Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Is It Time To Invade Burma?

Time for another one in the series of concurrent posts from Cody's It Is What It Is blog and Falling On A Bruise. With the Burmese disaster lurching from bad to worse, the question we are pondering is with a humanitarian crisis unfolding, should we invade Burma?

As many as 100,000 people may have died in the catastrophic cyclone in Burma last weekend and as many again are at risk of disease and starvation according to reports but still the military junta continue to restrict access to aid workers waiting to enter the country. There have been some calls for tougher, collective action including direct intervention and possibly unseating the ruling generals to prevent an already terrible humanitarian crisis becoming an even worse one. The Time website poses the question 'Is It Time To Invade Burma?' but there are two very good reasons why she should not even be thinking along those lines.

Firstly, we have three shining examples from the last decade where we have used, or tried to justify our actions, under the name of interventualism. Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq.
Despite it being one of Mr Blair's final justifications after a host of others had been dismissed, the Iraq War was not about saving the Iraqi people from Saddam Hussein. What we did in Iraq had precious little to do with saving Iraqi lives.
Each of our last three wars have been a substantial humanitarian disaster in its own right, from the civilians killed during hostilities, destruction of infrastructure and from the splintering of the invaded country into murderous gangs and militias.
The human costs of not invading would have to be substantially worse than those which would result from the invasion. Given the scandalously high human costs of our latest military adventures, we know that this wouldn't be the case. We would kill more by invading and occupying than if we left well alone.
A legacy of Iraq is that the US and the UK have dealt a hammer blow to the doctrine of humanitarian intervention or to be more precise, uninvited humanitarian intervention, which to many is just an euphemism for attempting to foist a friendly government in place of the old.

Secondly, the situation in Burma is horrific. Increasingly bad things are happening which we can't prevent. Earthquakes, hurricanes and floods are a result of an increasingly unpredictable mother nature and a disastrous lack of concern for our own environment in the case of last two, but that doesn't mean that we can just go stomping into any country we want because we don't think they are doing a good enough job.
George Bush and his administration were pilloried for their actions following Hurricane Katrina but is there really much difference between what the Burmese leadership is doing and the Bush administration refusing Cuba's offer to send 1,600 doctors and 26 tons of medicine to the New Orleans victims and turning down 1m barrels of oil and $5m in aid from Venezuela, along with mobile hospitals, clean water and fuel for the victims of Katrina?
Was that not wrong? Was he not putting his own people at risk because of politics? What would his reaction have been if we were having this conversation in 2005 about invading America because the American leadership were making a hash of New Orleans?
Unthinkable right? So why are we even giving a second thought about it for somewhere else?

Aid is getting through to the victims from the Asian countries and though the Junta are letting the aid in, it's the aid workers they are not wanting.
Whatever we think of their decision, on principle every nation has the right to decide who they ask in to their country and nobody has the right to force themselves onto somebody else regardless of who they are or for whatever reason.

Here for Cody's view on the situation.


Anonymous said...

Good grief Lucy,

Cuba (U.S. rival) sending doctors and Venezuela (another U.S. rival) offering 1m barrels of oil (we use that much in a day) and $5m (a nice party for the Hollywood elite) to the US (huge excess of resources) is nothing like the world offering support to Burma (damn near no resources). What a stretch. The rhetoric should go over well here.

In the end we agree. We (people, and nations) have too much to not offer aid to Myanmar, but we do not have a right to force aid.

On the other hand. The people of Myanmar should have the right to move somewhere else, just like the people of New Orleans, South Lousianna, and Mississippi...


Falling on a bruise said...

No arrogance or ungrateful nature there then Q.

Paula said...

I am NOT in favor of invading Burma and killing those peeps in order to help them. (They don't have any oil there, do they??)

Dismal Soyanz said...

To be said whilst wearing a head torch and holding a suction cup on a stick:

"You are the enemy of the free world! You will be liberated! Liberate! LIberate Li-ber-rate!"

Falling on a bruise said...

I didn't want to bring it up but yes miz uv, there is oil & gas off the Burmese coast.

Anonymous said...


Arrogance? More like posturing by Cuba and Venezuela. I don't recall the people affected by Katrina needing 1,000+ doctors. They needed, and still need, housing. Of course, the part of New Orleans that was wiped out was a dreary slum. They needed housing before Katrina hit.

Grateful? Ok, sure, I'm grateful that they offered help. I'll be more grateful if Cuba sends 1,000+ doctors to Myanmar and China. Ditto if Venezula gives 1m brls of oil to Myanmar and China. And, I hope Venezula gives China $5m - I'm sure they need it...

What a farce.


Aaron said...

and we can spearhead the attack with UN food aid rice (that might have come from Burma to begin with).

By the way, in the US they have started referring to Burma/Myanmar as Myanmar, which is the official name of the country, but I was listening to a BBC broadcast on NPR the other day and they still refer to the country as Burma, which was its colonial name. Maybe its too hard to say Myanmar in British.

Falling on a bruise said...

How it was explained to me effay, because it was the military government that changed the name from Burma to Myanmar in the late 80s, and because they are not recognised as the 'proper' rulers of the country, it was decided here to carry on using the established name of Burma rather than be seen to give any legitimacy to the junta.