Monday, May 25, 2009

Unified international approach needed for Burma

by Htet Win
Mizzima News

United Nations intervention on the Burma front, supported by regional countries, is desperately needed to implement an inclusive process directed at cracking the existing political impasse, as the ruling junta and opposition groups have yet to be able to chart a path forward themselves.

Mainly because of their own wrongdoings, the ruling generals are frightened of their own people as well as of Aung San Suu Kyi, increasingly feeling insecure about their future and believing in no one.

The junta has already created a state within the state, selfishly misusing the country's natural resources. It is an approach that has found favor with China which, like a vulture, has feasted off a country victimized by its ruling generals for more that four decades. Beijing has said it will not interfere with the country's affairs, observing that events in Burma should be decided by its own people. But how irresponsible and unreasonable is such a stance?

The main barrier to the country's progress is the military government, whose life is primarily supported by the Chinese government, another notorious authoritarian regime. China's long-term interest in Burma is access to the Indian Ocean, through which it is expecting such strategic benefits as a military presence and enhanced trade.

The government-to-government interests of Beijing and Naypyitaw are well matched on the basis of self-interest, resulting in a deadlock in Burma's political progress and a lack of domestic economic opportunities. Exploiting Burma's natural resources such as gas, timber and minerals, Beijing has provided options for the military rulers of its impoverished neighbor.

Burma has become a vassal state of China, realpolitik dooming Burma to existence within the Chinese sphere of influence. The generals understand this and play the China card very well.

The natural wealth of Burma is a curse on the civilians. If Burma were an economic basket case bereft of all natural resources, no country would bother to come in and the military would not be able to fund itself to buy off the loyalty of rank and file soldiers.

The monolithic structure of the Army, which is maintained by Machiavellian-styled generals, rewards the loyal and mercilessly punishes dissenters. For the soldiers, the Army is their benefactor, without which they are like fish out of water. For them it is a case of hanging together or being hanged separately.

Time and again soldiers have fired on opposition elements, including monks, while China, India, ASEAN and all neighboring countries keep on standing by them, hiding behind the political fig leaf of not interfering in the internal affairs of Burma.

Meanwhile, in the capacity of alternate ASEAN chairmanship, Thailand’s recent statement is welcomed as a “policy of engagement with the ruling military." The statement expressed "grave concern" over Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s trial, also noting that the trial is testing the honor and credibility of the military regime.

But the junta lashed out at the statement, retorting that Thailand was meddling in its internal affairs. It is apparent that the military dictatorship is like a dying man who is unresponsive to any voice or touch, starkly rejecting even international overtures of constructive engagement. It also fears the international community.

Wresting power from military dictators, no matter how corrupt and hated, is a messy thing, and rarely if ever can be successfully pulled off without some form of support from governments abroad.

According to a Burma critic, “It is even more difficult when the rulers are willing and able to use brutal force. Unfortunately, Burma falls squarely into this situation.”

At the end of the day everything lies in the willingness of the ruling clique to enter into talks with the civilians, regardless of their political or ethnic composition.

As long as the soldiers think they alone know what is best for the country and are mired in their fear of retribution, nothing will move forward.

The military is expected to accept civilians as fellow countrymen and not as enemies bent on stringing them up from the nearest lampposts. The biggest obstacle block is the ingrained mentality of the soldiers who see the whole political process in Burma in black and white terms.

Although vocal in exile, the actual strength of the opposition lies inside Burma. However, they need a rallying point and cause for hope.

The best hope lies in trying to get zealous "Young Turk", reform-minded military officers to come around and start to think there is a way, a peaceful and more inclusive way, out of the present structural crisis.

Aung San Suu Kyi is perhaps the only person who can instill this group with the idea that we can all work together for a better tomorrow.

The message should be: “Talk to us. We are not here to destroy you [the generals]. We want you to be involved and be part of building a new nation out of these ashes.”

A recent statement by the U.N. Security Council is also noteworthy, “The future of Burma lies in the hands of its entire people.” However, the people need the practical support of their neighbors as well.

The time is now for Burma's neighbors to fully support the U.N.’s positive intervention – such as Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s planned visit – in the Burma issue.

Recent Posts from Burma Wants Freedom and Democracy

Recent posts from WHO is WHO in Burma


The Nuke Light of Myanmar Fan Box
The Nuke Light of Myanmar on Facebook
Promote your Page too