be adopted by Myanmar's neighbors. However, a common plea to stem the violence and begin a dialogue as a first step may be possible.

While the spirit of the people of Myanmar to rise up against tyranny has never wavered, what happens after the risk is taken has become as crucial an issue. Before the next opportunity arises, the United States must work together with regional powers as well as stakeholders inside and outside the country to develop a vision of free and prosperous Myanmar and pave the way for future political and economic reforms. Likewise, the United States should be prepared to reassess its failed sanctions-only policy in light of the recent events. A policy grounded on diplomacy and dialogue is much more likely than the sanctions to bring about a positive change in Myanmar.

Don M.
|
California, USA
October 6, 2007

Don in California writes:
Instead of convincing friends of the Burma junta, the U.S. should arm Burmese Buddhists, to include the monks. Buddhists are not known as fighters, but the Japanese have a strong Buddhist segment, and did a convincing job of fighting on their way to a loss in World War II.

There should be plenty of AK-47s available from Iraq, and I imagine that M-1 Carbines would also prove effective.

Listen State~ don't make nice with dictators. It gets embarrassing after a while.

Arrabbiato
|
District Of Columbia, USA
October 6, 2007

Arrabbiato in Washington, DC writees:
As I like to say, THINGS ARE NOT ALWAYS AS THEY SEEM. The reason the Europeans aren't excised about this situation is that they know the area, unlike the Americans, and they know, it ISN'T as bad as it looks. If the rank and file Burmese are not in revolt, then quite simply, the situation ain't that bad. And they aren't!

But of course, that's not good enough in this country. Here's dear old George, jumping on that tired old bandwagon of "sanctions"-instituting a fresh round of these things, which will do absolutely NOTHING but further impoverish the Burmese people-oh, that makes A LOT of sense, doesn't it? The youth of the world have taken on the cry "Free Burma"-but again, these are youth who are just taking up a rallying cry and a cause celebre-they see a crackdown against monks on the internet, and automatically, without knowing anything, they have their cause celebre. And don't even get me started on Aung San Sui Kyi-sitting there living off her book royalties like she is some sort of Burmese queen-out of touch with the people, in her SELF-IMPOSED house arrest (she was given the option to leave the country for her insurrectionist activities long ago-but she left her family behind in England to play the martyr-left her husband in England to die alone of cancer-she could have gone back then, even, but again, she would not have been allowed back in, so she decided to continue her martyr role-so her husband died without having seen her for years-and of course, that just adds to her useless and irrelevant "martyr" mystique, doesn't it? She makes me ill, quite frankly, and I understand the ruling junta general can't even stand to hear her name-you know what? I sympathize a bit with him on that score! (and ask the foreign diplomats of the region what THEY think of Aung San-privately they will say, not much!)

And why is it that that the American media think that China has SO much influence over Myanmar, huh? Myanmar is NOT TAIWAN! The Chinese have virtually no political influence over Myanmar, nor are they INTERESTED in having such influence. Now, if you wanted to go to a country that arguably at the moment has some leverage with Myanmar, you should be looking to Burma's old enemy to the south, Thailand! Since Thailand as of last year is ruled by a military junta, (juntas both, but somewhat different-the Thai junta at least states it will go back to civilian rule at some point)the two juntas, and the relations between the two countries is at an all time high. Now the Thais get huge financial and other military assistance from the US-why not pressure THE THAI JUNTA to talk to the Burmese military, huh? That makes a heck of a lot more sense than the Chinese, who don't get involved in Burmese affairs, they have enough to do with their own areas in revolt to deal with Myanmar as well! Simply because China does business with Myanmar then, (the leap in logic goes) we should then boycott the Chinese Olympics and crack down on China to do something about a situation that does not involve them, and really isn't all that bad to start with? Sorry, I don't get that-the Chinese WILL NOT be pressured into doing something about Myanmar-they will not meddle in their internal affairs-and THEY WILL NOT BE PRESSURED by the US and the UN to do so! How ridiculous for Kristol and others to even SUGGEST that, cannot be overstated.

