Begging to Help

Burma is in the midst of a terrible national disaster. At least 100,000 people may have died as a result of the cyclone, with many, many more in dire straits. It appears that 1.5 people are homeless. Rotting corpses are everywhere. Massive outbreaks of disease are days away. Starvation is imminent. Even if the illegal ruling junta hadn’t destroyed the economy, it would impossible for the Burmese to take care of their own.

If there was ever any question that the junta has no concern for the people of Burma – and, okay, there’s never been any question, but just say there was – it would be answered by the way they have prevented help from reaching those who need it.  The world has come to Burma’s aid. Relief is on the doorstep.

Why should the UN have to beg to save lives? The US military, at the expense of the American people, is waiting to fly in with relief supplies. The broke off military exercises with Thailand to help, but even the negotiating help of the Thai government, the junta budged but then backed off.

“They were very suspicious that the Americans would do more than just distribute relief supplies, but we helped convince the Burmese to allow the Americans in,” Boonsrang Niumpradit, Thailand’s military chief, told Reuters. Then the Burmese junta changed it’s mind again. What do they think the Americans will do?

What it appears to come down to is the junta’s pride. They are refusing help from governments like the US which have criticised their policies. Since that means most of the first world, as well as the UN, they are cutting off their collective noses to spite their collective faces. It is only places countries like Indonesia, which have been careful not to be to critical in the past, which have been welcome to send in supplies.

Pride goes before destruction. It’s too bad that it is not just the proud who are destroyed by it.

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4 Responses to “Begging to Help”

  1. John of Indiana Says:

    Well, I seem to recall Our Prize Specimen refused the world’s help after Katrina. If it wasn’t a subsidiary the firm of Halliburton and Cheney, they didn’t get in.

  2. sol Says:

    The difference was that they didn’t need the world’s help. There’s nothing the UN could have done that wasn’t being done or couldn’t be done by US authorities.

    I don’t know about Halliburton having the exclusive on reconstruction, but they are good at what they do.

  3. John of Indiana Says:

    I dunno, sol, the government’s response was just one screw-up after another. “Heckuva job, Brownie!” and all that. FEMA looked like the Keystone Kops in the way they responded. And then there’s the billions they wasted on stuff like sending truckloads of ice back and forth across the country because they couldn’t figure out where to deliver it, and the millions spent renting those cruise ships for “refugees” to live in when the only people who stayed on them were the officials of companies who got no-bid contracts with no performance oversight.
    The UN would have had to made a conscious effort to screw things up as badly as the Bush gang did.

    And yes, Halliburton IS very good at what they do, which these days seems to be the business of transferring great gobs of the US Treasury intro Swiss bank accounts.

  4. sol Says:

    I’m not saying there weren’t problems with the Katrina response, though I can’t see that things would have been any better if John Kerry had been in the White House. And how much of the problem was exacerbated by the incompetence of Kathleen Blanco and Ray Nagin? If they had gotten people out, like they were supposed to, there wouldn’t have been the loss of life.

    But let’s put this in perspective. Katrina resulted in less than 1900 deaths. The Burmese state media admit that over 23,000 have died as a result of the cyclone. More reliable independent sources put the number closer to 100,000.

    I did check your remembrance of the refusal of the world’s help and it appears, if Wikipedia is accurate:

    “According to the European Commission, one week after the disaster, on September 4th, 2005, the United States officially asked the European Union for emergency help, asking for blankets, emergency medical kits, water and 500,000 food rations for victims. Help proposed by EU member states was coordinated through their crisis center. The British presidency of the EU functioned as contact with the USA.”

    You can read the rest of the article for details of the aid that was offered and accepted. So I stand corrected about not needing (or at least accepting) the world’s help.


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