The Burmese Junta Really Dislikes Foreigners

9 May

UN Charge d-Affaires Shari Villarosa offers as succinct an answer for .

SHARI VILLAROSA, Top U.S. Diplomat in Myanmar: There is some recovery efforts going on. There is some aid coming in and getting distributed, but still not in large quantities.

And, late this afternoon, we got the bad news that the foreign ministry is going to turn down not only our request to send in disaster assistance experts, but that of all the aid agencies that were hoping to send them in.

RAY SUAREZ: Did they give you any explanation for that decision?

SHARI VILLAROSA: No.

RAY SUAREZ: Are they letting similar offers of aid go through from, for instance, regional neighbors?

SHARI VILLAROSA: Not really.

What we — they — they will accept aid from anyone, including the United States, but in terms of commodities. But they don’t seem to want the people.

And, , is that any wonder?

"We can intervene in the hours, or minutes, to come," said Mr. Kouchner, referring to French ships nearby. But they have not yet been given the go ahead, the Associated Press added.

Meanwhile, Kouchner’s proposal of forcing aid into the country gained little traction. Confrontation would not be helpful, UN Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs David Holmes said Thursday, a stance echoed by the European Commission, China, and other nations.

"I can understand the sentiment of France’s foreign minister, but I don’t think it’s the solution," says James Schoff, associate director of Asia-Pacific studies at the Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis in Cambridge, Mass.

"You could get to a point where [the UN] could just do drops from the air. But for the whole assessment process – I don’t see how you could do that without working with locals on the ground," he continues.

Analysts are hard pressed to recall a natural disaster where the UN’s "responsibility to protect" – a phrase conceived in 2005 largely in response to atrocities in Rwanda and Darfur – has been invoked.

There is probably no other possibility for delivering aid to Burma right now, Mr. Schoff continues, other than slow diplomatic gains and persistence. In a few days, Burma might come around, he says.

Go, Kouchner! Don’t get me wrong-the Burmese junta is acting execrably. The Chinese are treating Myanmar like their own vassal state. The UN, for all the good will of the secretary-general and a few others, is full of itself. Dump the goods on the border, marked Myanmar even, and leave. Unless one wants to consider Myanmar another DPRK, and just starve the junta and the population into submission, that is. But, will anyone accept that?

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