On air: Is is time to get aid into Burma – with or without permission?

We’re off air now. But you can still email your viewpoint to worldhaveyoursay@bbc.co.uk or leave your comment on this very blog.

To download a podcast of the show click here


There are three clear options emerging. Which one do you support?

1) Keep negotiating with the military junta to get aid to the cyclone-affected areas. More aid is now getting through and the situation may improve still further with more productive co-operation. If the leaders are bypassed, they will block all aid. Airdrops are an inefficient way of delivering aid.

2) Stop waiting for permission and start dropping aid immediately. The first US plane may have landed but we’re nine day into this crisis and the negotiating is taking too long. People are dying, the world should act.

3) Do option 2, and also try and destabilise the authorities. Many of you supported Saddam’s removal from power. If the military leaders are prepared to block aid which in turn may well lead to thousands more people dying, isn’t that justification enough for removing them from power?

Which course of action do you support?

Here’s an excellent analysis by the BBC’s Jonathan Marcus on the aid challenge.

81 Responses to “On air: Is is time to get aid into Burma – with or without permission?”

  1. 1 Julie P
    May 12, 2008 at 13:02

    What is taking place in Burma is a crime against humanity. The world needs to take matters into its own hands by dropping aid into the affected areas. The world cannot simply sit and watch people die needlessly.

  2. 2 Dan
    May 12, 2008 at 13:11

    When you have leaders who don’t give a damn about the suffering of their own people that they purportedly govern then the time to talk to the leaders of Burma is over and the time for action is here..
    The United States has the resources to air drop necessary supplies to remote villages.
    Those airdrops should have the flag of the United States emblazoned brightly on them.
    We should tell the Burmese leaders, such as they are, that should they interfere they will suffer consequences beyond their wildest imagination.
    However, the real question is why China, the protector of the Burmese leaders, has remained silent and has done nothing.
    The nations of Southeast Asia and indeed all Asia should sit up and take notice.

  3. 3 Robert Evans
    May 12, 2008 at 13:14

    Look the people who matter are the citizens of Burma. So as looks like the Burmese authorities are just trying to delay then I think that they should be ignored and the people who can help are sent in to the country immediatly.

  4. 4 Brett
    May 12, 2008 at 13:16

    Drop the aid in airdrops. Negotiate with the Junta to get aid workers on the ground.

    Destabilising the government right now and trying to provide aid are two contradictory actions.
    And if the correlation of Saddam is made, look how much we’ve helped the people thus far from his removal. And how long has it been? And how many lives have been lost? At what point does the devastation to the country and its people become unjustifiable? It seems to me no matter what happens, it never will. Some other military study will pop up showing how wonderful of a job we are doing, ignoring reality.

    I support a hybrid of 1 and 2. Deal with 3 when the people have what they need to survive and basic needs, utilities, and facilities are met and operational.

    Brett ~ Richmond, Va.

  5. 5 ZK
    May 12, 2008 at 13:35

    Useless to try to force the junta out now, and a waste of resources to do so. Focus the effort on dropping aid in — indeed, with or without permission — and deal with the junta separately once the conditions have stabilised.

  6. 6 Rachel in California USA
    May 12, 2008 at 13:47

    Send money directly to the Burmese monks. They don’t need permission to get in–they are already there. They have local monasteries in the villages and nationwide communication networks. They can purchase and distribute food, clear roads, bury animals and humans, and boil water. They can hire locals to help with these tasks. They are the most trusted group in Burmese society–let them take the lead.

  7. May 12, 2008 at 13:51

    Are they still considering this? The people of Burma needed aid before the Hurricane. Lead with a world and, especially regional, supported military. Warn the Burmese government that, “we are here to feed your people and treat your sick. We will be here ‘X’ months. ”

    Barring that I am with Bret. Air drop them food. If we have credible intelligence agents in the region that Dick Cheney hasn’t blown their cover, use them. Find out where the best people live to start a rebellion and air drop them weapons. The government is weak and unsupported at the moment.

    Unfortunately they have nothing we need, oil, cheap labor, oil, so these are ideas that will never be realized. They are on their own.

  8. May 12, 2008 at 13:52

    Get the aid to the people by whatever means, but don’t let the Junta get their hands on it. If they attempt to seize aid supplies, that might warrant destabilization of their position.

    If aid agencies can get the aid in by simply ignoring the obstructive actions of the Junta, that in itself would be a nicely destabilizing move.

    Best would be to get a third party in (probably China), whose logisitical expertise is trusted by aid agencies and whose politics is trusted by the Junta. If China played this role they could score some badly needed humanitarian points before the games (but do they even care about such niceties?)

    If not China, why not India?

    It’s possible that this catastrophe might itself prove , in the end, the undoing of the criminals in power. When a few hundred thousand people have perished, many of them by govt neglect, a sort of fearlessness in the face of death develops. It’s a terrible thing to imagine, but people at this level of stress could conceivably take the Junta matter into their own hands.

  9. 9 Yoshiteru Yanagita
    May 12, 2008 at 13:56

    Nothing is more important than people’s life for a goverment.How can the government of Burma reject any aid from the world? The world cannot help becoming quite suspicios of the government’s attitude.The world would like to say to Burma,if you cannot help and protect your people,”we” have to protect your people,because your attitude is no humanitarian.

  10. 10 Isaac
    May 12, 2008 at 13:57

    Hello WHYS,

    War have never been a solution I believe in diplomacy. Talking is the best solution look at the number of people suffering in Iraq after Sadam, Afterall God has already punished that leadership by sending cyclone as warning to what they are doing is bad. Do people believe in what is written in the bible? I believe these are signs of the coming of the son of man. All is said but many dont want to believe. So was in the times of Noah. many didnt want to believe.

    Remember the devil is also busy recruiting his own people so we have a choice to choose. To go to hell with Juntas or use diplomacy and solve the problem of aid in Burma without causing bloodshed.


  11. May 12, 2008 at 14:15

    Burma, now China, record number of tornados, Katrina and record number of hurricanes, Earthquakes around the world, Angry apes waging senseless wars,. Is it me? Or does t seem like Mother Nature is ticked off about something? Is this a result of skewed statistics because the media is able to reach all over the world now? Or is this really a phenomenon of catastrophes?

