Asian Invasion

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In a long article on the sorry state of Myanmar (sub. only), The Economist notes widespread desire for the Iraq treatment:

For proof of how grim things have become in Myanmar, consider how locals talk about America's invasion of Iraq. There is no griping about violations of Iraqi sovereignty, no carping about the mysterious absence of weapons of mass destruction, no horror at the bloodthirsty insurgency that has ensued. Only one criticism is ever voiced: why hasn't America invaded Myanmar too?

That was true when I left in January, and it was true despite the fact that the regime's paper, The New Light of Myanmar, publishes stomach-churning pictures of Iraqi carnage nearly every day. But nowhere does the article mention the most bizarre side of this story—that the regime itself is utterly convinced Myanmar is next on the hit list and that it can withstand an American invasion if it keeps pouring money into defense. The dual delusions have led to the construction of an "escape city" in central Myanmar (They'll never find us here!) and an ongoing arms buildup.

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  1. But nowhere does the article mention the most bizarre side of this story — that the regime itself is utterly convinced Myanmar is next on the hit list and that it can withstand an American invasion if it keeps pouring money into defense.

    That helps put North Korea’s intransigence over its nuclear program into perspective, don’t you think? I suspect that a lot of the paranoia from both parties has to do with psychological projection (i.e. if they had the kind of war machine that we had, they’d jump at the chance to put it to use against enemy states).

  2. If you think that’s weird, consider North Korea. There’s mass starvation and suffering of the most acute sort yet, by all accounts, the government is beloved!

  3. Eric you are absolutely right. Our enemies cannot understand why we don’t destroy them because God knows if they had our military they would most certainly destroy us.

  4. How doubly sad.

    A government that has illusions of itself being important enough to be overthrown by America.

    A people that live with the reality that they aren’t important enough to be saved by America …

  5. by all accounts, the government is beloved!

    According to who? Not those who die or are interned by the goddam Chinese every year trying to escape, I bet.

  6. Yeah, Chigger, I really hope that you were joking about the North Korean government being beloved by all the starving North Koreans thing. If you were, congratulations on the driest joke of the day. If you weren’t, then cite your sources, and please keep in mind that an honest poll/survey of the North Koreans would be damn near imopssible consdiering that they live in a totalitarian country with rulers who would as soon torture and kill them and thier families as soon as look at them. So Chigger, cite your sources with care.

  7. I agree with Swede that an honest poll is impossible in practice.

    But I wouldn’t be terribly shocked if some people who have been propagandized for life develop a kind of Stockholm syndrome. I don’t know if it’s happening, but in a place as bizarre, closed, and tightly controlled as North Korea, just about any fucked up thing is possible.

  8. This isn’t novel. For 50 years the U.S. government used fear of communist invasion that the Russians probably never could have pulled off to justify a huge military infrastructure.

    Hand it to the butchers of Burma, they’ve learned from the masters on that one.

    Sean Dougherty
    Clifton, NJ

  9. Oh, for heaven’s sake. Of course Chigger was joking. It was a riff on all that “Beloved Leader Kim Jong Il” propaganda that the North Korean government churns out.

    I thought it was pretty funny.

  10. Jesse,

    I take it then that Sean Dougherty is joking as well.

  11. Saying that all North Koreans love their wretched government would be a stretch, but there’s a lot of evidence suggesting that the number of people brainwashed by the Dear Leader’s minions isn’t insignificant. Consider the story about a group of North Korean cheerleaders breaking down in tears upon seeing a picture of Kim Jong-Il lying on a street in Seoul. Or Nick Kristof’s story about a man who volunteered to execute his wife after she was given a death sentence for criticizing Kim’s womanizing.

    Outside of some tribal lands lost in time, I don’t think there’s another place on the planet where the average person’s as disconnected from the outside world as the Hermit Kingdom.

  12. Libertarian as I am, I must confess to a fantasy of having our military overthrow one tinpot dictator every year or so just as a training exercise.

  13. For 50 years the U.S. government used fear of communist invasion that the Russians probably never could have pulled off to justify a huge military infrastructure.

    The Cuban Missle crisis was propaganda?!?

  14. Libertarian as I am, I must confess to a fantasy of having our military overthrow one tinpot dictator every year or so just as a training exercise.

    even tinpot dictators have “friends”.

