Saturday, September 29, 2007

Letter from Burma

This letter has been sent to me -- and to others -- by a Burmese gentleman. Anyone who is currently or was ever a citizen of the Third World will attest to its essential truth.

Before I go to bed tonight, I will pray hard to Lord Buddha that I will wake up as a Japanese in the morning. All my life, I have been a Burmese and I have always thought that all the human lives have equal values in this world after reading “The Universal Declaration of Human Rights”. It was a rude awakening for me and I only realized it in the last few days.

Matter of fact, I just learned that a Japanese life is worth more than thousands of Burmese lives. It is evident from the reaction of the Japanese government after a Japanese journalist was killed in Rangoon. The Japanese government has long been aware of the fact that Burmese people go through these abuses at junta’s hand everyday. Summary executions, forced labor, forced relocation, forced conscription of child soldiers and many other atrocities. But Japanese government has been indifferent in their policy of engaging with the military junta and supporting them.

Suddenly, even the Deputy Foreign Minister is going to Burma for an investigation for the death of the Japanese journalist. Please don’t misunderstand me, myself along with all the Burmese appreciate the efforts of Nagai San to expose the living hell that the Burmese live day in day out, to the outside world. Our condolences go to his family. It is sad that an innocent Japanese life had to be lost because the government of Japan had ignored all the facts for decades knowingly.

I will also pray for all the other Burmese to wake up as Japanese tomorrow. Lord Buddha please have mercy on all of us Burmese and let us wake up as Japanese tomorrow.

Zaw Tun

I thought I should compose a reply.

The hard truth is that no one is going to save you. The UN Declaration of Human Rights is only as good as the Burmese people can make it. Nobody at Turtle Bay will so much as cross the street to enforce it. That the Japanese foreign ministry has taken an momentary interest in Burma is nice, but make no mistake, their focus will be on the fate of the dead Japanese journalist. You will be part of the scenery.

It was to avoid this fate -- the fate of counting for nothing -- that people formed real countries with real governments. In order to protect themselves: "to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them ... to secure these rights ... among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness ... governments are instituted among Men." And thus are the Japanese protected by the Government of Japan, Americans by the United States, Australians by the Commonwealth of Australia and so on. Otherwise they would be as you are, under the mocking protection of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, that is to say, the butt of a cruel joke.

For historical reasons all too well known to you, Burma currently has no real government. Oh, like many other Third World states it has a head of government, a bureaucracy and their excellencies the ambassadors; it has generals and field marshals, with ranks more exalted the Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff and more medals than Audie Murphy. They have the complete panoply of sovereign majesty; everything but legitimacy derived from the consent of the governed. You have not given the generals who rule your country consent; and yet they govern.

Better yet your rulers are recognized by foreigners even though you know them not. Recognized by the United Nations and ASEAN. Your rulers are loved by other governments in proportion to the degree with which these governments resemble your own. Governments of the Third World have a vested interest in keeping the standards low. You the Burmese must always be worthless so that the citizens of other Third World countries can be equally valueless. The United Nations is a club where tyrants can confer legitimacy upon each other and cover every outrage on the globe with bureaucratic oblivion. This legitimacy is called "national dignity" and the bureacratic smokescreen which accompanies it is called "international law".

You are alone. Still you have yourselves. Whatever sham your government has become you the Burmese are men. Aid may come to you but it would be unwise to count on it. You have nothing but your own manhood to rely upon. On it rests your slender chances for freedom. Upon it depends your dignity. From it shall spring the law. Not international law, drafted over petit fours and coffee in Brussels but law that springs from you. By the consent of the governed.

You will be lonely, but there is no help for it. I would be dishonest if I said that the road to freedom was anything else but long, wearying and full of pain. But I know that is the road that you long to take. "Death and sorrow will be the companions of your journey, hardship your garment, constancy and valor your only shield." That is the path which you will embark upon, because as men you can do no other.

I have no strength of my own to give you and will only say this: may the Lord Jesus Christ and the Lord Buddha guide you. And lead you to your home.


Blogger RKV said...

Our friend in Burma wishes freedom without a fight. Such a thing will never be. Buddha may indeed grant him his wish to wake up Japanese, but only after risking his neck fighting the tyrants who oppress his country, will he be worthy of so valuable a thing as liberty.

9/29/2007 05:47:00 AM  
Blogger wretchardthecat said...

Still he's on the side of the angels. And as the the Jotman reminds us, on that side all men of goodwill can play.

At Min Nanda monastery, which backs on to Pazuntaung creek, troops tried to approach from both land and water but retreated when they saw the strength of local resistance.

“There were not only Buddhist people but also Muslims, Christians and Hindus defending the monasteries,” said a resident of Tharkayta township.

A similar story has been played out in other townships in Burma, as residents take action to resist government raids on monasteries.

The enemy doesn't have it all his own way. I don't think the Burmese socialist militarists have "won" at all. This round yes. The next rounds are yet to be fought.

9/29/2007 05:55:00 AM  
Blogger Don Cox said...

" the Burmese socialist militarists "____How did the word "socialist" get in there? Those generals are not in any way socialist, and they don't even (unlike many dictators) pretend to be. They are plain old primitive tyrants, such as have ruled most of the world by force and brutality since human societies began. Same as the Roman Emperors or the Kings of England. Why people like that are still around in the 21st century is another question.