  12. 12 steve
    May 12, 2008 at 14:23

    Does anyone nelse think it’s ironic that they can show dead bodies in Burma on TV but cannot show nudity? What is wrong with people beyond the fact that the government of Burma is hindering aid?

  13. 13 Neal H
    May 12, 2008 at 14:23

    shame China into doing something. Speaking as an American, we have done entirely too much destabilizing and toppling in the last few decades thank you very much, I think this is an issue for the UN.

  14. 14 John in Salem
    May 12, 2008 at 14:34

    We might be morally justified in ignoring the junta and delivering aid directly to the Burmese people but there will be a price to pay for that action and we will not be the ones to pay it. While they do not have the power to stop us we can be certain that those we seek to help will be punished for accepting that help the moment we leave.

  15. 15 Alex in Nairobi
    May 12, 2008 at 14:35

    Loss of life must be arrested at all costs. Let the aid agencies drop food from the air or whatever other means available to them.

    I however know that the USA, UK and all other Uselesses would like to take advantage of the crisis in Burma to crush the military junta. And for heaven’s sake, let them NOT. We have seen the good they have done in Afghanistan and Iraq and I think that dosage of good is enough. Let Burmese authorities be engaged in diplomatic discourses.

  16. 16 victork13
    May 12, 2008 at 14:39

    @ Dwight: actually Burma is resource rich and has oil and gas.

    I believe that civilians, rather than governments, should be leading in the aid effort through donations to charities and NGOs. It is not a matter that warrants direct intervention by governments, and certainly not by Western governments.

    What if the US drops aid without permission and the Burmese airforce or ground defences fire on American planes? The people who are now calling for the US to intervene will be the first to condemn the US if its military were to defend itself, espeically if Burmese civilians should become collateral damage. The fact that Burma does have oil will, once it becomes more widely known, only lead to cries of ‘Halliburton’ against the US and the usual world-wide effort to vilify the American government whatever its good intentions.

    We are always being told, with an unmistakable sense of schadenfreude, that the West is in decline and power is shifting to China and south east Asia. Well here’s as good an opportunity as any for south east Asia to show that it can use that growing power wisely and humanely. 6 south east Asian nations provide the bulk of Burma’s imports and recevie the bulk of its exports. Those countries have the economic muscle to steer the regime in any direction they want. Western governments have no mandate to police, reform or save the world. They should contribute to the aid effort but not in a way that is aggressive or threatening to the Burmese regime. It is not our business to destabilise the regime, especially since the lesson of Iraq is that change is often for the worse, and the people who enforce a change are usually not the ones who must live with its consequences. The age of imperialism is over and their is no Western interest that justifies violating Burmese sovereignty or overthrowing the Burmese regime.

    So we should go for option 1: negotiate. What’s happening in Burma, as terrible as it is, is not genocide. Military intervention can’t be justified, especially from half a world away..

    To all the critics of the Bush administration who did so much to destroy US credibility on the international stage: American caution on Burma is your reward.

  17. 17 Jeevan
    May 12, 2008 at 14:47

    I think it is more with option 2 especially when you see the videos of the affected areas coming out.The people there have no means of communication to see what the political leaders are talking but just supply the people with plenty of water,tents and basic nutrition.Even if you get the negotiation right now or later it serves no purpose to the people who are dying.Just decide if political gain is more important or human life.

  18. 18 Bob in Queensland
    May 12, 2008 at 14:53

    If simply dropping the aid would work that would be the solution but I’m sure I’ve heard several of the aid agencies saying that they MUST have people on the ground to be effective.

    As unpalatable as it is, I fear that, for the time being, we must negotiate with the junta until the situation is stabilised.

    After that, go for it! Alas, I fear that the international agenda will have moved on by then and the generals will continue to get away with–literally–murder.

  19. 19 selenayvonne
    May 12, 2008 at 14:55

    Considering there is not much information getting out of Burma, how can we be sure that the same level of help is not happening as happened in New Orleans after Katrina?

    Keep in mind that the aftermath of Katrina was, and continues to be, less than ideal.

    It may be wise to practice caution.

  20. 20 Will Rhodes
    May 12, 2008 at 15:13

    Stop waiting for permission and start dropping aid immediately. The first US plane may have landed but we’re nine day into this crisis and the negotiating is taking too long. People are dying, the world should act.

  21. 21 Peter Gizzi UK
    May 12, 2008 at 15:19

    Hi Again Everybody,

    My question is short. Thailand it seems are trusted by The Burmese Junta. Is it possible or prctical to ask them to take in aid on behalf of The West?

  22. 22 John in Sudan
    May 12, 2008 at 15:24

    The world must not wait to deliver adequate AID service to the victims in BURMA.
    We must get into Burma without permission.
    There is not permission when it is time to rescue human lives.

    John Gaaniko Salaam
    Western Equatoria State/South Sudan

  23. 23 Alex in Zimbabwe
    May 12, 2008 at 15:25

    There is a fourth option – simply bribe the generals the huge amount of cash which would persuade them to open all the necessary doors. It is that simple. Cash and money are the motivators behind most dictators – ask Robert Mugabe the anti-western dictator and also the 49 African pro-western dictators.

    And in terms of medium-term and long-term solutions, then let the international community introduce a fraud-proof voting system which has been especially designed for use in the 3rd world. This will mean that the Burmese Generals, Robert Mugabe and the other 80 or so international thieves masquerading as world leaders will have to retire and enjoy their ill-gotten gains.

    best regards

    alex weir

  24. 24 Kamayoyo
    May 12, 2008 at 15:25

    Dear BBC,

    I am a Zambian currently studying in Tanzania, indeed it strikes my heart sharply to hear and see on your TV station how innocent Burma citizens are suffering and unecessarily dying while the international community and the entire world sits back comfortably watching. Why has the world acquired a blind eye on most of these problems including those problems whose solutions are within its reach and means. We all know that Burma military regime is undemocratic, inhuman, corrupt and above all selfish even to itself own people just to keep its power. The Chinese are not even saying anything because they know they too have a large portion of blame i.e. Tibet crisis. I would like to appeal to the United States and its coalition of the willing to act promptly and intervene in this crisis before a great number of people perish while watching.


