Celtic Diva's Blue Oasis: Is President Bush purposely goading Myanmar into rejecting our aid?

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Is President Bush purposely goading Myanmar into rejecting our aid?

I mention in my previous post that the First Lady's severe condemnation of the Myanmar government mixed in with the offer for aid yesterday surely seemed bent on forcing Myanmar to reject it.

Now, I'm a believer - I think that Bush really wants Myanmar/Burma to reject U.S. help. Here's Bush giving the #1 enemy of the present Myanmar government a "Congressional Gold Medal." The timing is "coincidental" of course:

President George W. Bush signs H.R. 4286, Congressional Gold Medal: Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, during a ceremony Tuesday, May 6, 2008, in the Oval Office. The bill awards a congressional gold medal to the Nobel Laureate for her courageous and unwavering commitment to peace, nonviolence, human rights and democracy in Burma.

Today's "Guardian Unlimited" features an excellent analysis from Brigit Welsh, "assistant professor in the Southeast Asia Studies Program at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies in Washington":
The international community has yet to fully accept the hand that has been extended. It is also locked in political games. Governments with entrenched political positions remain focused on elite politics. Yesterday's statement by Laura Bush is illustrative. Rather than wait to be asked in, the US administration browbeat the Burmese government for not accepting their small disaster relief team. The first lady made the offer, while simultaneously criticising the junta, essentially narrowing the space for genuine humanitarian aid to reach those in suffering. The Bush style of telling rather than asking is illustrative of defeating self-righteousness and misplaced arrogance. While the US was trying to do the right thing, how it has done it so far served to undermine the good intentions. Couching offers of aid with conditions will only alienate the junta further, and turn it further into the hands of Asia's growing superpower, China. Ironically, what the US is offering Burma today is a pittance. The amount of aid - $250,000 - is minuscule compared to the disaster. Sadly, more is spent in one day in Iraq.

Today Bush increased the offer by $3 million. Then, of course, he stuck another knife in the side of the offer by awarding the medal and using the opportunity, once again, to condemn the Myanmar government:
This is a fitting tribute to a courageous woman who speaks for freedom for all the people of Burma, and who speaks in such a way that she's a powerful voice in contrast to the junta that currently rules the country.

Bush's wears his motivations on his sleeve like other people wear their emotions. The government rejecting U.S. aid makes Bush look like the good guy to many Americans and (he hopes) to the Myanmar/Burmese people. Rejecting U.S. and other aid would mean untold suffering for the people of Myanmar/Burma whose past protests were ruthlessly crushed by the junta. In the neo-con mind, such added suffering could mean further destabalization and increased hostility to the junta government...and an opportunity.

In other words, the Bush Administration is willing to allow people to suffer and die so that he can get his way.

Gee...that's so unlike him...


Anonymous Marcus said...

Can't say I blame the Bush's on this one... it took them more than a week to grant aid to Indonesia/Sri Lanka in 2004, while Laura Bush mistakenly referred to Katrina as 'Karina' in 2005. The interest they show in disaster relief over the last 8 years is written on the wall.

Lets hope SF doesn't get the big quake while on his watch.. that's for sure..

5/06/2008 3:46 PM  
Blogger CelticDiva said...

Errrrmmm...or Anchorage!!!!

5/06/2008 4:38 PM  
Blogger Grimbles said...

I have to say, I'm of two minds. While they are things that need to be said... politicking with people's lives is totally out of order. Though of course, not only does it serve all manner of politicking purposes, if the junta refuses, he gets to be the good guy *and* doesn't have to pay for it.

I'm intrigued though: why Myanmar or Myanmar/Burma? Is that the standard usage in the States/AK? I ask, as I was under the impression that like Australia, the US rejected the junta's name.

I could be a smart-arse (which is so unlike me) and point out the the proper adjective form of Myanmar is actually Myanma, thus 'the Myanma government' *cheeky grin*

5/06/2008 7:24 PM  
Blogger CelticDiva said...

Yes, the U.S. rejects it, as does the U.K. - but if you notice, much of the U.S. media still calls it Myanmar. I also find it confusing as I read the International news regularly for my information.

Besides, embarassing but true, Americans aren't as informed on Geography as the rest of the world. Many folks in this country don't realize they were the same place.

5/06/2008 8:02 PM  
Blogger Grimbles said...

Didn't notice the media. All... 2 clips I've seen from across the pond talk about Burma. Though, the reporter for that CNN clip of yours was a Brit, so perhaps not a proper representation.

"Many folks in this country don't realize they were the same place." I imagine there'd be many whose sole knowledge of Burma would be 'Oh there's cats from there, right?' Well, cats and a cyclone. Granted, the same could probably be said for a lot of Aussies =(

5/06/2008 9:13 PM  
Blogger CelticDiva said...

Actually, my friends would just think of the skit from Monte Python, "The Penguin on the Television Set."


"Why'd you say Burma just then?"

"I panicked!"

5/06/2008 10:16 PM  

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