On Not Pissing Off Than Shwe

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Anne Applebaum, David Cameron, and others are calling for the rest of the world to ignore the junta and just start blanketing the country with aid from the air. It's certainly tempting; orphaned kids are getting sick as planeloads of medication wait a short trip away, and it's ludicrous that anyone should have to ask a bunch of barely educated thugs permission to deliver food and water. Still, its probably wishful thinking to envision a happy middle ground between submissively awaiting permission and full scale humanitarian intervention. No one has good enough information to know where, exactly, to dump a bunch of pallets, and Oxfam appears to think an air drop would make matters worse:

Air dropping aid does not guarantee food and other relief supplies reach the people most in need. In many cases it's the strongest and fittest who get to the aid first and not the sick or injured who most need help and assistance. In a natural disaster such as Cyclone Nargis or conflict like Dar-fur it's not only food that's needed but also sophisticated equipment such as clean water and sanitation systems weighing tonnes as well as highly skilled staff to operate them, all which cannot be dropped from the sky.

"If there isn't an aid operation on the ground to distribute the aid the air-drops can exacerbate any tense relations within communities with only the fittest and fastest benefiting," said Brian Scott.

While I doubt that sprinkling the delta with a bunch of high-energy biscuits is going to hurt cyclone victims in the short term, there is reason to worry about the junta's response to what it will call "invasion by Western Imperialists." Burma is isolated, but it is no North Korea; there is ample room for the generals to become more insular by cutting off Internet access and throwing all foreign workers out of the country.

This is a country that's always in crisis, and at any given time, dozens of well-funded foreign NGOs are operating within Burma. The United Nations Children's Fund, WorldVision, and the Japanese International Cooperation Agency have big aid operations, and Doctors Without Borders has a longstanding program that distributes anti-malarial drugs in remote regions. A military that will steal food from hungry people won't hesitate to rid itself of foreign doctors, teachers, and agronomists, and that's going to leave a lot of people much worse off. At the very least, the junta will respond by banning all authorized aid, which means that the teams waiting outside Burma now will never make their way over the border and on the ground.

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  1. I found all the talk of military intervention amusing.

    The neocons have never gone away. They’ve been with us since Wilson. As the Dems come back into power, we’ll see the idealism of Kosovo and Somalia come back into vogue.

  2. This is George Bush’s legacy.

    With a crisis that combines elements of Katrina and Iraq, there is no way in hell anybody will support ‘aggressive’ measures to help the situation.

  3. I know the one kind of aid they’ll NEVER consider dropping:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FP-45_Liberator

    because there’s a chance it might work against the UN’s dictatorship protection racket.
    JMR

  4. The neocons have never gone away. They’ve been with us since Wilson. As the Dems come back into power, we’ll see the idealism of Kosovo and Somalia come back into vogue.

    As opposed to the cakewalk, greeted-as-liberators “realism” of Iraq?

    I cannot believe you even have the audacity to lambast Wilsonian crusaders. You’re ONE of the,.

  5. *them

  6. I’ll add that, to my knowledge, none of the people advocating intervention have said what will happen if putative intervenors start getting shot at.

  7. This morning on NPR, Adm. Keating said that there wasn’t even a remote chance the military would act without the permission of the Burmese* government.

    * – Screw the totalitarians…Free Burma!

  8. Too bad they don’t have a lot of oil or we could invade.

  9. …ers are calling for the rest of the world to ignore the junta and just start blanketing the country with aid from the air.

    Any volunteers to crew the first wave of slow moving, low flying transports that can be knocked out the air with a sling shot?

    If there isn’t an aid operation on the ground…

    The key word missing from all this talk is organization. To survive disaster and prevent mass death, people must be highly coordinated. Everything has to flow from smoothly and quickly along the entire supply chain. Most 3rd countries cannot do this in times of peace and prosperity much less times of disaster and war.

    It’s sadly humorous that some have only discovered that autocrats are dangerous to their own people right at the time it is impossible to actually do anything about the autocrats. If we wanted to use force to prevent the current incipient disaster, we needed to have acted 6 months ago.

  10. This is how you know the every “humanitarian” pretext given for dropping bombs and rolling tanks given for the past forty years is total bullshit. If you wanted to save people from an oppressive regime through military intervention, Burma should be first on your list.

