What started out as a peaceful protest movement against the military regime in Myanmar now fearfully reminds many of the violence that stemmed from the region’s failed 1988 uprising of pro-democracy support wherein thousands were killed in short order. It should remind the EU and the US of their own battle plans, both victorious and askew.
The government regime in Myanmar that maintained a shaky distance from the movement’s Buddhist monk leadership has now taken to beating and killing those same monks and their supporters. They had good reason to keep their distance from Buddhist monks; they are the country’s moral center and the most peaceful people on the planet. Tearing into monks was forecasted to incite public outrage. Where is that outrage? The world, especially the US and the EU, should not be sitting on the news of peaceful protest being met with violence and death. Doing so is no different than sanctioning it.
Americans and Europeans should be especially wary of what is happening in Myanmar. There but for a few of your own hard won battles go you. For Americans, the military response to the uprising is not unlike the barbaric response suffered by the Revolutionaries at the hands of the British, but you know your history, yes? The very foundation of American freedom was not fought for and won by Americans alone.
For Europeans, the uphill battle with both violent and peaceful immigrant pressure to change the landscape of the Old World has already been seen and shows no signs of going away. The key word here for Europeans is “union,” which is to say the EU knows a little something about coming together. How will future uprisings be handled? Show the world now and the world won’t wonder later.
For Americans and their Europeans allies, there is also the issue of having violently occupied a violent country for what has come to be an undetermined amount of time, for an undetermined goal. If ever there was a time to show the world how it should have been done, here it is.
This is the opportunity of a lifetime for both the US and the EU. By joining the UN envoy (with action, not just words), leaders of the free world have this chance to rally support, contribute their winning blueprints, exercise their diplomatic muscle, and save face for their own conflicts gone awry.
Peaceful protest is the very foundation of every significant social and political change that has taken place since the beginning of time. It is the only humane and intellectual tool in the belt of civilized human beings. While the people of yet another small country few have heard of suffer, the world stands by with a myriad of excuses for keeping their distance. World leaders of those countries living with freedom and democracy have an ethical obligation to show up, join the pro-democracy movement, and help them secure their win.
Anything less is — and has always been — uncivilized.