World

Hopes Dashed for Democracy in Myanmar

The nation's brief respite from military rule came to an abrupt end on February 1.

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On February 1, Myanmar's military arrested the country's democratically elected leader and announced a one-year state of emergency. The nation's brief respite from military rule—which had previously lasted from 1962 to 2011—had come to an abrupt end.

Military leaders claim the government of Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar's head of state and leader of the National League for Democracy (NLD) party, failed to properly investigate voting irregularities in the November parliamentary elections. The NLD says there is no evidence of widespread fraud.

Suu Kyi's elected government was not a beacon of liberal policy. Press freedom was constrained, and the government blocked access to certain news sites. Critics also say Suu Kyi created a cult of personality around herself and persecuted the Rohingya ethnic minority. The slow pace of liberalization can be partly attributed to the fact that the NLD has had to share power with the military the last five years.

That seemed about to change. In the most recent election, the NLD significantly outperformed the military's proxy party. But less than three months later, the military jailed Suu Kyi and other NLD leaders. Min Aung Hlaing, the army's commander in chief, then appointed himself ruler.

At least 42 government officials and 16 political activists were arrested. NetBlocks, a company that monitors access to the internet, said Myanmar's connectivity levels dropped below half of what they would normally be during the morning of February 1, and a number of people reported disruptions in cellphone service. Military vehicles patrolled major cities' streets, broadcasters went off the air, and banks suspended service, citing the lack of internet (although access was restored in many places as the day wore on). Many people took down flags declaring their support for the NLD.

While the coup is an unsettling turn for the worse in a country that had been settling into democracy, President Joe Biden and Congress should react carefully. "Washington will likely reimpose sanctions against the military junta," says Jessica Lee, a senior research fellow at the Quincy Institute. "But given that few military officials travel to or conduct business with the United States, they are unlikely to have immediate effect. We must make sure that any sanctions imposed do not end up hurting ordinary people or cause blowback against minorities."

NEXT: Brickbat: Is This Thing On?

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  1. The Brits are looking pretty good right now.

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    1. The Brits taught how to use oppression to the military. That hardly makes them look good.

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  2. This is another fine mess Biden has gotten us into. How are we going to fix this problem? It’s not like this is none of our business and we can just stay uninvolved.

    1. Better send in some troops.

  3. As Bob Marley sang no viking no coup

    1. I was going to post some snarky comment about “this is what an actual coup looks like,” but yours is way better than anything I was going to come up with.

  4. “President Joe Biden and Congress should react carefully”

    Particularly since he’s about as legitimate as the Burmese junta too.

    1. Myanmar… No democracy! The wet dream of Mamma, who lusts, no only for Der TrumpfenFuhrer to grab her pussy good and hard, but also for 1-party rule!

      1. When your head is on a pike, I will make sure to spit on it as I walk by.

        1. That’s why I favor democracy… It has at least a half-decent chance of restraining barbarians like Goldilicks Gorillashit gone apeshit!

          1. Nothing is going to save you.

      2. Which, sadly, he will have to enjoy from afar, from his cabin in Moosefuck, Canada.

        1. Okay Sqrlsy.

  5. “Hopes Dashed for Democracy in Myanmar”

    That’s too bad.

    Of course we Koch / Reason / Cato libertarians have the perfect answer — we can just encourage the entire population of Myanmar to immigrate to the US.

    #OpenBordersWillFixEverything
    #ImmigrationAboveAll

  6. Military leaders claim the government of Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s head of state and leader of the National League for Democracy (NLD) party, failed to properly investigate voting irregularities in the November parliamentary elections. The NLD says there is no evidence of widespread fraud.

    Ha! But if the press says widespread fraud never happens, then there’s not even any need to investigate! These people must be criminals for even questioning the election! Wreckers! Kulaks!

