Saturday, May 10, 2008

Myanmar's Disgraceful Military

It ain't quite Madison Avenue yet, but you can't blame a bunch militaristic narcissists for trying. The junta in Myanmar, fresh after confiscating UN shipments of desperately needed supplies while still thwarting other massive relief efforts, began distributing the confiscated food rations today to a population that stands on the brink of total disaster--with the names of prominent generals plastered all over the boxes.

Myanmar's military is a perfect example of absolute power corrupting absolutely.

When hurricane Katrina hit off the gulf coast, it was America's civilian led military that carried the day. While lawyerly bureaucrats at the local, state and federal levels spent precious hours casting blame on each other, America's armed forces were scooping up survivors. As parked empty school buses succumbed to the rising water of a broken levee, the Coast Guard was in action. As Louisiana's state officials refused to give water to people at the Super Dome out of a desire to drive the stranded refugees further inland, the national guard was distributing food and water. As federal officials tried desperately to figure out a way to make it appear as if they were doing at least something, General Russell Honoré cut through the red tape of government and made things happen. All of this, presumably, without anyone in our military plastering their names on food rations in an attempt to achieve a hero's lofty status.

Our civilian military is in love with this country. The sacrifices of our men and women that don the uniform in this and previous generations while seeking little or no personal fame, prove this.

Myanmar's military led government uses its might for another purpose--to hang on to power. It's need for dominance over the populace has eclipsed any desire those military men ever had for its people--it would rather rule absolutely (and famously) over a starving and diseased wracked people than to sit anonymously amongst a healing population.

There are many times when we, if we take a little time to pay attention, can see the value of liberty to the citizens of a nation, and the value of a competent, civilian-led military that is dedicated to that liberty. Sadly, perhaps the easiest time to notice all of this is when it is juxtaposed to people dying by the tens of thousands, just so sociopath generals have ample time to slap their John Henrys on a few biscuits.

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