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Burma's exiled ethnic nationalities seminar held in North America

Online Commentary
Kanbawza Win

It came to no surprise that the Russian representative Konstantin Dolgov block the American initiative of putting Burma in the UN Security Council because he argued the issue was outside the Council's international peace and security mandate. The US delegate, Gerald Scott has made some feeble attempt when he described Burma as a country that continues to decline in every aspect. At a time when Human Rights issues are been creeping in the agenda of the United Nations the Burmese question remains hopefully afloat. The big question is why our UN representative Dr.Thaung Htun did did not contact these two envoys in advance for negotiation and compromise before it come to the UNSC. It will be far better if the NCGUB representative do his job than making media outlet.

It is everybody's knowledge that the Junta cannot be approached in a civilized way and must use force to stop the carnage over the entire country and internecine to the Southeast Asian region and the only way to do is to get the American support under the auspices of the United Nations and remove the Junta by forcibly. On the other hand, the American has learnt their lessons in Afghanistan and Iraq that even though a self appointed policemen of the world would not act alone in future without the consensus of the UN. Hence the hope of the people of Burma lies with the UNSC. The UN Secretary General Kofi Annan perspective and the UN Human Rights representative Paulo Sergio Pinherio has already outspoken their views. Russia and China being dictatorial from their background obviously sympathize with the Junta as their action dictates. In their heart of hearts like the Junta they abhor the idea that Burma would become a federal democratic country and obviously will block any idea before it reaches the Security Council where they still have the option to use the veto.

The Russo-Burmese relations has not at all being rosy since the democratic U Nu days when the Russian endeavour to enforce their version of Communism on Burma by helping the Burma Communist Party. Last year on Sept 14th, 400 young military officers left for Russia by two Russian aircraft from Mandalay International Airport . Several technicians from the Russian built ordinance factory at Defence Service Technology Academy near Maymyo (confirm with the Rangoon based Russian ambassador Oleg Kabarov) were included. All of them would receive training on computer and other electronic related military training and will stay more than three years in Russia , this is the third batch that the Burmese regime sends to Russia while others are still studying the art of modern warfare. Everybody knows the selling of nuclear reactor to Burma . Such is the clandestine Russian help to the military Junta.

Now let us study Russia from the international perspective. Russian foreign policy in the coming years will be characterized by weakness; frustration--primarily with the United States as the world's pre-eminent power over Russia 's diminished status; generally cautious international behavior; and a drive to resubjugate, though not reintegrate, the other former Soviet states. Ironically the international situation affords Russia time to concentrate on domestic reforms because, for the first time in its history, it does not face significant external threats. But rather than use the breathing space for domestic reforms, Putin is as much--if not more--focused on restoring Russia 's self-defined rightful role abroad and seeking to mold the CIS into a counterweight to NATO and the European Union.

To be candid Russia does not have any genuine allies. Some countries are interested in good relations with Russia , but only as a means to another end. For example, China sees Russia as a counterweight to the United States but values more highly its ties with the United States . Some countries see Russia as a vital arms supplier but resent Russia also selling arms to their rivals ( China-India , Iran - Iraq ). Pro-Russia business lobbies exist in Germany , Italy , Turkey , and Israel (one-fifth of whose population now consists of Soviet émigres), but they do not single-handedly determine national policies.

Europe is the only region that would like to integrate Russia into a security system, but it is divided over national priorities and institutional arrangements as well as put off by some Russian behaviour and could not forget the Russian treatment of the Germans after the 2nd World War. Up to this day no German girl will dance with the Russian men.

Most CIS governments do not trust their colossal neighbor, who continues to show an unsettling readiness to intervene in their internal affairs, though they know Russia well and are to a considerable degree comfortable in dealing with it. Turkey has developed an improved dialogue and an unprecedented number of economic ties with Russia during the post-Cold War period, but this more positive pattern of relations has not fully taken root, and Ankara remains suspicious of Moscow's intentions.

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Moscow 's role in the Middle East has been reduced, but Israel , Syria , Egypt , Libya , and Iraq all favor good relations with Russia . Mutual interests also override disagreements in Russian-Iranian relations, but Tehran is wary of Russian behavior, particularly because of its relations with Iraq especially during the reign of Saddam Hussein.