  11. Swell- more paternalist maundering from the NGOs.

    And, speaking of natural disasters, I cannot help asking myself what the “peasants” digging themselves out from under the rubble have to say about the billions the Chinese government has been pissing away on the Olympics.

  12. I cannot believe you even have the audacity to lambast Wilsonian crusaders

    Heh, what makes you think I’m lambasting them? I supported both those efforts. Kosovo was a huge success, and though Somalia didn’t turn out well, it was a noble effort to feed people being starved by the warlords.

    Republicans campaigned against those kind of “nation-building” interventions, then promptly did the same thing in Afghanistan and Iraq.

    Now Dems campaign against Iraq, and will shortly do their own 180 when they come into power.

  13. If life were like a Heinlein novel, we could air drop crates of M4 rifles to good effect. Unfortunately, life is more like a Steinbeck novel.

  14. You can’t air drop food to people. First, the stuff has a bad habbit of squashing people. Second, there problems are bigger and more immediate than food. You die of thirst or disease before you starve to death. What happens in these situations is people can’t get to clean water so they get disentary and the like and die of dehydration long before they ever starve to death. They need water, shelter and medicine even more than they need food. You can’t air drop that in.

    Lastly, even if you could air drop that stuff in, there is nothing stopping the Juanta from shooting anyone who touches it. The whole situation just sucks. I wish it were so easy as sending in the 82nd Airborne but it is not.

  15. So the libertarian position on this is to stand about 2 miles offshore with shitloads of food and water and watch a couple of million people starve to death because the junta doesn’t respond to “Mother May I”?

    Wonderful.

  16. Nonny – or, without your childish spin, the libertarian response is to not invade a country because we feel like it. Also, your knee-jerk emotionalism aside, if you can’t answer the question “What if they start shooting at us in response?”, I can’t help you.

    Heh, what makes you think I’m lambasting them?

    You’re actually copping to being a Wilsonian?

  17. All this talk about invading China’s allies is interesting enough, but there’s no way the US could do it without creating an economic catastrophe for starters, and possibly a world war as a parting gift.

    China would view US intervention in Burma in the exact same way that it would view US intervention in the Darfur, which is to say they’d view it as an act of war. At the very least, we’d see a breakdown in trade, which would cripple us and start a civil war in China.

  18. Nonny,

    I have no idea what the “libertarian position” is, and as I indicate in the post, my concerns have absolutely nothing to do with ideology or Burmese sovereignty. Some interventions are helpful, and some are harmful. I’m sorry if you find the grotesque reality of the trade-offs here offensive.

  19. You’re actually copping to being a Wilsonian?

    I’m a universalist libertarian. I’ll support any armed intervention on behalf of liberty, on the basis that I’d want to be liberated if I was oppressed.

  20. Slugger | May 14, 2008, 12:29pm | #
    If life were like a Heinlein novel, we could air drop crates of M4 rifles to good effect. Unfortunately, life is more like a Steinbeck novel.

    The only Heinlein novel I ever read was The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, and that struck me as being so totally unrealistic as to be a suspect for self-parody. Are all of his books like that?

  21. “What if they start shooting at us in response”

    Shoot back with an awful lot of guns. Amazingly this situation unlike Iraq might actually engender worldwide cooperation.

    And fuck invading their country. This isn’t regime change and it isn’t staying. It just bringing food to people who are otherwise fucked. It may be Intellectually Wholesome to stand back and proclaim otherwise but I find it at least mildly outrageous and condescending to say that opinions otherwise are childish.

    I can think of a couple million people who don’t give a rat’s ass about Ayn Rand or the Fountainhead right now.

  22. Some interventions are helpful, and some are harmful.

    But none are libertarian.

    The unspoken premise in all this, of course, is that altruism has reached such a height of insanity that some are thinking we should start a war over foreign aid…the American people did not cause this cyclone, and they shouldn’t be forced to pay for its clean-up.

    Cold-hearted as that may sound, but the United States isn’t an ATM.

  23. This isn’t regime change and it isn’t staying. It just bringing food to people who are otherwise fucked.

    The Somali experience tends to argue it may come to that if we’re really serious about feeding people the powerful don’t want fed.