    Kamayoyo Kelvin (a Zambian national)

  25. 25 Muthee Mwangi
    May 12, 2008 at 15:26

    The fact that these people went ahead and held the constitutional poll over the weekend shows that they don’t care what happens to their people.
    The best option is therefore to drop relief with or without their permission for immediate help because negotiating is wasting a lot of time while people still spend their nights in the cold.
    Toppling the government may be a solution but not to the current crisis because that is long term. I saying so however, i don’t advocate toppling the regime and then forcing on the Burmese western styles of government if they are not ready for that.

  26. 26 Kwabena
    May 12, 2008 at 15:26

    it is now obvious the military junta cares less about the citizens of burma and are interested only in consolidating their selfish hold on power. i strongly believe this paranoid regime will never give a clear way for aid to pass to the worst affected and i advocate their forceful removal. this is the time and the world must not miss it

  27. 27 Anthony
    May 12, 2008 at 15:33

    Well, what we think is right must be right, forget what their government wants, because we know what the people want. I mean, look at Iraq, we knew what the people wanted and everything worked out PERFECTLY!

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  28. 28 Anthony
    May 12, 2008 at 15:42

    So, these poor people have died and had their lives ruined by storms and flooding, hmmmmm, this sounds familiar for some reason? Well, at least Bush is the first person to help (Just don’t tell the residents of Louisiana, especially around the New Orleans area that he was so quick to help). Why are these people so lucky to have Bush help, when OUR PEOPLE (USA) had to sit and wait for aid for sooooo long!?!?!?!

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  29. 29 Nick in USA
    May 12, 2008 at 15:48

    Am I missing something? Why have so many people stated that we need to pressure China to help. From what I understand, China has already delivered a lot of aid to the area.

    I’m also thinking that the time of this natural disaster is pretty strange. All of this is happening just after the monks protests. How accurate are the reports by aid agencies? Is this whole thing just overblown like WMD’s? I’m not trying to be inconsiderate, I’m just saying that the timing is strange. It seems like someone is trying to get the USA to react. Is it the media? Well, that’s enough of my conspiracy theories.

    This is a UN issue. We should keep negotiating, and if necessary, send emergency aid to the areas that need it most, regardless of the Junta. I agree with dan, the packages should have a big american flag on them, so these people know they have our support.

  30. 30 viola anderson
    May 12, 2008 at 16:04

    At this point I favor solution #1, with world discussion ongoing regarding when is it appropriate to intervene against the wishes of the ruling regime.

  31. 31 Dennis
    May 12, 2008 at 16:34

    @ Will,


    Stop waiting for permission and start dropping aid immediately. The first US plane may have landed but we’re nine day into this crisis and the negotiating is taking too long. People are dying, the world should act.

    The people of Burma are dying because of the military junta!

    At least, the first U.S. Military air plane arrived in Burma, here is a link to the original story on BBC News Website.

    Dennis~Madrid, United States of America

  32. May 12, 2008 at 16:40

    @ victork

    There is a huge difference between what is going on in Burma and what was justified in Iraq.

    First, (and forgive me Lubna in the micro scheme every life is precious.) Saddam was not killing committing these atrocities on a daily basis. He was actually hanged for killings that occurred in 1982. That was the best case they had. Ironically that is when he was in full participation with the US. He was hanged for using the weapons we gave him, doing the job we wanted him to do. That is a moral conflict. Much like a judge can not sit on the murder trial case of his ex-brother in-law. The US had no right to dictate the shape of Iraqis political scape. People in Burma are dine right now. Not 10 year ago, not 20 years ago, it is happening right now.

    Second, the administration scared the politicians and American people into the Iraq situation by making wild and false claims about Saddam’s nuclear weapons. It was a claim they knew was wrong to the extent that they clamed. Here at this point most people can believe what they want, but they knew it. The case was so thin, that any descent was worth risking an act of treason. Only after the failure to find weapons did it become about freeing the people. Sure those things were mentioned before. But take out the immediate threat of nuclear weapons and there would have been no congressional approval. you can do a search for Cheney on invading Iraq and find him saying it would be one of Americas greatest mistakes.

    Third, Burma is not a three party civil war. While the Sunnis and the Shia had come a long way before the invasion, they were still not a united people under one banner. The Kurdish region had been on it’s own since before the first invasion. Calling them “Saddam’s” people is like calling Canadians “US’s People”. Burma is the repressed and destitute people vs. military government. Every community is not overseen by a Militia who the people are loyal to.

    The plan is a pipe dream as we don’t have the resources right now to help people who actually need it right now. This Administration has lost all credibility to actually conduct China has just suffered a 7.5 earthquake and have problems of their own. But a simple explanation of intent and a declaration that any hostile actions will be considered acts of war. “scramble one plane and you won’t have any to scramble again. ”

    The key is your intent has to be honest. That is the biggest difference.

  33. 33 Roberto
    May 12, 2008 at 17:00

    Which course of action do you support?

    —- It’s day 9 of a disaster where an estimated 100,000 have been killed and hundreds of thousands homeless and stranded, and you chaps just now giving this castastrophe a little press boost, eh?

    I see the usual do-gooder brigades want to do the same ridiculous things like invade sovereign airspace and drop off supplies in flooded areas where they will be ruined and risk these pilots lives in being shot down.

    Where are the regional leaders, China, India, Japan, and Indonesia on all this? They are incredibly more powerful and wealthy than any other time of the recent past and could be providing the best leadership and assistance. Why is the West and West controlled UN always needing to intervene into sovereign territories or civil wars where they are most often completely ineffective?

    I realize that China has their own earthquake disaster now, but they’ve provided little leadership for the region save how to throw the country into complete disarray at every point since the communists started to wage the revolution.

    There is no good answer to the dilemma. Not everything in the world can be solved, much less always solved with western intervention. The Burmese government’s response is on par with the US response to Katrina, and where was the UN in that fiasco?

    I would suggest the UN and interested governments continue the diplomatic negotiations and let the independents slip in where they are able to provide what they can and listen to their reports so they can be prepared for the green light.

