THE FBO'S 2004 VISIT TO MYANMAR & MYANMAR TODAY
It's tragic watching the peaceful demonstrations in Myanmar turn violent. Turning on CNN, you see diplomats half a world away with carefully worded speeches and carefully combed hairstyles declare 'support' for the peaceful protests. I'm sure that means very little to the locals, scores of which have likely died.
During the FBO visit in 2004, several people in the impoverished country run by a military dictatorship since 1962 spoke of hope. 'George Bush says he supports movements for peace -- if we protest he will come, like he did in Iraq,' one person said. That worried me then, and more so now. You wonder how many people are expecting US to invade in their behalf now that protests are on the streets of Yangon, Mandalay and Sitwe?
Politicians should be careful of the things they promise.
Though it won't happen, there would be more cause to go into Myanmar. Unlike Iraq, there is a democratic party in place, and perhaps 99% of the locals would welcome a new government. After similar demonstrations in 1988 led to a national election, the National League for Democracy won it hands-down. But the military never transferred power. One NLD leader Aung San Suu Ky has been under house arrest for approximately 16 of the past 19 years. A few years ago, they even moved the country to a remote town: a defensive stronghold in the mountains.
Some argue stricter economic sanctions could help. But they can't. The catch is China, who backs the military for economic purposes (Myanmar has oil) and recently blocked a UN measure to basically say 'hey Myanmar, the violence isn't good.'
Getting tough on China (or India and Russia -- both of which are friendly with the Myanmar generals) might be a start.
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