Posted by: Tony Carson | 26 September, 2007

Weird USA Today editorial: Burma’s lessons for the USA

It might be called the Mahmoud Ahmadinejad effect — USA Today penned one weird editorial.

According to the editorial Burma’s ‘Saffron Revolution’ the protests in Burma/Myanmar is a great learning experience for the US, the newspaper just doesn’t say how. Here it is in its entirety …

If people are persistent enough, even the must brutal governments tend to collapse — not usually by invasion, as in Iraq, but from within, as happened with the fall of the Soviet Union. It just takes a painfully long time and a lot of outside nudging.

Such a revolution could be brewing in Burma, with several lessons for the United States.

This week’s pictures from Burma have been extraordinary: Tens of thousands of Buddhist monks in saffron robes leading protests against the Asian nation’s repressive military rulers. The monks are a courageous lot. After similar demonstrations in 1988, the generals cracked down brutally. Thousands died, in a horror that foreshadowed China’s Tiananmen Square massacre. Since then, the generals have lived in luxurious seclusion, where they cannot be easily uprooted. On Tuesday, they imposed a nighttime curfew as President Bush was highlighting Burma’s plight in a speech at the United Nations.

Even so, the world has changed in the past two decades in ways that could help:

* In this age of the Internet and the cellphone, the Burmese leaders’ attempts at electronic censorship have been clumsy. Many citizens are managing to get messages and photos out of the country, and tap into news beyond the Orwellian state media.

* China has signed several deals to exploit Burma’s energy wealth. It has a powerful reason to use its new influence: fear of negative publicity as the 2008 Beijing Olympics approach.

* Burma, also known as Myanmar, is now a member of the Association of South East Asian nations. That engagement with its neighbors could have a tempering influence.

The revolt started last month when the generals raised fuel prices steeply on their impoverished people, failing to grasp the anger and hardship this would generate. One sign they might be uncertain how to proceed is their treatment of Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, 62. Suu Kyi, daughter of Burmese independence hero Gen. Aung Sang, won 1990 elections, but she has mostly been under house arrest. This weekend, the regime briefly allowed her to address the monks, then, as if scared, it forced her back inside.

Given the junta’s brutal record, the monks’ “Saffron Revolution” might well end bloodily. But Suu Kyi’s patient persistence, so much like Nelson Mandela’s in South Africa, is a telling sign that the regime is living on borrowed time. The spotlight of world attention can help shrink that time to a minimum.



  1. Free Burma!
    International Bloggers’ Day for Burma on the 4th of October

    International bloggers are preparing an action to support the peaceful revolution in Burma. We want to set a sign for freedom and show our sympathy for these people who are fighting their cruel regime without weapons. These Bloggers are planning to refrain from posting to their blogs on October 4 and just put up one Banner then, underlined with the words „Free Burma!“.

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