    Then the West best turn it’s attention on it’s own economies and climatic conditions. It’s the era of global warming and all the West’s vaunted economics and all the West’s vaunted technology won’t be able to put the West back together again if they can’t see or deny the global tsunami they’ve created coming home to roost soon enough.

  34. 34 Yakubu Ibrahim
    May 12, 2008 at 17:14

    Well i think the best option is still to negotiate with the Military boys. Air dropping aids is not very efficient and the risks involved also.

  35. May 12, 2008 at 17:27

    I prefer none of the options suggested. A fourth option would be to do nothing in the hopes that the people will rise up and remove the junta from their strangle hold on the people.

  36. 36 Janet T
    May 12, 2008 at 17:31

    I think this has to be a United Nations effort, working with member nations that have relationships with Burma to get aid into the country-
    I don’t think this is the time to toot our horn, emblazen flags on crates or try to take creidt for how great and generous we are- who cares who gets credit as long as the people who need the food and supplies get what they need

    at least they don’t havve to wait for FEMA to show up

  37. 37 VictorK
    May 12, 2008 at 17:52

    @Dwight: but until the cyclone hit people in Burma were not being routinely slaughtered by the government, either. And the current objection to what’s happening is based on a suspicion that the Burmese government can’t be trusted to distribute the aid to “its own people” (I’ll have more to say on this last assumption later). That view may well be true, but I don’t think it gives a right to anybody to violate Burmese sovereignty, anymore than US sovereignty should have been called into question (it couldn’t have been violated in practical terms) after Katrina.

    I agree with much of what you say about the US and Iraq. But there was one solid practical benefit of the invasion: the removal of Saddam and granting the Iraqi people an opportunity to shape their own lives (an opportunity that they blew). For all the lies about WMDs that was a genuine US achievement and something the Bush administration has never been given credit for. And that refusal to grant credit to American actions is part of a wider pattern. Muslims generally hate the US as anti-Islamic, despite the US saving Muslims in Kosovo and Bosnia and attempting to save them in Somalia. There’s no oil in any of those countries. The fact that the Iraqis have ruined their opportunity for freedom and prosperity is something the US is blamed for, as if occupation alone could explain the chaos in Iraq, and not the behaviour of Iraqis. And, of course, it’s not just Muslims. There have been worldwide demonstrations against US colonialism/imperialism/etc. The motives of the Bush administration are routinely and unthinkingly put down to ‘oil’, even though the US held Kuwait and returned it to its people (or rahter, its rulers). Even a conflict, such as Darfur, which is partly fueled by China’s oil lust, is blamed on the US by some. The venom and extravagance of the criticism of the US government has led to the phrase ‘Bush Derangement Syndrome’ being coined. And it describes a veryreal phenomenon.

    In light of the systematic hostility to the US, the determination to present its actions in the worst possible light and even to use them as an excuse for anti-Western and anti-American terrorism (terrorists here in Britain want to kill us because of Iraq) , is there any surprise that some of us have come to think that the West should keep its distance from all current and future international entanglements that do not involve a vital Western interest?

    Burma is an ethnically diverse society (over 100 different groups). Roughly a third of the population are from non-Burmese ethnicities. It wouldn’t surprise me if the people suffering as a result of the cyclone are from a different ethnic group to Burma’s rulers. From what I’ve observed most seemingly inexplicable situations (“why is the governement of country A treating ‘its people’ so badly?’) have a simple ethnic explanation. You’ve already noted this re the Kurds, and it would be good if the media would examine this possibility in Burma.

    And however honest the intent, the fact that Burma has oil and other mineral resources is sure to be be used against the US if it were to become militarily involved, even if that only meantt defending itself while delivering aid. A culture of conspiratorial insanity regarding the US has developed since 2003, and now has a life and momentum of its own. If the US were to shoot down a hostile Burmese plane, say, what could we expect but claims that tthe plane never existed; it was all contrived by the Americans as part of a wider strategy to get at Burmese oil; the US was in fact the aggressor but that fact is being covered up; the US is jealous of China’s growing power and its real intention is to topple an important Chinese ally under cover of providing relief; the US wants to establish a military base in Burma in order to to counter the Chinese military threat to Japan and the rest of the region. All quite mad, but all very likely because the Bush-haters have managed over the years to make this kind of thinking an acceptable and mainstream response to US policy.

    What incentive has the US government to do any thing more than provide aid through the usual channels when it knows from experience that doing anything more pro-active will most likely lead to a deranged global response (including the American left) that will only damage America’s standing in the world, lower undermine America’s influence, and even jeopardise the safety of American citizens abroad in the region? I think that’s why the US has taken a low key approach to Darfur: it’s not worth the trouble however good their intentions may be.

    Leave it to China and south East Asia to sort out. Western governments must learn that they are not responsible for the world’s problems, though they should do what they can within reason to alleviate some of them. Violating Burmese sovereignty is something that no country has a right to do on the basis of the facts known to us.

  38. 38 gary
    May 12, 2008 at 18:00

    Everyone wants to seen as a hero; fewer know how to act heroically. Do not shout. Do not invade. Instead, allow the Myanmar government to control the aid distribution. Fly it in, as fast they’ll allow. Show the Junta its best interests are served by appearing to be heroic. Who knows? Maybe they’ll try to actually be heroic.

  39. 39 Ahmad Hammad
    May 12, 2008 at 18:07

    I’ll advocate the First Option:
    “Keep negotiating with the military junta to get aid to the cyclone-affected areas.”

    The infrastructure of the poor country is in the tyrannical hands of the Military Junta. At this critical moment, the external powers shouldn’t try to wound them, rather they shoud try to mould them; make them become a helping hand.

    Whosoever wants to aid Burma and is afraid of going the aid un-reached must take a soldier, preferably a general, alongwith him, for a soldier understands the language of a soldier. The guest soldier might be more successful in convincing the Junta to let the world reach the affected areas…

    After all, this isn’t the right time to topple the government of Burma. Suu Kyi and Monks must wait for another 3 months or so and come to the streets again….

  40. 40 selena
    May 12, 2008 at 18:12


    There is a lot of wisdom in your words!

  41. 41 steve
    May 12, 2008 at 18:20

    I often hear people on the far left say that war is never justified. Airdropping supplies would likely get a military response from the Burmese, who will view it as defeneding their territory. The air droppers would respond, and hostilities would break out. For those who say that force is never justified, are you saying that in this situation too, since you do say “never” justified.

