Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
May 10, 2008

False Intervention

WaPo editors, using the colonial name of Myanmar, write on what they call Burma's Blockade

Three years ago, the United Nations adopted a doctrine to deal with exactly this sort of situation. Known as "right to protect," it foresaw the Security Council authorizing a humanitarian rescue operation even without the cooperation of the national government. Yet France's attempt to raise Burma's case before the Security Council on Thursday was opposed by China, Russia, South Africa and other developing countries, which apparently cherish the ideology of nonintervention more than the lives of hundreds of thousands of Burmese.

First: There is no "right to protect" but a "responsibility to protect" which the United Nations consciously restricted to

protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity;

None of these criteria fits the situation in Myanmar. Any intervention would thereby be illegal.

Second: When New Orleans was under water Cuba offered to send 1,586 disaster-trained physicians to help. The U.S. declined despite an obvious need.

Where was Fred Hiatt's call for black helicopter intervention against the U.S. when those doctors were not allowed to reach the needy?

As China Hand proves, Myanmar has accepted and received international aid at least since Wednesday from multiple groups and countries without any problems. But the government resists demands to allow USAID 'experts' on its soil. Given that USAID is often nothing more than the 'humanitarian' arm of the CIA, there are certainly reasons for it to do so.

Posted by b on May 10, 2008 at 13:59 UTC | Permalink


bernhard, could the Bush administration's recent criticisms have increased the resistance by the Myanmar generals against foreign intervention, and especially American intervention?

Harsh words

Posted by: Ensley | May 10 2008 15:18 utc | 1

the china hand post is really good. i had read crispin's piece in asia times online and wasn't sure if it was satire or not, but the idea that the bush regime is trying to score positive legacy points in the last months -- assuming these are really going to be the last months & that elections don't get cancelled b/c they're (i almost wrote we're! shudder!) fighting four or so wars simultaneously -- sounds plausible, given the short-term historical memory of... now what the heck was i gonna say...

anyway, from that friday post @ inner city press which i linked to in the other myanmar thread

In the hall outside the pledging session, a representative of the Sri Lankan delegation said that country gave $25,000, and was considering sending medical supplies, "bilaterally." Inner City Press asked [UN humanitarian coordinator John] Holmes about this, why most of OCHA's information concerns Western donors. While Holmes said OCHA has great contacts in Asia, it seems significant that many Asian countries not only don't give through the UN, they don't even tell the UN what they are giving.

sounds reasonable to me. unlike that blatant wapo propaganda job masquerading as an editorial.

Posted by: b real | May 10 2008 18:50 utc | 2

and i don't have an account to post comments there, but those commentators (being nice) who question the u.s. influence on holmes' stance may be interested to read thursday 's post @ inner city press, which i pointed out in the other thread as well

A day after UN Humanitarian Coordinator John Holmes said that Myanmar was beginning to cooperate, U.S. Ambassador to the UN Zalmay Khalilzad said "we're outraged by the slowness of response by the government of Burma." Inner City Press asked Amb. Khalilzad if Holmes is being forceful enough. "We'd like to have Mr. Holmes tell member states what the situation is... to urge and press" Myanmar to accept help. Video here, from Minute 6:08.

This and more forceful private messages were clearly received by Mr. Holmes. On Thursday in a more tightly controlled briefing to the UN press corps, Holmes referred to the authorities in Myanmar as an "isolated and suspicious regime" and expressed "disappointment." It was contrary to his presentation on Wednesday, and one wondered if the change was due to watching BBC, or to messages received from the host country.To try to get this question answered, Inner City Press remained with hand raised throughout Holmes' Thursday press conference. But Deputy Spokesperson Marie Okabe did not allow the question. After Holmes left, she said "I cannot speak for Mr. Holmes." Inner City Press asked for Holmes' views in an email to Ms. Okabe, but the views were not provided.

Posted by: b real | May 10 2008 19:03 utc | 3

Re Burma Junta -v- USAID, you can't con a con. The Junta knows exactly what USAID
stands for: Unilateral Security Assessment Intelligence Directive. Nothing more.

Or as one USAID chief observed in (_______), "Oh, my dear, you don't understand.
(About a $10B Bush pledge to ________). "That pledge was just a money bucket
for Congress to fill up
. That's all being redirected to Iraq and Katrina."

The USAID chief was there to progress an ambassadorial career path in Black Tar
University grad school, and be "another pair of eyes on the ground" for the CIA.

Which goes towards a lot of comments here at MoA, focusing on political statements
and Neo-cult personalities, instead of underlying baaksheesh pipeline. "Follow the
is about all you need to know in these Bush Crime Family Final End Days.

Posted by: Polly Anna | May 10 2008 19:28 utc | 4

Unilateral Security Assessment Intelligence Directive


Aural Intel Systematic Sureness Centered Eliciting Evil

opp sim

Inarticulate Reviled Mystics Austereness Clientele Gin

Color me up, and make mine 'dirty'.

Posted by: Wha La | May 10 2008 19:52 utc | 5>Report in Asia Times on clean up in Yangon.

[L]ocals already know this situation far too well. They seemed to instinctively know how to get on with it, perhaps from decades of being neglected from any beneficial government services. Communities came together and cleaned up their homes and streets as best they could - entirely households labored side-by-side at times using only kitchen knives. Downed electrical poles were pushed aside, and large trees blocking roads were slowly hacked apart to allow traffic to resume.