  24. “The unspoken premise in all this, of course, is that altruism has reached such a height of insanity that some are thinking we should start a war over foreign aid…the American people did not cause this cyclone, and they shouldn’t be forced to pay for its clean-up.”

    Some of us are human beings and you know actually care about someone besides ourselves. We should help Burma if we can. But starting a war probably does more harm than good.

  25. Some interventions are helpful, and some are harmful.

    But none are libertarian.

    That’s the narrow, nationalist view of libertarianism.

  26. Kerry,

    My comment was in regard to commenters not your post, and I’m not particularly so naive as to think there’s an ideal solution, but thanks, honey, for your solicitude.

    All I am wondering is if there might be reason here to ignore the general libertarian stance against intervention in others’ affairs when the clear cost of inaction is diadter on such a massive scale. I’ll shut up now, since there clearly doesn’t seem to be a lot of value in arguing it here.

  27. Disater. Sorry. Shutting up now.

  28. Some of us are human beings and you know actually care about someone besides ourselves. We should help Burma if we can. But starting a war probably does more harm than good.

    I care about a lot of people other than myself, and therefore voluntarily assist them to the best of my ability.

    I’m astonished at what’s coming out of your mouths, John and TallDave…all of these arguments about “helping where we can” and “caring for others” (at the point of a gun, of course) could just as easily be spoken from a “progressive” about domestic programs.

    You “care” so much that you’ll rob from Americans to give to others…you’re just advocating massive foreign welfare programs instead of domestic ones.

  29. …all of these arguments about “helping where we can” and “caring for others” (at the point of a gun, of course) could just as easily be spoken from a “progressive” about domestic programs.

    Welfare is not liberty.

  30. You have to realize the distinction here: the Burmese people are not starving because they lack food, they are starving because their government is not allowing them access to food already provided.

  31. “You “care” so much that you’ll rob from Americans to give to others…you’re just advocating massive foreign welfare programs instead of domestic ones.”

    I don’t think helping people out who have been wiped out by a cyclone is quite the same as welfare. I would hope that when the day comes and some crazy fucker finally sets off a nuke in the US, other countries would actually help us. There is nothing wrong with government helping people hit by natural disasters and facing death and starvation. If you can’t see the moral difference between that and welfare then you have bigger issues to deal with than US foreign policy.

  32. That’s the narrow, nationalist view of libertarianism.

    I guess the broad, transnational view of libertarianism involves empowering one country (coincidentally ours) to go anywhere and do anything as long as “liberty” is the stated goal.

    See, to me, that’s the nationalist view.

  33. I guess the broad, transnational view of libertarianism involves empowering one country (coincidentally ours) to go anywhere and do anything as long as “liberty” is the stated goal.

    No, only where defending liberty is the actual goal, and for any country, not just ours.

  34. “… it’s ludicrous that anyone should have to ask a bunch of barely educated thugs permission to deliver food and water.”

    If they were well-educated thugs, would it be any less ludicrous?

  35. If you can’t see the moral difference between that and welfare then you have bigger issues to deal with than US foreign policy.

    That’s not an argument. That’s an ad hominem, in that you’re suggesting I must be deficient or something.

    the Burmese people are not starving because they lack food, they are starving because their government is not allowing them access to food already provided.

    And you think conveying that food to them is going to be free or something?

    Why is this aid “available” in the first place?

  36. “That’s not an argument. That’s an ad hominem, in that you’re suggesting I must be deficient or something.”

    Randian, you are arguing that there is no moral difference between providing aid to people who are facing starvation due to a cyclone and sending a welfare check to a healthy American who refuses to work. That is bizarre. Stop making deficient arguments and I will stop accusing you of being deficient.

  37. Hey Nonny, I don’t see you shooting your way into Burma to deliver food aid.

    Oh, you want it to be done by other people, so that you can feel good about the aid. But the soldier who dies delivering that aid, well, fuck him, right?

  38. What if the scale of the current disaster, and specifically the Burmese response to it, has been exacerbated by our prior”help?”

    “Free” food drives farmers out of business, for example.

  39. To the socialists among us: Put your money where your mouth is and donate to a private organization that is giving aid or get yourself to Burma. Leave me and my tax dollars alone. You have no right, or moral authority, to take my money and give it to someone else.