9/29/2007 10:53:00 AM  
Blogger wretchardthecat said...

Burma used to be run under the "Burmese Way to Socialism". The current government, though it sometimes says it is liberalizing, still commands large sectors of the economy.

Here's a snippet from the From the CIA World Factbook, which some might argue is a biased source:

Burma, a resource-rich country, suffers from pervasive government controls, inefficient economic policies, and rural poverty. The junta took steps in the early 1990s to liberalize the economy after decades of failure under the "Burmese Way to Socialism," but those efforts stalled, and some of the liberalization measures were rescinded.

The Heritage Foundation has an index-by-index look at the Burmese economy. Essentially the government controls most key sectors of the economy and this is scooped up by corrupt generals.

9/29/2007 11:39:00 AM  
Blogger wretchardthecat said...

The Cato Institute has a very interesting interactive map depicting the world in terms of economic freedom. Burma is at the very bottom, at 140/141. The only one lower down is Zimbabwe. For purposes of comparison, Vietnam is rated at 97/141.

This was brought to my attention by a letter writer who noticed that the press keeps calling the military leadership a "junta" which it undoubtedly is; but that nomenclature really camouflages a very important underlying fact. That the economy is largely controlled by the state and still dependent on state enterprises. This is a key part of the problem.

9/29/2007 11:57:00 AM  
Blogger wretchardthecat said...

Returning to Heritage again, they too have a map of economic freedom, and as you would probably have guessed by now, is in the lowest band of any country for which there is data available, lower than avowedly "socialist" countries like China or Vietnam.

So given Burma's past commitment to economic socialism; it's imperfect transformation and it's actual economic freedom, I think it is defensible to call the Burmese generals "socialist militarists" in a very meaningful sense. If the phrase doesn't apply to them then who merits it? Of course this is the way socialism has always operated. With a nomenklatura making like bandits and poverty and starvation for all the rest.

9/29/2007 12:05:00 PM  
Blogger Paul Edwards said...

"Our friend in Burma wishes freedom without a fight. Such a thing will never be."

Why not? It happened in Panama, Grenada, Australia. Hell, it happened in Japan and Germany despite them fighting to oppose it! It happened in South Korea, in Taiwan. It happened in England. It probably happened in Iceland 1000 years ago, I haven't checked. It happened in Russia too.

America had no chance of independence without French heavy-lifting. Why shouldn't the Burmese expect that someone gives them a chance of success? That's what the Iraqis got. The Iraqis lost 100,000 in 1991 without achieving a damn thing by their "revolution". After April 9th, 2003 the Iraqis formed long queues to join the Iraqi security forces now that they can actually make a difference instead of providing you with buckets of blood for entertainment, as if 100,000 dead Iraqis due to Bush snr believing the US propaganda about glorious revolution isn't enough. You should be ashamed of yourself. That Burmese guy doesn't need to be. He knows that standing in the path of a train isn't going to change a damn thing, and it's better to live to fight another day. He'll sign up to the new Burmese security forces instead.

9/29/2007 12:06:00 PM  
Blogger RWE said...

Paul Edwards:
Please note that countries will do what is in their best interests and in only a very few rare cases do even a little more than that. That was true in the case of France’s involvement in the American Revolution. It is in no one’s best interests to cause regime change in Burma, period. There is no evidence that I have heard of the current Burmese government presenting a threat to anyone outside the country. The resources required to overthrow the government there would be considerable, even if well within the capabilities of the U.S., Australia, Japan, India, and any number of other countries. And then there is the Pottery Barn rule, which would have to apply, since the only reason to invade the place would be to straighten it out. So even if the Rhode Island National Guard could handle the job alone, there is still the problem with shaking hands with a large tarbaby.

As for the Iraqi uprising against Saddam of 1991, the very boards, committees, groups and self-righteous experts that Wretchard refers to were all desperate to get virtually all of U.S. forces out of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia as soon as possible after the end of Desert Storm. The UN did not authorize the overthrow of Saddam as well as the eviction of his forces from Kuwait. The same sacred national sovereignty that people assert to this day as a reason for us not to invade Iraq in 2003 still applied then.

And as far as the people of Burma waking up as Japanese, they did, once. Japan conquered Burma in 1942 and, by all rights, today they should be happy members of the Greater Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere. Well, maybe not so happy – the Japan of then was very much not the Japan of today. And this change in circumstance was visited upon the Japanese because the U.S. believed it to be in our best interests. Both countries bled rather a lot to cause a change in Japanese mindset and government policies. The Japanese reached this mindset on their own, but first they had to learn to look up in the sky and yell “B Ju Ni Ki!” And we did not send those B-29’s for reasons of humanity; that they delivered it is a tribute to both peoples.

9/29/2007 02:36:00 PM  
Blogger RKV said...

Paul, I guess they don't teach history very well any more. With respect to your examples here's a listing.

Panama - lucky enough to lose to the US, also revolted from Spain and Columbia.

Grenada - lucky enough to be a British dependency.

Australia - kept their freedom by fighting in WW2 pal - 40000 dead.

Japan - WW2 anyone, with millions of Japanese dead. They were lucky enough to lose to the US and the allies.

Germany - had to go through WW1 and WW2 to get there, eh?

