Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Is It Time to Invade Burma?

with 5 comments

The Times magazine asks if it is time to invade Burma? My poor brain. On the one hand, what a wonderful bloggable topic. On the other hand, are they insane? I mean, this wasn’t an April Fools article, they seriously propose “giving war a chance.” This bugs me for so many reasons, I hardly know where to begin. Well, actually, I do, the problem is knowing where to stop usually. In any event, the government of Myanmar has gotten an incredible amount of criticism from the west regarding their reluctance to let foreign troops and supplies flood into the country to help them out after a disastrous cyclone killed tens of thousands of people.

The first thing that gets me is the almost mind numbing arrogance and know-it-allism demonstrated by most in the west. This is what I am talking about when I say “colonial mind set.” Westerners just know what is good for Myanmar and are smug and secure and superior in their assessment that they simply think of their position as being factual and logical. It was called the “White Man’s Burden” at one time, now we call it “spreading democracy.” The assumption is that we here in the west are civilized and know how to run a country, and these ignorant savages in the rest of the world who don’t adhere to our template for running a country need to be educated and brought up to speed for their own good.

Secondly, there is zero attempt to understand the position of the Myanmar government. Yes, they clearly are trying to use this disaster to strengthen their position, but isn’t that exactly what the rest of the world is doing when they used this tragedy to criticize the Myanmar government? Are there any politicians anywhere who don’t try to capitalize on disasters, even if its just to show up for the photo op? Did I mention how hypocritical the colonial mind set is, “do as we say, not as we do” is a core part of it. While I am not a fan of any dictatorial government, nonetheless Myanmar is a sovereign country run by a local Myanmar government. How they run their country is really their business now, isn’t it? More importantly, if they let western personnel into the country it also means western spies and western support for their dissidents. I doubt Americans would have wanted Iranian Revolutionary Guards flying into New Orleans to help out after Katrina, why do they not understand that other people might feel the same about our troops?

Another thing about this that is so annoying is the concern suddenly shown for the people suffering there. Um, people suffer and die in huge numbers worldwide every day for lack of a few dollars worth of food and medicine. Not to mention the systematic looting of the resources of third world countries that of anything has accelerated in the modern era. The gap between the rich and poor countries of the world is growing, not shrinking. Yet most westerners are unaware of that, they are unaware of the role their governments play in it, and they are blissfully unaware of how their affluent lifestyles are supported on the back of child and slave labour in many parts of the world. But gee, there’s a cyclone and all of a sudden we’ve got to help these people!

And not just Time, many people high and low have suggested invasion as a possibility. Um, do the people suggesting this not have any understanding of history and current events? Just a few short years ago we launched “humanitarian” invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. In both cases the people of those countries were supposed to be so happy to be “liberated” from their tyrannical governments that they would greet us a liberators and democracy would flow outwards throughout the region. Here we are five years later and Iraq and Afghanistan are two of the world’s premier failed states, both arguably worse off than before we “freed” them. And both hotbeds of violence, extremism, and terrorism. Yet somehow people still think that we can just invade a country and magically fix it?

That the occasional hotheaded kid who doesn’t know anything about history, current affairs, or Myanmar would suggest invasion doesn’t surprise me…but a main stream media outlet? Maybe it was just meant to generate controversy, but it still scares me. Would they run an article about maybe it’s time to invade Israel of Russia or China? Of course not. But the old colonial idea of conquering “primitive” countries to help them is still alive and well. I just wish I could make people see how incredibly simplistic and patronizing it is to even consider the idea of a humanitarian” invention. I think fifty years of the “war on poverty,” “the war on drugs,” and now the “war on terror” has so clouded many people’s minds that they see war as the ultimate solution to any problem.

Oh well, tomorrow I have a wonderful comment left by a Navy Seal who disputes much if not all of my thinking regarding war and current events. I am flattered he took the time to write. The Navy is a very important branch of the military…they provide the transportation for the Marine Corps. That’s an old Marine joke, from an old Marine. Semper Fi.

(The above image of Japanese Invasion Money in Burma is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It is not being used for profit and the government that issued it no longer exists. Credit: The Japanese invaded Burma in order to integrate them into the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. I’m sure many in Japan believed it was for Burma’s own good too.)

Written by unitedcats

May 12, 2008 at 8:43 am

Posted in History, War, World

5 Responses

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  1. Certainly there are a lot of untimely comments being batted around. Do people think these kind of comments will really make the authorities open up and reduce their level of paranoia? Sniping in the media doesn’t seem to be producing many positive results, does it?

    Then again, what if there were 200,000 who have already died and 1.5 million endangered? Should world governments be more assertive?


    May 12, 2008 at 11:23 am

  2. If the UN could agree on something reasonable reassembling standards for when to intervene in sovereign nations for the sake of human rights, I might be able to support the idea. But right now the UN simply sanctions interventions that the big powers want to further their own ambitions, and “human rights” are merely used as an excuse. Until and if there is a true UN truly acting for the benefit of all, I doubt I would condone the invasion of any sovereign state no matter how “humanitarian” it sounded.


    May 12, 2008 at 12:35 pm

  3. Well said, Doug.


    May 12, 2008 at 2:41 pm

  4. Upon reflection, I want to clarify, it is heartening that people want to do something about the tragedy in Myanmar. I was mostly just trying to point out that invading them to help out is like seeing your neighbour’s house on fire and rushing over with a flamethrower to help out.


    May 13, 2008 at 7:18 am

  5. “More importantly, if they let western personnel into the country it also means western spies and western support for their dissidents. I doubt Americans would have wanted Iranian Revolutionary Guards flying into New Orleans to help out after Katrina, why do they not understand that other people might feel the same about our troops?”

    No need to speculate on that … the US refused an offer of medical help from Cuba for precisely those reasons during Katrina. Its just a double standard, and one thats always been in place … obviously, the offer from Cuba to the US wasn’t credible, and was politically motivated, but it would be foolish to think any aid sent by the US isn’t credible and is politically motivated.

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