  15. What’s this “Myanmar” crap? It’s Burma, durn it. Did your grandpa defend the “Myanmar Road”? Would you use “Myanmar-Shave?” Is there a “Myanmarese Cat Society”?

  16. Burmese cats?

  17. Sorry for the threadjack, but some of us regular posters from the Connecticut-New York-New Jersey area are talking about meeting somewhere in Manhattan on some weekend, to drink, talk about how much better the world would be if we ran it, and see how TOTALLY wrong we were when we imagined what the others looked like. I’ve got a few regulars signed up already.

    So drop me an e-mail if you’re interested, and after a couple of days, when I know who all’s going, we can work out the when and where.

  18. Maybe they have a guilty concience. The US invaded Iraq because they were building weapons of mass destruction/sponsoring terrorists/had lots of oil/other (pick one). Which of these do you suppose the Myanmar government is guilty of?

  19. The Cuban Missle crisis was propaganda?!?

    How is an attack the same as an invasion? If the government had been realistic about the Communists and the type of threat that they posed, they could have targeted money to areas like the Air Force and rapid response teams for small actions, instead of burning trillions of dollars on a conventional military that wouldn’t have meant anything if the Soviets had decided to exercise their only useful option against the States and start a nuclear conflict.

  20. If some enterprising Burmese engineer were to invent a system of propelling an automobile using human skulls, we’d be in business.

    OK, semiseriously, a “regime change” invasion of Burma could actually stand a decent chance of working, since Burma actually has an existing democratic political opposition that has credibility with the people. We wouldn’t have to try to gin one up Hollywood-style, like we did with Ahmed Chalabi.

  21. Of course, this assuming George Bush, Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Myers and Condoleeza Rice are bound and gagged in a closet throughout the planning and invasion stages. THEN it might stand a chance of working.

  22. President Kerry would have created a free and fair Myanmar by now, eh joe?

  23. Other issues aside for a moment, how absolutely insane/deluded/stupid does the Burmese leadership have to be that they’re actually building this “escape city”? I mean…they’re aware we have planes and cruise missiles and satellites and drones, correct? And they’re aware that this equipment doesn’t care what the street signs say, correct? Therefore the thought process behind this is……?
    This story seems almost impossible to believe, except for the fact that it really is happening.
    By the way guys, concentrating the USA’s supposed targets into one nicely compact and civilian-free area is what our military wants for Christmas.

  24. Well, Dynamist, President Kerry would have scheduled a meeting to discuss appointing a commission to establish an agenda for the international community to reach a consensus on the desirability of a free and fair Myanmar, you can be sure of that.

  25. You mean as opposed to the absolute nothing that Bush has done, RC?

    Dynamist, my point was just that, had President Kerry decided to invade Burma (which is just as absurd a notion as President Bush deciding to invade Burma), he would have put people who can find their ass with both hands in charge of the operation.

  26. Has Burma discovered large oil fields that I’m not aware of?

  27. joe-

    I know you mean well, but defending John Kerry’s competence to fight a war that will never be fought is going above and beyond the call of duty.

  28. It’s in a noble cause, thoreau – slagging the buffoons who bungled this one.

  29. We should debate whether Al Gore or Bob Dole would do a better job of handling diplomatic relations with Xinjiang (western Chinese province that wishes it could secede).

  30. Well obviously John Hagelin (Natural Law Party ’96) would have done something about Xinjiang and Myanaburmar.

    Anyone else think that the “escape city” is really a decoy? That when “D-Day” comes, the SLORCs will send a fake convoy to Escape City while just hunkering down in RanYangoon.

    Rhywun-
    Burma does have natural gas….

  31. Myanmurma is not evidently engaged in harboring international terrorists, nor exporting nuclear and other weapons technology. The government is essentially only a threat to its own people. Although there is petroleum there, the region around Burnmar is not unified in a monolithic distaste for western ideas, and there’s a sprinkling of functioning semi-democracies around it.

    That’s why USA hasn’t invaded. But it is so much easier to say Bush is a moron grabbing for oil.

  32. I’d like to repeat again my suggestion that all of you libertarians visit Burma. For a country whose government apparently hates the US, the people sure are friendly. If you missed out on the pre-1989 communism tour of eastern europe or can’t get to Havana, it’s the next best thing.

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