Myanmar A Gov’t Under Scrutiny

I am having a BIG problem with this whole Myanmar cyclone recovery that is playing every night on the news. The first lady had the nerve to stand there and say “The response to the cyclone is just the most recent example of the junta’s failure to meet its people’s basic needs…” Wow, is she really going to chastise someone on the failure to meet its people’s basic needs when our own government which is run by her husband failed miserably to meet the basic needs of our own people in New Orleans.

Isn’t it quite interesting that her husband had the nerve to say that he didn’t know anything about a hurricane hitting the Louisiana area. Not only did our government not help the people after the hurricane, they didn’t do anything to fix the shoddy levees that they knew would fail in just such a storm. How is that for “meeting the needs of your people?” While the water was gushing over the levees in New Orleans Bush was sharing birthday cake with none other than Senator John McCain. Say Laura the people in New Orleans had no food, water or other basic necessities, “let’em eat cake, right?!”

The hypocrisy of these people is amazing. A CNN reporter said about the situation “The people can’t get clean water, decent food, a clean place to stay or medical care. They also can’t seem to get their military government to care…The governments attitude was more along the lines of don’t call us we’ll call you.” Now we have the gall to say this about Myanmar when our government said the same thing to the hordes of people who were washed out of their homes. All the while Bush is playing a guitar with country singer Mark Willis. He then went back to Crawford for another night of vacationing.

While people were sitting in the streets with no food or water our government officials were patting themselves on the back. Remember “you doing a heck of a job Brownie.” Bush congratulates Michael Brown for doing nothing during the catastrophe. In fact not only was he doing nothing after he was warned by FEMA staff that people were dying in the Superdome his press secretary wrote to colleagues complaining that he needed more time scheduled to eat at a restaurant. Michael Chertoff actually said that “he was extremely pleased with the response” or lack there of.

Now we are crying foul at the Myanmar government because they haven’t acted fast enough or in a fashion that pleases us, we still have people suffering from Katrina. Living in formaldehyde laden trailers, being asked to return thousands of dollars in aid they received and living on the street due to the lack of jobs and housing. And still to this day displaced because they (government/big business) decided that the land those poor people lived on is way too valuable to be given back to them and must be handed over to big time developers who can earn a pretty penny.

Our response to our own disasters has been so disastrous that I can’t believe that anyone in this country would have the nerve to point the finger anywhere except inward. But I guess our collective memory is so short or the propaganda that we are drinking is so strong that people actually look back at Katrina and see a quick and complete response. They will look back and see that people were treated with dignity and served completely by their government who acted with the utmost concern for the peoples basic and extended needs. No, we would never give a response such as the one from Myanmar’s military junta.

This is just one more opportunity for our government to force our “services” on a country that didn’t ask for it. Yet when thousands of people in our own country need our “services” all you hear are crickets chirping at least for the first five days. When will we decide that it would be in our best interest if our government actually pretended to care about us the way they pretend to care about the people in countries whose governments we don’t like?

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15 Comments

Filed under American society, Black community, Minorities, Racism, Social Issues

15 responses to “Myanmar A Gov’t Under Scrutiny

  1. While I agree with the irony that the U.S. wasn’t able to handle a much less overwhelming natural disaster in New Orleans, due in large part to incompetence and stunning neglect, I’m not sure that I understand your charge of hypocrisy.

    Laura Bush was complaining that the Burmese government was standing in the way of the recovery effort, refusing to allow foreign aid workers and relief supplies into the country. This is very different from a bungled recovery operation, such as that after Hurricane Katrina.

    Whatever the failures of the Bush administration after Katrina, I don’t believe that the world’s #1 military, economic, and diplomatic power ought to remain silent when a foreign government deliberately blocks almost all forms of assistance to millions of endangered citizens.

  2. James,

    The hypocrisy is the fact that we are pointing the finger and saying “that government is no good, look at how they are NOT helping their people.” That is hypocrisy when we have done the same thing. Not to mention it was our government who was standing in the way of people getting help and still are.