South Korea - Korean War 50000 US and allied dead plus milli
ons of Koreans North and South.

Taiwan - nope, Chinese Revolution, remember that? Millions died.

England - Glorious Revolution, WW1 and WW2, free without sacrifice. Nope.

Iceland - lucky enough to be cold and isolated.

Russia free? My RIA pal. It's an oligopoly now. Also remember something called the Cold War?

With respect to French heavy lifting in the American Revolution, you better do some more reading pal. It was the Americans who bled the British white for years. The French fleet only showed up at the last minute when the outcome was more or less decided. The French get an assist is about all you can say. The British fleet which was target of the bulk of their engagements and the fleet could not win the war on land for the redcoats. Sorry, but no sale.

Here's a link or two for backup.

9/29/2007 04:41:00 PM  
Blogger Phil said...

Very well said, Wretchard, but the problem at the UN is much worse than the pious claptrap it utters to the joy of Leftists everywhere. The only thing the UN is effective in is as a global impediment to the kind of short sharp international action which effectively stopped these kind of regime actions in the past.

Gunboat diplomacy is much derided these days, but it was exactly the situation in Burma that proved it most effective. Shelling and bombing the assets the Burmese government cares about would do wonders for its human rights record.

9/29/2007 09:45:00 PM  
Blogger watimebeing said...

How much are the Myanmar HR troubles due to drug and sex trades? How much of their other, including economic, woes due to the resort to such trafficking to cure other woes, internal and external to their borders.
Putting the ruling military repressions to rest will only be the start of a long struggle to be free. But it is the first step and therefore the most difficult. France would not commit it's fleet until the Colonies in revolt showed both resolve and results.
The threat of a return to Britannia's fold was real for most of USA's early history. It is easy to forget that our freedom began in the same meadow where the English took baby steps with their own, a war against their king.

I wish the people of Myanmar well, and the hope that they will find a way to force their will upon those ruling today.

9/29/2007 11:59:00 PM  
Blogger Karridine said...

I just received an email from a (Baha'i) friend in Yangon (Rangoon).

Its posted at

(Thanks, Doug, for the kick-in-the-butt!)

And Wretchard, good post!

The Story of
the Mountain Men of KangHwa Island
from 1956 to 1974

9/30/2007 12:56:00 AM  
Blogger Karridine said...

Responding to RWE: (upthread)
"There is no evidence that I have heard of the current Burmese government presenting a threat to anyone outside the country."

There are thousands of Burmese refugees already in and around MaeHong Son, a border-town with Burma, and tens of thousands more turned away for the time being.

These refugees ARE A THREAT to the stability and functionality of Thai institutions, hospitals, law-enforcement and (black-market) economic control.

And there ARE other THREATS, even ignoring the Burmese army's genocidal 'forced relocation' of thousands of minority tribes INSIDE Burma, Sir...

9/30/2007 01:03:00 AM  
Blogger Towering Barbarian said...

With regard to Iceland: It was founded by people who were in flight from the kings of Norway. Flight may not be the same as fight but it is still more resistance than simple submission. Note, however, that in the long term flight alone did nothing for them. When Norway was finally unified it had merely to stretch out its hand and Iceland dropped into it's control like a ripe peach because they were more interested in fighting one another than they were in fighting for Iceland. So much for freedom without fighting! :p

In regard to England. Even before the Glorious Revolution there was the English Civil War which was fought between those who felt an England without Parliament and Magna Carta would not be England and the monarchists who wanted Parliament to be nothing more than a rubber stamp to the extent it existed at all. Rumor has it that civil wars do involve fighting. The only outside interference that came from that one was foreign aristocrats like Prince Rupert who showed up on the side of King Charles I. No one who reads of that period could doubt that the English did indeed fight for their freedom and fought quite well. :)

French naval aid was vital to the American Revolution as a balance to British naval operations, but to call it "the heavy lifting" is grotesque in light of where the real efforts lay since it was Americans who did the fighting and the winning. Were it otherwise, the French designs to make America a client state would have found better access than it did. ^_^

9/30/2007 02:07:00 AM  
Blogger JM Hanes said...


"Our friend in Burma wishes freedom without a fight."

I'm curious as to whether you're speaking from personal experience in winning the freedom you presumably enjoy today or opining from a comfy chair here in the U.S. where freedom was won for us -- by others -- centuries ago.

9/30/2007 03:22:00 AM  
Blogger Sparks fly said...

The original Buddha would get quite a laugh from that fellow's prayers.

He taught that if you think something is wrong, that's your problem. This is just the way things are supposed to be. Accept it and you will achieve enlightenment.

Accept the soldiers smashing people's heads open and you will be set free from all your problems.

There is no God according to Buddhism. Enjoy yourself as things come along. Are those Buddhist monks fomenting this activity? Have they bothered to read what Buddha actually taught? What a joke.

Could it be that Buddhism actually is the source of their difficulties. They are having difficulties, aren't they? Or have I been missinformed again by the MSM?

The Bible says that natural man is insane, stupid and evil. That about sums up the pathetic situation. Burma is Christopher Hitchens country. This is what the whole world would look like if his teachings were universal.

9/30/2007 03:46:00 AM  
Blogger Nate said...