    It is my right to not give 2 flying fucks about people in Burma. (whether i do or don’t is immaterial).

  40. No, only where defending liberty is the actual goal, and for any country, not just ours.

    As befits good libertarianism, we’ll be expected to take our government’s word on this. What else could we do, given their stellar track record?

  41. And you think conveying that food to them is going to be free or something? Why is this aid “available” in the first place?

    That’s a separate question from whether the Burmese are being prevented from accessing the food by their government.

    I might oppose welfare, but I’d also oppose thugs stealing food from the poor or preventing them from accessing it by force.

  42. Put your money where your mouth is and donate to a private organization that is giving aid or get yourself to Burma.

    Better yet, form an armed group of aid workers and cut your way in Rambo style.

    Oh wait, you’ll never do that. You’ll send off our soldiers to die instead. You people are fucking amazing.

    And I don’t care if you were in the military, John, you were a fucking lawyer.

  43. I think I’ll go down to the high school and defend some girl’s liberty to have sex with old guys she doesn’t even know. She’ll be a better person for it, right?

  44. Um, can’t we just ignore them?

    The government in power doesn’t want to help it’s own people. If we help them by force, the one’s we are trying to help turn on us…

    I know it is a tragedy and all, but such is man lot in life.

    Let’s just ignore them and go watch TV.

  45. As befits good libertarianism, we’ll be expected to take our government’s word on this.

    I never expect to take anyone’s word for anything.

  46. Let’s just ignore them and go watch TV.

    I tried that, but it kept showing up on the news.

  47. next up we free Saharan Africa from drought and famine (they shouldn’t have to deal with that kind of heat). Then we free the peasant Chinese from oppressive communism (they have to be below joe’s poverty line). After that we can free the Cubans (I’m in miami and can use a new vacation spot). Then onto europe!

  48. And I don’t care if you were in the military, John, you were a fucking lawyer.

    An environmental lawyer at that!

  49. I’m kind of suffering from…disaster fatigue. Does that make me a bad person?

  50. I think it actually qualifies you for some sort of federal Disaster Fatigue Relief aid.

  51. please explain the post title.

  52. In many cases it’s the strongest and fittest who get to the aid first and not the sick or injured who most need help and assistance.

    Why are the strong and the fit of NGOs somehow more moral then strong and fit people who live there…

    Is the argument seriously that we can’t trust healthy people to give to their own weak sick and injured members of their families and neighborhood?

    what sort of fucked up argument is that?

    there is reason to worry about the junta’s response to what it will call “invasion by Western Imperialists.”

    This argument makes a bit more sense.

  53. Warren

    If you wanted to save people from an oppressive regime through military intervention, Burma should be first on your list.

    Cuba would be first on my list, but I weight distance as an important factor.

  54. Actually, Nonny has a good idea.

    I suggest the Red Cross arm itself and go in with food and supplies.

    I just oppose it being done with taxpayer money.

  55. Crap, once again Im about 3rd person in with the suggestion. I really need to read to the bottom before posting.

    Nonny, Tall Dave (although to be sorta fair, on a similar thread Dave acknowledged that private orgs doing it was reasonable – then he went off on his completely wrong monopoly of force bullshit), you going to counter the suggestion that the right way to do this is with a private force?

    Or have you already armed yourselves and left for Burma?

  56. Randian, you are arguing that there is no moral difference between providing aid to people who are facing starvation due to a cyclone and sending a welfare check to a healthy American who refuses to work. That is bizarre. Stop making deficient arguments and I will stop accusing you of being deficient.

    More circular argumentation. My argument is bizarre because I don’t agree with John, and because I don’t agree with John, my argument is bizarre.

    And therefore I’m a deficient person.

    You want to help the American poor? Go help them. You want to aid the Burmese during this disaster? Go do it. All this claptrap of “WE have to help” really means is “The Government has decided that this is a worthy cause, you’re expected to pony up.”

  57. Hey Kerry, I had actually read the Anne Applebaum article earlier this week, so I was rather puzzled by your opening sentence ’cause I didn’t recall Applebaum ever calling for “blanketing the country with aid from the air” herself. So I read her article again, and just as I suspected, no such thing: She only mentioned that the U.S. military is considering “helicopter deliveries of food” as an option, and she also suggests that we consider “wider diplomatic options” without being too specific. I suppose this was unintentional, but maybe you could be more careful with your sources next time?