I suggest that everyone take a time-out, and watch the situation to see what happens in the future-the last thing the Burmese military junta want is further coverage on oppressive crackdowns-I predict there will be no more of these types of brutal crackdowns in the future.

arrabbiato
|
District Of Columbia, USA
October 8, 2007

A in DC writes:
And one more thing: Just exactly what does everyone think will happen, if the Burmese ruling junta were to be cast out, huh? Let us think this through (since nobody bothered to do this with Iraq, now did they?)

Is everyone's sweet little dream for Burma to have Aung San's ethnically Burmese political party take over, (which, btw, is a party that is anti-tourism to begin with-how else is the Burmese economy expected to grow without tourism, huh?)and then, all sweetness and light, and flowers being thrown at the military will occur, because everyone else, all the other ethnic groups in this- artificially- created- by-Britain land-the Shan, the Mon, the Karen, will instantly lay down arms, and embrace the ethnic Burmese progressive party and Daw Aung San Kyi, like long-lost relatives???? Is that what the pundits out there think is going to happen? Think again!

Oh I know! The idea of an oppressive military junta is innately distasteful to everyone - but it also may not be as bad as the alternative-which may be continuous civil war and bloodshed in the streets, a total breakdown of law and order, with thousands of people killed in an insurgency which will ruin whatever economy the Burmese have at present!

Sound familiar?

JennyA
|
Tennessee, USA
October 8, 2007

Jenny in Tennessee writes:
Just exactly WHAT does everyone think will happen, if the Burmese ruling junta were to be cast out, huh? Let us think this through (since nobody bothered to do this with Iraq, now did they?)

Is everyone's sweet little dream for Burma to have Aung San's ethnically Burmese political party take over, (which, btw, is a party that proudly won't compromise, is proudly anti-tourism -uh, how else is the Burmese economy expected to grow without tourism?)and then, all sweetness and light, and flowers being thrown at the military will occur, because everyone else, all the other ethnic groups in this artificially created by Britain land-the Shan, the Mon, the Karen, will instantly lay down arms, and embrace the ethnic Burmese NLD party of Suu Kyi, like long-lost relatives???? Is that what people think is gonna happen? Think Again!

Oh I know! The idea of an oppressive military junta is innately distateful to everyone-but it also may not be as bad as the alternative-which may be continuous civil war and bloodshed in the streets, a total breakdown of law and order, with thousands of people killed in an insurgency which will ruin whatever economy the Burmese may have at present!

Sound familiar?

Gary
|
South Korea
October 8, 2007

Gary in South Korea writes:
The question is moot. There will be no change as long as money and power are at stake. The powers that be, including those who condemn the regime in Burma, will do nothing to jeapordize their international trade positions. The deaths of hundreds, thousands, or even millions, of protestors mean NOTHING to big government. Yes, they make the appropriate verbal responses: "Oh, my goodness. That's terrible! Someone should do something!" But no one is going to do anything significant. They'll condemn the regime, then swoop in to make their money once the media stops covering the story.
It's up to the people of Burma to take matters into their own hands. Expect heavy civilian losses in exchange for change. It's all or nothing.

roy
|
Oregon, USA
October 8, 2007

Roy in Oregon writes:
When one of China's generals offhandedly suggested China's missiles could reach the west coast of the United State, Duh'bya did nothing. Of course, if he had and China decided to cut exports Walmart would have been out-of-business.

Uh, isn't the United States using Walmart diplomacy to preserve economic and strategic ties to China helping to prop up the regime in Burma?

Should I hold my breath waiting for Walmart to pressure China?

Seth
|
United States
October 8, 2007

Seth in U.S.A. writes:
The thing to keep in mind is that, for the last 45 years, China especially has become a good ally and trading partner with the reigning generals. So, ignoring all ethical issues, why should China work to condemn the junta? And the point the Chinese make against Security Council action is valid - the internal happenings, however bad, do not constitute a threat to international peace. This ability to hide behind text belies an underlying problem with the U.N. and the Security Council - the Security Council itself is too small and its members too powerful, while the threat of sanctions is usually too watered down to have an effect - the U.N. is too weak to be a global governing body, as some countries try to use it as. The 5 permanent, veto-wielding members of the Security Council have the power to negate any action that is not in their best interest, disregarding any problems with the international community as was intended with the beginning of the U.N. For examples, study not only the situation with Burma, but also Iran and other countries who act with impunity because at least one veto-holder has their back - that's all they need to either avoid any Security Council action and face such watered-down sanctions that they have little to no effect. The U.N. and especially the Security Council need to be restructured, not only for several other reasons, but also so that we can end this ability to hide behind one of only 5 countries and be protected from international condemnation and punishment.

