BURMA: WHAT'S THE GOAL?
By Roland Watson
November 29, 2014
When you look at a situation as complex as what is happening in Burma, it is easy to lose sight of the goal. Indeed, different parties view the country in varied ways, reflecting "different" goals, those which are of interest to them.
For example, for the military dictatorship that continues to rule Burma, in the guise of civilian clothing, the goal - or goals - are clear: to remain in absolute power; to avoid prosecution for the crimes against humanity that they have committed; and to continue to steal the wealth of the nation, both natural resource and labor.
International businesses, which have no morals and hence no reservations about working with dictators, witness their embrace of China and the Chinese Communist Party, simply want to complete deals and establish trade. This includes to exploit Burma's resources, including petroleum products and other natural resources, as well as tourism resources; to build infrastructure projects; to exploit the population as low-paid workers; and to sell the population a wide range of cheap, low quality goods. Other businesses in turn want to sell luxury goods, including tourism, to the elite, both domestic and foreign.
As Burma under the generals is not viewed as a significant security threat (even - somehow - in the face of its clandestine missile and nuclear program), the nation is of interest to other countries, again, only from the business perspective. International leaders and diplomats therefore have as their goal to assist domestic companies to penetrate its business sectors.
Notably for these three parties - the dictatorship, businesses and the International Community, none of them - not one - have as their goal the end of human rights and environmental abuses and the establishment of real democracy.
The people of Burma, on the other hand, and the journalists and activists who support them, have precisely this goal. The people have suffered repression for over fifty years, and are desperate to achieve their freedom.
The first way in which this objective is hindered, therefore, is that it conflicts with the goals of the other three groups. And, while the people, theoretically, have "people power," but which is also difficult to harness and organize, the other groups have military and financial force, and with well-established systems to impose them.
People power shouldn't be underestimated, though. However, it is only effective when it is used.
The second problem for the people of Burma is that while their goal, freedom and democracy, is clear, as a group they are not "goal-oriented." This again contrasts with the other three groups, which are not only focused on their objectives, they are obsessed with achieving them.
A goal can also be viewed as an "end," and the techniques that are used to achieve it as the "means." Further, some means are ethical but others are not. The dictatorship's invasion of the ethnic nationality homelands, for instance, is not only unethical, it's criminal. The Burma Army has committed crimes against humanity, including war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and even genocide. The regime supported, systematic campaign of rape of ethnic nationality women, is a war crime. The "Four Cuts" campaign that drove Kachin, Shan, Karenni, Karen and other ethnic villagers from their homes, is ethnic cleansing. And the regime's campaign to eradicate the Rohingya, in league with local Rakhine racists, has achieved the level of genocide.
The first three groups, the dictatorship, businesses and international diplomats, are using all of the means at their disposal to achieve their goals, including unethical and, for the dictatorship, criminal. For the latter groups, it is unethical for businesses to exploit workers in sweat shops, and to destroy the environment when extracting resources. Similarly, it is unethical, as unethical as it is possible to be, for diplomats to say that they support democracy for Burma, while at the same time doing everything in their power to see that it is never attained. Both the actions and the inaction of the International Community have directly supported the military dictatorship and its goals.
Again, though, the people are not goal-oriented. The objective of freedom, of course, is perhaps one of the most difficult to achieve, requiring strong leadership and essentially unlimited commitment, courage and determination. But Burma's "pro-democracy" leaders, starting with Aung San Suu Kyi, are weak. She has even publicly accepted, and through doing so legitimized, the dictatorship: the validity of the military's role. She is not dedicated to freedom and democracy at all. And, she is denying the victims of the dictatorship the justice that they so ardently desire and deserve.
Similarly, some ethnic nationality leaders have also sold out for personal glory and financial gain, but even those who are not corrupt are too timid. For example, it is not enough for the ethnic armies to defend their people from Burma Army attack. They need to go on the offensive, through guerrilla action, to drive the Tatmadaw from their land.
For the people of the country, both Burman and ethnic nationality, and also journalists and activists, it seems that the majority have been deceived by the leaders. Suu Kyi uses the mantra, "Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst," and most people are doing just that. But the first part of this idea is tripe: garbage! There is no hope in Burma! The people have experienced the most horrific abuse for the last fifty years. According to the new census, the regime is responsible for as many as nine million deaths. The people need to not only prepare for, but to fight, the worst - the military dictatorship! As has occurred in one popular revolution after another around the world, the people of Burma need to rise up and - working with the ethnic armies - drive the dictatorship out. This is the goal, and everything that is thought, said and done should be dedicated to achieving it. Forget Suu Kyi and the other traitors. She and they want to keep you enslaved! Find likeminded family members and friends, form affinity groups and underground cells, organize, and fight back. Rebel! Start a Revolution!
The only proviso to this is that the people should be ethical. This is war, civil war between the public and the dictatorship, but even war has limits. Regime personnel and facilities are valid quarry. Non-affiliated individuals and facilities are not. There should be no terrorism - no attacks on "soft" targets.
Fortunately, throughout their five decades of subjugation, the people have been remarkably disciplined in their unwillingness to use terrorism. This must continue. But, legitimate attacks, offensive attacks, should escalate. Again, this is war, and the only goal with war is to win! The dictators understand this, but the people - because of poor leadership - do not. They need to reject their leaders, and rise up and fight and win the war, and through this, their freedom.