Launching a ‘Relief Invasion’ of Burma
THE ARGUMENTS FOR
The US is considering air-dropping aid to help the victims of Cyclone Nargis. But emergency relief can only be really effective if trained charity workers can go in with the supplies.
There is no time for careful diplomacy. Disease is being spread by corpses floating around the delta. Food and clean water are needed not next week but now. Negotiating with the junta seems pointless, due to its paranoia towards the West.
Tens of thousands of lives could be saved by aid that the military junta is presently blocking. Burma's hostility to the West is endangering the survivors of Cyclone Nargis.
The UN seems to allow for such a peaceful 'invasion'. A resolution of 2005 gives the UN 'responsibility to protect' people when their governments fail to do so. France and the US have argued that the resolution applies here.
The presence of thousands of foreign aid workers could help bring an end to Burma's isolation, and lead to the overthrow of the dictatorship.
THE ARGUMENTS AGAINST
Such action would inevitably be seen as aggressive. If the West's agenda is to relieve suffering, it must avoid both preaching and sabre-rattling. To challenge Burma's sovereignty could ignite tension in the region.
Aid from Eastern countries, especially Thailand, India and China, is getting through. By demanding to be Burma's saviour, the West risks preventing Burma from developing healthy relations with its neighbours, which might be the key to eventual regime change. The West should divert its aid through the existing channels.
The UN resolution of 2005, giving it 'responsibility to protect' the subjects of all states, applies to situations in which governments are actively trying to kill their own people, rather than being slow to save them. Britain's envoy to the UN has said that it does not apply here. The junta might be nasty, but it did not unleash Cyclone Nargis on its people.
A relief invasion would look uncomfortably like an attempt to revive the doctrine of liberal interventionism, after its failure in Iraq. It would look like a cynical attempt at regime change, under the cover of bringing emergency aid.
Comments are now closed on this article