    I feel that our government SHOULD be vocal about its own deliberate failure. Somehow Laura Bush was eerily silent after Katrina. And Barbara Bush was vocal, she put her foot in her mouth but that is about it.

    Also, who is responsible for the people in Myanmar if not their government? We may want desperately to help yet do we have a right to force our help on a government who doesn’t want it? Do we allow Chavez who tried to help the poor in our country with free gas do it? NO, our government told him in no uncertain terms to go to hell.

    My problem is that if I am beating my children in my house, how does it look when I am calling the child protective agency on my neighbor for beating their kids and asking that I be allowed to take care of them. That is ludicrous! It is hypocrisy.

    Thanks for the reply.

  3. The hypocrisy is the fact that we are pointing the finger and saying “that government is no good, look at how they are NOT helping their people.”

    By that argument, though, the U.S. should never criticize another government, no matter how deliberate and horrible their conduct, because the U.S. has failed to help its citizens at times in the past.

    I strongly believe that we have a moral obligation to speak out against intentional, ongoing conduct which is jeopardizing the lives of millions of people. Our own occasional failings (and even our systematic ones) should not — indeed, must not — stop us.

    As for whether the response to Hurricane Katrina was a “deliberate failure,” I think it’s clear from the evidence that no one actually intended to bring about the results that occurred. Those results arose out of incompetence and criminal neglect, not to mention prejudices and callousness which should never have been allowed to rule the day. But I don’t believe that Bush, Brown, and the others actually expected that the public would be treated to scenes of people dying from lack of attention, if for no other reason than that the harm to their political and career goals would be severe and they did nothing in advance to conceal the facts or deflect attention from themselves.

    who is responsible for the people in Myanmar if not their government?

    The people of Myanmar are impoverished, uneducated, and live under the boot of a military dictatorship. They’ve never had a chance to choose their own government, at the voting booth or by risking their lives. Every attempt at overthrowing their government has been met with ruthless efficiency.

    Do we, as a free people, not at least owe it to them to speak up on their behalf? We’re not talking about forcing our help, or our solutions, on them, merely about trying to use diplomatic and public attention to shame the government into helping to save its own people.

  4. James,

    What I am trying to convey is that the United States does NOT tolerate criticism of our country from others. Just look at how we behaved when France had the audacity to criticize us when we were trying to invade Iraq. We lost our minds and poured French wine in the streets, renamed anything with French in it and started to ridicule them at every turn.

    We are NOT the moral police of the world. We do NOT have a right nor obligation to spread our brand of morality on others. As for the people of Myanmar being uneducated poor etc., that has been any and every population of people who overthrew their governments.

    The French, Irish, Polish, India and even the United States all had revolts to rid themselves of oppressive rule. And yes most of the people who participated in the uprisings were uneducated and poor. Eventually if they want it, it will happen with or without our input.

    What happens when China or some other large country decides that it can no longer sit quiet as America continues the human rights violations against minorities. Should they then be allowed to voice their opinions to the world and then some how come into our country and help overthrow our government.

    I mean it would be fair since minorities here are being under educated, under employed, pseudo segregated and discriminated against. So are we prepared for some other country to come in and share “their” so called morality? And wouldn’t it be hypocritical of the Chinese government with their poor treatment of their own people to point the finger at us?

    Thanks for the reply.

  5. James,

    One thing I forgot. You feel that we owe some help to those people because they are uneducated and poor. What obligation do we have to the poor uneducated people in our own country? These people are getting NO help from us.

    How many times do you find a person in need and force your help on them because they are poor and uneducated? NEVER! We don’t care about the uneducated poor here, yet we are overly concerned with the poor uneducated in every other country.

    Thanks again.