    1. https://reason.com/2021/03/23/sidney-powell-says-shes-not-guilty-of-defamation-because-no-reasonable-person-would-have-believed-her-outlandish-election-conspiracy-theory/

      Sidney Powell Says She’s Not Guilty of Defamation Because ‘No Reasonable Person’ Would Have Believed Her ‘Outlandish’ Election Conspiracy Theory

      Which particular lies are you wanting to hear and believe today, Griffool-Tool?

      1. I want a reasonable investigation. If I got audited, people in cheap suits and menacing briefcases would go through all of my financial records to see if I cheated on my taxes or not. If there was a question about the stability of a bridge I designed, I would expect people to check out the drawings, double-check my math, and, I dunno, drive humongous trucks over the bridge and measure how much they deformed under the load.

        But there is a question about the election, and everyone is like “You have no standing to file a claim” and “there is no widespread election fraud” and “crazy trump people said crazy things, so you must be crazy too”. Why is it so unreasonable to just spot check it, thoroughly, in a regular way across the country? Who is being the tool, when they just accept people saying “we just recounted the ballots, and no one needs to care where they came from exactly?”

        1. Why is it so unreasonable to just spot check it, thoroughly, in a regular way across the country?

          Because fuck you, that’s why.

        2. You do realize there HAVE been numerous recounts, audits, etc.

          What do you still want done, specifically? Be specific about the state and what you want them to do.

        3. Fascists are never satisfied. When one hoop is jumped through, they procure other hoops. Take Georgia as an example. Four audits, multiple recounts, no significant fraud found. Yet fascists pushed through new “election integrity” laws. When those don’t work to their satisfaction — i.e. the wrong candidate won — they’ll come up with new demands.

          1. Your reckoning is well on its way.

          2. Elections are so important, anyone should be able to vote in any way possible.

  7. Back to sanctioning Burma, I guess. Did the junta pick a better name than SLORC this time? Other than that, I guess the US’ll ignore it.

    Just like I imagine we’ll ignore what looks to be an escalation of the fighting between Ukraine and Russia. As stupid as it sounded, nevertheless it looks like Zerohedge et al were actually right, and Putin wants to push things in Ukraine. Trains and convoys full of goodies are now moving to the area. Search around, but here’s a tweet of a new fuel convoy headed towards the border: https://mobile.twitter.com/tom_bullock_/status/1377657116073287681

    Tanks and soldiers can be moved, and that makes news, but they don’t do much without trucks/trains/pipelines full of supplies. And those supplies are much easier to lose or steal—“falling off the truck”, is a cliche for a reason—so they don’t get herded together and convoyed unless there’s a damned good reason. Like invasion.

    On the surface, Putin must be desperate to risk this. If the Ukrainians smash his invasion via a blizzard of high-tech toys, it’s going to be tough for the vicious little shit to fade a bunch of angry relatives. Stalin is dead, and so are the days of the Red Army not caring about 50,000 casualties.

    1. My question is: Do we really give a shit what Myanmar (Burma) does? Is there a US national interest in Myanmar?

      Ukraine is not a NATO member. To this American, the Russia/Ukraine dispute sounds like a European matter for Europeans to resolve.

      What is the US national interest in Ukraine, aside from POTUS Biden’s and Hunter Biden’s Burisma business deals?

      1. Oil. There’s a bit of it there. Used to be a big poppy grower in the hinterlands, back in the day. Neighbors of Thailand, so whatever stupidity happens in Burma, has a tendency to cause its US-allied neighbors some ass pain.

        Ukraine qua Ukraine? Not that much, beyond the ‘we don’t grab land through force of arms’ idea anymore. As you wrote, it’s a European problem, not that Europe could fix even the Balkans’s issues way back in the 90s.

        Ukraine gave up its Soviet-era nukes, for basically a pinky-swear that NATO would be indignant at Russian territorial shenanigans, but no real treaty obligations to fight on their behalf. Sell Ukraine weapons (and send some guys-who-don’t-really-count, to teach the Ukrainians how to use them) and sit back. Watch Russians die by the trainload. Let it serve as an object lesson to not invade your neighbors.