The Good Wretchard Wretchard wrote:

"Still you have yourselves. Whatever sham your government has become you the Burmese are men. Aid may come to you but it would be unwise to count on it. You have nothing but your own manhood to rely upon."

Interesting to make an appeal to manhood. I didn't think such a thing was possible.

I, personally, am a believer in freedom in the Anglo-Saxon sense, and am also a believer that much of that freedom comes from a sense of the citizen who's concept descends from the Polis of Greece. This concept is extremely masculine, willing to render to each man what his his prerogative, and consequently, rendering to him the fundamental of action on his beliefs--basically rending to him Agency. Only in the 20th Century has this ancient concept been expanded to include women.

On the opposite end we have Sally Field, Pandagon, and Code Pink, who claim that if the mothers of the world were in charge, there would be no war. She's probably right. But instead there'd be despotism. Movements by monks, who rallied their fellow citizens, would be crushed for disturbing the peace. Life would certainly be more peaceful Agency, freedom, citizenship, and rights were not accorded to individuals. Life may even be less violent in some cases. But it certainly would NOT be better.

9/30/2007 05:13:00 AM  
Blogger The Wobbly Guy said...

Sparks Fly, in his usual anti-atheist fashion, denigrates liberty-loving and necessarily violent non-christians in one post.

Hitchens would love the Burmese to fight back ala his hero Orwell. BTW, Gandhi used the same tactic as the Burmese. Worked quite well for him. Too bad the opponents were different.

This whole affair has got nothing to do with religion and everything to do with will, power, and guns.

And oh, like a lot of misguided X-ians, Sparks apparently does not know that Buddhists can, and do, take sides(see: Shaolin and Tang Taizong). The Buddha's teachings are not set in stone either, as any Buddhist who holds too tightly to the teachings cannot achieve enlightenment either. Apparently, it's yet another source of entanglement.

Hey, I can also take the offensive tack that if the Burmese resisters were christians, dying in droves send them off to enjoy eternal life that much faster too! It's all of God's divine plan! Don't worry!

(BTW, this is the actual tack believed by a lot of christians. I teach in a christian college, and this is they actually told me. I had to refrain from laughing in their faces. Good thing such christians are in the minority...)

So please, sparks, spare us your sanctimonious drivel. People, of whatever religion, are resisting, and I am going to ask my school's overseas charity mission if there was the slightest chance of sending along some ammonium nitrate along.

It's possible the Burmese have been controlled for so long that they cannot even begin to understand how to oppose the regime via non-pacifist means. After all, last I checked, knives can slit throats just at easily and quickly at night.

9/30/2007 06:59:00 AM  
Blogger RKV said...

"freedom was won for us -- by others -- centuries ago"

As if the price hasn't continued to be paid since then? This is apparently another variation on the "chickenhawk" argument and as wrong as that fallacy.

I repeat my comment to you jm as I wrote to Paul. I guess they don't teach history very well any more.

9/30/2007 07:55:00 AM  
Blogger Mike H. said...

Paul E is Australian.

9/30/2007 10:03:00 AM  
Blogger Whiskey said...

What Burma shows us is the utter fallacy of relying on:

Nonviolence. Outside the US and Britain it DOES NOT WORK.

The international system. A total failure.

Boycotts, sanctions, and the like. Useless.

A lot people misread the fall of the Communists in Eastern Europe once their Soviet Patrons collapsed and could not pay their troops and local rulers in the field. Nationalism and resentment over the occupier, not a longing for freedom and the "power" of non-violence was what worked, and even in that case there was blood that was spilled (in Romania particularly). The rulers in Poland, Czechoslavakia, Hungary, Bulgaria, etc. were tired old men who did not have the money or power to force their soldiers to shoot people in the streets.

The Generals of Burma certainly have the power, the money, and the Chinese backing to shoot as many people in the streets as they like. So Burma will continue for generations as it is now. Let's be realistic. Absent a collapse of the Chinese regime and a replacement by a weak democracy, nothing is going to change.

The only hope for overthrowing the Burmese regime is the inability somehow of the Generals to pay their troops and call on the Chinese. Since that's never going to happen, continued struggle for Democracy is a waste of time and more importantly lives.

The world is what it is. Some places will simply always have tyranny, and Burma is one of them.

9/30/2007 01:33:00 PM  

"It was to avoid this fate -- the fate of counting for nothing -- that people formed real countries with real governments."

Thanks, Wretchard. Wonderful call to arms. The immense pain and joy of forming those free countries can be seen at BRITS AT THEIR BEST. . .through a glass. . .

9/30/2007 02:09:00 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

britsattheirbest said...

"It was to avoid this fate -- the fate of counting for nothing -- that people formed real countries with real governments."
alas, the stateless" world citizens" in the USA and elsewhere are working diligently to make the citizens of the USA count for nothing.

9/30/2007 03:42:00 PM  
Blogger Rykehaven said...

**JM Hanes said...
sbfnra:"Our friend in Burma wishes freedom without a fight."

I'm curious as to whether you're speaking from personal experience in winning the freedom you presumably enjoy today or opining from a comfy chair here in the U.S. where freedom was won for us -- by others -- centuries ago.**

So long as sbfnra respects the history and the heroes, I have no beef with him.

By all rights, he should be proud of his heritage and, besides, he isn't claiming heroism. He's repeating an ethos; one that is a necessary cultural trait for a society to MAINTAIN its freedom.