  58. Boy I sure hope the good citizens of Kentucky see fit to invade Ohio and save me from the repressive tax system here. After all, it would be for the “cause of liberty”…right guys?

    Right TallDave?

  59. Is the argument seriously that we can’t trust healthy people to give to their own weak sick and injured members of their families and neighborhood?

    what sort of fucked up argument is that?

    What’s even better is that they think it’s better for everyone to starve than for food to be distributed inequitably. Typical socialist thinking.

    I suppose it would be a greater offense to human dignity if muscular villagers demand sexual favors in return for the food they get. “I’ve got the high-energy biscuits if you’ve got the time…”

  60. Is the argument seriously that we can’t trust healthy people to give to their own weak sick and injured members of their families and neighborhood?

    what sort of fucked up argument is that?

    The same argument that leads to social security and national health care?

  61. Boy I sure hope the good citizens of Kentucky see fit to invade Ohio and save me from the repressive tax system here. After all, it would be for the “cause of liberty”…right guys?

    To act as if there is no difference between Ohio and Burma, while amusing, is pretty far off the mark.

    Burma is being lorded over by warlords who prevent the people of Burma from having any say in the matter. There is no way for the Burmese to change there leaders or let there voice be heard, even if filtered through representatives. The current government has no claim to any kind of real soverienty. They represent no one but themselves.

    Morally I see no reason one can not invade at will. However, the cost, in terms of blood and treasure, as others have pointed out, may be higher than most would be willing to pay.

  62. Pain – all of that is a subjective assessment of the political realities of Burma, much in the same way that TallDave and Co. think we can judge “free” and “not-free” at will.

    There is a spectrum of freedom, and while I will readily admit that Burma is closer the totalitarian end of the spectrum, it would be entirely arbitrary to declare one nation “So unfree we can invade it” and one nation “Lacking some freedoms, but not enough for war.”

  63. I sure hope the good citizens of Kentucky see fit to invade Ohio and save me from the repressive tax system here.

    Ummm, you dont want our system either.

  64. Morally I see no reason one can not invade at will.

    I’m guessing you think you’re doing God’s work.

  65. However, I will consider shooting some fucking Ohioans if you all dont stop enforcing the speed limit on our roads. We drove faster than the speed limit in KY. Move over to the right!!

  66. Lotsa strawmen going up in flames on this thread.

  67. Morally I see no reason one can not invade at will. However, the cost, in terms of blood and treasure, as others have pointed out, may be higher than most would be willing to pay.

    ha ha, how laughable. Most people alive right now aren’t paying “blood” or “treasure”…volunteers fight in the Armed Services and we’re running up a hell of a credit card bill on the “treasure” portion.

    Also, what’s with this collectivist nonsense that “America” shouldn’t spend its “blood and treasure”…it isn’t America’s blood, it’s mine, and I signed on to defend it, not die running some altruistic, charity-by-force mission.

  68. For those of you who argue that ‘we’ should not intervene because it not ‘our problem’,
    how about this one:

    Should the state of New Jersey and its various townships *not* have sent emergency responders to manhattan on 9/11?

    After all, it’s new york’s problem right? Why should NJ taxpayers pay for it?

    ‘But there were several NJ citizens there at the WTC.’. Ok. So what about the other more remote places like Boston that sent people?

    Now, there is a completely *different* argument – one I agree with – that we should not intervene because basically, like somalia in ’92, it will wind up being a clusterfuck.

    But I strongly disagree with those who are conflating disaster relief with welfare.

  69. Move over to the right!!

    Buckeyes in the right-hand lane?
    That’ll be a sure sign of the end times.

  70. Should the state of New Jersey and its various townships *not* have sent emergency responders to manhattan on 9/11?

    What if Il Rudy had said, “keep out- we have the situation under control, and we don’t need any of you Joisey Joiks looting our city?”

  71. Should the state of New Jersey and its various townships *not* have sent emergency responders to manhattan on 9/11?

    Now there is definitely a difference between a confederation of States who rise to each other’s mutual aid and defense in times of crisis and Rich America being expected to empty its pockets everytime something bad happens.

