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.



Events: Demonstration Today At French Consulate in NY by karenzr

From International Campaign for Burma:

<<We, as ordinary citizens of Burma, welcome French government for
immediate humanitarian intervention on behalf of millions of starving
cyclone survivors.

You are cordially invited to join us demonstrating our support in
front of Consulate General of France as follows:-

Place : Consulate General of France
934 Fifth Avenue
(between 74th and 75th Streets)
New York, NY 10021

Date : May 24, 2008 Saturday
Time : 2 – 4pm
Direction: Take “6” Train and get off 77th street.>>


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.


Resources: Cyclone-related news roundup, humanitarian intervention in Burma? by karenzr

Useful resource: Just found this list of Nargis-related news articles on the U.S. Campaign for Burma Web site.

In the campaign’s last email blast, they asked supporters to contact their Congressional representatives and push for humanitarian intervention in Burma. Excerpt:

<<Congressional leaders, Rep. Peter King (R) and Rep. Joseph Crowley (D), are organizing a letter to President Bush urging him to “work with the British, French, German, Danish and other supportive and regional governments to immediately intervene in the Irrawaddy Delta region of Burma to provide urgent life-saving humanitarian aid to the survivors of Cyclone Nargis.

Call your member of the U.S. House of Representative today and urge them to sign this letter to President Bush.>>

More info here.


Latest News: Burmese groups request international humanitarian intervention by karenzr

Joint Statement of

All Burma Monks’ Alliance, the 88 Generation Students and All Burma Federation of Student Unions

May 9, 2008

The Military Junta’s Sham Constitution Rejected

International Humanitarian Intervention Requested

(1) It is obvious that the SPDC (State Peace and Development Council), official name of the military junta that has ruled the country of Burma illegally for many years with arms and threats, oppresses and kills the people of Burma who demand democracy and human rights peacefully, by using not only its military power, but also natural disaster.

See the full statement here.


Lessons and Theory: Does state sovereignty trump humanitarian intervention by international community? by carpediemdg

(via Sree Sreenivasan, Dean of Students, Columbia Graduate School of Journalism)

The Carnegie Council for International Intervention has compiled a useful synopsis of some key lessons on humanitarian intervention in the wake of the Burma cyclone disaster. It draws comparisons to the Tsunami response and also one clear distinction:

” … in the case of the tsunami, the affected governments not only welcomed international humanitarian relief, they literally pleaded for it. Not so in Myanmar. What began as a purely natural disaster has quickly become exacerbated by the lack of cooperation–even the obstruction–of the country’s ruling Junta.”

The news digest goes on to pose a critical question: “Does the sovereignty of the state trump the responsibility of the international community to take action when the peoples of a nation are at risk?”

The think tank says it has been trying to answer the complex question by engaging some of ‘the brightest minds and most profound thinkers on this topic.’ The result is a comprehensive sampling of works from their journal – Ethics and International Affairs, that explore the boundaries (and beyond) of humanitarian intervention from a variety of perspectives.

See a list of work samples below:


Toward a Realist Ethics of Intervention
Michael Wesley, Vol. 19.2, Summer 2005 [Excerpt]
Wesley explores the possibilities for developing a realist-informed
normative framework for humanitarian intervention in the context of the
post–September 11 international concern with transnational threats.

The Moral Basis of Humanitarian Intervention [Abstract]
Terry Nardin, Vol. 16.1, Spring 2002
Nardin examines the moral principles underlying the idea of humanitarian
intervention from the perspective of international law and from that of the
natural law tradition.

Humanitarian Intervention: An Overview of the Ethical Issues [Excerpt]
Michael J. Smith, Vol. 12, 1998
This essay analyzes the arguments justifying or opposing the notion of
humanitarian intervention from realist and liberal perspectives and
considers the difficulties of undertaking such interventions effectively
and consistently.

Intervention: From Theories to Cases [Full Text]
J. Bryan Hehir, Vol. 9, 1995
This piece examines the ethics of intervention in light of recent policy
and academic debates on the subject. It proceeds from an examination of the
reasons for intervention today to an assessment of the moral and legal
traditions governing intervention and also provides a review of selected
cases of intervention recently confronting U.S. foreign policy.


Legitimizing the Use of Force in Kosovo [Full Text]
Julie Mertus, Vol 15. 1, Spring 2001
Kosovo captured the attention of policy makers, ethicists, journalists,
peace and human rights activists, military analysts, and international
relations scholars. Something new happened there. This review covers books
by Noam Chomsky, Howard Clark, Michael Ignatieff, and others.

Humanitarian Intervention: Which Way Forward? [Abstract]
Richard Caplan, Vol. 14, 2000
NATO’s member states put aside their concerns for national sovereignty in
favor of humanitarian considerations, acting without UN authorization.
European states are rethinking historic prohibitions against humanitarian
intervention after Kosovo.

Special Section: The Politics of Rescue [Abstracts]
Lead authors Amir Pasic and Thomas G. Weiss, “Yugoslavia’s Wars and the
Humanitarian Impulse”, plus commentaries by Andrew S. Natsios, Morton
Winston, Alain Destexhe, and David R. Mapel, Vol. 11, 1997


Whither the Responsibility to Protect? Humanitarian Intervention and the
2005 World Summit [Abstract]
Alex J. Bellamy, Vol. 20.2, Summer 2006
This article examines how consensus was reached on the responsibility to
protect, given continuing hostility to humanitarian intervention expressed
by many (if not most) of the world’s states and whether the consensus
will contribute to avoiding future Kosovos and Rwandas.

Responsibility to Protect or Trojan Horse? The Crisis in Darfur and
Humanitarian Intervention after Iraq
Alex J. Bellamy, Vol. 19.2, Summer 2005 [Excerpt]
What does the world’s engagement with the unfolding crisis in Darfur tell
us about the impact of the Iraq war on the norm of humanitarian
intervention? Is a global consensus about a “responsibility to protect”
more or less likely? There are at least three potential answers to these

Redefining Sovereignty and Intervention [Full Text]
Joelle Tanguy, Vol. 17.1, Spring 2003
The International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty’s effort
to revisit intervention and the lessons of the 1990s have resulted in a
conception of intervention as a “responsibility to protect.” But its effort
to ensure that past failures are not repeated may go unfulfilled. (Review

— Divya