  6. What I am trying to convey is that the United States does NOT tolerate criticism of our country from others.

    I see. I guess I missed that. I certainly agree that the U.S. should learn to tolerate criticism from abroad.

    I also don’t believe that we should try to spread our particular brand of morality around the world. I do believe, however, that there are minimum values which, while not quite universal, are close enough that most nations should promote them. This includes criticizing a government for blocking food and other emergency supplies from reaching disaster victims when millions of lives are at stake.

    most of the people who participated in the uprisings were uneducated and poor.

    Actually, the American and French revolutions were carried out by populations that were among the world’s most educated, while others have been carried out by poor, illiterate masses. So I think this varies quite a bit. The point is that the people of Burma live under a totalitarian system which brutally represses all efforts to rebel, and we shouldn’t keep quiet on the theory that the people could successfully rebel if only they tried hard enough.

    Should they then be allowed to voice their opinions to the world and then some how come into our country and help overthrow our government.

    China can voice its opinions now, and it does. Whereas I’m not arguing that any government, including ours, should be allowed to overthrow any other government.

    You feel that we owe some help to those people because they are uneducated and poor.

    I’m only trying to say that the Burmese people live under a brutal military junta which isn’t responsible to the people, and they can’t do anything about it on their own.

    I do believe that we ought to be willing to speak out on behalf of any people who are dying by the tens of thousands (and perhaps soon by the millions) because their leaders are blocking all aid from reaching them.

    What obligation do we have to the poor uneducated people in our own country? These people are getting NO help from us.

    I agree. But our obligation to the poor of the U.S., which I don’t believe we are close to fulfilling, doesn’t prevent us from simply speaking out against injustice elsewhere.

    I believe it would be immoral, in fact, to remain silent, simply because we’re still struggling to do the right thing for “our people.”

    I put “our people” in quotes for a reason, by the way. Do you believe that we have a special obligation to the people of the United States, that we must completely fulfill before doing anything for anyone else? In other words, since we’re not doing enough for the poor in this country, should we cancel all our foreign aid programs?

    And why the focus on those in the U.S.? By this logic, shouldn’t I care for the poor of my own state (or town) and ensure that they’re no longer poor, before I’m willing to contribute (or let my tax dollars go) to the poor who live elsewhere, in this country or abroad?

    A wonderfully thought-provoking discussion, as always, Black Sentinel!

  7. James,

    While the U.S. and France have very educated people the masses are still uneducated and it is that way today.

    But we go in and overthrow others governments whether by force or regime change when we supposedly feel that the people deserve better. We have done it many times in Iraq, Iran, Haiti, Afghanistan, many African nations, Panama and Yugoslavia and we tried to do it with Palestine (Hamas).

    Yes, we should cancel our foreign aid if we don’t have a plan for internal aid. If your children were starving would you give your money and time to the starving neighbor children? And then say that “hey, should I not help the neighbors just because my own children are starving?”

    And again yes, we should all be helping those people in our own neighborhoods, then cities, then states and ultimately whole country. Is it prudent for Oregon to say sure we have starving poor uneducated people but we are going to send our dollars to help the starving poor uneducated people in Ohio? That is ridiculous.

    I just feel that if we have such a feverish need to support people then shouldn’t it be the people who our government is created to support? I would not trust my home repair to a person whose own house was in a shambles.

    Thanks.

  8. All I have to say is Darfur… why the fuck are we so damn selective on when/who/where we’re gonna “help” and by the way with this help comes a military base.
    What I find interesting is that people here in this country wants to police the world but we can’t get our own stuff straight.
    Like, I said about Iraq… everyone needs help sometimes but until they (the people) get up, stand up then can help be accepted and useful…. but you can’t force people to revolt… but you can manipulate them to do so and give them guns to do so… but what happens when you do these things?

  9. I must add, I thoroughly enjoyed you and James conversation. I love this Blog!!

  10. Is it prudent for Oregon to say sure we have starving poor uneducated people but we are going to send our dollars to help the starving poor uneducated people in Ohio?