  42. May 12, 2008 at 18:22

    We not only have an economic and a political responsibility but also a humanitarian responsibility on this planet and that is why we have to help. I have been working in and around Burma for 8 years and the military regime there has no interest in its own people.

    Karl Foerster, Helfen ohne Grenzen

  43. 43 Elsa
    May 12, 2008 at 18:23

    Why are we even asking the question of whether or not we should intervene and provide aid for thousaunds of people? Of course we should intervene. Purposely denying humantarian aids to people who desperately need is inhuman.

  44. 44 Jonny
    May 12, 2008 at 18:31

    The Burmese Junta’s days are numbered. We as citizens must keep focused on this story and continue to loudly protest the unconscionable treatment of the Burmese people. The media must also continue to do its part and vigorously keep this story on the front pages. There must be pressure on the world’s governments to move aggressively and boldly. 9 days later it seems like it’s aid at any cost.

  45. May 12, 2008 at 18:32

    Of course you WANT to go in, with or without, leave, BUT:
    It sets a dangerous presedent. If WE, under the auspices, or guise, of the U.N. do that, and the local government, ‘junta’ or no, falls, and so on, what’s to stop ‘someone,’ a majority somewhere, again, under the auspices of the United Nations, from coming here, ( and by ‘here’ of course I mean whereever YOU are) under the proclamations that we aren’t treating our citizens fairly, or humanely, and taking over OUR infrastructure, and eventually, our government, and country? I don’t want Blue Helmuts buzzing through my country with guns “keeping the peace.” Do you? We have enough problem without the rest of the world involving itself any more than it already is. We all do.

  46. 46 John Smith - Jamaica
    May 12, 2008 at 18:35

    Let’s be realistic. When the aid reached Burma legally, it will be held by the authorities and taken to the new capital to be consumed by the Generals. If aid is airlifted in, the chaos which will reign from the uncontrolled distribution will lead to a worsening of the humanitarian crisis. Our hands are tied and unless there is an invasion, there is little the world can do.

  47. 47 Scott Millar
    May 12, 2008 at 18:38

    + Why is suffering caused by mother nature an acceptable reason to act? When government or politically induced suffering by many is not; or at least the reaction is often slower? A life is a life.

    – Portland, Oregon

  48. 48 Arnold Evbodaghe
    May 12, 2008 at 18:46

    The Junta must feel more diplomatic pressure from the International community through the Chinese Government. We are talking about more souls/live been lost here; the junta does not give a hoot at all.

  49. May 12, 2008 at 18:46

    The time to help the Burmese people is past over due, the suffering by the people needing medical & food aid has been prolonged by the dictator lead military authorities who prefer to continue the suffering and pretend they can deal with the crisis, is doomed to failure and they know it.
    Aid should be sent lock stock and barrel the more the better, with a warning not to impeed the aid process as it is the desire of governments sending the aid on
    humanitarian grounds and nothing else. Best to begin dropping food and medicine to the areas most effected and if necessary protect the airplanes and helicopters with military aircrafts during the distribution. In my opinion the Burmeese military will not interfere.

  50. 50 John Smith - Jamaica
    May 12, 2008 at 18:46

    Even if the Generals do allow the aid to be distributed, it will be in their name and set back the cause for Burmese independence. The generals have shown that they cannot be trusted and no amount of international aid will make them more credible.

  51. 51 Ayo
    May 12, 2008 at 18:47

    NO its never a good time to INVADE or to STAMPEDE or to IMPOSE aid on/to anyone, or to any group. But its high time certain powers began to LEARN not to FORCE others just because they can. I feel sorry for the Burmese people. but if this aid is forced on them, in later later years, they will still resent the forces that forced aid on them. Its a show of power to force things on another country and even if the people need it, they will feel invaded in later years.

  52. 52 Chris, Oregon
    May 12, 2008 at 18:49

    I say give the Junta an Ultimatum. We are coming in to help your people and thats all there is to it. People are dieing who could be helped if we would only stop sitting around waiting.

  53. 53 lorraine
    May 12, 2008 at 18:51

    i agree w/ Rachel in California, that we should NOW go through the local Burmese monks, the most trusted group in Burmese society, but ALSO get the supplies to them in addition to the money to purchase / distribute food, clear roads, bury animals and humans, and boil water, by hiring locals to help with these tasks.

    I MUST SAY that this situation is the result of a global buy-in to the pattern of using fear, threat, and war to dominate & occupy smaller nations & strip them of culture & resources, in the name of “liberating and democratizing” their cultures. This tragedy with all its complications is the consequence of this pattern. The junta is not responsible for this pattern, their response, as despicable as it is, is the result of it. Every citizen of the developed world is directly implicated, for neglecting our personal responsibility to hold our national governments responsible for developing truly peaceful relationships between all nations in this tiny world.

    We can no longer be nationalists, we MUST become global citizens NOW. How can we present our selves, and be TRUSTED as global humanitarians when we daily sanction the annihilation of cultures, nations and their citizens, by the hundreds of thousands!

  54. 54 John in Salem
    May 12, 2008 at 18:55

    If China succeeds in blocking action by the UN Security Council to deal with the Burmese disaster then the Beijing Olympics must be cancelled immediately regardless of what is done for the the people of Burma by others. This is WAY beyond the oppression of Tibet and there has to be a price for this level of barbarity.

  55. 55 Alex J
    May 12, 2008 at 18:56

    I’m not sure now’s the time for direct intervention. But it is interesting that one of the revolving justifications for the ground invasion of Iraq was the suppression and mistreatment of it’s people by a tyrannical regime. Now, we apparently wouldn’t consider even violating Burma’s airspace for humanitarian purposes.

  56. 56 archibald in oregon
    May 12, 2008 at 18:59

    Option 2………with a bit of option 1……after the aid begins landing all over Burma, the gov’t will have a hard time taking it away from the people and efforts to do so will be met with resistance, certainly hindering their quickly slipping hold on the country………I say this ideally, realists will scoff, but hope is better than nothing atall.

