By Roland Watson
Dictator Watch
October 29, 2023

I've been an activist for thirty years. Being involved in difficult situations for this much time teaches you a lot. There are both big lessons and small. The most important that I have learned are as follows.

1. Dictators need to be defeated. Negotiation is useless, as it will never get them to relinquish power. If whatever tactic you are trying requires a dictator willingly to assent, it will not work. You have to force them to give in. In other words, you have to fight. With political dictators who suppress their populations with violence, you have to fight back with arms. It's the only way, as the people of Burma now understand. You need to keep going until you win, until the dictators and their soldiers are dead or in detention and you have liberated the entire country.

2. Members of the international democratic community never provide assistance to revolutionary struggles in response to humanitarian concerns, as again is illustrated by Burma. They may express indignation at the atrocities and massacres perpetrated by the dictators, and provide aid for the surviving victims, but they will not help the general public revolt, out of a conviction that it is the right thing to do. No matter what they say, the U.S., the countries of Europe, and other nations around the world that have democratic governments, will only intervene if the leaders believe this somehow satisfies national geopolitical objectives. As examples of this, with Ukraine, the U.S. is involved to counter the Russian threat under Putin, and also to assist European allies. For Europe itself, the invasion is a danger to their own security. Other alliance rationales include the U.S. and Israel (however debatable this may be), and the U.S. and Taiwan. In some cases, such as the First Gulf War, participation is also linked to commercial interests. But in summary, countries will only act if they think they will receive a direct, tangible benefit. The idea of altruism is nonexistent.

There may be a U.N. Declaration of Human Rights, and a Responsibility to Protect, and of course there have been manifold protestations that genocide will never be allowed again, but these are all diplomatic misdirection - nonsense. Foreign and military policy reflects geopolitical interests alone.

Once more for Burma, Western leaders do not acknowledge that the Revolutionary War in the country and the terrorist junta's crimes against humanity are important in any real way. You can argue with them about this until you are blue in the face, as I and many others have, but they are unshakeable in their verdict.

3. This means people who are being repressed in countries where the world just does not care have no choice but to rise up on their own, with whatever help they might be able to attract from truly altruistic individuals and organizations. This in turn makes the fight much harder. They are on their own, against a ruthless, bloodthirsty State and which has been granted international recognition. But, popular pressure can prevail, even over the worst tyrants. There is power in numbers. As the people of Burma are proving right now, they will, if they maintain their determination and courage, win freedom.