Burma: We’d rather let people die than allow the US Navy to help
posted at 9:45 am on May 21, 2008 by Ed Morrissey
And the military junta in Myanmar will surely get that wish. With the death toll predicted to reach well into six figures, the US had dispatched the Navy to deliver badly-needed relief supplies to the cyclone-stricken country. However, despite allowing American C-130s to deliver cargo elsewhere, the junta refuses to permit the US Navy to help save lives:
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged Burma to focus on saving lives, not on politics, after the military government on Wednesday shunned a U.S. proposal for naval ships to deliver aid to cyclone survivors.
The U.N. says up to 2.5 million survivors of Cyclone Nargis face hunger, homelessness and potential outbreaks of deadly diseases. ….
Burma’s state-controlled media said that U.S. helicopters or naval ships were not welcome to join the relief effort.
The New Light of Myanmar newspaper said accepting military assistance “comes with strings attached” that are “not acceptable to the people of Burma.”
The report cited fears of an American invasion aimed at grabbing the country’s oil reserves.
The junta fears a collapse of its credibility more than anything else. If they are seen as so weak that the US has to step in and rescue the Burmese from the incompetence of the military dictatorship, then they risk a popular uprising when the country recovers. The junta already put down one round of demonstrations in the streets a few months ago, and now the people of Burma have even more motivation to put the dictators up against the wall.
According to USA Today, though, the fear of American invasion isn’t just an excuse. The country moved its capital in 2005 from Rangoon to Naypyitaw to keep the government from being easily captured by the Americans. For those of us here in the US, this sounds absolutely ridiculous. Other than a desire to see Aung Sang Suu Kyi freed and democracy return to the country, Americans don’t have Burma on the political map. We haven’t any ambition to launch ourselves into another southeast Asian military enterprise for any reason, let alone the Burmese.
The junta may do to themselves what they fear we will do to them. Once the people understand that we have food and medicine off shore but cannot deliver it because of the idiotic paranoia of dictators in Naypyitaw, starving and dying people will descend on the junta and rip it to pieces.