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Burma Turning to Forced-Labor for Reconstruction

  1. May 28, 2008 #1

    russ_watters

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    I really think they have gotten to the point where the UN should start seriously considering action. I can't imagine it would be very difficult to take this government down.
    http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2008-05-28-cyclone-survivors-victimized_N.htm
     
  2. jcsd
  3. May 28, 2008 #2
    There is no oil in Burma.
     
  4. May 28, 2008 #3

    russ_watters

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    And you can't drive there from Western Europe.

    Yes, I'm aware that the way international politics works today, that's not a realistic possibility. Some day, that will need to change. Every time some natural or man-made disaster happens and kills a few hundred thousand people, the international community looks back and says 'we shouldn't have let that happen - and we won't, ever again', but they always do.
     
  5. May 28, 2008 #4
    In material terms, no, it would not be (although reconstructing the country afterwards is a different story). What would take a lot of doing, however, would be persuding China not to veto any resolution authorizing the use of force against the Burmese junta. I frankly can't imagine how anyone could ever get Beijing to allow such a thing.
     
  6. May 29, 2008 #5
    i think direct military action or anything with considerable cost would be used to unseat the junta.

    there's really nothing to be gained from getting rid of the burmese government, nothing to fear from not getting rid of them. nothing much at least.
     
  7. May 29, 2008 #6

    Art

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    I doubt a full scale invasion would be required, just a few well aimed cruise missiles with the promise of more if they don't allow the relief in. I'd think the surviving ruling junta would be open to softening their stance on foreign aid workers if the price of non-compliance was having to spend the rest of their lives in an underground, hardened military bunker .:biggrin:

    IMO given their public comments France might be the ones to lead such an attack. As for how to initiate such an action; simple really, move one of the warships carrying aid towards Burma and wait for the Burmese to attack her.
     
  8. May 29, 2008 #7

    Vanadium 50

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    Um, where exactly does it say in the UN charter (especially Article VII) where the UN can use force on a sovereign country because it doesn't like how it is handling a purely internal matter?

    Also, how does one get this past China (and to a lesser degree, Russia), who not only supports to Burmese junta, but also badly wants to avoid the precedent of having UN troops on their doorstep because of an internal human rights violation.

    Oh, and there most certainly is oil in Burma.
     
  9. May 30, 2008 #8
    Not an expert on the details of the UN charter, but hadn't everyone agreed that the UN would take whatever steps were necessary to prevent another Rwanda? Not that they've necessarily done so since then, but I had the impression that was more a matter of political will than constitutional mandate. Anyway, the first sentence in Article VII explicitly delegates complete authority to the Security Council to determine the existance of threats to the peace, etc., so it seems entirely at their discretion.

    Exactly, China will veto any resolution authorizing anything more severe than a harshly-worded letter to Burma. It is simply not possible that the Security Council would ever authorize such a thing.
     
  10. May 30, 2008 #9

    russ_watters

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    That's along the lines of what I was thinking, though we don't even really need to shoot first. A friendly letter could be enough:

    ---------------------

    To whom it may concern:
    We are going to deliver aid directly to your people in need. If you could be so kind as to stay out of our way, that would be greatly appreciated.

    Sincerely,
    The UN

    P.S. - Our aid workers will have military escorts to ensure their protection, who will do what is necessary to ensure that protection.
     
  11. May 30, 2008 #10
    Yeah, just look at how well that worked in Somalia. Oh, wait...
     
  12. May 30, 2008 #11
    At what point do we force our will upon foreign governments? We are doing so in Iraq and that doesn't seem very popular. I can understand if Burma doesn't trust the West in helping out then leaving because it doesn't seem that we ever leave once we are there.
     
  13. May 30, 2008 #12
    Well, the usual standard has been when they threaten us in some way. But that's the wrong question, unless by "we" and "our" you are referring to "every single person in the world except for the Burmese junta."

    Geopolitics is not a popularity contest, although I'd add that the comparison to Iraq is so inapt as to not merit discussion.

    Right, just look at all those Western spies that remained after the aid to Iran in the Bam quake, or the tsunami areas, or any of the million other examples of Western organizations/countries showing up, giving out aid, and then leaving. If Iran can accept help from The Great Satan after a natural disaster, I don't see why Burma can't do the same. Unless, of course, the issue is not fear of Western governments at all, but the loss of internal legitimacy that would result from admitting that the situation is beyond their control, American imperialism or no.
     
