So, with all the exciting events in Burma, which could turn out to be either brilliant or horrible, what should be done? Let us turn for enlightenment to the people who have a plan for every country in the world, those Cambridge nerds playing at being neocons, the Henry “Scoop” Jackson Society, who are just getting a swish new website up. And I discover from their swish new website that they do indeed have one of their grandiose “strategic briefings” [pdf] out on Burma.
This is rather good in terms of hostages to fortune. Scoopie expert Ben Caldecott writes of the repressive nature of the Than Shwe junta, and notes that “Foreign exchange dollars, now primarily obtained from a rapidly growing oil and gas sector, are used to fund arms purchases from Russia, other former Soviet Republics, China and now India. These are almost undoubtedly used to violently oppress the Burmese people and enforce government authority.” Quite so, although Ben unaccountably fails to mention Israel as a major arms supplier.
Ben then ponders the possibility of a US-led invasion, or “armed intervention” in Decentspeak. He then rules it out for a number of reasons, notably Imperial overstretch, the likelihood of seriously annoying the Chinese (this could be the late Senator Scoop’s famous affinity for Maoist China coming into play) and the chronic weakness of the opposition, who don’t much look like providing a stable environment for investors. No, Ben has a better idea:
For this to be effective, a diplomatic compact should be created to push forward a political solution in Burma. This group would be made up from the most important regional stakeholders, such as China, ASEAN, Australia and India, as well as the United States and the European Union. The mandate of this group would be clear: to bring together Burmese stakeholders and facilitate a peaceful political settlement, that would transition Burma into a safe, secure, democratic and viable nation state.
Yup, a Contact Group. Never heard of that one before. And one involving Australia and the European Union, forsooth. Moreover, Ben goes on to posit that a successful transition would involve the Empire offering inducements to the Tatmadaw that their interests would be protected in the new Burma. Finally:
Of importance to all potential regional members of the compact, is a growing Burmese economy that provides stable access to its significant natural resources and large potential market. This would benefit all in the region and provide additional business opportunities for Indian, Chinese and ASEAN firms. The best way to ensure that Burma’s economic development proceeds is political change.
This might explain the general air of Grauniad drippiness, which is far from the muscularity we would expect from the Scoopies. It therefore comes as a relief to find our old friend Attila the Hun holding forth on the future for democratic geopolitics in Greater Europe. What this boils down to, when we cut out all the guff about Hitler, Stalin and Chomsky, is that Europe is gravely threatened by the twin dangers of “Russian meddling” and “Serbian expansionism”. There are a number of ways Attila proposes to deal with these threats. The first is to grant immediate sovereignty to the mafiosi currently running Kosovo. The second is to abolish the Bosnian Serbs’ autonomous republic negotiated at Dayton, although Attila is willing to let them keep the Serbian flag and Cyrillic alphabet. “Experience shows that it is precisely over such symbols that nationalism mobilises, and we should do well to defuse potential Serb resistance to Bosnian reintegration by avoiding giving offence in the purely symbolic realm,” opines Attila. Well, he’s convinced me. The Serbs who rose in arms against a Muslim-dominated government in 1992 would certainly acquiesce in it now, if only given some beads and feathers to occupy their little peasant minds.
And, following all this, a rump Serbia which accepts its place as an imperialised backwater and perpetual whipping boy of muscular liberals could be brought into the EU to further strengthen the cordon sanitaire against Russia. My God, he really doesn’t like his Orthodox Slavs at all. I expect the Bulgarians will be getting it in the neck before long.
I am also quite taken by the Scoopies’ online gift shop. For two pounds ten bob you can outfit yourself with a Scoop Jackson Society lapel pin, so other neocon nerds can recognise you at a glance, and for a mere fifty quid you can go to a gala dinner with Irwin Stelzer. Could you be bad to that?