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View Full Version : UN Plaza: Burmese Days Edition


Bloggingheads
05-11-2008, 01:48 PM

a Duoist
05-11-2008, 02:39 PM
The 'Rights of Man' on the Human Rights Council? Long overdue; it's good that France wants in.

Arashan
05-11-2008, 06:14 PM
Considering Laos is landlocked it would be a pretty extraordinary situation if it were ever hit by a cyclone or tsunami.

Just because an early warning system is in place does not mean action will be taken. According to an AFP story on 6 May, the Indian Meteorological Department warned Burma about the cyclone 48 hours in advance. There was a warning, it was just ignored.

InJapan
05-11-2008, 09:21 PM
Matt appears to be doing the Shin-chan improvisation here....

Arashan - while Laos may be landlocked, it is not impossible that a strong typhoon could bring serious flooding to the mountains of Laos. For example, in Central America a considerable number of deaths from hurricanes is due to mountain flooding.

The issue of Burma draws parallels with Darfur/Sudan, in that it appears as if China is not likely to pay any heed to the Western values of care for needy, at least to the extent that they will use their influence to force regimes to open up, perhaps for fear of losing trade benefits.

piscivorous
05-11-2008, 09:34 PM
with China right now it is all about growing the economy. The level of on rest is fairly high, the number of demonstrations and riots if the numbers can be believed is in the high thousands yearly. It has got to be quite a task to hold a country together when roughly 30-40% has benefited greatly from economic opening and the 60-70% that hasn't is demanding a larger share of the pie. On top of this throw in the historic corruption levels perpetuated through the hierarchal structure of the Communist party and you have got one large bull by the tail.

Baltimoron
05-11-2008, 10:40 PM
These shorter formats might bring out disagreements more cleanly. Goldberg, here and on his blog, wants a beefier R2P standard that goes beyond the current 4 criteria. Lee, here and on ICP, focuses on what states and NGOs do in these crisis situations. Realistically, I think Lee's point on ICP about just what aid has the Burmese junta distributed is more practical right now. Goldberg's point is a future debating point. The USS Essex battle group might be off shore, but ASEAN, India, and PRC are, too, along with the other aid piling up on the borders. The crucual issue seems to be: who is getting the aid, the Burmese people, or the junta's favored few. This looks like a rerun of the WFP's problems with DPRK, where food is handed over to the government, but the government gives it to Party members and the KPA, but forces villagers to pay for food in the marketplaces.

After that, we can discuss whether R2P or the current framework is working. It's possible to have governance without world government. And, if NGOs, or local states are performing adequately, we can put this talk about a beefier R2P aside. I don't care if Beijing and New Delhi want to handle this quietly, just if there's a better way to know if they are doing anything, other than waiting for more corpses to pile up.

bjkeefe
05-12-2008, 12:34 AM
Matt:

I want to commend you for an excellent job of explaining to me the complexities that are involved in the UN trying to force a dictatorship to do the right thing by its people. I don't agree with many of the reasons (excuses, buck-passing) offered by the various parties that you described, and I think the junta's attitude is beyond deplorable, but it was very instructive for me to hear your reporting. Don't worry about going too "inside baseball" on things like this. I learned more about this situation from this diavlog than I have from every other news report I've seen elsewhere.

I also want to salute you for pointing out that the UN should be more on the ball in anticipating where aid teams might need to be sent, in the sense of planning for scenarios like this where not just any country can send its people to help.

Thanks.

Wonderment
05-12-2008, 01:11 AM
UN Plaza is a wonderful program. Both Matt and Mark do a fantastic job. This is a place where I always learn something new and valuable about global politics, especially about African and Asian countries that don't ordinarily got a lot of ink or electrons in US media.

Kudos also to Bob and BHeads for bringing us UN Plaza, even though it gets roughly 1/10 of the hits of other Diavlogs.

ohcomeon
05-12-2008, 07:59 AM
It is wholly unaccceptable that the UN does not have a way to deal with governments that are not willing to take aid from countries like France and the US. Mr. Lee is completely correct here. We may desire to rid these people of their awful government but diasater relief agencies all over the world have politically sensitive ways to deal with these people. The ICRC, Care, Christian Relief have local people and other Asians that would be much more likely to get in and to deal well with the corrupt governments. They have thought ahead. It is the UN's responsisibility to coordiate these efforts. If they cannot deal with ALL nations someone else should take this over because the NGO'S are willing and able to do it.

vcn
05-12-2008, 08:33 PM
I really appreciated this discussion - I love love UN inside baseball, Security Council arcana and the whole UN machinery that gears up to respond to natural disasters. I do think that Mark could have been tougher on Matt on the issue of UN member states seeking to get choosy over the national passports that aid workers carry. This practice is anathema to all that the UN stands for and I am not a fan of the UN bending the rules in Burma's case, which Matt seems to suggest is reasonable in this case. The little blue book that UN workers carry - the laissez passe- should neutralize the nationality issue. I also predict that sheer scale of the disaster Myanmar faces will undermine the junta's authority irreparably, and that it will belatedly discover that allowing in U.S. and Eurpean aid workers is the least of its problems.

piscivorous
05-12-2008, 09:12 PM
It may or it may cement his power. He maintains an armed force the size of our Army in a country whose population about 1/5 of ours. since he is essentially controlling the flow of relief supplies it is probably going first to secure his power base. History has numerous examples of totalitarian regimens using disaster, both natural and man made, to enhance their control and so far this has the look and feel of that.

bjkeefe
05-13-2008, 01:16 AM
It may or it may cement his power. He maintains an armed force the size of our Army in a country whose population about 1/5 of ours. since he is essentially controlling the flow of relief supplies it is probably going first to secure his power base. History has numerous examples of totalitarian regimens using disaster, both natural and man made, to enhance their control and so far this has the look and feel of that.

Sadly, I agree, Pisc. There are all too many examples of dictators being more than willing to ignore individual suffering for the sake of their own power.

But I do think vcn's prediction is not completely without merit. Sometimes, the mishandling of a disaster by a government can be the tipping point for the population. (Must. Resist. Katrina. Analogy.)