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

cho
|
Singapore
October 9, 2007

Cho in Singapore writes:
The country with the greatest influence to Burma regime is mainly China who is quietly taking advantages from EU and US sactions. We believe China is master mind for recent bloodshed as well. The more Burma isolated, the more China gains Burma natural resources. As such, China may not want to see Burma as democratic country.

How shall we stop China and Russia to block in Security council? For China, 2008 Olympic is the biggest hope for them? Why don't we boycott 2008 Olympic in China if they are not helping Burma? This is right timing to pressure China. After 2008, they may not bother about West negotiation on Burma.

For Russia, they want to take Uranium from Burma to build up nuclear power. We do not have idea how to influence Russia at the moment. Let's think about it again.

Ralph
|
Greece
October 9, 2007

Ralph in Greece writes:
I love this blog concept.. Good job State! Now, to answer your question. "What should be done to convince those nations with the greatest influence...."

ANSWER: Use the Greek concept of "Filotimo". I.E., show them that it is in their interest as an ally/friend/trading partner of the USA to assist us in keeping harmony throughout the world. Or if that doesn't work, just park a few Aircraft Carriers nearby. (just kidding)

Milton
|
California, USA
October 9, 2007

Milton in California writes:
Simply put, China needs to know the cost of its intransigence. How much is our partnership with that country worth? What rewards are we receiving in exchange for our complicity in such diplomatic farces (and humanitarian tragedies) as Darfur, Burma, Iran, N.Korea, etc? Is it money? Last I heard we're still navigating a severe trade imbalance, but to paraphrase 'The Dude' from The Big Lebowski, 'I'm not privy to all the new s***.' My hope is that you guys are really getting something big out of this--but I have less and less faith as time goes on.

I realize there is little that the State Department can do to respond to the calls of average Americans--you guys live in an austere world where what someone says actually means something...kinda.

But for the rest of us out there--you know, the 'of/for/by the people' part--the bottom line is of greater importance. Right now, the USG has decided cooperation with China is worth more than their able, but forwent, prevention of death in the aforementioned countries. I guess that's cool if there's a bigger issue at stake (NB: Stalin in WWII), but you guys haven't really spelled it out for us.

What would I do if President for a day? Get cooperation from a Democratic Congress (already shaking with protectionist indignation over the undervalued yuan) and present a unified front: China, either you start cooperating on human rights issues that are at the core of Western values and government, or you stop profiting so callously off our economy. I imagine we could start with yuan-related trade sanctions, and if it really got bad in Burma/Darfur could dangle the threat of Olympic non-cooperation.

Surely there are many more areas of trouble we could cause for the Chinese--a systematic, slow, and bureaucratic 'safety inspection' of Mattel-esque consumer products to protect the Heartland, for instance. But the bottom line is, do we really care enough to act?

Do you care, Mr. McCormack? President Bush?

Respectfully,
Milton

Larry
|
California, USA
October 9, 2007

Larry in California writes:
When I'm speeding down the highway and I see a cop, I slow down.

If a country is misbehaving, wave a large, menacing explosive device over their largest city. I'm sure Burma's capital is a large chunk of the nation's GDP (or Rangoon is)... bombs can be VERY persuasive.

IamGadfly
|
United States
October 9, 2007

G in U.S.A. writes:
I'm not usually in favor of sanctions because they tend to hurt the people they are meant to help (and South Africa developed nuclear weapons during apartheid sanctions). However, maybe consider luxury sanctions - sanctions against things that would ONLY affect the rich and/or powerful; maybe start with moving to revoke their UN membership.

Because the regime is focusing its injust acts on monks and a particular group of people, perhaps it could be considered (if not legitimately, at least in the public eye) as genocide.

I think it would be a mistake to hesitate to send a peacekeeping force there because it would violate their sovereignty. A country is only sovereign if its rule has legitimacy. Clearly the Burmese government does not have the consent of the governed.

Martin
|
California, USA
October 9, 2007

Martin in California writes:
Don't exempt Chevron from the sanctions. Not that hard.

bo
|
District Of Columbia, USA
October 9, 2007

Bo in Washington writes:
Get a new democratic president that knows how to handle big problems. No morons allowed.

Tom
|
Texas, USA
October 9, 2007

Tom in Texas writes:
Why should we bother? We sat by and did nothing while the Serbs laid seige to Sarajevo for 4 years. That is 2 years longer than Stalingrad. Sanctions and peacekeepers did nothing until the Serbs attacked the peacekeepers. Then the siege was broken in short order. The same story has occurred in Rwanda, Congo, Somalia, Eritrea, and now Sudan. Genocidal violence is endemic in the world, and we (the so-called civilized countries) are not doing anything except when it suits our economic interests. Myanmar is in a forgotten corner of the world (Southeast Asia) that is going to be ignored until the Security Council decides what to do about it.

Sean
|
China
October 9, 2007

Sean in China writes:
Press China to do something.

Avery
October 9, 2007

Avery writes:
Let's make a timetable, like we did for Saddam. After all, human lives are more important than imaginary weapons... right? Right, guys?

Henry
|
Washington, USA
October 9, 2007

Henry in Canada writes:
Why use the word "convince"? This means that there will be much much more lessons for UN Security Council to learn.

It's actually a very simple question for UN Security Council to learn if it looks back what the nation did in Korea and in Africa as well as in its own country.

Fred
|
Georgia
October 9, 2007

Fred in Georgia writes:
Start with the assumption that no one does anything unless the consequences to them of the change, economic or military, are favorable. If and when China ever feels that its interests will be better served by having a democracy as a neighbor, instead of a dictatorship, then it will pull back on its support of the dictatorship.

It is always about money and/or power. Legality, morals and ethics have nothing to do with it. As long as the dictatorship yields consequences more positive than negative to the Burmese junta and its supporters, the dictatorship will continue.

The United States has a history of supporting illegal governments just like China is doing (e.g. Saudi Arabia, Nicaragua), so we really have no moral ground from which to speak against China's support of the Burmese dictatorship. In this era of worldwide absence of morals and character, starting with the world leaders and filtering down from there, no one can successfully effect change on moral grounds, because immoral, unethical behavior is so much the norm, and is usually rewarded. Rewarded behaviors get repeated.

Hopefully, the leadership of the U.S. can gain influence and respect when the Republicans are defeated in the next election. I am a lifelong Republican, but this time I will be voting for any candidate the Democrats put forth. Bush has been too shamefully dishonest and inept, and the entire Republican party deserves to be punished for putting him forth as a candidate.

Chris
|
California, USA
October 10, 2007

Chris in California writes:
1. Stop seeing the Burmese through Western eyes. The monks would not be served by our seeking revenge on their behalf.

2. When a store owner is an embarrassment to his/her community, people stop shopping there. Help the Burmese people tell the story of their government to the world.

3. Begin a serious effort to clear America's name of human rights abuses. The U.N. Assembly is right -- we are dripping in blood.

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