India still trusts Russia --a sentiment that is perhaps a residue of the genuine friendship of Cold War days--but clearly not in the same way it once did, and New Delhi fears that weakness will propel Russia into doing things that could drive India further away. In East Asia, the most substantial breakthrough has been the resurrected relationship between Russia and China , one that entails significant longer-term risk for Russia . Other countries in the region value their links with Moscow as a means to balance a more powerful China, or as a useful component of their larger political and economic strategies, but Russia's role in East Asia--as elsewhere--remains constrained by the decline in its political, military, and economic power over the last decade.

Burma is the only country is Southeast Asia that continues to maintain its good relations with Russia and still the Junta continues to let use the Russian embassy in Rangoon as the centre of espionage system over Asia and the Pacific. Russia 's weakness stems from its long-term secular trends and from its domestic structure that cannot be easily remedied. In essence, the old nomenclature and a few newcomers have transformed power into property on the basis of personal networks and created an equilibrium resting on insider dealings. These insiders may jockey for position but have a vested interest in preserving the system. The public does not like the system but is resigned to it and gives priority to the preservation of order. As for the economy, it is divided into a profitable, internationally integrated sector run by oligarchs and a much larger, insulated, low-productivity, old-style paternalistic sector that locks Russia into low growth.

No solace will be forthcoming from the international business and energy worlds. They do not expect the poor commercial climate to improve greatly and will not increase investments much beyond current levels until it does. Militarily, Russia will also remain weak. Its nuclear arsenal is of little utility, and Moscow has neither the will nor the means to reform and strengthen its conventional forces. However we should take care that Russia would not be forever weak and that the current confusion would end in a few years either through the adoption of authoritarian nationalism or federated democracy.

A former Burmese ambassador to China U Chan Tun claimed that by blocking the Burma topic in the UN Security Council both, Russia and China were protecting their own interests. Even though the Burmese people were to rely on itself alone to overthrow this genocidal regime, we need outside help and both Russia and China are squarely on the side of the Junta. In other words they have shamelessly interfere into the internal affairs of Burma by selling nuclear reactor, training the young army officers and selling 1.4 billion worth of arms just to kill the pro democracy movement and the ethnic nationalities. Hence it is logical that we will have to seek other sources. Now it has become clear as who are the Burmese people friends and who are helping our foes.

But the people of Burma know that nobody is going to help us on the grounds of morality alone. We have been fighting an up hill battle to hold the Junta accountable for their actions and to no avail. The US has been quite frank in its criticism of human rights violators elsewhere and the current American administration position on Burma , has remained fairly consistent imposing economic sanctions and threatened to boycott ASEAN if Burma became a chairman. In the case of Burma , the US seems to take human rights violations seriously, but paradoxically it dismisses a report of the Guantanamo Bay Detention Centre in its own doorstep as absurd? Why double standard? The United States is a country that promotes freedom around the world,” said President Bush at his press conference following the release of Amnesty International’s report. Vice President Dick Cheney went a step further in his interview with CNN: I think the fact of the matter is the United States …has liberated more people from tyranny over the course of the 20th century and up to the present day than any other nation in the history of the world.” Of course we could not comprehend of how did the mantra-like fashion refute the allegations of abuse? Rather than admitting that abuses have occurred and dealing with them in an honest and transparent way—as a truly democratic nation would require—the US has chosen the very undemocratic way of vilifying its accusers and insisting on its innocence something just like the Junta often do. However, this will not prevent us from seeking the help from the Anglo-American alliance.

The main point, which I am trying to proof, is that we are more nearer to the West and America if compared to the East led by Russia , China , India and ASEAN. In short it is the lesser of the two evils. Once the UN Security Council passed the resolution it is left for the West and particularly the American to prove their worth that they can liberate a country that has suffered the tyrannical rule more than any other country and the most important point is that Uncle Sam can go to War without oil as its main criteria. So like any Burmese people inside the country we would rather cling precariously on to the feet of a high flying American eagle rather than being hug by a Russian Bear.


The views express here are solely the opinion of the author. (Kaowao's Editor)


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