December 2023

There are two key questions the people of Burma have to answer after the terrorist junta is defeated, and which they should be actively talking about now:

1. What political organization will the country have?

A, it is reconstituted as a federal union, with a new collection of states, and which has both a federal government and state governments. Some states will have ethnic majorities, such that new political parties from those groups will probably dominate at the state level, and some states will be more mixed, meaning new elected state governments will have a combination of officials from the different ethnic populations. Likewise the new Federal government, where the key characteristic of who wins or is appointed to office should be "character," who is capable, principled, and not corrupt in any way at all from their prior behavior. For Burma to succeed as a federal nation it must have its very best people in charge of the new democracy. Similarly, whatever new federal army is established, what will be the form of its different units, ethnic dominated or integrated? Most nations with functioning democracies have integrated militaries, meaning soldiers from all the domestic ethnic groups, and which notwithstanding the history of differences between the groups are required to work together under the command and control structure; or, a system where different units have different ethnic makeups, as what would appear to be the natural transition away from the EAO and PDF revolutionary model. But, while this would be a natural transition, it would probably not be the best, for peace, since conflicts would be more likely between the new overall federal army's different ethnic-based units. In any case, though, it is difficult to see why the country would need a huge military post-freedom, since armies in democracies exist to counter external threats, and there is little threat posed by Burma's neighbors (other than China of course).

A related question is what to do with the terrorist junta's surviving soldiers and police. The traditional solution would be to prosecute those who are guilty of war crimes, and to bar all the rest from the new post-freedom federal army. But this may run into the current practice, where some deserting soldiers and police are being incorporated into revolutionary units. Of course this is only done with individuals deemed entirely trustworthy and war-crimes free.

B, a confederation of ethnic-based states and with their own ethnic-based armies, which cooperate together on various national issues but which have virtual if not total self-determination otherwise. The issues with this are again that the confederate states might find cooperation difficult (particularly if their leaders are obsessed with power or otherwise corrupt), and which could also easily result in localized conflict, and further that some states will be richer in natural resources than others, which doesn't seem fair since the country has been raped commercially for so long. In this case at least some areas would continue to be denied a portion of its natural wealth.

C, a collection of small independent states - Burma breaks up. Option B could easily lead to this but in any case it is not the horror show that is often depicted. Yugoslavia demonstrated that a multi-ethnic nation can be reconstituted as a collection of ethnic-based independent countries, although peace between all of them has not been easy to achieve. The smaller countries, like Kosovo, remain at risk from the larger (mainly Serbia). This state of affairs could also develop in a post-Burma system.

2. What to do about China, and Chinese investments? China is a political and military dictatorship and it has been the lead sponsor of the Burma junta. As such, the ideal solution post-freedom would be for the new country to have a completely different approach to Beijing and Chinese companies. Logically a line would be drawn and the extremely negative Chinese influence would be restricted if not eliminated, both politically and economically. The latter would mean either nationalization or a complete restructuring of all Chinese projects in Burma, to end the exploitation (likewise for all projects with other foreign partners).

This won't be easy of course, since some EAOs have close relationships with China, as did Suu Kyi's NLD. But for Burma in the future to prosper and be truly independent these types of relationships will have to change. I would argue that China influences should be expelled - that nationalization is the correct approach. But others may view it differently. It's worth a warning, though, that as China's interests are protected, the first political choice, a federal nation, will be much more difficult to achieve. China will interfere. Beijing may well prefer either the confederation or the collection of states options, as a way to maintain its power and influence. Burma has been under the thumb of China for far too long. It can only be free it both the junta tyrants and their Chinese godfathers are gone.