  57. 57 VictorK
    May 12, 2008 at 19:13

    @ Alex J: the invasion and occupation of Iraq was wrong, even if it did lead to the liberation of the Iraqi people.

    Lorraine wrote: ‘The junta is not responsible for this pattern, their response, as despicable as it is, is the result of it. Every citizen of the developed world is directly implicated, for neglecting our personal responsibility to hold our national governments responsible for developing truly peaceful relationships between all nations in this tiny world.’ In other words the US, UK and the West are to blame. The people clamouring for Western intervention will be the first to turn on the countries that they urged to go into Burma.

    Remember, it is a standing position of the the left that the West is to blame for everything bad that happens on the planet., China and Thailand between them are Burma’s biggest trading partners and could exert whatever pressure is needed to make the regime do the right thing. But the tragedy in Burma is really my fault and the fault of every citizen of the developed world!

    Provide aid to the regime and leave them to distribute it as best they can. If they refuse to distribute it properly then let the Burmese people take up arms and throw out their rulers. They are responsible for themselves, and the countries of south east Asia are responsible for the region. In the absence of a compelling Western national interest, there should be no direct Western involvement in the affairs of non-Western nations.

  58. May 12, 2008 at 19:17

    It is time the international community decides to assist people, with or without permission. The world is tired waiting for tyrands to give permission, while they and their families are enjoying to comforts of life in big houses.
    Let us help the people of Burma, it will be a lesson to leaders who are thinking like the millitary rulers!

  59. 59 Ray in Oregon
    May 12, 2008 at 20:39

    Wow. The posts on this blog are just ridiculous. Air drops? Into a country whose rulers could care less about its people dying? Does anyone remember Somalia? Any aid would go directly to the Junta and none to the people.

    UN actions? How about UN resolution 687? You know, that’s the resolution that was never fulfilled by Sadam Hussein. And despite thousands of Iraqis dying under sanctions brought about by a brutal ruler, the world is *still* complaining about the US removing that same brutal dictator from power. Sorry “international community” you kind of burnt your bridges on this one. Would the Burmese people be suffering as much as they are right now if the Junta actually believed that there might be dire consequences with refusing help? As it is, the Junta knows that they can count on the world’s hate squad to back them up if the US does something horrible like actually trying to help the suffering people.

    Why send aid when it will only strengthen the Junta, why send troops to deliver the aid when the world will only condemn it as imperialistic aggression?

  60. 60 Thomas Murray
    May 12, 2008 at 21:46

    This same topic was subject of this afternoon’s “Talk of the Nation” discussion on NPR.

    I didn’t get to the library in time to write them while on air, but my initial reaction was to ask, “HAVE YOU LOST YOUR BLOODY MIND?!?”

    The people advocating military intervention in Burma are of the same rapacious ilk as the snake-oil salesmen and political con-artists who sold us the war in Iraq.

    I cannot believe you are being taken in by these opportunists.

    Sure. Murdering the current regime will have the short-term effect of getting aid to the cyclone victims. But has no one learned the lesson of Iraq?

    The Burmese will feign gratitude for the time it’ll take them to topple a statue of Than Shwe, only to produce a destabilized government, and more angry AK-47 wielders creating chaos and resenting us for imposing our values on their society . . . and all because a small cadre of political opportunists think they’ll be able to sail into power in the wake created by our expenditure of more blood and treasure.

    If Iraq is not in the mess it is now, than forcing aid upon the Burmese might not be as unthinkable.

    But, in case you haven’t noticed, the Middle East is suffering a massive civil breakdown right now, not despite, but because of our best efforts to help them. The death toll in Iraq since the war began is estimated to be around 200,000 (according to NPR). And that is because we are there.

    In the long run, we will only end up killing hundreds of thousands more than we can hope to save.

    And Al Qaeda and Hezbollah will finally have the opportunity to bleed us dry.

    I can’t believe our foreign policy analysts are this stupid.

    –Completely shocked at your naivete. Louisville, Kentucky, US.

  61. 61 Tom
    May 13, 2008 at 04:47

    Lets think about this more objectively. Should a country send aid to another country without their approval, particularly if the two countries are political foes?

    When hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans the residents there waited for days before government aid arrived. Had Cuba, which has a highly effective health care services, decided to dispatch its own military aircrafts and conduct its own air drops on New Orleans without permission by the US, how would you think the US would have responded? I could imagine jets being scrambled from all over the US and a highly visible military incident would be the result.

    Another scenario: North Korea sends their own air drops over Japan if an earthquake strikes one of their remove villages. How would the Japanese “Self-Defense” air force react?

    Of course we need to obey international laws and seek permission before entering the sovereign land of another country otherwise there could be unpredictable consequences.

    From my knowledge South Korea and China always seek permission from North Korea before dispatching any aid to them. Even though the North Korean government is not much better than Burma’s, humanitarian requests from its immediate neighbours are usually accepted. Perhaps there is something we could learn from this on how to deal with rogue regimes.

  62. 62 Dennis
    May 13, 2008 at 05:45


    I think that the international community needs to stop playing
    games with the Generals in Burma and start helping the citizen
    in the country before we have a HUGE humanitarian crisis than we have right now.

    Dennis ~Madrid, U.S.A.

  63. 63 John in Germany
    May 13, 2008 at 07:46

    Hi All.

    Yes and without any dithering, do not take any notice of China or India, i can understand why China supports the crooked military regime, but not India.

    It is time that the rest of the World gets to grips with such cruel, and care-less people. Who even ignore basic decency and carry out a fiddled referendum, as their landsmen and women lay sick and dying. Children are orphaned by the second, and they have time to label aid goods with their own names.

    Why UN do you always loose every bit of respect?, because of the security council.
    Change your legislation to allow for such circumstances. Help straight away, with out the possibility of a no vote from any member. Its people you are dealing with, most animals get a better deal. Put you ears to the ground and what you hear will not be music to you, but deep felt resent. You cost billions, do something for your money. Try a few referendums, worried! because of the results, very few people like the truth, that is why the military in Burma fiddled theirs.

    Hoping that you all have a clear conscience, and can sleep well at night.

    John in Germany.

  64. May 13, 2008 at 09:30

    Do away with all that laborious and unnecessary state sovereignty and get the much needed aid to the suffering masses.