    No such agreement or confederation exists with Burma.

  72. Also, what’s with this collectivist nonsense that “America” shouldn’t spend its “blood and treasure”…it isn’t America’s blood, it’s mine, and I signed on to defend it, not die running some altruistic, charity-by-force mission.

    Your (our) oath says in part:
    “I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States … that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter”

    Now unlike the enlisted one, we don’t explicitly swear that we’ll follow orders.

    But, the constituion says that the congress shall “… make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces;” and that the president “The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States,”

    So if the congress and the president both say to do something, we do it.

    And if we don’t care their decision, we can leave with honor at the end of our current tours. (Note: this is why I hate stop-loss, and above all, the draft)

  73. I’m well aware of the oath, and I am more than prepared to do what I’m told at the behest of the Republic.

    But I’m more than free to speak my mind about it as well.

    Also, if I am primarily supporting and defending the Constitution, where in there does it say that Congress has the power to tax for foreign aid?

  74. A_R

    “To lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States;”

    “To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes;”

    “He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur;”

    ‘Not one cent for tribute’ nothwithstanding, paying people off is a longstanding tool of statecraft.

  75. I am well aware of all of that. I think I am in “By What Right?” mode again.

  76. ‘But I’m more than free to speak my mind about it as well.’

    No doubt. I was just arguing specifically with your ‘what’s this “we” kemosabe.’

    You and I are one 100 millionth of the body politic. But by our profession, we are ‘america’s blood.’

    Now, let me be clear. I have no desire to die for my country. Nor care for any other american to do likewise. Like Patton said, I’d rather have some other poor bastard die for his country.

    I guess my point is, by joining a volunteer military, it necessitates putting up with a lot of ‘collectivist nonsense’.

  77. Also, this isn’t even “paying people off”, which I do recognize as an unfortuante-but-necessary tool of diplomacy. This is just out-and-out welfare.

  78. I’m guessing you think you’re doing God’s work.

    No actually I’m an atheist.

    The people of Burma have no choice in their government. It is being imposed on them. If you were in their situation would you rather have a democracy “imposed” on you or an authoritarian government where you had no say?

    Whether you want to pay the cost is another matter. But I see little moral conflict in liberating oppressed people.

  79. I also should clarify that I am opposed any military relief mission into Burma.

    Morally, and in theory I would support it. But if it didn’t work in Somalia in ’92 when conditions were ‘perfect’, it sure as heck will not work now.

  80. Whether you want to pay the cost is another matter. But I see little moral conflict in liberating oppressed people.

    Because you’re thinking in “we” terms, rather than seeing that for every Liberty Crusade we go on, there are plenty of individuals out there who get their labor “allocated” for something for which they aren’t even remotely responsible.

  81. Because you’re thinking in “we” terms, rather than seeing that for every Liberty Crusade we go on, there are plenty of individuals out there who get their labor “allocated” for something for which they aren’t even remotely responsible.

    Which is a matter of cost.

    To clarify, I’m not advocating throwing out realpolitik and go galavanting around the world, driving tanks into other people’s countries. Each situation is different and in most cases you wouldn’t even consider using force. There are numerous other means to help people trapped in authoritarian regimes. Force is just one option among many.

    My point is that there is no moral obstacle that I see to using it when other options are exhausted.

  82. The people of Burma have no choice in their government. It is being imposed on them.

    The people of Burma have never, to my knowledge, had a choice in their government. What great tradition of democracy will we be restoring to the Burmese people by forcibly establishing rule-by-NGO?

    I shouldn’t have to say this, but I will: I am no great admirer of the Burmese military government. But the notion that western governments should impose their will by force on the sovereign nation of Burma is misguided, at best.

  83. Shoot back with an awful lot of guns. Amazingly this situation unlike Iraq might actually engender worldwide cooperation.

    And fuck invading their country.

    I’m a little confused, Nonny. How is sending an armed force into a sovereign nation against the wishes of that nation’s government (however odious), with orders to exterminate armed opposition, not an invasion, again?

    “… it’s ludicrous that anyone should have to ask a bunch of barely educated thugs permission to deliver food and water.”

