There seems to have been a constitutional military takeover in Burma over the weekend. Yes, constitutional, as the power for the military to do such is written into the Burmese constitution. The problems with the government that prompted the takeover are disputed election results. Calm yourself Trumpsters, what happens in Burma stays in Burma.
It’s a normal sort of coup. Guys with lots of eggs on their caps and fruit salad on their chests, in Asia they also usually sport nifty sunglasses, shut down media and arrest the usual suspects. Yawn.
But, what does the Biden administration say about it? “We continue to affirm our strong support for Burma’s democratic institutions and, in coordination with our regional partners, urge the military and all other parties to adhere to democratic norms and the rule of law, and to release those detained today,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Sunday. The U.S. will “take action against those responsible” if the steps “are not reversed.”
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First of all, by Burmese standards, these are democratic norms. And we’ll take action? Really. What action would that be? Slapping some meaningless economic sanctions and travel restrictions on Burmese generals? Oh, that’ll make the brass hats snicker, as they check the balance in their Swiss accounts. Does Biden think the generals want to hop over to L.A. to hobnob with his Tinseltown pals? Likely not in the coup plotter playbook. When you run a country with a mailed fist fun is usually closer to home.
This is a Biden administration reaction we will see time and time again. Effete moral condemnation and slaps on the wrist, eliciting laughter from the supposed malefactors. The better move would have been quiet behind the scenes maneuvering with an emphasis exclusively on American interests.
Because guess what? And this is something the previous administration got right, we are guarantors of nobody’s liberty but our own. The notion of this country, or any country, as an international moral policeman is not only absurd in notion but usually historically disastrous in practice.
Remember the cravings for democracy in Afghanistan and Iraq? How did that work out? Libya after we bounced Gaddafi? Uh huh. Okay, Wilberforce Patrols, I’ll give you that one. But the halls of our State Department are filled with people who don’t understand history, but prefer to huff and puff to the assembled multitudes to prove to the world what good people we Americans are. Results, especially for the foreigners affected? Who cares? Those take a back seat to the moral superiority of the neoliberal set.
Instead of reading Hans Morganthau (look it up), these sad foreign ministry brutes have been poorly educated in expensive colleges to feel, they rarely think, that America needs to stick its nose all over the globe in search of moral certitude. When in reality, most of the world neither wants nor needs our tender mercies. They and we would be better off if we focused on purely American interests.