  65. May 13, 2008 at 15:17


    My apologies. You are right. My Knee jerk reaction to force aid doesn’t really jive with my Darwinist ideology. Looking at all the pictures of the dead and those that need help, right now can tend to cloud my analytical judgment. I talked to a friend who knows a little about the area, and the politics are not as black and white as they seem. The one thing he said was this, “what are you going to do? Are you going to go into the area with force, save the people, only to have the government come and punish them for it after you leave? Or are you planning on not leaving ‘for a hundred years.'” The “haves” are way more powerful then the “have nots” in Burma.

    Two things aligned that just makes me want to lend them support. One is the obvious immediate threat and extent of the disaster. The second is that they Burmese people were willing to stand up and protest in the streets last August. If the people are willing to stand up and die in protest in the face of their oppressors, then those seem like people we can help. As it turns out, if we had been in better position of global respect and power, we might have been able to create a democracy there. But, “If bull frogs had wings they wouldn’t bump their butt when they jumped.”
    I defiantly concede most of your points. As I understand it, the Myanmar military wouldn’t risk shooting down a US aid plane. It would be too costly for them.

  66. May 13, 2008 at 15:38

    As added note. This situation is unlike many other that we have encountered. First, We only have very limited soiled hands from Burma. less “conflict f interest”. Second, it is not a boiling civil war with a 48% to 52 % power separation. If we beat down one side, the other side doesn’t have militias and organizations ready to rise up and just take the place of the oppressive monsters. For instance, you are not going to go in with a declared mission to free the Shia from the Sunnis, only to 4 years later be paying the Sunnis to help fight the Shia, such as al Sadre, that raised to power as a result. Third, The place is devastated. Dropping in by air is going to be the only way to get supplies to some of the hardest hit places. There isn’t a ready military force waiting to just snatch up air drops as soon as they hit the ground.

    These are three major difference between the Iraq, Somalia situation and the one in Burma.

  67. 67 Dennis
    May 13, 2008 at 17:55


    The United Nations calls for Corridor for BURMA:
    [here is a link to the story]

    according to the burmese authorities:
    37,273 KILLED
    27,838 MISSING


    Dennis~Madrid, U.S.A.

  68. 68 Dennis
    May 13, 2008 at 18:40


    EU Aid Commissioner Louis Michel is heading for Burma to appeal for relief workers to have “free and unfettered” access to areas hit by the cyclone.

    Link to the story:

    Dennis>>>Madrid, U.S.A.

  69. 69 John in Germany
    May 14, 2008 at 15:00

    It is never to late, what a statement. It is to late, to many people have died, to many will die, decease will rear it ugly head for years to come, It is the same as torture, put the bottle of water in such a place that it cant be got at by the thirsty, until permission is given, or obtained to place it near enough to drink.

    Those people that are dying, cannot understand intellectual reasoning as to why the junta wont allow, or will allow, they need shelter-food-and water very quickly not after days of discussing. A strange world where bad peoples feelings come before peoples lives.

    The Germans can deliver(search dog teams- technical teams, water purifying units-15.000 Litre capacity, Medicines, and so on,. and have been turned down. Charities are begging by letter, because the willingness to give has dropped to its lowest in years. All due to the juntas attitude, and its carelessness to its people.

    We don’t need a thousand reasons as to why they say no, but a consolidated effort to make them say yes.

    John in Germany.

  70. 70 Bill
    May 14, 2008 at 16:41

    I say get the Russians and/or Chinese army to enter Burma and provide aid. The western aid resources could be directed to China’s earthquake victims to supplement any Chinese resources diverted to Burma. This would be an incredible step forward in co-operation.

  71. 71 Dennis
    May 14, 2008 at 17:48


    Here is link to story:

    By Paul Danahar
    Here is the link to story:

    Dennis~Madrid, United States of America

  72. 72 Dennis
    May 14, 2008 at 18:05



    Here is link for story:

    Dennis~Madrid, United States of America

  73. 73 Dennis
    May 14, 2008 at 21:11

    Hear no ever , Speak no ever and talk no evil……

    Here is a story for you:

  74. 74 Dennis
    May 15, 2008 at 06:51

    I hope that the world will be able to compel burma into allowing assistance
    into the country…

    dennis>madrid, u.s.a.

  75. 75 Dennis
    May 15, 2008 at 18:50


    Aid for Burma ‘Must Be Monitored”

    from who?

    Here is the link:

    Dennis~Madrid, U.S.A.

  76. 76 Dennis
    May 15, 2008 at 18:52


    United Nations Secretary General sending Envoy to Burma,

    here is link:

  77. May 15, 2008 at 18:56


    United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon is sending an
    envoy to Burma…..

    Dennis~Madrid, United States of America

  78. 79 Andrew
    May 17, 2008 at 06:23

    Useless to discuss helping Burma. If the western powers want to help, INVADE Burma, bomb as many military installations, kill as many Burmese armed men as possible, install a western-friendly government there.
    If the West can’t stomach this, then shut up and let those people die.
    Any strategic worth or natural resources justifying the invasion?

  79. 80 Gary
    June 2, 2008 at 02:50

    Lets start with the realization that all Burmese, are not “BURMAN”, which is the majority ethnicity in Burma, and is the ethnicity of the Military junta.
    For those familiar with the student uprisings and the safron revolution in Rangoon, those were the Burman majority complaining about their economic situations, as well as their lack of ability to vote a democratic government into office, and have the military junta honor the outcome of the votes.

    Perhaps one third of the population of Burma, are the non-Burman ethnicities.
    These are the people who supported the student uprisings, and gave them them food and shelter when they were being hunted by the government and fled to the eastern border areas.
    These non-Burman people are seldom mentioned by the Burman Democracy movement, perhaps because the Burman Democracy movement has a strict non-violence policy when it comes to working towards their freedom, and the non-Burmans believe in fighting for their freedom.