The Japanese, the Germans, the Iraqis, et al never did anything to deserve their freedom until they were defeated, broken down and rebuilt by their "betters" like recruits at a boot camp. But it's one thing to be given your freedom; quite another thing to be able to keep it.

What rubs me the wrong way is the sniveling and self-pity I hear in Tun's letter. It's disgusting, though I guess some people here think to indulge in that type of self-destruction. To be fair, I might be demoralized too if I were in his shoes, but I'm not him. And I CERTAINLY wouldn't be advertising my breakdown in such a publicly humiliating fashion ("I wish I were Japanese"?!).

9/30/2007 04:20:00 PM  
Blogger Alexis said...

There's good news, of a sort, in Burma.

Burma's junta has snubbed the UN's envoy.

For reasons that have nothing to do with pro-democracy sentiment, this snub creates a diplomatic opportunity to put pressure on China. There is reason to believe this snub is due to anti-black prejudice in SLORC's leadership, and due to Burma's position as a vassal state of China, this reflects badly on China as well. Given how China is increasing its diplomatic influence throughout the Third World, the situation in Burma is an excellent pretext for third world countries (especially in Africa) to threaten revocation of Chinese concessions.

Although Burma is not central to American geopolitics, it is absolutely central to Chinese strategy. Burma is China's back door with the potential of bypassing supply chokepoints where Indonesian pirates and the American Navy can threaten its lifeline. If Burma falls out of Chinese orbit, China loses privileged access to Burma's ports and becomes far more dependent upon the American Navy to protect its access to petroleum. Burma is also strategic for India, as Chinese de facto control over Burma would add an additional front to any confrontation with China and Pakistan. And let's not forget al-Qaeda.

Remember al-Qaeda? Al-Qaeda does have a presence in Burma; indeed, a combination of severe military repression against Burmese Muslims and bitter hatred by local Buddhists against Islam would be unlikely to have a result other than increasing local Muslim militancy. If for no other reason than keeping watch over possible al-Qaeda sanctuaries in Burma, Burma is worthy of notice.

If a democratic regime does emerge in Burma, paradise will not be the result. Burma's ethnic antagonisms are strong. And Burma has oil, gems, and natural gas; these commodities have long been the bane of liberty and democracy, and the Left will necessarily assume that any attempt to help the people of Burma must be an attempt to grab its oil, gems, and natural gas. And Burma's production of opium necessarily means friction with the United States if American planes dump weed killer on Burma's cash crops. At best, Burma would be a peaceful democracy Finlandized to China. At worst, it would become like the Bosnian civil war on steroids, with Burma’s Muslim population becoming a rallying point for al-Qaeda.

SLORC’s snub of the United Nations (which would normally be its ally) shows that SLORC may be its own worst enemy.

9/30/2007 04:28:00 PM  
Blogger Rykehaven said...

Wretchard's reply was quite apt.

This man (or woman) named Tun may be one of many things.

He could be a better man than I think he is (I doubt it); he could be a warrior, in the truest sense of the word, who picks himself up and keeps faith in his cause to the very end.

But like most people in this world, he's probably just another weak soul who got caught up in the hype of the "movement" but never thought about the cost [and consequences] of freedom; someone who never really believed in liberty, who screams and shouts for the cheap emotional impact, pretending he's accomplishing something worthy.

But then, when it's time to pay the piper, he ducks out of the fight, hiding in hopes that somebody else (somebody better) will fight, and perhaps die, making everything alright for him. Now he's come out feeling sorry for himself and looking for other people to blame, people who didn’t measure up to HIS expectations. Pathetic. It's a mentality suitable for a college kid and an anti-war protestor, but it's unworthy of someone fighting for liberty.

Ultimately, liberty is won by those who forsake it for themselves; those kinds of people have to make a giant leap of faith; a life-altering decision in which they adopt the mentality that, even if they don’t survive to enjoy the freedom they’ve fought for, it’s ‘okay’ as long as that freedom is won.
There aren’t enough people like that in Burma to tip the scales. The results speak for themselves. The majority of the serious and willful people are on the other side, while the “freedom fighters” (a meaningless name, anyway) are shown to be hollow cartons with empty words; the former will always prevail.

That is reality.

And for Tun’s sake, I hope he finds the strength to learn from it.

9/30/2007 04:33:00 PM  
Blogger RKV said...

I don't know about an "ethos" ryke, more like a basic truth. Don't expect others to give you what you won't work for yourself. Or is that too simple?

9/30/2007 06:20:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

A Night to Remember, in Iran

9/30/2007 06:32:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

The monk's tale: 'We cannot turn back'
The monk has seen his fellow Buddhists rounded up as Burma's military regime brutally cracked down on anti-government protests

9/30/2007 06:50:00 PM  
Blogger Moneyrunner said...

The UK's Daily Mail reports that thousands have been killed and the revolt crushed.

If true, this seems to follow a pattern. Revolts can be successful if the rulers are prepared to give up power. But if the regime is ruthless enough, revolts will fail.

9/30/2007 07:28:00 PM  
Blogger Sparks fly said...

Mr. Wobbly; you are well named.

9/30/2007 09:48:00 PM  
Blogger Alexis said...

