February 15: Tomorrow is February 16, and the coup is now over two weeks old. It's time for a review and a re-think.

Fewer people came out today, which isn't surprising. People have been marching every day, and it was time for a break. And, the dictatorship has been trying to spread fear, and which has probably worked, a little.

But nothing can take away from the huge accomplishment of what the people of Burma have done. Millions of individuals have protested, and in hundreds of locations. The population wants freedom and democracy, and will never be satisfied until they are achieved.

For the bad news, the people are calling for help from the International Community. This isn't going to come, not real assistance, as in an armed intervention such as peacekeepers. First, the United Nations won't do anything. Because of China and Russia, it no longer has any real political role. It only helps out in crisis situations through aid agencies like WFP and UNICEF. In any situation where China and/or Russia has a vested interest, they block action in the Security Council, such that the U.N. has effectively been neutered, for what is now decades.

The U.S. won't come in, either, although new President Biden has talked tough and even acted. But America's Western allies, Europe and Australia, don't want to do anything. And for Biden to respond with greater force, he will need a way to do it, to support the protestors. It is difficult to imagine just what this might be. Finally, any U.S. action in Burma would be a direct challenge to China, and while Biden may be willing to do this, there would have to be a major event - a real crackdown - to justify it.

The other potential sources of help are the Ethnic Armed Organizations, some of whom have expressed a willingness to protect the people, but who as yet haven't done anything significant. I have communicated to friends in the EAOs that what is happening now is the first real chance for freedom in the country since 2007. It would be a huge failure to lose the opportunity, and they should try to find some way to contribute to it.

But the problem is, you also have to look at it from their perspective. The people in Burma's cities, largely Bamar people, are upset that they have lost their "democracy," for what is now a total of two weeks. But there has never been democracy in the ethnic nationality areas, just continuing Tatmadaw occupation, repression and civil war. The EAOs' primary objective remains to protect their people, in their areas. Their view is probably, "welcome to our world."

Of course they would like to play a role, but again, as with the U.S., how should they do it? It also doesn't help that for decades they never got any cooperation from the "democracy leader," Suu Kyi. They have always been on the outside. The "democracy movement" consisted only of her NLD, she made sure everyone understood that, and she wanted nothing to do with the groups that were actually willing to fight for freedom. So again, it's not surprising that there is some resistance to getting involved.

So here we are. The good news is that the people want freedom. And there is also good news in the fact that there has been no major crackdown. The police shot two protestors, one of which shootings was caught on camera, and which outraged the people and the world. So the dictatorship is playing things very carefully. They view this, for now, largely as a propaganda war. They are going out at night, and arresting anyone they think is a leader, and also journalists, and in the process getting into some clashes with groups of young men. This has all been pretty low key so far. There have been a few larger-scale arrests at some protests (Naypyidaw, Mandalay, etc., - they really seem to want to hold Mandalay), but in most cases the people detained have been released. The number of people being held has been rising, but for an entire country it is still pretty low, and half the detainees are also from Suu Kyi's government.

So moving forward, there is a lot of reason to hope. While it seems now that it will be a long haul, popular resentment should continue to build. There really is no going back for the regime. Min Aung Hlaing made a big mistake. Even if they hold onto power, they are going to be hated like never before. This in turn will affect everything.

It is essential that the people continue to protest, and expand the strike, and try not to become afraid by the small nightly crackdowns (and the regime's use of thugs). It would help if everyone on social media does not inflame the situation, since all this does is spread more fear. Every time there is a clash, and maybe some rubber bullets are fired or slingshots used, people start screaming about massacres. (OK, maybe not massacres, but the descriptions are like it is the end of the world.) You are doing the regime's job for them, helping them spread fear. Sure, distribute the videos and photos, but wait until the facts are known before shouting about what has happened.

Ultimately, the people are going to have to face a fundamental question. Is this a popular revolution, or is it just protest? The few leaders that do exist have called for everyone to be peaceful, which has been a good decision because this encouraged a lot more people to come out. But, history does demonstrate one thing, peaceful protest against killer dictatorships will only get you so far. The regime wants to perpetrate violence, so of course you don't want to give them an excuse. But just marching will not be enough.

The wild card is the national strike. This can bring a dictatorship down. It happened in Poland, for example, when student activists combined with workers and miners. The strike needs to go forward. Min Aung Hlaing doesn't really care about the marches, he is betting that they will die down at some point, but the strike is different. This IS a threat. His Big Lie is that everything is normal, that they are just correcting some election fraud. This doesn't hold if the country goes on strike, and his international business partners start to complain, or - even worse - pull out. Nowadays, after Suu Kyi's extreme push for development, for "constructive engagement," the regime is kept afloat as much by its international business connections as it is by the Tatmadaw. Before the development, it ruled solely by force (and still does so in the ethnic nationality areas). But in the cities, its authority is cemented by having joined the "modern world." The strike undermines all of this.

So, don't plan on any real help from the U.N., or the U.S., or the EAOs. What should you do then? Keep protesting; try not to get arrested, and try to "unarrest" anyone who does; and expand the strike. And, just as there has been a huge effort to call on the world for assistance, mount a similar effort to calling on regime police and soldiers to join the protests, for the sake of the future of the country. At every protest where they show up, don't shout at them, at least until they start attacking. Instead, talk to them, and try to get them to change sides.