Invade Myanmar?

Time online today suggests it might be time to invade Myanmar to ensure that aid reaches victims of the cyclone.  Here’s a CNN reporter’s accounting of his narrow escape out of the country & how the “generals” seem to be treating this tragedy.  What do you think?  Invasion makes more sense in this case than 5 years ago going into Iraq, BUT….

All my life, I’ve heard how many lives were “saved” by Truman’s decision to drop the bomb(s) on Japan, but I remain unable to reconcile that argument with the known consequences.  In this case, we do know many people are dying while waiting for a drink of fresh water, some food, shelter, etc.  What’s the right thing to do?  Sending money, especially in this case, left me wondering if whatever it buys will ever get to those suffering.  I remember the debate on this blog about the stolen skateboard, & I said something like…maybe the person who took it needed the thing or the money from it more than the kid who actually bought it.  Now that feels kind of naive when I picture the junta soldiers taking emergency supplies for their own use or charging a fortune for them.  They want to distribute it themselves.  Will they?

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5 Responses to Invade Myanmar?

  1. laurabethnielsen says:

    This is almost too hard for me to think about. I remember watching the Hurricane Katrina coverage when you could see people nearly dying from thirst (especially kids) and all I could do was pace around in my living room and say things like, “if there can be a camera crew there — indeed, if Harry Connick Jr could get there, where is the frigging relief?!?!?! FLy helicopters over and drop fresh water!!” All the while, Brownie was on tv saying, “We don’t think there are people at the Superdome,” and on CNN there is Harry, who got there from New York AFTER the Hurricane, saying, “look at all these people!!”

    Add a corrupt, militaristic, foreign government and I don’t know what the answer is.

    But, I assure you that unless it is determined that there is a lot of oil in Burma, we won’t be invading anytime soon. And foreign aid by military invasion is probably not a great policy.

  2. dspett says:

    Recommended reading: “The Bottom Billion” by Paul Collier. While I’m not sure that Myanmar’s citizens are among the world’s poorest, the book makes a compelling argument that military interventions can be effective in limited circumstances if executed properly. Collier gives several criteria for deciding whether intervention is appropriate; I don’t remember them off the top of my head, nor do I know whether Myanmar would meet the criteria. The book gives a few examples of “effective” interventions, but goes on to say that U.S.-backed interventions have generally produced more harm than good.

  3. dspett says:

    I’ll add that the book argues that intervention is sometimes appropriate in the context of alleviating poverty… not imposing democracy or (necessarily) sending foreign aid, etc. Though foreign aid might go along with the poverty alleviation.

  4. jeffaregularworkinglawyer says:

    I have no comment on the wisdom of invading Burma (don’t call it Myanmar, the name chosen by the junta — see James Fallows on that subject, here http://jamesfallows.theatlantic.com/archives/2008/05/evil_in_burma.php); I would just point out that one of the many unfortunate side effects of our current occupation of Iraq is that our military’s ability to engage in large scale operations in other places has been compromised. Could we handle such an invasion today, even if we wanted to?

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