        1. We’ve got plenty of our own = oil. Myanmar can sort out their own shit without American help. If they ask us for help, we’ll see.

          We should steer clear of EU problems where our national interest is not at play. Ukraine is a good example of an EU problem that really doesn’t present a threat to US national interests. Let the Europeans deal with it. Besides, they’re in bed with the Russians buying their natural fucking gas from them.

    2. I wouldn’t be so quick to jump on the Russian “aggression” bandwagon yet.
      I’ve read that it was Ukraine who started up shelling Donetsk again.
      NATO expansion has no real justification, and Russia has been the global socialists’ #1 target for 25 years, with Putin as the great boogeyman.
      Funny how Obama-Biden comes back and Ukraine immediately goes back to fighting.

      1. And where did you read that? Zerohedge? Consider the origins and biases of its founder and backers before taking at face value, any of their news relating to entities comprising the former Soviet Union, or Slavic-dominated Balkan countries.

        Ukraine’s President issued a really silly order from his office recently, stating they wanted the Crimea back: https://www.president.gov.ua/documents/1172021-37533

        Well, to quote Khrushchev in Iannucci’s excellent, The Death of Stalin, “And I want to fuck Grace Kelly.” Ukraine isn’t getting Crimea back as things stand either. Even if Crimea doesn’t have enough water to maintain itself without being supplied from Ukraine.

        1. Consider all the actors involved and all the biases from western media.
          I first woke up to this year’s ago when I’d read reports about “Russian fighters aggressively buzz US destroyer” only to find out, casually mentioned in the articles, that it was always in the Black Sea or Baltic right on the edge of Russian airspace.
          I’m sure you’re familiar with the expansion of NATO and Clinton’s economic “advisors” that he sent over in the 90s, so I won’t tell you to look them up.
          It’s a dangerous game our would-be world feudal lords play with Russia, one filled with lies and provocation for no strategic gain the the American people.
          Putin may not be a good guy, but he’s the best Russia can do, and if he stands against the global socialist order he’s doing something for us too.
          I form my suppositions/conclusions based on the logic of events as portrayed and the pattern/history of behavior of those involved.

          1. “Right on the edge of Russian airspace”? In the Black and Baltic Seas? LOL. Those are international waters. That means people get to sail there, subject to ILOTS considerations for warships. No matter how much asspain it causes Boris.

            Zerohedge is pro-Russian biased. Full stop. It’s only because a giant chunk of American media has decided to emulate Pravda, TASS, and the Politburo reporting on internal economic conditions, that ZH’s news aggregating and analysis has as much value as it does.

            1. So you’d be comfortable with Russia sailing warships up the Gulf toward Houston while simultaneously funding and arming anti-US narcos in Mexico?

              1. Provided their shitty navy could make it to the Gulf without needing a tow, why not? Freedom of navigation applies to everyone. Besides the environmental laws that would get shredded by the Russian Navy. Have you seen the soot that Kuznetsov spewed everywhere? I’m totally sure they’ll follow rules about cleaning bilges inshore too… But they can sail there, if they want to.

                Their subs actually can make it to the Gulf from time to time, without breaking down. They don’t get buzzed or rammed. Intentionally, anyway. They do get followed.

                The Chinese are getting better at the bluewater game. No doubt we’ll see a Luyang or a Renhai paying port call visits in the Gulf or Caribbean soon.

            2. What a great example of sound logic in your comment. Applying your logic, since Cuba is a sovereign nation surrounded by international waters, there is nothing to be concerned about if Russia deploys a few dozen nukes there. Thanks for the informative lesson!

            3. https://www.president.gov.ua/documents/1172021-37533

              In accordance with Article 107 of the Constitution of Ukraine, I hereby resolve the following:

              1. implementation of the resolution of the Council of National Security and Defence of Ukraine of 11 March 2021 “On the strategy of deoccupation and reintegration of the temporarily occupied territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the Sevastopol Municipality” (to be added). (to be added).