Back on subject after my rant (sorry), about all that can be done is to try using dialogue to get China to influence the generals ruling Burma, while also talking directly with them to resolve these problems. Force, especially military but also economic, is out of the question, at least from the Americans, because we cannot afford another war [spreading democracy by war rather than example is a long, expensive process that never goes as planned (study Iraq, then and now)] and because the Burmese do not need us. But if China were to cut off trade, then the generals would have no choice but to capitulate or be slowly strangled from power. So convince China that Burma as a democracy would be more profitable in the long run, and the crisis will end much more quickly.

Jason
|
California, USA
October 8, 2007

Jason in California writes:
The most important focus of humane treatment is lost over the excitement of promoting and establishing democracy.....

...Establish a framework for democratic reform?.....Seems quite a presumptuous and naive answer to this crisis. Yes, halt the bloodshed to its people, this is a moral issue that should be the focus.....but to introduce democracy?....very noble but quite overreaching at this point. i'm hopeful our diplomats aren't THAT ambitious...?

By the way, good idea to put up this blog....but good luck on managing swarmth of comments...haha

Ben
|
United Kingdom
October 8, 2007

Ben in U.K. writes:
I don't really see what can be done. The nations with the greatest influence over the situation have that influence due to the large amount of money and power that their special relationship generates for both parties, either in the short or longer term.

The only way that I can see to force countries to exert that influence is to either threaten to reduce their income from another source or offer a large enough reward to enough to outweigh the benefits of supporting the junta.

At the end of the day I don't believe either of these events will occur. Both would require large amounts of time, money and influence to implement, which countries may not even possess. Far worse massacres have occured and nothing but idle debate and ineffective sanctions have resulted. Soon the newscycle will move on and the world will forget.

Gil
October 8, 2007

Gil in Europe writes:
I think the most important thing is that U.S. starts from itself ans halt bloodshed in Middle East and stop supporting dictatorships in Arab world. All problems in Middle East stem from wrong policies of US government. It first supported the Bin Laden Group and Taliban. It also supported and helped Saddam to start and continue a war against Iran. It also gave a green light to Saddam to invade and occupy Kuwait and so on...

jdiesel
|
North Carolina, USA
October 8, 2007

J in North Carolina writes:
@ Mason: Get back to work! Now there's a practical outlook. Mason sounds like a young person who doesn't realize how far apart The People and its government have gotten. I WELCOME this opportunity to fling my two cents at Big Brother! Hit em in the EYE, I hope. We are so mired in our own messes around the world--how can we honestly address ANY of the humanitarian issues unfolding around the globe? Our credibility under the current administration is nil.

Steve R.
|
New Mexico, USA
October 8, 2007

Steve in New Mexico writes:
I believe that getting the Chinese to exert pressure. Except that the Chinese have not been shown to care much about Human Rights.

If the United States had paid more attention earlier, and exerted more pressure tradewise on China regarding Tibet (for example) then our job would be easier now.

Added to which basic Civil Rights in the U.S. have been infringed by the Bush Admin. We cannot wait for him and all his cronies to be gone!

sjc
October 8, 2007

S.J.C. writes:
Reports out of Myanmar before the internet cut off estimated 200 monks had been killed by the government by having been lined up against a wall at their monastery, and having their heads bashed into the wall. Their saffron robes were stripped off of their bodies and tossed onto a truck like rice bags. Still, other reports say that thousands of monks, who are conspicuously missing, have been killed.

Since France's Total Oil Company, and U.S.'s Chevron Oil, supply what may be two thirds of the 'brutal dictatorship' Junta's income, excluding China's siphoning off of energy profits, perhaps the solution is at the level of multinational corporations whose influence is obviously far greater than that at the state level. Perhaps our Secretary of State, has the best vantage point for influence, given her close and longstanding ties to Chevron whose influence has been the source of international lawsuits previously.

