Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Progress Marches On in Myanmar (or “Burma, it’s an industry term”)

Go ahead and picture this if you will: Rule by military junta. An oppressed democracy movement. A Nobel Peace Prize winner under house arrest. Peaceful demonstrations by monks cut short by gunfire. A disastrous cyclone followed by a government response so skilled it makes the Hurricane Katrina assistance from FEMA look positively amateurish.

Yes, there’s only one place that fits all of these criteria: Burma! Technically all I really had to type was the one about house arrest, as Burma is currently the only country in the world to have taken the bold move of imprisoning a Nobel Peace Prize winner. Still, it does feel good to have all of accomplishments of the Burmese government listed in one paragraph.

The last time we heard about Burma in the news was when the junta put an end to what some refer to as the Saffron Revolution. Those of us who have been raised in the decadent West have no idea what it must be like to live in a country with so many Buddhist monks running around, peacefully agitating for human rights and democracy- what unspeakable horror! Fortunately the junta was able to take a few cues from its friends in Beijing, and quickly restored law and order and harsh merciless oppression to the land.

I know that I’m personally pretty glad that the United States, United Nations, European Union, ASEAN, and pretty much every other potential force for good in the world were happy to sit that one out. One factor partially explaining why the U.S. didn’t do anything may be the efforts of one Doug Goodyear, who was until quite recently the coordinator for the 2008 Republican National Convention. Turns out his lobbying firm had accepted a contract from the junta, to try and improve relations between DC and the Burmese government!

With this deal exposed and Myanmar likely not getting its moneys worth, I’ve taken it upon myself to provide a few potential slogans for use on posters, flyers, t-shirts, and blinking flashing moving pop-up ads:
  • Aung San Suu Kyi rocks the house! (with a picture of the house she’s been confined to for 18 or so years)
  • Myanmar: More than just dead monks! (probably don’t want a picture for this one)
  • Military Junta? More like FUN-ta! (attempt the impossible task of procuring a picture of any Burmese citizen having fun)
Today the news is again filled with images of the Burmese regime doing what it does best. Food only somewhat extremely past its prime is being distributed to survivors. The military, with little else to do while the people of Burma struggle to survive, has taken to hassling the monks again. A good thing, too, because the monks were close to overshadowing the official government response, despite having practically no resources. Outside help has been largely rejected by the government. Yes, progress truly marches on in Burma.


  1. sick, sad situation out there. ah repression & strong arm tactics... what else can be said about them that hasn't been said about Hillary Clinton? everyone would be better off if they went away

  2. by the way, i just deleted my first post becasue i left out some words

  3. Lobbying for these governments has to be the strangest job there is. Do you go to capitol hill and say, "Well, I know we've been killing those monks but..."

    I really wish I could sit in on one of those meetings to see if anybody keeps a straight face.