              2. approval of the strategy for the clearance and reintegration of the temporarily occupied territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol (to be added).

              3. control over the implementation of the resolution of the National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine put into effect by this decree is imposed on the Secretary of the National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine.

              4. This Decree shall enter into force on the day of its publication. President of Ukraine V.

              ZELENSKYY 24 February 2021

              1. Yeah, I linked to the Ukrainian government version upthread.

                Still not seeing why that justifies a few Russian motor-rifle divisions + log train, massing on the NE Ukraine border. It says they want Crimea back. Well, no shit they do. It was theirs seven years ago.

                Are they massing forces to take it back? Doing their version of the War of Attrition Egypt did against Israel, after Egypt got salty because they lost Sinai in 67? No to both? Then why mobilize, Vlad?

                Your dreams of empire are only as good as your last invasion. Historians—assuming there’ll be anyone left who can read, a hundred years from now—will likely point to OIF as the point where the US really lost its fastball. With Vietnam as the point where the US got Tommy John surgery, but came back even faster. This can go really sideways for Vlad, really fast.

                Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

                1. Weren’t we just doing military exercises in Poland?
                  Aren’t we shipping a hostile government on their border arms a couple times a week?
                  Isn’t Kiev renewing fighting and renegging on the autonomy agreed to for Donbass?
                  Hasn’t NATO spent the last two decades expanding to formerly Russian territories after promising not to include former Warsaw Pact countries?
                  Wasn’t the entirety of Ukraine carved out of Russian territory by the Soviet government of Kruschev?

                  We have no reason for hostility to Russia outside our inability to move on from the Cold War and USSR. China has aggressed against us far more and Europe is a bunch of backstabbing deep states.
                  Russia should be our ally.
                  Fuck the global socialists and their psychopathic march toward the neo feudalism of world government.

            4. Clinton’s goldman sachs boys did a job on Russia and Putin isn’t forgetting that..as for Russia, it is a regional power why do we care what they do? For gosh sakes their GDP is not much more than Spain…their population is dying young…they are not a threat..the Fed is a threat to our liberty a lot more than Putin…listen to JQA…stay out of foreign issues..

  8. Myanmar’s Military Pulled Off the Coup Trump Couldn’t

    This is not to say, by any means, that this coup was a consequence of Trump’s presidency or his post-presidency.

    Yet the parallels are striking: The Burmese military had wanted to delay the election on the pretext of the pandemic (a threat Trump and his allies speculated about carrying out last year), then claimed without evidence that the polls were tainted by massive fraud. It brought those claims to election authorities and the Supreme Court and, after failing to get its way by constitutional means, took matters into its own hands.

    After Trump’s attempts at a constitutional coup failed, some of his craziest supporters urged him to do the same thing: declare a national emergency, impose martial law, arrest the leaders of the legitimately elected government, and rerun the election he lost under military management (presumably with as much intimidation and manipulation as needed to produce the “correct” tally). The insurrectionists who stormed the Capitol on January 6 sought to bring about that same outcome. Trump’s attempted coup enjoyed more popular support here than the generals’ coup appears to have in Myanmar, but failed because core state institutions, particularly the armed forces, were unwilling to upend two centuries of democratic tradition.

    The fact that half of this scheme was attempted — and the rest of it even considered — in Washington has wiped away much of the U.S.’s moral authority to stand up to democratic backsliding and authoritarian coups around the world. If we can no longer manage to carry out an election that voters and public officials agree is secure and trustworthy, and if our leaders attempt to overturn election results they don’t like, what business do we have lecturing other countries about their own democratic processes?

    During the past five years, Trump’s “fake news” refrain was a master class in how to taunt, manipulate, and undermine public trust in a free press, and we have seen authoritarians around the world adopt his language. We can expect to see the same with the parlance of the election conspiracy theory: fake ballots, dead voters, signature mismatches, preprogrammed Venezuelan voting machines, and so on. Crying fraud to justify rejecting a democratic election is hardly a new tactic, but Trump has given it a new level of legitimacy and provided a template for deploying it more effectively than he ever could.

