Saturday, May 31, 2008

Do We Really Want These Guys in Charge?

Wouldn't it be nice, if everyone would be nice?

Can't argue with that. It would be - nice.

But everyone isn't nice. Decisions should be made on the basis of that unpleasant reality.

In the American presidential election, debates and sound bites are covering predictable ground: basically, that the current Administration made up stories about the Iraqi nuclear weapons program, and used that as an excuse to unilaterally invade Iraq. On the up side, one guy is making money with a tell-all book on the subject. You've got to hand it to McClellan: his timing, for the release of his book, was about as good as it could have been.

Again, this blog isn't political, but what the politicos do affects the world we live in. And, with rather wild tales of subversive plots bouncing around, I think it's time to look around, and see what the world is really like. Parts of it, anyway.

Burma / Myanmar

Sometimes I'm happy to be wrong. Two weeks ago, it looked like a cholera epidemic had started in Burma (or Myanmar, or whatever) ("It Has Begun: Cholera in Burma / Myanmar" (May 16, 2008)). So far, we haven't heard of massive death tolls from cholera in that country.

Of course, we haven't heard much of anything. Except now the U.N. reports that the junta that runs Burma, and wants everyone to call it Myanmar, is forcing people out of the refugee camps and back into what's left of their homes. Which is rough, since they don't always get rations, and the cyclone didn't leave much 'home' to go back to.


About 60 people murdered by that country's military in 1984 are being dug up. They're some of the 123 people killed in the 1984 Putis massacre.

At that, Peru is a success story. Of a sort. After the 'democratic' government of Peru went after Shining Path (Sndero Luminoso or SL) guerrillas (Maoist flavor) and other threats to its rule and/or Peru's citizenry, Peruvians got sick and tired of being pushed around: and occasionally dumped into graves they'd been forced to dig.

There's a 'truth commission' going around, digging up evidence - and bodies - in an effort to sort out what actually happened. "Paz y Esperanza, which provides legal counseling for victims' relatives, said that the Defense Ministry has refused to provide information on the soldiers who were involved in the massacre."

The indiscriminate slaughter seems to have ebbed somewhat. And yes: I'm quite sure that some American/CIA plot is supposed to be behind it all. America is a big country, and does deal with quite a few countries: some of which don't have very nice leaders. That doesn't make America responsible for what those leaders do.


This country's leader, Saddam Hussein, was removed 'unilaterally' by America: and over two dozen other countries. The news is full of the current chaotic state of Iraq - Sunnis and Shiites alike agree on one thing: 'Yankee Go Home!' Or, as CNN wrote about discussions of American-Iraqi security arrangements: "Many Iraqis suspect it could lead to the establishment of bases, a long-term presence of American troops, and a weakening of Iraqi government control of foreign troops. Powerful Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has said any such agreement should be put to a popular referendum.... "

'Iraq would be safely under the leadership of Saddam Hussein, if the current American administration hadn't lied about the Iraqi nuclear program.' That's the line I've been hearing for a few days. Oddly, quite a few people believed that Saddam's regime had, or would soon have, nuclear weapons. And, reasonably enough, didn't want to wait until some of their cities got instant urban renewal.

I think that semantics play a part here. Quite a few people don't seem to understand the difference between a lie and a false statement. A lie is a false statement made deliberately. A false statement is just that: a statement which is not factual. Human beings can and do make mistakes. Even Americans make mistakes. Quite often, in fact.

The World Isn't Perfect: Live With It

I read an op ed in the International Herald Tribune this morning that started with: "For the past 40 years, the world has tolerated one outrage after another against the people of Burma by a succession of military dictatorships. Imprisonment, executions and brutal suppression of any dissent have been the way of life in Burma for more than a generation, while the junta's neighbors, supporters and critics alike, have only made lame excuses for doing nothing."

The author does have a point. The junta that's running Burma is bad for the country, and bad for the country's people. He raises a sensible (and rhetorical) question, "will the international community remove the generals while there is still a chance to save lives?"

My answer is, no. Certainly not if by "international community" he means the United Nations. The United Nations is good at some things, but decisive action against tyrants isn't one of them. I'm pretty sure that the United Nations' approach to solving the Burma mess would go like this:
  1. Request that 'ousting the Burmese junta' be brought up in the next U.N. Security Council meeting (I believe that might be the appropriate body)
  2. Prepare speeches for the meeting
  3. Address the U.N. Security Council, when an opening in the agenda became available
  4. Prepare responses to objections raised (probably by China)
  5. Go To Step 3
If that sounds familiar, you've either been keeping track of the United Nations, or read my post of April 26, 2008.

I'm not entirely convinced that this is the time to get rid of the junta that's been running Burma. But I'm not convinced that it's impossible, either.

The International Community, America, and Tyrants

Many seem to forget that the 'international community' and the United Nations isn't the same thing. Well over two dozen other countries were involved when America was "going it alone" unilaterally" in Iraq. from Albania to the United Kingdom.

What it took then was a strong nation to lead a sizable fraction of the other countries on Earth in an effort to oust a dictator who was reasonably suspected of having weapons of mass destruction.

Even though the WMD program wasn't found, I submit that Iraq is better off without Saddam than with the tyrant and his colorful sons.

Without a country like America, the world would most likely be a patchwork of alliances, each dominated by whichever warlord was least ineffective at using guns and leadership.

Given a choice between a world
  1. Run by the likes of
    • The House of Saud (among the most enlightened old-school monarchies around) or
    • Burma's junta
  2. Where diplomats squabble in the United Nations while America provides a rallying point for countries that give a rip
I'll take option 2.

Sources and background:

No comments:

Unique, innovative candles

Visit us online:
Spiral Light CandleFind a Retailer
Spiral Light Candle Store


Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.