    Isn’t this true in any country, even the US? I seem to recall convoys of civilian volunteers being turned back from New Orleans. Should they have started gunning down the National Guard in order to deliver their pickup-loads of bottled water and bedding?

  84. The people of Burma have never, to my knowledge, had a choice in their government. What great tradition of democracy will we be restoring to the Burmese people by forcibly establishing rule-by-NGO?

    Correct me if I’m reading this wrong. What your saying is the Burmese, because of their lack demorcatic tradition don’t get a chance at freedom? I find this argument kind of strange. How do you gain democratic traditions if you are perpetually oppressed?

  85. My thinking runs more along the lines of, “Wishing will not make it so.”

    I am all in favor of freedom for the Burmese people, but coercing the Burmese government to accept our kindheartedness has more to do with some peoples’ freedom to feel smug than anything else.

  86. Why the hell is mob rule (democracy) something we want to impose on other countries?

    If someone comes up with a more free system of government are they then morally obligated to invade democratic nations?

    And aren’t the Burmese oppressed by other Burmese? It’s not like an outside people are doing the oppressing.

  87. adrian – people generally mean “the nebulous mix of democratic and republican principles under which the US is currently operating”.

    Side note: I think we should have just handed a copy of our Constitution to Iraq and said “have at it!” You want a real experiment in governance?

  88. Pain,

    My point is that there is no moral obstacle that I see to using it when other options are exhausted.

    There is no moral obstacle to using a privately hired mercenary group. There is a moral obstacle to using a government military.

  89. Should they have started gunning down the National Guard in order to deliver their pickup-loads of bottled water and bedding?

    I see no moral obstacle.

  90. How do you gain democratic traditions if you are perpetually oppressed?

    Internal revolution.

  91. Correct me if I’m reading this wrong. What your saying is the Burmese, because of their lack demorcatic tradition don’t get a chance at freedom? I find this argument kind of strange. How do you gain democratic traditions if you are perpetually oppressed?

    If the Burmese would be free, then let them strike the first blow. Then you and your friends can hold a bake sale and send the proceeds over to them to help fund the second blow.

    Barring that, however, I think we’re limited to sending food if they’ll accept it. And even that ought to be done privately.

  92. Internal revolution.

    I agree that is an option. So would you support us airdropping weapons to known insurgents? Most would consider that an act of war.

    As far as the private military force. I agree that would be the best way. Much like the volunteer freedom fighters in pre WW2 Spain and Greece. However current international law does not look kindly on mercenaries, whatever their motivations, and will not allow that to happen. So you make do with what you have.

  93. Pain,

    So would you support us airdropping weapons to known insurgents?

    us? Me and you. How would they consider that an act of war if robc and Pain funded airdrops of weapons? Yeah, Im all for it.

    us? The government. Same situation as before.

    Really people, you need to stop using very vague pronouns. It makes a fucking difference what “us” it is.

    However current international law

    Fuck international law. I dont live in internationallia, so it doesnt apply to me.

  94. If the Burmese would be free, then let them strike the first blow.

    They tried. That’s how all those monks got killed.

    then he went off on his completely wrong monopoly of force bullshit

    It was completely right. You can’t allow private militias to have heavy weapons, and you can’t intervene effectively without them.

  95. Boy I sure hope the good citizens of Kentucky see fit to invade Ohio and save me from the repressive tax system here. After all, it would be for the “cause of liberty”…right guys?

    Right TallDave?

    Obviously not; the response is vastly disproportional to the wrong.

    But let me ask you, if a military junta took over Ohio and was starving your family to death after a natural disaster, you wouldn’t want the other states to intervene?

  96. You can’t allow private militias to have heavy weapons

    Yes, you can.

    See, I proved you wrong.

  97. TallDave,

    #2 – monopoly of force does not mean “no heavy weapons”, it means “no ability to fight back”.

  98. Ah how the hypocrisy runs deep. It’s a humanitarian crisis worthy of military intervention in Burma, but when it’s Iraq, we can have the most brutal dictator in the last quarter century feeding people by the dozen into paper shredders feet-first, all the while breaking a treaty ending a previous aggressive war and committing acts of war against the United States daily, yet this doesn’t merit intervention.
    In order to remain consistent, the majority of posters at Reason should stick to calling opponents of illegal immigration racist and cheering cop-killers.

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