    Trump showed the world that you don’t need to prove widespread fraud to challenge an election and destabilize a democracy; you just need to get a loud, angry minority of the population onboard with the lie. In the U.S., with its robust democratic institutions, apolitical military establishment, and independent judiciary, this was not quite enough to overturn the will of the electorate. In a country like Myanmar, it is more than enough. It will not be the last place where this strategy is tried.

      1. Thanks! “Myanmar’s Military Pulled Off the Coup Trump Couldn’t”

        We have a “barbarians at the gates” gap going on here! The trumpanzees gone apeshit are WAY slacking off on their jobs of replacing democracy with mobocracy! We need to bring Myanmar’s Military over here to give us some “barbarians at the gates” training!

    1. Now do 2016.

      1. 2016 – Trump wins a squeaker of a victory despite thin and questionable margins in several states. Hillary Clinton quickly concedes and Trump is inaugurated with no riot.

        How’s that?

        1. Lol

    2. I love how Trump still lives rent free in your heads.

      1. Hardly rent-free. We stole the election from him and made him a roundly ridiculed historical footnote.

    3. Die.

  9. “While the coup is an unsettling turn for the worse in a country that had been settling into democracy, President Joe Biden and Congress should react carefully.”

    Intervene? Any NBA games, Disney properties, or iPhone factories in Myanmar? If not, fuck ’em.

  10. Burma. There is no “Myanmar”

    1. They had a close shave with democracy, but their military is now back in control.

      1. Burmese Democracy
        To thrive we see
        Only can be
        Sung off-Kyi

        1. If your life
          You’d like to save
          Do as you’re told
          Burma Slave

          1. LOL….I remember those billboards as a very small child!

  11. It looks like Myanmar just dodged a bullet.

  12. But enough about form of government in Myanmar; what about its content, i.e. policy as it actually affects the Burmese?

    My understanding of the previous junta was colored by “Burmese Bear” and the little that there was to read about it, but the general gist of it wasn’t so much that it was bad as that it was weird. It ran crosswise to people’s usual political classifications. First of all, during the Cold War, military coups weren’t supposed to be undertaken by socialists, as this one was. Also, it was supposedly a very controlling regime, meddling in tiny details, that tried very hard to look like it had its hands off everything, and indeed it did practice laissez faire in large areas of life for long periods that you’d think a dictatorship would be interested in controlling. I think the term “fascism with a friendly face” might’ve been coined with this in mind.

    But what I’d like to know now is, is the military better or worse for freedom there than would likely exist otherwise? I value political freedom at the bottom of the things I like to be free; in fact if you got enough freedom in other spheres of life, political freedom might have to be sacrificed to keep those things free. So offhand I don’t know what to make of the news, since reporters seem to be interested primarily in political freedom.

    1. For more about my attitude, see the movie of The Monitors.

    2. I too have kind of watched the Myanmar situation with interest, because from very early on, I got the impression that the various players involved didn’t fit into neatly packaged Western political narratives… no matter how charismatic a figure Suu Kyi cut.

  13. Suu Kyi’s elected government was not a beacon of liberal policy. Press freedom was constrained, and the government blocked access to certain news sites.

    In America, we outsource that job to Jack Dorsey and Mark Zuckerberg.

  14. “But given that few military officials travel to or conduct business with the United States, they are unlikely to have immediate effect. We must make sure that any sanctions imposed do not end up hurting ordinary people or cause blowback against minorities.

    Huh?

  15. Burma’s democratic rule came to an abrupt end on February 1. We beat them by four months.

    1. We beat the attempted coup by four months. There. Fixed it for ya.

      1. You mean the horn hat guy?

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  17. Democracy is the best thing that has ever happened to the world

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