Time Magazine has an article entitled "Is it time to invade Burma?" In it, they argue that "with as many as 1 million people at risk" from the leaders of this Chinese-allied country, "it's time to consider a more serious option: invading Burma." In a very clever phrase the author says, "we still haven't figured out when to give war a chance".
There are probably any number of people who are now rhetorically asking 'if we will go to war for oil, then why not go to war for humanitarian reasons?' But anyone who examines this sentence carefully soon notices it contains a number of assumptions, none of which are true.
First of all the United States does not acquire oil by conquest. It buys it on the open market. If America actually made war to seize oil it would be lifted without paying the invaded country a dime or at artificially low prices. That's the definition of "seize". Not a single barrel of oil in Iraq has been "seized". It's all being sold at world market prices.
Second of all, that "we" are the world. But in reality, who is the "we" who are going to invade Burma? Will it be France? Will it be Cuba? Will it be Venezuela? Will it be the European Union? Heck no. "We" in this context means the United States of America.
Retired General William Nash of the Council on Foreign Relations says the U.S. should first pressure China to use its influence over the junta to get them to open up and then supply support to the Thai and Indonesian militaries to carry out relief missions. "We can pay for it — we can provide repair parts to the Indonesians so they can get their Air Force up. We can lend the them two C-130s and let them paint the Indonesian flag on them," Nash says. "We have to get the stuff to people who can deliver it and who the Burmese government will accept, even if takes an extra day or two and even if it's not as efficient as the good old U.S. military.
Yes folks, the "good old U.S. military" -- the same one whose recruiting stations Code Pink wants to drive out of Berkeley; the same one Barack Obama wants to reduce; the same "good old U.S. military" that is reviled as incompetent, perennially defeated when it is killing children by the thousands or bombing baby milk factories. That's what's going to do it. Invade Burma, I mean.
And the third assumption is that invasion doesn't mean killing people. That all "we" have to do is show up and the Burmese generals, who care nothing for human life, will suddenly give way before the 'moral authority' of the invaders, just because it's a good cause. Never mind that the history of war shows that invasion almost always implies an exceedingly violent series of acts. Nope. When "we" show up the Burmese are just going to roll over, get up and fetch.
Now in all probability if the "good old U.S. military" actually does invade Burma it will incinerate every vestige of armed opposition in its path. Burmese Army units will stand about as much chance as ants before a kid's homemade flamethrower. And then all of a sudden the assumptions will collapse in reverse order. People are going to say, 'we didn't realize invasions meant killing people'; 'we didn't realize we wouldn't have allies'; and finally 'we did not think it would be so expensive'. And then we will hear that classic line: "I was for it before I was against it."
Here's what I think. The US can invade any country it wants for a good reason and with a full understanding of what it entails. The Time magazine article is proof that there are a whole lot of people who are a long way from either having reasons or understanding -- and a good chance they'll all be in office by 2009.
Maybe they should watch some old movies.
The Belmont Club is supported largely by donations from its readers.