Friday, September 28, 2007

More on Burma/Myanmar

It is an isolated country run by a military junta which does not care about the rest of the world, with the possible exception of China, because Burma falls within China's sphere of influence. It is a country with very little infrastructure, a very high rate of inflation, totally inept public management and great poverty, the latter despite the great natural resources the country also has. It is a very devout country and the leadership of the Buddhist monks in the most recent demonstrations is therefore important.

The people are, however, without weapons and without real power to influence the outcome of the situation unless they are willing to be slaughtered in large numbers. The military is in power and the military has all the weapons.

Whether the current unrest is just one of those times when the pressure kettle that is Burma is allowed to let off some steam before the pressure returns is unclear. It seems to me that the Burmese people cannot cause change without foreign assistance and that this assistance should be something different from a trade embargo which mostly hurts the poor.

But if I am wrong and the protests turn into a revolution, who is there in Burma with the expertise to manage a government? Aun Sang Suu Kyi has been under house arrest for over a decade, and in many ways her major role now is a symbolic one. This is not a trivial role at all, but being under house arrest is not the way to get the required training for running a country. Most of her closest allies are imprisoned if not dead.

I wish I could write something more positive about these events. Freedom is not on a march in Burma.