Taking responsibility for bloody profits would seem to be key. Perhaps we should legislate moral responsibility onto corporate persons, since they enjoy legal rights under our system of laws ?

We can't siphon and extract resources and market profits around the world, ignoring the bloody trail left behind us, and then cry when the blood rises into the international news papers.

This is the ultimate hypocrisy. Its time to clean up our act around the world. We can no longer ignore the fact that many, many, many people around the world have been killed, tortured, mutilated, oppressed, and slienced in the name of "interests" and profits.

Its time we all took a long look in the mirror.

Zharkov
October 8, 2007

Zharkov writes:
The first thing you do is cut off foreign aid to Burma, and also foreign aid to any other nation that supports the military junta, including World Bank loans, IMF, etc. That little step alone should convince them that it is a serious matter that is taken seriously. Beyond that, hug your teddy bear and hope that the CIA leaves Burma alone, because their government-changing efforts seem to worsen the situation (i.e. Iran, Iraq, Cuba, etc.)

victoria
|
Florida, USA
October 8, 2007

Victoria in Florida writes:
Maybe the corporations that outsource jobs to the Chinese should threaten to cancel their contracts for cheap labor if the Chinese gov't doesn't use their influence in Burma. Snowball's chance in hell of this happening. Mustn't let anything interfer with their highest possible profit margins. American citizens/consumers might replace a product on the shelf if it says, Made in China. That might send a message.

Ron
|
North Carolina, USA
October 8, 2007

Ron in North Carolina writes:
We need to accept a number of realities in how we proceed.

1. Economic sanctions increase poverty and repression and will not work on an already isolated government. Burma is rich in natural resources and not nearly as dependent on foreign economic pressures as some other nations.

2. The American government will have little influence on the military leaders of Burma. We also lack credibility in our policy with other nations of influence.

3. The people of Burma are basically non-violent and only want a better life. There is no strong anti-government alliance that can force change militarily from within.

4. Who are we to decide what is right for these people. The people of Burma must decide and we must support them in their decision.

The only real way that we can make a difference is to help lift up the people of Burma. We must help to ensure that the children of Burma receive a proper education and that they can live without fear of diseases that have been eradicated in countries near to them. We need to work with local governments to help the Burmese government introduce social programs to reduce poverty. Along with this, we need to help them understand that healthy people are far more productive to a nation.

Regime change is not always the answer. Sometimes we must deal with the cards that we are dealt in life and make the best of the situation. Who is to say that the next regime would be any better...

Nyein
|
Illinois, USA
October 8, 2007

Nyein in Illinois writes:
The only way to end the vicious cycle of Burmese political conflict is to realize a Negotiated/Compromise Transition to Democracy in Burma. The violence will end only if both camps of the Burmese political conflict view the protest-repression dynamic as a lose-lose scenario. That is, if the Burmese Opposition realize that they are not going to be able to topple a hierarchically-led military regime by mobilizing tens of thousands of people into the streets and if the Burmese military government realize that they cannot govern their country and establish their legacy, protect their interests, defend their values -- individual/institutional --without using force and violence. On the other hand, if the Burmese Opposition gloat on their ability to mobilize so many people to confront the military regime in the streets at the risk of being killed or arrested, in an unrealistic hope that the repression - with the death of a couple of dozen people - would lead to an intervention from United Nation Security Council which acts only in the context of threat to international/regional peace and stability, and if the Burmese military government take confidence in their ability to crush an unarmed rebellion of such scale, which had garnered the material and technical support of many Western governments, including U.S government (See U.S National Hadley's strategy: to marry internal and external pressure on the webpage of Whitehouse), another round of protest-repression scenario is inevitable.

How to end the political gridlock in Burma? Democratic icon Aung San Suu Kyi (DASSK) is not willing to compromise her principles of democracy - based on her view of ideal democracy with the civilian supremacy over the military and no involvement of military in politics. SPDC does not want to accommodate the legislative-style deliberation of their opponents ã unending talks, squabbles, debates, maximalist demands and idealistic expectations. These two positions make a political deal impossible and Burmese political conflict runs into a gridlock when both camps attempt move forward with their plans and ideas.
DASSK and Burmese Opposition think that they can offer amnesty to the military leaders in exchange for the latter's exit from power. DASSK and Burmese Opposition failed to notice that they are not dealing with a defeated army or a regime near its collapse. Attempts to make such a dream a reality would certainly lead to more bloodshed, not a compromise transition to democracy.