Meanwhile, a volcano is erupting in the Red Sea. Jabal al-Tair (Bird Mountain), is a strategic island with a commanding presence in the southern Red Sea; Yemen had stationed troops to keep watch, maintain the local lighthouse, and maintain Yemeni claim over the island.

If the Jabal al-Tair volcano erupts with a higher magnitude than has happened so far, it stands a chance of significantly altering the economic and military geography of the Middle East.

10/01/2007 12:33:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Is there no end to the Effects of Man-Caused Global Warming?
The War Against al-Qaeda in Iraq

10/01/2007 01:06:00 AM  
Blogger JM Hanes said...


"This is apparently another variation on the "chickenhawk" argument and as wrong as that fallacy"

I'd say I'm not the one floating the chickenhawk argument here, when sbfnra has just seen fit to pronounce Wretchard's correspondent unworthy of liberty till he's risked his neck fighting the tyrants of oppression. Given that unsparing judgment, I think it's not unreasonable to inquire about the author's own experience in that regard.

I also think it's hardly ahistorical to note that none of us did the tyrant fighting which won the liberty Americans now enjoy.

10/01/2007 02:35:00 AM  
Blogger The Wobbly Guy said...

A far better response: I wish I had a gun and IEDs to kill the government troops with.

It's tough going when the other side has all the cards and all you have is the "moral high ground"TM. For what it's worth.

10/01/2007 03:22:00 AM  
Blogger Rykehaven said...

**JM Hanes said...

"This is apparently another variation on the "chickenhawk" argument and as wrong as that fallacy"

I'd say I'm not the one floating the chickenhawk argument here, when sbfnra has just seen fit to pronounce Wretchard's correspondent unworthy of liberty till he's risked his neck fighting the tyrants of oppression. Given that unsparing judgment, I think it's not unreasonable to inquire about the author's own experience in that regard.**

You don't have to be a physicist to know that if you jump off a cliff, it's going to end badly.

We're not talking about some amorphous pinko concept like "high-road politics" or "moral-authority".

Security and military matters are a "science", a professional field like engineering, medicine and business; they involve a problem with real-life variables which entail real-life consequences. They require an equally serious solution by real problem-solvers. Tun is out of his element if he thinks a few protests means he deserves to win freedom.

All he and his cohorts had were slogans; and from the looks of the letter, it appears all he ever hoped for was to have someone else come to his rescue.

The man doesn't need sympathy. He needs a reality check. He needs resolve.

And if he can't find them, he's better off being aware of his impotent state, hiding in his hole instead of harboring false hopes and illusions. And, yes, such people are "unworthy", as unworthy as any protester who chants and light candles but never lifts a finger to actually accomplish something.

10/01/2007 04:14:00 AM  
Blogger Rykehaven said...

**JM Hanes said...

I also think it's hardly ahistorical to note that none of us did the tyrant fighting which won the liberty Americans now enjoy.**

You want to run this by us again? I for one can't make sense of this nonsense. There's always a push/pull effect in the realm of "fighting tyrants" that Thomas Jefferson eluded to.

King George was the first, not the last, and America's been fighting them ever since; once freedom is won, it must be kept.

The next round might be against Iran. And the last time the US Navy went to war with Iran, it wiped the decks with them. All the Navy needs is "permission" to do it again, even if it's only allowed to prune the bushes, even if protestors will chant and cower.

"Constant vigilance"

10/01/2007 04:37:00 AM  
Blogger Rykehaven said...

**RKV said...
I don't know about an "ethos" ryke, more like a basic truth. Don't expect others to give you what you won't work for yourself. Or is that too simple?**

I understood what you meant.

I'm not sure Jm did though so you might want to ask her.

10/01/2007 05:21:00 AM  
Blogger Charles said...

I saw a piece in the current WWII series on the 1944 battle of Peleliu Island. According to the documentary Halsey's earlier sea battle had rendered the airfield on Peleliu strategically unimportant. But no one called off the invasion. They thought it would take 4 day to complete. It took 4 months 10,000 Japanese and 1200 American lives to finish the job. Said an American "we were like two scorpions in a bottle. I learned what it meant to be expendable."

10/01/2007 07:57:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Reduced to saying:
"Because I'm a Scorpion"
as in the River Joke.

10/01/2007 08:04:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Burma: Thousands dead in massacre of the monks; dumped in the jungle...
Expert on Bennet show said that was advice they got from China:
Come down hard, suffer a couple of months of bad PR, then it's back to business as usual.
Cited absurdity of pretending to expect CHINA, to chastise them in any real way, since China does far worse, and we act like they're getting Better.
Easier to critcise Myanmarians, I suppose.

10/01/2007 08:09:00 AM  
Blogger LarryD said...

reading Don Cox' s post and wretchard's replies, one must conclude that Socalism is old fashioned despotism with good PR.

"The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."
-- Thomas Jefferson

10/01/2007 08:26:00 AM  
Blogger Ash said...

This is worth pondering is it not?

An Empire of Clowns. What a ridiculous, sickeningly homicidal, disgusting nation we've become.?

10/01/2007 09:54:00 AM  
Blogger RKV said...

Not really Ash. Pathetic maybe, off topic for sure, worth pondering? No.

