My November letter to the P-C is written... it's on Burmese democracy and can be read on the website
. (I am greatly indebted to NC, as you can see I based the letter largely on my conversation with him...)
GS: I have seen some analysts claim that the United States supports the freedom of the Burmese people for no other reason than that we have no vested interest in Burma. Is this true -- would Burmese freedom help America, or was this a minor PR stunt like the much larger one we had in Somalia many years ago?
NC: If by "United States" you mean the US government, then it's hard to imagine that the support, such as it is, goes beyond cynicism. Note incidentally that the support doesn't extend to pressuring Chevron, Rice's former company, from continuing to do business in Burma. A side issue, not discussed, is that the US played a significant role in the destruction of Burmese democracy. Discussed by the founder of Southeast Asian scholarship in the US, George Kahin, in a co-authored book with Audrey Kahin, called, I think, Subversion as Foreign Policy, or something like that.
GS: I have added this book to my holiday wishlist. I was able to quickly find many sources regarding the Rice-Chevron-Burma connection, but not so much on Eisenhower or Dulles (the focus of the Kahin book). Do you happen to know their primary role offhand? I write a monthly current events piece for the local newspaper and I think this story warrants further attention.
NC: It's not a major topic of Kahin & Kahin, but they do bring up the fact that Eisenhower's extreme interventionist policies were a factor, maybe a prime factor, in the military coup that overthrew the parliamentary system, by stirring up tribal rebellions as part of the efforts to harass China. But look it up. This is from ten-year old memories, and I'd check before writing anything.
GS: You've given me enough information that I can probably dig up sources. I'm still surprised the "alternative media" (such as The Nation or The Progressive) seemed to avoid discussion of Burma altogether. This would have been a prime opportunity to speak in favor of democracy and to denounce Secretary Rice. Oh well...