At a press conference in the White House today, Laura Bush denounced the Burmese junta for not doing enough to help its citizens devastated by Cyclone Nargis.
With their usual simpering manners, and a fear that asking the wrong question might see them barred from future presidential events, the White House “press corps” demurred to comment on this blatant hypocrisy so readily spouted by America’s First Lady.
No-one dared so much as murmur the words, “Hurricane Katrina”.
With its usual ruthlessness, the US administration of George W Bush has continued severe sanctions imposed on Burma by Bill Clinton. As with all cases of sanctions – so obviously witnessed in Iraq in the 1990’s – the rulers don’t suffer at all. Such high-handed, moralistic, interventions by those who have plenty, and the military power to ensure they keep it, only results in the common people going without.
Sanctions are designed to topple dictatorships and juntas by imposing immense hardship on ordinary people, eventually forcing unrest and uprisings, which in theory may cause regime change.
Rarely does that occur.
Over the last few months we’ve seen the consequences of unrest in Burma; monks beaten and tortured, soldiers on the streets, a sudden increase in burials. Is this the unrest America wishes to inflict with its high-and-mighty sanctions?
US politicians are especially adept at taking such stances. One has to wonder just who they think they are, these self-appraised demi-gods anticipating a military junta halfway round the world will listen to their words and take heed. Hillary Clinton is such a one, as is Nancy Pelosi. Both were shouting their mouths off today warning Burmese leaders not to turn down international aid.
Had they bothered to watch foreign news reports they could have saved their breath. The Burmese had already agreed to international aid long before Bush, Clinton, or Pelosi opened their mouths.
The US Congress, continuing this tortuous crusade of magnanimity, has announced via its mentor George W Bush that America’s highest civilian honor, the US congressional gold medal, is to be awarded to Aung San Suu Kyi, the Democratic activist under house arrest in Burma these past ten years.
One has to wonder at the thinking of the US Congress – that is, if it thinks at all. Of course, it’s so easy to award a medal. It’s cheap, and hardly takes up any time, not enough to interfere with the claret and smoked salmon eye-balled for senatorial luncheons.
Gestures of this nature are worthless, and will probably do a disservice to Aung San Suu Kyi, who is bound to feel the repercussions from her Burmese masters, who won’t take kindly to such Western interference in their affairs.
Meanwhile, George Bush announces the suffering people of Burma will receive bounteous American Aid, in the sum of – $250,000. It’s not a fortune, but to be fair, he can hardly give more to a foreign nation than he stumped up for New Orleans, now can he?
Congress, stuffed to the gills with the soft warmth of giving, second helpings of salmon, and a glass too many of Chateau Moulin de Peyronin, can rumble, belch, and fart their way through the afternoon house session contentedly oblivious to the knowledge Suu Kyi’s golden gong will probably secure for her another ten years of lonely incarceration.
Filed under: Burmese/US relations