10/01/2007 10:54:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

"Because I'm a Scorpion"
as in the River Joke.
in a wildly changing world the most important role imho of the japanese is to be japanese. they have a gene pool said to be smaller than that of a small town in germany. there's the rub. no one else can be japanese. so when someone wishes to be japanese there is the sound of terrible futility. a fatalism that doesn't serve. our rights come from God and not from our ancestry. we are saved by faith and not by geneology as st paul argued with the spangled pharasees.

10/01/2007 11:11:00 AM  
Blogger JM Hanes said...

Sheesh. I think some folks are pretty quick to call other people cowards, and suddenly I'm the tip of some pinko pacifist iceberg? That's a first.

10/01/2007 12:19:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Herbert Schlossberg in his masterful diagnosis of the post Christian West,
"Idols for Destruction" stated that "no Buddhist society has ever overthrown a dictator". Being and nothingness may be satori and endless bliss, but it doesn't resonate in the hearts of men to take up the sword and crush the oppressor.
It's not Hitchens' land. His land is a sterile materialistic land with the moral fiber eaten out of it. I am reading of the Stalin terror in the 1920's and 30's. One of the first steps was to crush or emasculate the churches. The de-moralized kulaks were bulldozed by the Bolshevik devils. It is brave men of faith ,love of country
and family who take the battle to the gate against the powers of darkness; not meditating mystics or drunken intellectual secularists.

10/01/2007 01:16:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Stalin would go nuts in frustration, tyring to starve Hitch to death.
The Long War.

10/01/2007 02:43:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Arthur Waldron Lauder Professor of International Relations-University of Pennsylvania;

"Clik Interview Highligts"

10/01/2007 02:59:00 PM  
Blogger The Wobbly Guy said...

Secularists? Supposedly atheist commies fought for the Republicans in Spain. Got nothing to do with religion, and everything to do with our currently emasculated society, with only a small warrior class willing to take up arms, enlist, and fight for their nations, and even fewer willing to fight for the freedom of others.

Other than the islamic groups, when have you heard of a volunteer brigade of fighters? Christians? Don't make me laugh. They are not much better.

When it comes to faith and fighting for what you believe in, I would point to the islamists as the obvious counterpoint. To them, we are the immoral enemy, destroyer of their families, the forces of darkness. That is the power of faith and groupthink.

Finally, say what you want of the islamists and Che, but they had guts and conviction. Wish we had more like Che nowadays, if only to fight for our side...

10/01/2007 03:58:00 PM  
Blogger Rem870 said...

Wobbly Guy said,
Finally, say what you want of the islamists and Che, but they had guts and conviction. Wish we had more like Che nowadays, if only to fight for our side...

Dude, get a clue. I believe Wretchard summed up the failure known as Che much better than I could, so I'll leave it at that. For anyone to wish to employ this fool or somebody "like" him makes me wonder what side that person is actually on.

10/01/2007 05:35:00 PM  
Blogger Mitch said...

We ought to find some way of arming the enemies of the most obnoxious dictators. We used to be able to do this.

Even while we were engaged in our Civil War, we found ways to help the Mexicans expel the French invaders. Once we had recaptured Louisiana and southern Texas from the Confederacy, President Lincoln directed his generals to deposit some 30,000 muskets and other arms and supplies close to the border with Mexico, near the area held by Benito Juarez, and not watch them too closely. When our war was ended, we sent 10,000 veteran troops under Gen. Sheridan to the border as a warning to the French not to reinforce their toy emperor. Maximilian I (and last) was duly overthrown and shot.

It would be nice if some crates of rifles, ammunition, explosives, and other supplies were to be left unattended near the Burmese border.

10/01/2007 07:05:00 PM  
Blogger Rem870 said...

Mitch, methinks you don't have a good handle on the situation. Look at a map. What border do you propose to send arms through? And what of the China-men? We had experience with a "police action" and a "conflict" with a couple of their neighbors last century - neither turned out real well. It turns out they don't like us playing in their backyard. But let's put that aside for a moment - who do you expect to use these arms you are going to deposit on the border? The buddhist monks?

The truth (sad to some) of the matter is that Burma is currently of no strategic value to the United States (or Australia, or the UK, etc.). Couple that with the fact that half the country wants to retreat from a winnable war of immense strategic value. I'm afraid the Burmese people are on their own unless China or India finds a suitable reason to make a play. I don't see it happenning.

10/01/2007 07:28:00 PM  
Blogger Sparks fly said...

Hitch before Stalin
would be helpless.

I like to think at that moment Hitch would come to his senses and reach for Stalin's throat... but only in time to look down at Stalin's desk and witness him signing his death warrant.

Enter the goons
exit the repentant,

10/01/2007 08:05:00 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

Come to think of it -- the Japanese are doing a much better job of being Japanese than,say, the English are doing of being English.

It would be as true to say that the Koreans are doing a better job at being Korean than the Germans are at being German.

10/01/2007 08:57:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

REM870, thanks for the slapdown on Wobbley while I was doing other things. Che Guevara was a murderous poseur only admired by dimwits on college campuses.
So the alleged commie atheists fought on the side of the republicans in the Spanish civil war.They also raped nuns and slit priests' throats so what's your point.
Incidentally, there are plenty of Christian volunteers in today's army.

10/01/2007 09:15:00 PM  
Blogger Rykehaven said...

**JM Hanes said...
Sheesh. I think some folks are pretty quick to call other people cowards, and suddenly I'm the tip of some pinko pacifist iceberg? That's a first.**

If you're not, I apologize for jumping the gun.

