Saturday, October 27, 2007

Myanmar Protesters and Junta Each Have Enduring Linkage

Buddhist monks and former students from the 1988 protests in Burma form one enduring linkage in the oppressed country now called Myanmar. The other is the heavy handed junta fueled in part by Western oil and gas companies.

Protesters hit the streets in part to object to higher gasoline prices, but the issues run much deeper. The monks depend on alms for their liviing and higher household expenses eat into those donations. Monks and former students viewed the Road to Democracy as too long term, fearful it would cement the junta's rule for decades to come. They chose to stand up for the people together.

The shocking results are clear. Thousands were beaten or jailed. The American President pulled numerous levers to hurt the junta, but left the most powerful one untouched. Total SA and Chevron have a gas field that produces 19 million cubic feet per day. Through a production sharing agreement, Burma's military leaders benefit greatly.

There are two enduring linkages battling in the Southeast Asian country. Religious leaders and courageous citizens face off against a brutal military junta significantly funded by Western oil money. Who will win? If history is a guide, the people will eventually win, but maybe not until the reserves run dry.

The rest of the free world has a different worry, how not to devolve into the current Burma:

All democracies turn into dictatorships - but not by coup. The people give their democracy to a dictator, whether it's Julius Caesar or Napoleon or Adolf Hitler. Ultimately, the general population goes along with the idea...That's the issue that I've been exploring: How did the Republic turn into the Empire...and how does a democracy become a dictatorship?
-- George Lucas, Star Wars Filmmaker