    Then I think maybe you do want to cancel all foreign aid programs, even if we have a plan for them. How else could you implement this principle?

    I always think back to my travels in Africa. I was told, again and again, that the poorest Americans are still wealthy and surrounded by opportunity, compared to those in post-colonial environments like most African nations. They laughed at the idea that the U.S. should focus on its own people before helping those even less fortunate. Surely, they said, we could provide enough assistance to ensure that no Americans were starving, and then send aid to Africa and elsewhere to help the much larger numbers of hungry and destitute in those lands?

    There’s another problem with the Oregon/Ohio example. Should we take that seriously, on a state- by-state basis? Because the richest U.S. states send vast amounts of aid, through federal tax dollars and programs, to the poorest states. If each state kept its tax dollars to help those inside the state, many U.S. states would go bankrupt immediately, and what assistance programs we do have would end in many places.

    Likewise, if we ended our foreign aid programs, many millions of people would starve to death within months, and many more would die of disease in the coming years.

    I agree about the importance of helping our own people, and about not interfering in the affairs of other nations. But I just don’t see this as relevant to whether or not we speak out when a monstrous crime is being committed, or whether or not we send some of our resources to help the least fortunate.

    All I have to say is Darfur…

    It’s an interesting example, Damien. The U.S. has made tremendous efforts to resolve that conflict. How would you propose that we do more, without violating Black Sentinel’s rule against imposing our will on another country by force? (Or do you disagree with her about that?)

    (We are far too selective in whom we help, I’ll agree with that! And it started by not doing enough, quickly enough, in places like Rwana and Darfur.)

    I love this Blog!!

    It’s easily one of the best out here, isn’t it?

  11. James,

    I feel that we need to work from the inside out, not the outside in. I don’t propose that we horde money in each state. I propose that we help those in our neighborhoods or neighborhoods with less. Then when the deed is done, help those in the entire city if still necessary. Then help those in the entire state if necessary. Then as the state is a better place move on to other states and help them because we know that some states are richer than others.

    Then work our way out into the world. I don’t propose we never give to anyone at anytime. I feel that we need to make sure we are taken care of first. And I do agree with Damien that since we do have a foreign aid policy that it should better select who and how they help.

    I propose the same policy that we have in our own homes. We feed our families first then donate afterwards. It would work pretty well if we ALL did this. Only we are not a socially minded nation. At least when it comes to those IN our nation.

    Thanks for the reply.

  12. Phillip M Bailey,

    I did see that crap and it made my ears steam. I thought about doing a post to wag my finger in the face of all those that come to this blog and tell me that racism is dead. I wanted to say “I thought blacks were keeping themselves down.”

    I am just angry but not surprised at all. Brotherpeacemaker did a quick post on it. But I don’t think I am going to do a post specifically to that. I am going to be doing a post that incorporates it and other things about these racist states.

    Thanks for the heads up.

  13. One thing I would add to the huge Katrina debacle, is that due to a broader lack of coverage, it is lesser known that the majority of the delays and complications in providing assistance to New Orleans and elsewhere in Louisiana were complications of the state government and governor Blanco at the time. The way things are set up (in order that the federal government does not overstep the line of state’s rights-how selective we are in deciding when and how this works is beyond me), is that the State government has to specifically authorize the federal government to come into the state. Until that point, it is the state and local emergency response teams that can operate. The state did declare an official emergency, thus bringing out the National Guard, who was under orders to turn down Red Cross volunteer teams, church mission groups and swarms of other volunteers. However (no matter your views on our current president) the blame seems to go on the administration of the White House regardless of truth behind the matter.
    And amazingly enough, equally poor Mississippi, without FEMA aid, depsite a more direct hit by Katrina, recovered rather quickly, through less gov’t level egos, and well organized grassroots efforts to recover and rebuild…by no means a paradise, but far better off than they could have been.

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