Thursday, May 22, 2008


Obviously at this point, nearly three weeks after the fact the cyclone that hit Myanmar/Burma is old news. But I was reading an article in The Economist the other day that reminded me of it. Of course, it's depressing to observe how fast it became old news, if it was ever really "News" to begin with. At this point estimates of death fall in the 80,000-100,000 range. That in itself is staggering, but The Economist estimates that another TWO MILLION peoples lives may be at risk if more help is not received. They go on to say that if a third of those people died that it would be a death toll to rival the Rwandan Genocide.

I guess in 2005 the UN endorsed the principle of an "international responsibility to protect oppressed people from their persecutors". I think they largely had the idea of armed oppression in mind, but it's hard to see where the junta's refusal to accept almost all foreign aid doesn't fall into this same category. Of course the idea of invading a country is pretty far out of favor among just about all countries at this point and certainly all the countries that could conceivably do it. Which leaves us "confined to air drops", the article says. If you look at the difficulties encountered with the Berlin Air-Lift where the population was presumably smaller, and they could actually land their plans and off-load, I find it hard to imagine that air drops could do much.

Don't get me wrong. I really like the idea of air-drops. I think it'd be great to be doing something, even if it's not entirely effective. I mean what are the other options. A full scale invasion, or just watching as people starve? The article ends up concluding basically the same thing. The final paragraph reads:

More storms are forecast for Myanmar. If thousands more people are to die in the coming weeks, let those who oppose any action now, however modest its effect, then explain why they favoured a policy of doing nothing. And let them try to describe the circumstances in which the new-found responsibility to protect might actually be invoked if it is not just to join the UN's scrapheap of dashed expectations, broken promises and dismal betrayals.

Between Scylla and Charybdis


Anonymous Ed said...

Here's an interesting reply I saw on another blog:

"I wonder if TIME’s editors think while the US military is busy invading Burma whether or not they should just go roll in and invade Tibet as well? The TIME editor makes it sound like it would all just be so easy if the US military will just show up and the Burmese military will just give up and everyone will be singing kumbayah. Where have I heard this scenario before? You have to be really disconnected from reality to think launching a third war, in jungle terrain, with poor infrastructure, against a Chinese ally is really a good idea."

11:56 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home