Popular Dream of Today Burmese
This is from Irrawaddy online magazine. (sorry for not asking permission)
By Yeni and Aung Zaw
November 22, 2007
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After living for decades under a military-ruled Burma and witnessing the junta’s bloody crackdown on monks and innocent people on the streets in September, many Burmese have begun calling for—not diplomacy—air strikes and international intervention.
No, it’s not a joke. And it’s not just the exiled Burmese who are saying this—it’s those inside Burma as well.
An artist’s impression on striking at Than Shwe’s residence in Naypyidaw
Here are some of the excerpts from Burmese people who broached the subject with The Irrawaddy during and after the September crackdown.
U Pinyazawta, a leading monk from the Alliance of All Burmese Buddhist Monks, told The Irrawaddy by phone from his hiding place in Burma: “We need a foreign army to protect us,” he said, referring particularly to UN troops.
Some Burmese were even more straightforward.
“We need air strikes,” said a prominent editor and CEO of a successful privately-run publication in Burma.
He claimed many Burmese would welcome military intervention. “This is our hope,” he said. “The regime is unyielding. We have to teach them a lesson or two.”
However, it is commonly understood that most foreign observers and policy makers who are involved in Burma would simply shake their heads at the proposal.
The desire for a forceful regime change in Burma is nothing new. During the invasion of Iraq, American diplomats and US embassy staff in Burma are believed to have received a number of letters asking: “When are you coming to Burma?”
In September 2003, in a lively talk at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand in Bangkok, Ross Dunkley, editor of the semi-official newspaper, Myanmar Times confirmed that all the Burmese people he had met—whether they were taxi drivers or office workers—wanted to see an invasion. “They all want George W Bush and the UN to come into Myanmar [Burma] with a whole lot of guns and airplanes and jets and solve the problem. They believe that’s possible,” said Dunkley.
Indeed, if diplomacy and sanctions are doomed to failure, the best solution ordinary Burmese folk can think of is humanitarian intervention and air strikes.
Instead of smart sanctions, they say, “smart missiles” are the readymade solution to Burma’s ills—and as quickly as possible!
The image of Snr-Gen Than Shwe and his cadres being pounded by F-16 fighter jets in their ivory tower in Naypyidaw is perhaps a wishful fantasy widely shared among ordinary Burmese who have lived under the military government since 1962.
A Rangoon-based journalist said that he admired how the US taught Libya's Muammar el-Qaddafi a lesson he would never forget when they launched air raids on Tripoli in 1986, killing dozens of civilians, including Qaddafi's adopted daughter.
“Now Than Shwe’s compound in Naypyidaw is just a sitting target—if we hit him, there will be little collateral damage," said the journalist, angered after seeing Information Minister Brig-Gen Kyaw Hsan lecturing UN envoy Ibrahim Gambari on early November.
It’s therefore ironic that, in 2005, Than Shwe relocated the capital to Naypyidaw, near Pyinmana in central Burma. Analysts at that time said that it was because of advice from a soothsayer coupled with his fears of foreign invasion.
Nowadays, Than Shwe’s new house in new capital can be viewed clearly on Google Earth.
In February 2006, a “Top Secret” document obtained by The Irrawaddy revealed that Burma’s military leaders were fearful of a possible attack or invasion by the US, and were closely monitoring Thailand, which is one of the US’s most important allies in the region.
The document indicates that junta leader Than Shwe warned that the country must be guarded against a plan of destruction drawn up by the US Central Intelligence Agency. It did not say what that plan was.
The government document also revealed that if the US bombs Rangoon, or second city Mandalay: “We have to make sure to kill all NLD members.” The NLD, winners of the 1990 elections, would otherwise be used as US stooges, the document suggests.
However, Aung Naing Oo, a political analyst in Thailand, said that dialogue is the best solution; not an air strike.
“There are options,” the exiled Burmese analyst said. "Diplomacy and dialogue are the best answer to our problems.”
The other options, Aung Naing Oo said, include a fully-fledged engagement with the regime, dropping all sanctions and pressure.
And if these measures still didn’t yield any results?
“Humanitarian intervention and air strike,” he said.
Aung Naing Oo considers humanitarian intervention to be the last option on the table. “It would only take a small budget to take down Than Shwe.”
Firing missiles in from the US fleet in the Indian Ocean toward the dictator’s compound in Naypyidaw could break down many obstacles, he concluded. “And might open the doors that are currently closed to the reconciliation process in Burma.”
Several Burmese living inside Burma would unquestionably concur. And Burma analysts often conclude that military intervention or air strikes would be economical compared to the deep Western pockets that would be needed to fund Burma’s democracy movement.
On October 3, Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman wrote in the New York Daily News: “The Bush administration should also actively investigate how else our military and intelligence capabilities can be used to put additional stress on the regime.”
He continued: “The junta has tried to cut off the ability of peaceful demonstrators to communicate to the outside world through the Internet and cell phone networks; we should be examining how the junta's ability to command and control its forces throughout the country might itself be disrupted.”
So far, the attack on Burma’s brutal regime takes place only on Hollywood’s silver screen. Two years ago, Hollywood movie “Stealth” was launched worldwide but banned in Burma. Why? The film included an air strike on terrorists in Rangoon.
Diplomacy will continue, as will mind-numbing debate on sanctions and constructive engagement. But the Burmese people, who have suffered long enough under the regime, now want those “smart missiles.”