Friday, May 09, 2008

Cyclone Nargis

Cyclone Nargis struck Myanmar (or Burma) on May 3rd. As of the posting of this blog, the military government of Myanmar has allowed one U.S. aid plane to land, and has confiscated two U.N. aid shipments. With relief organizations forecasting the death toll to exceed 100,000 people, the government of Myanmar has yet to issue a single visa to any relief workers. The government has asked foreign countries to send aid, but not people. Many organizations and governments don't want to blindly turn over supplies for fear these supplies will never reach the people who have been hurt by the cyclone. I have seen quotes in news articles from people in Myanmar saying the government doesn't care about it's people, only its hold on the country.

The Danish Red Cross is one of the only relief groups to be allowed into the nation so far. They are reporting that many of the dead are still floating in the water around the villages. If people with the knowledge to deal with this kind of devastation aren't allowed in soon, things could go from tragic to catastrophic. The UN Undersecretary for Humanitarian affairs says, "If we do not act now, and if we do not act fast, more lives will be lost." To make matters worse, the region is expected to get more rain in the coming days. With this in mind, I offer my humble solution:

Operation Merciful Python

As drastic times call for drastic measures, I offer what may be the only hope for ten's of thousands of people still holding on in Myanmar. This solution requires fast action on the part of the U. S. government, and a true re-ordering of priorities for the military government of Myanmar.

Phase I would begin with an immediate televised speech by President Bush. During his speech, the message would also be delivered to China with instructions to pass it along to their contacts in Myanmar. The message is simple: The Myanmar government has 72 hours to allow humanitarian relief in the form of aid and workers into Myanmars worst regions, or the U. S. will get the relief in by force. The President would immediately mobilize the Marine Expeditionary Force on ready status to steam towards Myanmar.

Phase II would be implemented 72 hours later. If the government was still refusing relief workers access, the Marine Expeditionary Force could create an entry point in Rangoon. By controlling this city, U.S. forces could establish a safe haven for refugees and relief workers. Supported by the Marines and an appropriate carrier battle group, this force should be able to withstand anything the Myanmar government could throw its way.

Phase III would be implemented within 3 days of the establishment the U.S. controlled city of Rangoon. The military would set up a democratic government within Rangoon, and hold free elections to govern the U.S. occupied territories. As the villages are rebuilt, and as the clean up continues, more local governments could be elected until we have replaced the military government of Myanmar with the Democratic government of Burma.

I recognize this is a bold and unheard of solution for a humanitarian crisis. However, it does three things. First, it gets aid to the victims in Myanmar who may otherwise die. Second, it replaces a military government that has no concern for its citizens with a democratic government. Finally, it gives other regimes something to think about if they don't want to allow aid from the U.S. or the U.N. to reach their citizens in times of crisis.


familyman said...

Dream on Andy.

It's not a bad concept, but it won't happen because there's nothing in it for Bush or any of his cronies.

If the current administration really cared that much about humanitarian causes they'd have been in DarFur years ago stopping the slaughter/genocide going on there. Or they'd actually be living up to the pledge Bush made to rebuild New Orleans.

Andy D said...

Do those same standards apply to previous administrations who haven't acted in Darfur?

What about New Orleans? What responsibility does the city have in rebuilding it?

I saw a report where the administration was considering airlifting supplies into the remote regions under fighter escort. I have also seen that the aid that is getting in is being diverted to other areas, and the military generals are writing their names on the crates and claiming they bought the aid and are providing it to their people.

As an aside, I like your new avatar.

familyman said...

Yes of course I would hold anyone to that standard. Although the roots of the current conflict go back to at least the 1980's, the humanitarian crisis as we know it today really only dates back to around 2003. So it's pretty much been only on Bush's watch that things have really been this horrible.

Of course the city bears some of the responsibility. But I was making the point that Bush got on TV and made big promises that are not being kept. Your post was about what the Federal Govt. should be doing to help alleviate a humanitarian crises. I was just pointing out that the current administration has a history of not really springing into action for purely humanitarian causes.

As for Myanmar, it is of course criminal what their government is doing to stop the flow of incoming aid.

familyman said...

Oh, and thanks for the avatar compliment. It's all part of my new happier more positive attitude. :)

Anonymous said...

Andy's suggestion would go far beyond the concern that the administration showed for our own people after Hurricane Katrina.

I like the concern. I worry about the macho military posturing.

When the only tool in your toolbox is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

Christina said...

This is a wonderful discussion, also my first visit to 'Political Friends' - glad I stopped by.
I was thinking the same thing as 'anonymous', actually. Also, maybe I'm looking at this erroneously, but there are so many needs, so many causes, so much crisis and turmoil in the world, and only so many hours in a day, so much manpower, and everywhere help and money is needed, even desperately just seems easy to blame current, previous, or future administrations.

Andy D said...

I don't always thank everyone on here for commenting, but thank you. Now, onto the responses...


I have been paying attention to Darfur, and I think it is hard to draw a line on the "current crisis". I do know there is plenty of non-action by the U.N. and the U.S. to go around. President Clinton has said his biggest regret on leaving office was that he didn't do enough in Darfur.
(And your welcome)


Your words about the hammer are true. However, I am a big fan of having at least a few hammers in my tool box.


You are right, there is a lot of need in the world, and we could all do more. I think there should be a significant amount of blame on the U.N. for lack of action, but that seems like an easy target. I hope you come back and become a regular reader.

Andy D said...

Could it be that Slate agrees with me?