Wednesday, September 26, 2007

China looks on

What China does about Burma will be intriguing to watch. As per Robert Kagan's thesis that the great political division in today and tomorrow's world is that between liberal and totalitarian states, China will hardly want to see a democratic Burma emerge. Its mantra of "not interfering in the internal affairs" of sovereign states (especially for humanitarian reasons) is mostly about self-protection. Would they interfere directly if the situation in Burma got out of control?

And I wonder what the Chinese would do if their economy started to suffer because of their support of nasty dictators. What would it take for politics to give way to economics?

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6 comments:

wodge said...

Mmmmmh! I wonder what the US would do if their economy started to suffer because of their support of nasty dictators. What would it take for politics to give way to economics?

NoolaBeulah said...

If the US starts to suffer, so will we, and so will a lot of other people. They will defend themselves, and so will we. It will not be nice for most people.

The point about the Chinese is that it is not only in their economic interest to defend dictators, but also in their long-term political interest. Because they are defending their own system of government. It is entirely understandable that they should do so. It's just that I don't like their system of government.

wodge said...

My point which you've pbviously missed is that the West does business with as bad if not worse than Burma.

But interesting answer all the same. Presumably if any third world country step out of line, the US can bomb some democracy into them.

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Lubricated by US taxpayer dollars that go to Israel each year, the Israeli hafrada regime has in turn been flogging arms to Burma’s military junta, responsible for shooting Buddhist monks and foreign journalists in pro-democracy marches in the past week. Amid the chorus of condemnations and sanctions from Bush, Brown and others, no corresponding condemnation is issued about how these peacefully demonstrating Buddhist monks are being murdered with Israeli arms — why shouldn’t sanctions properly be raised to apply to the military regime-supporting arms pusher?

Let’s be clear — Israel is not the only arms supplier to the military regime. Most countries source arms from more than one source, and China has been traditionally been a large supplier and a significant trading partner (China is Burma’s third most important export destination, and its largest country of origin for imports– 2005 figures). A possible Indian sale of its Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) to Myanmar also involves vital components sourced from six EU states (Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Sweden and the UK), also potentially — if the transfer goes ahead — circumventing an arms embargo in place since 1988.

The issue is not simply that of arms sales and hypocrisy however, but intelligence links and other ties, and the Israeli and Myanmar regimes have had a close history, and a strong military relationship that continued well after the 1962 coup as a Jane’s Intelligence Report from 2000, excerpted below, details...

Israeli arming of Burma-Myanmar junta

NoolaBeulah said...

The question of who sold what to whom is not a negligible one, but nor is it a matter for the 'moral equivalence' game. The fact that the whom in this case, Burma, has used those arms against its own people does not mean the suppliers of those arms are as bad as the Burmese. To call for sanctions against the suppliers (or is that only one supplier?) adds impracticality to teenage moral squeamishness and confused thinking. The problem in Burma is the rogue regime, not the arms they wield. And the principle supporter of that regime is China. Shall we apply sanctions to them?

Bombing democracy into people is generally not going to work, though bombing for more limited aims sometimes does so it should never be discounted. But the conflict I was referring to between the liberal democracies and the single-party 'totalitarian' states will not be fought that way. It'll go more or less like the Cold War. Which system can give its people the most of whatever they want most will win.

wodge said...

Moral Equivalence! Bingo!

That's the arguement that says their blood is cheaper than ours.

So we can starve them, gas them, depose their governments and replace them with brutal dictators, steal their resources, use them as slave labour and drop 1 tonne bombs from the safety of an aircraft on cilivians and still claim moral superiority.

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My point was that the West has and continues to support regimes as bad if not worse then the Burmese.

Incidently, Israel doesn't seem to picky about where it's munitions end up.

Secret Chinese-Israeli Arms Deal Reported

NoolaBeulah said...

Yes, the West has and does support some nasty regimes. During the Cold War the reasoning was "Better an SOB than the Soviets". After Khomeini, it was "Better Saddam than the mullahs". Now it is "Better Mubarak than the Muslim Brotherhood".

Is this right? In an absolute sense, no. But the choice is often between the Bad and the Worse, as in many of these places, the only alternative is unacceptable.

Unacceptable to whom? Well, sometimes to the people of that place (communist in the past, Islamist now), but often unacceptable to us. Precisely because everywhere is even less an island than it ever was, and there are some places whose potential for disruption to the world is so great that they cannot be allowed to go to hell in a basket and take us with them. Those places with both vast reserves of oil and an inadequate political system are thus of concern to all.

Israel's arms trade has never been picky; it does them little credit.