    This is why the Burmans live a comparitively comfortable modern life, while the non-burmans are kept just this side of the stone age. The non-Burmans have their lands confiscated and leased out to private companies. They are then rounded up and forced to live in resettlement areas where they become a forced labor pool for those who now have replaced their rice fields with rubber or palm oil plantations, or bio-fuel castor bean farms. Their freedom is limited and they are given little time or land on which to grow food, and if they don’t have enough food, tough luck!
    If they do have access to rice fields to plant, a good deal of their harvest will be commandeered by the Burma army, which will also tax them on the right to work, and use many men, women, and children as forced laborers for anything from road construction, to carrying weapons and ammunition when the army goes out on patrol. They are not paid, are usually not fed, and are expected to carry 40 kilos+ and are beaten if they don’t keep up.
    If they get sick…tough luck… Bang!
    If they are no longer needed…tough luck…Bang!
    If they are caught trying to escape…VERY tough luck, they will be tortured and made an example of and then…Bang!
    And these are the non-Burmans which the government has made “Peace” with and signed cease-fire agreements. Those displaced by the cyclone fall mostly into this category. The Burma army has a lot of troops stationed in the south riding herd on all of these people, if it becomes a choice between the people geting the aid, and the Burma army getting the aid, the military junta plans on making that call on their own…..let the people eat frogs.

    Further north and all along Burma’s eastern border are non-burmans which have not yet surrendered to “Peace”.
    The ones who don’t have any cease fire agreements are beaten, raped, looted, tortured, and persecuted. Their villages are attacked at harvest time, and then sown with landmines, while the people are chased with whatever they could carry into the jungle (if they are lucky) . If they are caught…… well, it won’t go well regardless of whether they are young or old, men, women or children. Men, if not shot on sight will be tortured first, and if so, likely will not be lucky enough to rate a bullet, which is too fast.
    Women and children? It is a wild card, they might be very lucky, they also might be very unlucky, perhaps a flip of the coin.
    Elderly? An elderly person who refuses to leave their home before it is burned will not be forced to do so.
    Those who survive the army must then find food, and try to avoid dying of one of many tropical diseases from diarreah and dysentery, to malaria and dengue fever, to intestinal parasites, and pneumonia. Oh yeah, let’s not forget the monsoon rains for good measure.
    Rice supplies, baskets, and water cans will be commandeered, or destroyed by the Burma army. Same with domestic animals.
    There were over one million starving internally displaced non-Burman people in Burma, as well as another 150,000 in Thai refugee camps before the Cyclone, you all may want to factor them in to your thoughts and prayers too.

    As for you sick and sad people who like to talk about Iraq, Saddam was very similar to the military junta of Burma in his treatment of people who were not the same ethnicity or religion as he was. If you now want to ignore that, I am not surprized, you have been ignoring the mis-treatment of non-Burmans since WWII. At any rate, if he did not like you, he would not have a problem ordering you and your entire family of men, women, children, elderly, dogs, cats and goats machine-gunned to death, just for practice.
    The fact that the US went in there and removed him from power is not the issue in Iraq. It was as right as removing the Burmese junta would be.
    The issue is that a majority of the US goverment’s elected officials who’s job it was to make their decisions, signed the documents which gave the President the power to take Saddam out. Each of those elected officilas has their own sources of information to use to make their decisions, not one of them had a WMD pointed at their office, at least not by the President or the US military.

    The issue is that a many of those elected government officials then backed out of supporting their country along party lines in order to adapt it as a battle cry to regain possession of the White House, which in effect gave comfort and aid to the enemy, which for the most part were foreign Islamic insurgents.

    The issue is that at that point those people then joined the enemy and were as responsible for thousands of un-necessary deaths as the suicide bombers who pulled the fuses.

    The issue is that all of those who now glibbly smirk about oil and neo-cons bla, bla, bla, are equally guilty of being serial killers along with the Islamic religious fanatics.

    Heck yes we should get in there in Burma and drop those supplies, not just to the cyclone victims but to the victims of the regime too.
    Heck yes we would be right going in there and kicking the junta out of power, but with our Yellow-backed demo-cons it will never happen, they are too busy trying to get in the Guiness Book of World records with the first female or African American President.
    Heaven forbid that we might use violence to overthrow the Burmese government, that would hurt the feelings of the Burman Democracy movement leader who might have to give back her Nobel Peace Prize. Even if their non-violence leads to the death and or enslavement of countless non-Burman humanity.

    I have a surprize for you all, with just a litle shove, every hardnose Burma army commander would have a mutiny and frag up his tailpipe. They are just as cruel to their soldiers as they are to their citizens. Last September the Burman people were so very close. If the Burman people had been willing to kill or die for their country, they may have turned the tide, the whole World was watching while they backed down and remained non-violent. I’ve got news, freedom is not always free.

    Can any of you or anybody in the Burman Democracy movement seriously think the generals, the colonels, the majors, and the captains of the Junta and the army are going to someday be moved in a non-violent manner to give up their opulent lifestyles and unquestioned power over the masses of non-Burmans who work for nothing, have their lands and resources stolen and exploited, and have the honor of watching their families die out a little more generation after generation so that the Burman Democracy movement can sit back and, I suppose, wait for Buddha to come back and ask the miltary junta to leave?

    If they ever hope to have democracy, it will have to come through the army, and for that to happen, the soldiers will have to say enough is enough, and for that to happen someone besides non-Burmans are going to have to put it on the line.

    Otherwise after any non-violent democracy movement takes power in Burma, the 400,000 man strong Burma army which has been trained for no other purpose besides what it has been doing since WWII, will simply say it is not working and they will seize power again.

    Sorry, if they want freedom, they will have to be very violent and thoroughly remove every mad-dog commander from the army. Either that or democracy will likely have to be contingent on the military being allowed to continue the persecution and exploitation of the non-Burmans.

    OK, lets recap what Burma was like before the cyclone:
    Overthrown democratically elected government
    Decades long conflict among ethnic factions
    Humanitarian and Human Rights violations
    Massive Refugee outflows
    Drugs (World’s 2nd largest producer of Heroin, largest producer of Methamphetamins in Asia)
    HIV/AIDS Tuberculosis spreading unchecked without any plans or facilities for treatment or prevention.
    Second highest child mortality rate in Asia, fourth in the World.
    No United Nations Resolutions have been passed.

    I left out the really gruesome details.

    Welcome to Burma

  80. 81 Christie
    June 30, 2008 at 00:38

    Why isn’t the government letting help in though???

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