Between Apathy and Greed (Video)


I have to give Mac McClelland credit for taking a vicious stab at an argument that’s always comes across as a feel-good drug without any benefit: that first comes wealth, and then comes liberty.

But then, I’m not sure she isn’t trying to get the US to spark a Karen-led insurrection in Myanmar

I have to give Mac McClelland credit for taking a vicious stab at an argument that’s always comes across as a feel-good drug without any benefit: that first comes wealth, and then comes liberty.

But then, I’m not sure she isn’t trying to get the US to spark a Karen-led insurrection in Myanmar

Imagine, for a moment, that Texas had managed to secede from the union, and that you live there, in the sovereign Republic of Texas. Imagine that shortly after independence, a cadre of old, paranoid, greedy men who believed in a superior military caste took over your newly autonomous nation in a coup. Your beloved president, who had big dreams of prosperity and Texan unity, whom you believed in, was shot, and now the army runs your country. It has direct or indirect control over all the businesses. It spends 0.3 percent of GDP on health care, and uses your oil and natural gas money to buy weapons that Russia, Pakistan, and North Korea have been happy to provide. It sends your rice and beans to India and China, while your countrymen starve. There is no free press, and gatherings of more than five people are illegal. If you are arrested, a trial, much less legal representation, is not guaranteed. In the event of interrogation, be prepared to crouch like you’re riding a motorbike for hours or be hung from the ceiling and spun around and around and around, or burned with cigarettes, or beaten with a rubber rod. They might put you in a ditch with a dead body for six days, lock you in a room with wild, sharp-beaked birds, or make you stand to your neck in a cesspool full of maggots that climb into your nose and ears and mouth. If you do manage to stay out of the prisons, where activists and dissidents have been rotting for decades, you will be broke and starving. Your children have a 10 percent chance of dying before they reach their fifth birthday, and a 32 percent chance they’ll be devastatingly malnourished if they’re still alive. What’s more, you and 50 million countrymen are trapped inside your 268,000-square-mile Orwellian nightmare with some 350,000 soldiers. They can snatch people—maybe your kid—off the street and make them join the army. They can grab you as you’re going out to buy eggs and make you work construction on a new government building or road—long, hard hours under the grueling sun for days or weeks without pay—during which you’ll have to scavenge for food. You’ll do all this at gunpoint, and any break will be rewarded with a pistol-whipping. Your life is roughly equivalent to a modern-day Burmese person’s.

Now imagine that you belong to a distinct group, Dallasites, or something, that never wanted to be part of the Republic in the first place, that wanted to either remain part of the United States, which had treated you just fine, or, failing that, become your own free state within the Republic of Texas, since you already had your own infrastructure and culture. Some Dallasites have, wisely or unwisely, taken up arms to battle the Texas military government, and in retaliation whole squads of that huge army have, for decades, been dedicated to terrorizing your city. You and your fellow Dallasites are regularly conscripted into slavery, made to walk in front of the army to set off land mines that they—and your own insurgents—have planted, or carry 100-pound loads of weaponry while being severely beaten until you’re crippled or die. If you’re so enslaved, you might accompany the soldiers as they march into your friends’ neighborhoods and set them on fire, watch them shoot at fleeing inhabitants as they run, capturing any stragglers. If you’re one of those stragglers, and you’re a woman, or a girl five or older, prepare to be raped, most likely gang-raped, and there’s easily a one-in-four chance you’ll then be killed, possibly by being shot, possibly through your vagina, possibly after having your breasts hacked off. If you’re a man, maybe you’ll be hung by your wrists and burned alive. Maybe a soldier will drown you by filling a plastic bag with water and tying it over your head, or stretch you between two trees and use you as a hammock, or cut off your nose, pull out your eyes, and then stab you in both ears before killing you, or string you up by your shoulders and club you now and again for two weeks, or heat up slivers of bamboo and push them into your urethra, or tie a tight rope between your dick and your neck for a while before setting your genitals on fire, or whatever else hateful, armed men and underage boys might dream up when they have orders to torment, and nothing else to do. And though you’ve been sure for decades that the United States can’t possibly let this continue, it has invested in your country’s oil and will not under any circumstances cross China, which is your country’s staunch UN defender and economic ally, so you really need to accept that America is decidedly not coming to save you. Nobody is.

Now your life is pretty much equivalent to a modern-day Burmese Karen’s..

On a “cheerier” note, Aung San Suu Kyi has been “released”. The Economist, debating whether she’s a hero or part of the problem, adopts a perspective that might be applicable to the country’s predicament.

Those who now portray her as a principled but rigid dogmatist, unwilling to make the slightest concession to the junta, forget that she used to face just the opposite criticism. When she was “freed” in 1995, it was to preach the virtues of dialogue and compromise, against those, still buoyed by the electoral triumph in 1990, who thought the junta might simply be swept away. Miss Suu Kyi’s true rigidity was to stick to Gandhian principles. She abhors the violence that would have been entailed by the kind of people-power revolution that some of her supporters had hoped she would lead.

“They have to understand that flexibility and weakness are completely different,” she told The Economist at the time. A steel wire, she said, is strong because it is flexible; a glass rod is rigid but may shatter. In the years since, the junta has done its best to turn her into a glass rod. It has yet to succeed.

One aspect of this about which I hear very little is the role the British played in creating the nightmare that’s Burma. Perhaps a solution lies in tackling that legacy. Like Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar is torn between the apathy most of the world displays toward it and Beijing’s rapacious need for its stability and resources. Myanmar is a victim of its geography and history.

Filed under: bhtv, Business/Economy, Human Rights, Politics, Southeast Asia, Subscriptions Tagged: aung san suu kyi, burma, china, mac mcclelland, mark goldberg, mother jones, myanmar, prc, the economic

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