Why the U.N. and the U.S. Should Invade Myanmar and Why We Can't (Updated with a consideration for Hurricane Katrina):
What's occurring right now in Myanmar, post-cyclone, is nothing short of the slow-creep beginning of a genocide. When a nation's leaders willfully keep aid provided by humanitarian and relief agencies, governmental and non-governmental, from the desperate, starving, dying people who need it, then that nation's leaders want large numbers of people to die.
Right now, in addition to the complete fucking abomination that is the junta's refusal to allow the wave of aid workers needed for the devastated nation, there are credible allegations that the regime is hoarding high quality food from relief shipments for itself and the military while giving the citizens poor quality or spoiled food. 'Cause, you see, if you run a country with the military, then you better fuckin' feed the military first, or revolution is gonna happen. That's 400,000 members of the military and roughly a couple of million family members. Yeah, the people of the Irrawaddy Delta are fucked.
We're at a likely 100,000 or more dead, at least a million homeless. Bodies are polluting the rivers, bloated corpses bumping into sewage and debris. If there's an uprising by people who are watching their kids starve to death, the well-fed military will take care of that. Otherwise, it's just kick back in the bunkers of Naypyidaw and wait for those bastards who dared to defy the junta to get their fill of cholera. You can goddamn well bet there's gonna be a paucity of monks in Burma come summer.
Over at the Asia Times, Shawn W. Crispin, no rabid interventionist, makes the case for invading Myanmar. Prodding the United Nations to take action beyond a shaking finger and a strongly worded letter, Crispin says, "In the wake of the cyclone, the criminality of the junta's callous policies has taken on new human proportions in full view of the global community. Without a perceived strong UN-led response to the natural disaster, hard new questions will fast arise about the UN's own relevance and ability to manage global calamities."
However, the UN has "limited powers of projection," and Crispin states that the United State would need to lead any armed intervention into Myanmar against the paranoid savages that run the country. And he gives a reacharound to the Bush administration, saying, basically, "You wanna raise the American standing in the world? Kicking the shit out of the junta in Yangon in the name of saving the people would go a long way to rebuilding the broken dam of American foreign policy." What, he asks, as well he should, is the price of doing nothing?
Indeed, if it is possible, this might be a modified use of the shock doctrine to do good - get aid to a population that is being murdered by its own government and getting rid of a thuggish, repressive government in the wake of a massive disaster. Fuckers are already so nutzoid panicked over possible outsider invasion that the leaders are in hiding. Now, we could say, let's make their worst nightmares come true to prevent genocide. (Update: Anne Applebaum at Slate also makes the case for intervention.)
Except...we can't. "We" being the United States. In the wake of Iraq, we have so lost all moral authority that, even in a situation where the murky rivers of fluid morality clarify, we cannot plausibly say that we have the interests of the people of Myanmar at stake (even if one possible outcome is a Myanmar that might open to U.S. interests). Because we used it all up on the Iraq war, all the chits we had. America can no longer make predictions about what might happen after an invasion because we fucked it all up so very badly by even invading Iraq in the first place. We don't know if it'd be a Bosnia or a Somalia. Bush invaded out of trumped-up fear and weakness. Now, when we're at a situation that's potentially an inexorable Sudan-like death march, we are simply floating bereft on that river of morality, hoping someday we can dock.
Also, George Bush has so degraded this nation that we no longer have any leverage with China and Russia, who have gotten the backs of the junta at least in the U.N. and whose approval would be needed for any U.N. effort. In other words, if we piss it off, China fuckin' owns us. And Russia doesn't give a shit about relations with us except in how it can exert more and more power inverse to our degradation. (That's a vast oversimplification of shit, yes, but it's close enough.)
To bottom line it: we can't be trusted. And no one's got our back.
And thank fuckin' god for the China earthquake so we can move on to talking about another country's dead.
How often do we have to stand by and abide madness? In Bush's America, we have reached the point where we have no choice but to smile and wave as parts of the world claw themselves to pieces.
Update: Several people have written to the Rude Pundit with a pithy line like, "Under your logic, someone could have invaded the United States after Katrina." To them, the Rude Pundit would say, "Look at the fuckin' first sentence up there." This is about a potential genocide. The post-Katrina disaster was a horrible clusterfuck of incompetence and neglect, covered in a secret sauce of willful evil. As awful as that was (and is), we're on a different scale here of death and misery, with a government that can't even be shamed by its own people into pretending it's acting.