  14. May 30, 2008 #13
    Well, we (the West, the U.S. in particular) aren't being threatened by the Burmese. So, we don't have the right to force aid against the will of the Burmese gov't.

    Iraq is an example of occupying for one purpose and remaining for another, since you didn't get that. Not that we would but why should the junta believe otherwise?

    I don't think spying is what they are worried about more than indefinate occupation.
     
  15. May 30, 2008 #14
    What if the Burmese government does not represent the will of the Burmese people? What if "we" means the entire international community, some of whom *are* threatened by both the Burmese government, and the deteriorating conditions there? After all, it's UN action that is being discussed here, not some American-led coalition of the willing.

    I don't agree with either that assertion or the implicit idea that it's relevant to Burma.

    For any of the reasons I cited in my last post (i.e., the long list of humanitarian assistance projects that didn't entail a residual American presence). Why would the junta believe that humanitarian intervention is a pretense for permanent American occupation? The only time anything close to that was attempted was in Somalia, and we all know how that went.

    What they're worried about is staying in power. Why would America want to depose the Burmese regime, and why would America think that doing so under the auspices of a humanitarian assistance mission would be at all a good idea?
     
  16. May 30, 2008 #15
    That's a lot of "what ifs". What is the difference between Burma and N Korea if only one has had a natural disaster. N Koreans are starving everyday, why doesn't the UN push to go in there and feed them? Do your what ifs apply to them?

    -Shrug-

    You have a valid point except that I'm not the one that needs to be convinced.

    Of course they are concerned about staying in power. Again, convincing the Burmese gov't is what is required. If military force is used, we may be looking at another Vietnam type situation.
     
  17. May 30, 2008 #16

    Art

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    After Rwanda the UN said 'never again' perhaps they should have added 'well, until the next time anyway':rolleyes:
     
  18. May 30, 2008 #17
    Not very much. Both are closed despotic states that survive in the shadow of the CCP. Although, North Korea has historically been less reticent about accepting aid.

    Same reason they don't go into Burma: Beijing will veto any resolution authorizing such actions.

    Yes, of course. I'd love to see Kim Jong Il drug through the streets tomorrow, and Koreans finally allowed to put their nation back together. But Kim would prefer to stay in power, and Beijing would prefer to keep a subordinate on the Korean peninsula, so there you go.

    Actually, it's the Chinese government that needs to be convinced. The Burmese government's position is entirely dependent on Beijing's cooperation. As long as Beijing supports them, there's nothing anyone else can really do; the moment Beijing stops supporting them, they're done for.

    Not really. Nobody is trying to colonize Burma, and it's not as if the junta commands enough popular support to wage an extended insurgency. And, again, such an action would require Beijing to be on board, which would eliminate any sources of outside support. Again, the best parallel is probably Somalia.
     
  19. May 30, 2008 #18

    russ_watters

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    Burma isn't Somalia (we weren't just providing aid, we were fighting a war), but in any case, it would have worked fine in Somalia hd we equipped our troops properly.
     
  20. May 30, 2008 #19

    russ_watters

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    I'm not so sure we should really care about how it "seems". The fact of the matter is, since WWII, the West has been deimperializing. That people perceive something different/wrong is not something I'm too concerned with. I'm concerned with reality.

    Also, is "Burma" the government or the people? The few interviews I've heard of citizens, they aren't too thrilled with their dictatorship.
     
    Last edited: May 30, 2008
  21. May 30, 2008 #20

    russ_watters

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    That isn't correct. The UN sent troops into Somalia and Rwanda (not enough in Rwanda) and NATO into Yugoslavia with no outside threat. Somalia started as purely a humanitarian relief effort, backed by force.
    Yes it is. It is no more evolved than a high school government election.
    It's a little bit of everything for the Burmese government. You did forget one thing though: How can the US be legitimately portrayed as evil if the only food these people see has an American flag stamped on the wrapper and is handed out by a guy in an American military uniform? For xenophobic military dictatorships, it is very important that the people believe outsiders are bad.
     
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