Friday, September 28, 2007

Buddha and the Beast

When it comes to questions of whether the forces of equality, justice, freedom, peace, and love will prevail over those of brutality, war, exploitation, inequality, fear, hypocrisy, and hate I am at once an unregenerate pessimist and an incorrigible Romantic. I long for the good guys to win; I know in my soul they will not--and shall leave it to the genetic determinists to call it my Germanic soul. Nonetheless, the people of Burma have whatever prayers I can offer to the gods , the fates, the great karmic wheel. I would like to see the day soon when Aung San Suu Kyi walks free of house arrest and at the head of a throng of people receives the surrender of the generals. That would be revolutionary. That would remind the world that revolution must come from the oppressed people themselves. It cannot be imposed from above, no matter the claims of the Bushites. Sadly when moral leadership is sorely needed, the U.S. has none to provide--not that it's had much in Southeast Asia since the end of WW II. But now it has none, less than zer0, thanks the Emperor Boy George, who has squandered it all in Iraq and Afghanistan and his systematic violations of human rights and the Geneva Conventions.

That leaves as the big players--because of their economic investments--China, India, and Russia. China has its own problems with Tibet's Buddhists and so can hardly be expected to desire the monks to prevail in a showdown with corrupt rulers. But China also can't want to be seen as playing even a passive role in the slaughter of monks, nuns, and unarmed people, especially with the Olympics looming on the horizon, especially if conversation turns to boycott. Russia --well, Russia. That leaves India, which by all accounts, has forgotten its own history. Probably the best that can be done--and it is not insubstantial is telling the Burmese generals that their window of opportunity for enjoying their riches in retirement is short--on the order of one day. They leave and the accounts stay open until the new Burmese government comes after them, or they stay, and their accounts are closed, the proceeds placed in escrow against the day the Burmese people need it. Perhaps, the Chinese, knowing their coming out party is at stake, will deliver the message.

Dream on!

The BBC coverage has been riveting, and Seth Mydans for the New York Times has been rock solid as usual. But the journalistic moment belongs to the bloggers, the people taking video with their cell phones, the very "amateur" reporters certain moguls of the mainstream media like to deride, even while they are reliant on them for the same kind of accounts eyewitnesses, for all their [un]reliability have long provided. But today it is clear that the generals have decided to pull the plug on internet and cell phone transmissions. The generals have hunkered down, pretending the world doesn't exist. What abbout those bank accounts?

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