It's just that this letter is irritating. Attempts to defend the author are just so.

10/01/2007 09:45:00 PM  
Blogger Bob said...

Well said rkv...

10/01/2007 10:36:00 PM  
Blogger watimebeing said...

"It's just that this letter is irritating. Attempts to defend the author are just so.

I don't know that the letter is all that irritating. What does the author say other than the Japanese, despite years of knowledge of how Burma is ruled, chose to engage the in trade without nary a raised eyebrow. That the death of one Japanese newsman caused that government to stir a bit, would give me pause as well, were I a citizen in Myanmar and a witness to the results of that trade.

It is easy for Mr. Tun to fault the Japanese. It would be hard to not point fingers. For the Burmese author of this letter it a very "rude awakening" that a Japanese life is worth more to Japan than Burmese life is to either Burma or Japan.

Well, I hope he at least meant to make that distinction or that after his irritation wanes, he can at least make that distinction. It is his frustration talking, I can give him that much without irritation. Nothing personal for us, it is to him though.

Lets see what he and other frustrated Burmese can do with their frustration tomorrow. At what point beyond protest marching into bullets, will concern over value convert to valuing freedom over this petty, by comparison, concern?

The answer might cause more and greater..., irritations.

10/02/2007 12:51:00 AM  
Blogger The Wobbly Guy said...

Call Che a misguided fool, but he did go to another country not his own in the name of internationalism, to fight for his beliefs. How many of us would do that without the backing of our states behind us? How bloody many?

We would sit in our homes and pray, or protest impotently in front of embassies. What does it say about me and you?

Same thing for the islamists. I note that this point was not rebutted.

Wretchard's post commented on Che abilities as a fighter, not on his passion to fight for his beliefs, as misguided as they are.

And christian soldiers have never committed a single atrocity in the history of man in the name of their faith. Give me a break.

Okay now, let's have a situation:
Israel's situation is dire. The Arabs have finally fought their way past its defenses and are now committing their long-promised genocide against the Jews. The US, for whatever reason, is staying put and supplying only minimal support. The UN response, is as usual, laughable.

How many of us would be willing to put down whatever we're doing and volunteer to fight to save the Jews? How many to sacrifice our lives for others?

The present generation(I would ashamedly include myself), would barely lift a finger, unless we're in the military and our government tells us to intervene. Oh, to be sure, we'd pray and petition and wish for non-violence, but no more beyond that.

I wish I had the guts to say, yeah, let's form a volunteer army and help the Burmese monks, but I am, like many others, too terrified at the possibility of losing all I have in exchange for an ideal. If it comes down to it, yes, I would fight for my own freedoms. I have been trained for it. To fight for the freedoms of others? Not so much. But there were people in the past who did it willingly. The Lafeyyette Escadrille, for example. I am in awe of these people.

To Wretchard's most recent post on non-state actors of violence, I would add that most people(with notable exceptions) have grown so accustomed to state power that they cannot conceive of inflicting violence on another, even justified violence, without the blessings of the state.

We can forget about non-state actors intervening in Burma. We've no longer the stomach for that. It'll be up to the governments, and fat lotta good that'll do, because the governments which we elect also recognise we don't have the stomach to have them intervene either.

Finally, I came across mention of Muslim AND Christian resistance in Burma, who're fighting back even now. Perhaps Al Qaeda is involved, which would make it a really interesting conundrum, and would serve as examples of non-state actors who might be able to resolve the situation in Burma, for better or worse.

10/02/2007 01:10:00 AM  
Blogger Charles said...

The answer might cause more and greater..., irritations.
The shadow of the future is beginning to weigh more heavily over the present age than the shadow of the past.

The more beautiful men are on-- and in -- the earth--the better will be their reflection in the heavens.

I know this is an inversion "of earth as it is in heaven."

But in the next great age the nations will be traveling in space. So the better and deeper the peace is on earth the better and deeper the peace will be as men travel in space.

(ie wo is us if there's trouble above.)

Remember this is a bottoms up proposition. Not the slush that the rich & powerful create by jetting around.

10/02/2007 06:29:00 AM  
Blogger RKV said...

Wadeusaf, don't misquote me. Rykehaven said that, not I.

10/02/2007 06:55:00 AM  
Blogger watimebeing said...

Apologies RKV, and Rykehaven too.

" RKV said...

Wadeusaf, don't misquote me. Rykehaven said that, not I."

10/03/2007 07:16:00 PM  
Blogger Captain USpace said...

A touching but sad and resigned letter. FREE Burma!!!

Bush slammed the UN and the rulers of Myanmar in his UN speech last week. The only country that has any influence over Myanmar is China, and they can't and won't push too hard. There is too much Oil & Gas there that they need.

The UN must do something, but they never use military force to fight.
That is a huge problem.

Illegal drug and ruby fortunes are a BIG part of this too.

absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
outlaw all alcohol

make cigarettes illegal
organized crime takes over

absurd thought -
God of the Universe thinks
Buddhists are terrorists

killing hundreds weekly
but always in peaceful ways

absurd thought -
God of the Universe thinks
keep trying communism

you can never KILL too much
pursuing Utopia...


10/07/2007 08:33:00 PM  

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