NLD Chairman (U) Aung Shwe did propose to recognize the military government as de jure in exchange for leaving the ultimate authority to the parliament of the peopleãs representatives elected 17 years ago in 1990 elections.

A tiny minority of the Burmese Opposition understands where the real deal breaker is and unsuccessfully attempted to cope with the long-term power equation. Zaw Oo et al. proposed sunset provisions on the political prerogatives of the military as contained in the emerging constitution. Sunset provisions are a good idea although Zaw Oo et al. have never proposed any concrete time frame. The earlier counter-offers from some thinking members of Burmese Opposition incorporate such sunset provisions.

Some elected representatives of the 1990 elections who have been attending the military-sponsored constitutional convention - ex-NLD (U) Kyi Win and his colleagues - proposed that there be a moratorium on amending constitution for ten years; thereafter, all provisions of constitution be amended with the support of 50% plus one members of parliament (both chambers combined). These are non-fliers.

gradual and step-by-step disengagement of military from politics would be more acceptable . It would have been much better if the basis unit of time for a country is a decade rather than year or a presidential term. This might be a possible solution out. Whatever negotiation and compromises are, they must be centered on the emerging constitution.

Here is one positive role that the Western state and non-state supporters of Burmese Opposition and DASSK can play: they can tell the latter that it is OK to make a compromise deal with the military and to allow the Burmese military some political role in a transition to democracy. The constitutionally-recognized military's role in politics even in 21st century is not more undemocratic than constitutional slavery in the American South in the earlier centuries. The constitutionally-recognized militaryãs role in politics even in 21st century is not more undemocratic than constitutional segregation between Blacks and White in the 20th century America. The Burmese Opposition and DASSK would not be held accountable - no more than framers of American constitution are - about such a political deal for compromising their democratic ideals. As for the respect of Human Rights and civil liberties, it depends on the government in power, not on any written document.

Jordan
|
Minnesota, USA
October 8, 2007

Jordan in Minnesota writes:
If there ever was a need for revolution, it's in Burma. We're fighting a losing war in Iraq, but what about the Burmese? They likely deserve our help as much as Iraq does. Given the situation, we could easily stabilise that country in just months. I seriously doubt anyone would complain, unlike the insurgents in Iraq.

JLM
|
Virginia, USA
October 8, 2007

I am well aware of the actions that go on behind the scenes. However, you are asking for an answer that really has no diplomatic solution, only an illusion. Yet, military actions is not the correct answer either covertly or openly. Therein, the action taken it will always be one that is, "you are damned if you do and damned if you don't". I have witnessed dictatorial actions such as this on several continents and the result always seems to be the same. The "Peaceful nations" take a "Wait and See" attitude, while keeping the "less peaceful nations" at bay. Had it not been for Saddam's attempt to spread his military focus on other Near East Nations, threatened oil production, and other contributing factors, such as mass terrorism. We (the USA) would probably still be sitting on our hands, while his actions decimated Iraq.

There is no diplomatic, or military solution to actions such as this! It boils down to one point, who will be the worlds policemen. If we are going to rid the world of "ONE" dictator, we should probably rid the world of them "ALL". But, then again, who wants to take that bold of an action?

William
|
United States
October 8, 2007

William in U.S.A. writes:
Maybe we should consider the history behind the dictatorships in Burma/Myanmar? What started the power vacuum that allowed such a regime to rise was Western interference in their local politics. Perhaps the answer lies somewhere close to convincing the dictatorship that allowing the people of Burma/Myanmar to rise to power will not weaken the nation's sovereignty? Maybe this is a wound that time can only heal?

seth
|
Illinois, USA
October 8, 2007

Seth in Illinois writes:
1. Call them by their real name: Myanmar.
2. Give them Permanent Normal Trade Relations as that route has worked wonders in China...oh wait...forget it.