Neighbors helped each other fix battered roofs and displaced siding. And an interesting phenomenon has arisen in well-to-do neighborhoods where owners of big-name companies - such as military-linked tycoon Tay Zaw who heads Air Bagan and Poppa Aqua drinking water have donated their labor teams, connections, and equipment to move large trees and telephone poles to get their rich neighborhoods up and running, much to the delight of their neighbors.

This genuine camaraderie is what has enabled Yangon to get back on its feet, or at least off its knees.

Admittedly, however, community action remains limited. The junta does not legally sanction community organizing outside the junta's arms, thus severely straining grassroots mobilizing that would be prevalent in most other countries. Instead, the regime has built up its own rendition, known as the United Solidarity Development Association (USDA), which oversees most village-level functions. This is now having a disastrous result in dealing with the cyclone's aftermath. In effect, the USDA is MIA - missing in action - and communities remain unable to fill the void.

Posted by: small coke | May 10 2008 20:48 utc | 6

The question of what name to use to refer to the country called Myanmar/Burma is problematic.

Evidently the official name change in 1989 was a change in the English version only. Myanmar seems to be closer to a native pronunciation of the country's name, which has been in use since the 13th century.

While English-speaking western countries mostly continued to use "Burma", so did some opposition Burmese groups, when speaking English, because they do not recognize the legal authority of the present government.>Wikipedia explains some of the name issues. In addition, there seem to be language and ethnic implications for the population of that country, regarding the whole issue of naming.

Per Wikipedia,

Within the Burmese language, Myanmar is the written, literary name of the country, while Bama or Bamar (from which "Burma" derives) is the oral, colloquial name. In spoken Burmese, the distinction is less clear than the English transliteration suggests.


Posted by: small coke | May 10 2008 21:36 utc | 7

I'm sure the issue over what Myanmar is called is as complex and fraught with former wars and other pieces of ugly history as any other nation. There is rarely a 'correct' name for anywhere given the territorial disputes that have flared up where ever humans have been. My personal objection to the USuk cartel calling Myanmar burma, is purely a reaction to their hypocrisy. When most of england's former colonies won independence they renamed themselves often based on a more correct pronunciation than that which some half-witted, slack-jawed, inbred english administrator thought a tribal leader had said two centuries before. Just as Myanmar has. However when other countries did it the rest of the world sent off to the printers to get the name on the maps changed, but in this case they didn't purely because they want to side with the ethnic burmans who they have cut a deal with who have also chosen not to recognise the new name. Why? To grab the goodies under the ground in Myanmar, that's why. So if the burman opposition thinks using Myanmar is showing allegiance to the ruling junta inside Myanmar, outside Myanmar, using burma sounds like showing sympathy for the whitefella resource thieves.

Posted by: Debs is dead | May 10 2008 22:36 utc | 8

So if the burman opposition thinks using Myanmar is showing allegiance to the ruling junta inside Myanmar, outside Myanmar, using burma sounds like showing sympathy for the whitefella resource thieves.

Agree. Thus the "problem". I use both.

Web seems to be organizing for relief efforts.
Burma Cyclone>
Lists and gives links to relief organizations which are at work in Myanmar. Note that US donors can give directly to International Red Cross, bypass US affiliate.

If you click on "donations" listed under "categories", you will find information about smaller relief efforts, including United Sikhs and the "Myanmar Cyclone Relief Fund" sponsored by American Burma Buddhist Association.

Posted by: small coke | May 10 2008 23:51 utc | 9

inner city press: "Responsibility to Protect" Does Not Apply to Myanmar, UN's Expert Tells Inner City Press, But Older Rights Concepts Do

UNITED NATIONS, May 12 -- Is the bleak situation in Myanmar following Cyclone Nergis a crime against humanity, which could trigger the doctrine of "responsibility to protect" as enacted in the UN in 2005? French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner on May 7 said the concept should be invoked. France's Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN Jean-Pierre Lacroix on May 12 said that his country might "introduce a text" to that effect to the Security Council the following day. But the UN's special advisor on Responsibility to Protect, Edward Luck, in an on-the-record written response to questions submitted by Inner City Press, diplomatically disagrees with Kouchner and France.

Inner City Press asked, Does R2P apply to this case in Myanmar? Mr. Luck responded:

No, in my view and based on my limited knowledge of events on the ground there, it would be a misapplication of responsibility to protect (RtoP) principles to apply them at this point to the unfolding tragedy in Myanmar. As you know, the Outcome Document of the 2005 Summit limited their applicability to four crimes and violations: genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and ethnic cleansing. We must focus our efforts on implementing these principles in these four cases, as there is no agreement among the Member States on applying them to other situations, no matter how disturbing or regrettable the circumstances."
Also in light of France's and the U.S.'s allusion to food-drops, Inner City Press asked, where would a food-drop fit in? Luck's answer, less on R2P, rebutted the food-drops on five separate grounds:
"On a purely practical level, it is hard to see a food drop accomplishing much. One, it could add to chaos on the ground as people struggle over such aid drops. Two, much of the area is now under water. Three, it would do nothing in terms of supplying the critical missing element of humanitarian and medical personnel on the ground. Four, targeting could be a real challenge. And five, the violation of Myanmar's airspace could well increase the government's suspicion of the outside world."

Since some have said, even in R2P applied, that force would be the "last step," Inner City Press asked, what would be the series of steps to apply R2P in such a case? Luck's response was shorter, and more telling: "We have yet to develop a clear decision-making process or standard operating procedures for implementing RtoP decisions." Who the "we" is that will develop such standard operating procedures is not yet clear.

Posted by: b real | May 13 2008 4:56 utc | 10

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