Archive for the ‘Burma’ category

Big Brother (In-Law)

November 17, 2006

Yet another example of how carbon energy resources are allowing repressive regimes to persevere, resisting pressure to become less odious from outside and within. Burma’s military junta, truly one of the most despicable authoritarian regimes in the world, takes little notice of American sanctions imposed to protest its jailing of democracy activists because it has its “brother-in-law,” China, to take care of it and exploit its carbon wealth. Note the rise of China as both a ravenous new consumer of carbon-based energy, thus raising its value, and the alternative customer of choice to the United States for those governments that would prefer not to have any questions asked about their human rights record.

Quite simply, China is positioning itself to become the 21st century’s illiberal superpower. Whether it can continue to grow in wealth and influence without its own authoritarian system collapsing from within is the attendant question. Meanwhile, America and the global economy’s reliance on carbon-based energy is empowering a creepy set of oleaginous authoritarians. For essential further reading see “Crude Awakening,” Joshua Kurlantzick’s superb article in The New Republic (sorry, behind subscriber wall) on the emergence of this “axis of oil.”

Burmese (School) Days

November 10, 2006

“Please use your liberty to promote ours.”

-Burmese democracy movement leader Aung San Suu Kyi

It doesn’t get more eloquent than that on the question of solidarity, and it doesn’t get more repressive than the junta that currently rules Burma. Political and economic oppression has caused hundreds of thousands of Burmese to take refuge in Thailand and Malaysia, where they struggle to make ends meet and their voices heard. The Books for Burma project brings educational resources to exiled activists and other refugees without access to proper schooling. From November 1st through December 1st Books for Burma will be collecting books, multimedia resources such as CD-Roms and financial contributions, which will then be donated to a network of Burmese exile organizations who fight to expose the junta’s abuses and provide for refugees.

Walking the streets of Brooklyn, I often see discarded tomes piled on the sidewalk – usually a mix of existentialist literature and esoteric cook books. It would seem that there’s now a better destination for such cast-offs than the pavement. Click here to see what you can do.

(chapeau-tip: Andrew Sullivan)