Chanarad
|
Illinois, USA
October 8, 2007

Chanarad in Illinois writes:
I think the traditional carrot and stick approach should work. But that is not enough. We need to have good intelligence on what is actually going on there. What are the motivations of the military junta and who are giving the orders and what are their motivations? Will they shut up if their needs are met? Are they coming from an idealogical position? If so, is their ideology threatened?

I think U.S. should lead the way in getting to the inner circle of the dictators and find out what is going on. Use that information to formulate the carrot and stick policy.

Greg
|
Utah, USA
October 8, 2007

Greg in Utah writes:
Burma is just another sad example of the "America First" thinking that has dominated America's foreign policy for decades. American administrations ignore the blatant lack of democracy around the globe until it can be used to further some other agenda.

Claiming the invasion of Iraq was to "liberate the Iraqi people" is a sick joke. What about nations like Saudi Arabia? The government there is a dictatorship too, but it would appear as though the friends of America can get away with anything, so long as we get what we want.

Saddam was put in power to rule with an iron fist over groups who would otherwise be at each other's throats. As soon as he failed to do as he was told, he had to go. Similar to "General" Noriega.

Sadly, America is no longer the shining beacon of Democracy it may have once been. Our own elections are plagued with problems and dubious winners chosen in court. THen our elected officials lord over those they were elected to represent and whittle away at the constitution they swore to serve.

America's best bet for a lasting and resounding foreign policy of any kind is to lead by example, and to act globally, instead of always in the interest of what is best for America.

Marilyn
|
Canada
October 8, 2007

Marilyn in Canada writes:
Perhaps it would be helpful for the U.S. State department to address the country by its official name of Myanmar (since 1989 and accepted by the U.N.). Doubtful the Myanmar government is willing to speak seriously to governments that display a blatantly colonial attitude towards it.

Patrick
|
Florida, USA
October 8, 2007

Patrick in Florida writes:
As a genuine antique (DOB 2-20-28)and a vet of both WWII & Korea.I have seen a lot of life. The most resent qoute I have seen that accurately describes "democracy"is attributed to Hryhory Nemyryaof the Ukraine In TIME mag."On the surface it looks like a mess.It looks like it is an eternal,permanent crisis,but at the same time this is precisely what democracy is about" With this in mind Peoples who have a long history of regimented governance will take several generations to equate chaos with freedom. The Russian Republic is a current example. S.E.A & Mid-East have the same history. We need to be very careful in our sales efforts to not overpromise the timing.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
October 8, 2007

E.J. in New Mexico writes:
Change is inevitable.....peaceful change is desirable.....and democracy R U.S., sayeth the people....

No offense do I mean to anyone in saying this....wish I knew a better way to articulate what I see as "the bottom line" as it were.

...and strive to quench their thirst for freedom.

Half measures and underfunded, lacking global moral support, and continued hand-wringing as to proper international measures, when it is self-evident that it would be criminally negligent to support the junta one day longer via trade or diplomatic ties, the international community faces a clear choice, and the people will remember who supported their freedom after the inevitable fall of despots.

Without foreign assistance the USA would not have broke colonial chains long ago, even so, success was a hard won thing. Can't stand on principal with one foot...then or now.

Leaders come and go while the Earth abides, the people attending...as change is inevitable, and peaceful change is desirable....as of yesterday...

"Early Retirement" would be the operative solution to ethical infants.

...one may not sin by silence.

Nick
|
Nevada, USA
October 9, 2007

Nick in Nevada writes:
I'm having a problem reading "gray letters on black background"... what's up with the aesthetics?

Do you want to leave us old gizzards out of the loop?

Nick
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China
October 9, 2007

Nick in China writes:
I'm still wondering what this blog is all about... to see what the public thinks, or to inform the public?

The answer to the writer's question on how to halt the bloodshed is simple. Stop supplying them with arms and bullets. The answer to the second part of the question, establish a framework for sustained democratic reform, it's even simpler: Declare Bush Emperor, and give him all the powers he wants, and he can then send troops there also, and achieve the same success as he is achieving in Iraq. But the question can't be answers in a statement. In fact, it requires an entire rework of American foreign policy, since we are generally the cause of conflicts in far away lands.

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