Burma Cyclone

Opinion/Editorial: Madeleine Albright ponders on “The End of Intervention.” by carpediemdg

In a recent op-ed in the New York Times, former U.S. secretary of state, Madelaine K. Albright offered three reasons why the world didn’t intervene more forcefully in Myanmar.

The introductory excerpt to the piece:

“THE Burmese government’s criminally neglectful response to last month’s cyclone, and the world’s response to that response, illustrate three grim realities today: totalitarian governments are alive and well; their neighbors are reluctant to pressure them to change; and the notion of national sovereignty as sacred is gaining ground, helped in no small part by the disastrous results of the American invasion of Iraq. ”

Read the full op-ed here.



Opinion/Editorial: To intervene or not to intervene? by carpediemdg

This week’s New York Time’s Magazine carries an article by writer and political analyst, David Rieff, entitled ” Humanitarian Vanities.” The question he poses is a simple one – What does the urge to intervene amount to?

One of his main points seems to be that there is a “law of unintended consequences” operating when a country or set of countries decide to intervene in another on humanitarian grounds. Regime change is never just that – it comes with baggage and unforseen challenges that the intervening country/countries have historically seemed ill equipped to handle. Case in point – Iraq.

Read the full article here.


Lessons and Theory: Bill Clinton on lessons from Tsunami Reconstruction by carpediemdg

On the second anniversary of the Tsunami, Bill Clinton wrote a piece which appeared in the Washington Post outlining four key lessons of the Tsunami reconstruction effort.Some of these are harder to follow than others, given the access constraints in the Burma context…

  • First, we must get better at managing risk. Patterns of climate change mean that there will be more natural disasters in the future, not less…However, funding for prevention is much harder to come by than funding for relief after a disaster.
  • Second, we should pursue recovery practices that promote equity and help break patterns of underdevelopment.
  • Third, we must recognize that peace is critical to any recovery process.
  • Finally, we must do more to harness the talents of local entrepreneurs and established businesses, domestic and foreign, in relaunching economies.

Read the full article here.


OPINION/EDITORIAL: British newspaper columnist, Simon Jenkins, proposes “humanitarian intervention” in Burma. by karenzr

In a recent column in the Huffington Post, Simon Jenkins, former editor of “The Times,” asks where the saber-rattlers of the West are “as Burma’s dying cry out to be saved.”


I have opposed many of the macho military interventions conducted by the west over the past decade. Their justifications have been obscure, their motives mixed and their morality situational, especially those aimed at “regime change”. Those in Afghanistan and Iraq had the additional defect of built-in failure.

On the other hand the west did intervene to try to stop humanitarian catastrophes in Bosnia from 1992, Somalia in 1993, Kosovo in 1998 and Sierra Leone in 2000. The failure to intervene in Rwanda in 1994 and more recently in Sudan’s Darfur province was generally attributed not to timidity but to the logistical difficulty of deploying power in the African interior.>>

I disagree with that last sentence, but an interesting discussion nonetheless.

U.S. Campaign for Burma also compared Burma and Rwanda, calling on the U.S., U.K and France to send in aid without the junta’s permission and despite China’s block on a Security Council resolution to authorize such a move.


Lessons and Theory: The impact of technology on humanitarian relief by carpediemdg

In June 2007, the Economist came out with a great article titled, ‘Flood, famines and mobile phones.” It’s about how technology is transforming humanitarian relief operations. Given how angry the Gods have been with our planet off late, its highly relevant and worth reading in its entirety.

It also mentions an excellent resource on humanitarian disasters and relief work across the globe – ReliefWeb. According to the Economist article, the site got 3 million hits the day after the Tsunami struck.

— Divya

Latest News: Burmese Monks Funnel Money into Myanmar by lamivo

As NGOs are having trouble getting into Myanmar, a group of Burmese monks in New York has raised more than $2 million, which will be sent directly to monasteries in disaster-stricken areas.

Avaaz.org is raising money for them (at the moment: $ 1,734,275). Visit their Web site to find out more about their support of the monks.

A video I shot over the weekend can be found here.

– Lam

OPINION/EDITORIAL: OP-ED offers Burmese military junta’s point of view by carpediemdg

In an editorial in TheStar, the online version of Canada’s leading newspaper, The Toronto Star, columnist Thomas Walkom provides a view that for a dictatorship, the Burmese military junta is not acting unreasonably.

In the editorial titled “Burma’s leaders are not irrational,” Walkon cites an example from Saddam’s Iraq to explain the junta’s stance of not taking up offers by the U.S., Canada and France to offer their troops to deliver aid.

“It is not even being unusually paranoid in its suspicion of the UN. The world used to belittle Saddam Hussein’s claim that some UN weapons inspectors sent into Iraq after the first Gulf War worked for the CIA. But, as former American weapons inspector Scott Ritter revealed in his book, Iraq Confidential, Saddam was correct.”

Walkon offers a fresh, alternate perspective on the cyclone response and concludes that factoring in the constraints, foreign governments should keep an eye on the ball i.e. – preventing further casualties and getting aid and relief to the maximum number of people, as fast as possible.

Read the full editorial here.