What’s in Store for Burma?

It’s clear now what the motives were for the United States after Barack Obama’s tour of part of South East Asia. The United States is giving its backing and support to three countries, under the disguise of supporting Democracy, as a way to provoke China and reinforce its footprint on the ground in the part of Asia that is set to not only grow economically, but within twenty years, burst itself into the forefront of the world’s leading developed nations in Asia. The region is relatively peaceful since the United States’ genocidal war against Vietnam and Laos ended two decades ago. Hopefully, except for egregious human rights violations and wars against ethnics, it will stay that way.

Whilst not forgetting the tragedy of Cambodia’s Communist Khmer Rouge rampage of genocide on its own population, (made possible by the United States war against Laos and Vietnam) it’s striking that Obama didn’t visit Vietnam or Laos. One should suspect the United States is still an unwelcome reminder of American aggression for control, not a friend of  both countries. In Cambodia, the old Khmer Rouge party is still in power and Cambodia is far from a western style Democracy. The same goes for Thailand and Burma. In all three countries, “Democracy” is a tool or excuse for uncontrolled economic growth without consideration to human rights, poverty alleviation, and disease reduction. Those problems are up to the Band-Aid society aka civil society.

When one truthfully analyses the United States’ historical support of strongman regimes and dictatorships and its long record of overthrowing nationalists movements and truly democratically elected governments around the world, it’s not a surprise that Obama was in the region to solidify its position with Burma, Thailand and Cambodia, whose trend towards Democracy is more similar to the fascist Singapore model of Li Quan Yu and not the model of the greatest illusion of Democracy sold to humanity in that of the long past illusion of American Democracy complete with the lie that George Washington was a great man and not a capitalistic war profiteer and slave owner.

While Burma is struggling with itself and the unparalleled opening to business and IMF/World Bank exploitation, don’t expect Democracy to take a strong foothold. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Endowment for Democracy, and other such fronts for the State Department motives of controlling business climates in third world countries; namely, with the guises of civil society initiatives supported by USAID, are strongly entrenched in pacifying nationalist movements and future Burmese leaders with nationalist ideals. When push comes to shove, if money can’t buy their loyalty, the Burmese government will eventually rule on the outcome since it also doesn’t want to lose control over its growing cash cow of foreign investment payments and, of course, loans and aid programs.

Cronyism persists in Burma and it will persist always. In that way, Burma is no different from the United States or any other country in the world. The difference with Burma today is that in Burma young idealists and former political prisoners actually believe that the United States supports them and their quest for true Democracy as taught to them in the narratives of the likes of Larry Diamond and lobbyist shills from law firms like Coak & Hoagly and, of course, Dr. Howard Dean and the bullshit they get from the British Council and American Center schools in Rangoon. The schools are funded by the British and U.S. Embassies, where capacity building, teacher training and political pacification programs (all propaganda) are run by USAID and the British equivalent of USAID. They are priming Burma for massive exploitation and preventing future obstruction from Burma’s intellectual class and politically motivated elites.

As for Thailand, it’s is all but lost to real Democracy and its capital city is nothing more than a huge shopping mall with assembly plants on the outskirts. Otherwise, Thailand exists only for tourism. Why would any westerner go to Thailand if not for its tourism? As for Cambodia, the people there have no choice at all. It wasn’t but a few years ago when one could hardly find a person over 50 years old unless that person was a former Khmer Rouge crony. The Cambodian people have been abused in every way imaginable since the Untied States began dropping bombs on its rice paddies and villages in the 1960s.

Back in Burma, the old hardline communists are still around. They are supporting youth movements and youth unions, and even have a strong national presence in the National League for Democracy. To be honest, except for rapid economic growth, there is little hope for true democracy and poverty alleviation, disease eradication, and an end to ethnic conflicts. Burma is in trouble if the United States’ business interests take over. The IMF and World Bank have already put Burma into debt to the west. Burmese life with sanctions, debit and credit cards, and massive exploitation of natural resources, low wage manufacturing and, of course, tourism, will change Burma forever. We might as well start calling Rangoon by its new name. No, not Yangon. Yangkok.

Daniel Opacki is an educator and writer who lived in Burma for five years. His collection of stories about his time in Burma is forthcoming. Now residing in Vientiane, Lao PDR, he can be reached via his personal blog at Bamboodazed.com. Read other articles by Daniel.