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Posted by on Jun 29, 2007 in At TMV | 13 comments

Burmese Brutality

The International Committee of the Red Cross, which on principle and almost without exception remains politically neutral (the genocide in Rwanda was the notable exception), has “denounced what it says are major human rights abuses by Burma’s military government,” according the BBC. Specifically, the Red Cross “highlights repeated abuse of men, women and children in communities along Burma’s border with Thailand, including murder, violence, and the destruction of food supplies”.

(Whereas the Red Cross usually remains neutral, organizations like Doctors Without Borders, founded by Bernard Kouchner, the great French politician and diplomat, are more aggressive in their explicit opposition to the regimes that engage in human rights abuses. For more on this, read Paul Berman’s Power and the Idealists; or, the Passion of Joschka Fischer and Its Aftermath, a brilliant examination of the Generation of ’68 and the transition of many of the key figures of that generation, like Koucher and Fischer, from militant radicalism to liberal anti-totalitarianism (and interventionism, as in Kosovo and, for some, Iraq).)

For more on Burma as an “Orwellian state,” see here. For more on Burma’s ruling military junta, see here. And see also the excellent discussion of Burmese politics, culture, and economics in Amy Chua’s World on Fire: How Exporting Free Market Democracy Breeds Ethnic Hatred and Global Instability, a fascinating and provocative book that, in my view, strikes just the right balance between the ideological extremes of laissez-faire neoliberalism and the class-oriented anti-globalization movement.

For now, however, the Red Cross deserves our praise for speaking out against the ongoing tyranny in Burma.

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Copyright 2007 The Moderate Voice
  • DLS

    Laissez-faire neo-liberalism (as it is known outside the USA) is not, has not been, never will be “extremist.” There is no need to strike a “balance” between it (freedom) and socialist Marxism (totalitarianism).

  • DLS

    There is no need to strike a “balance” between it (freedom) and socialist Marxism (totalitarianism).

    That is despite liberals’ claims on here that such a “balance” would be “centrist” or “moderate.”

  • What do you mean, the Red Cross is politically neutral? The Magen David Adom (Israel’s Red Star of David) cannot use a Star of David internationally lest it offend certain countries.

  • American Friends of Magen David Adom – ARMDI
    http://www.afmda.org/

  • MDA in Israel
    http://www.mdais.org/main/siteNew/index.php?langId=1

    The International Department
    http://www.mdais.org/main/siteNew/index.php?langId=1&page=131

    Israel must use a Red Crystal when it works outside of Israel:

    Red crystal becomes additional protective emblem
    http://www.mdais.org/main/siteNew/index.php?langId=1&page=20&action=sidLink&stId=162

  • For a review of the great debate between advocacy and access among human rights organizations, read Fiona Terry’s Condemned to Repeat and David Reiff’s A Bed for the Night

  • domajot

    This being a sttoy about Burma, it should give us a chance to reffect on the plight of some people outside of the ME.
    I, for one, appreciate this post for what it tells about Burma.

  • DLS

    the Generation of ‘68 and the transition of many of the key figures of that generation, like Koucher and Fischer, from militant radicalism to liberal anti-totalitarianism

    They grew up somewhat. Not completely, but somewhat.

  • DLS

    Just don’t be dumb and use this as another occasion to idolize or worship Aung San Suu Kyi.

    There is plenty wrong in Burma, just as there is in North Korea.

    PS — Hey, Chris: Are you http://www.icem.org/en/7-Asia-Pacific/823-Unions-Challenge-Halliburton-Over-Burma-Ties?

  • DLS

    … surprised?

  • kritter

    I thought what was the most interesting was a point made by Chua in her book about the clashing globalization forces of free markets and elections and what it tells us about trying to push democracy on countries that lack the precursors:

    “According to Chua, countries must establish free and stable political economies before they embark upon political democracies. Some Americans might not like to admit it, but the volatile cocktail of free markets, free elections and intense ethnic identity can cause more harm than good. There might be some places where this threefold combination simply won’t work, or will only work with more patience and nuance than many in the west have exhibited. “

  • DLS

    K. Ritter quoted:

    “According to Chua, countries must establish free and stable political economies before they embark upon political democracies.”

    In Lee Iacocca’s latest book (lots of Bush-bashing and the book has been panned, but it’s worth a look anyway), Iacocca mentions his trip to Cuba and a visit to Castro, and Castro made the distinction between China and Russia. Castro said that China got it right, trying to free (develop) its markets and its economy before trying more political and other freedom, while Russia was the opposite. (With Russia we saw near-anarchy early in the reform period, armed gangs, and the government has been the most powerful, best-armed mafiya of them all, and now is reducing political and other freedoms, seizing and nationalizing industries, etc.). Castro made a point of this because he felt he was cheated by Russia (lost the support he used to get from it).

  • DLS

    There might be some places where this threefold combination simply won’t work

    Iraq?

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