By Kanbawza Win
Pardon me, if two screws are loose on the upper story of my body, if I were to think out aloud of why the so called the Free World is so timid of the big authoritarian countries and refused to help the Burmese pro-democratic forces, which is resolutely fighting tooth and nail against the occupational army with whatever available weapons. Now a days in Burma, the word Tatmadaw is pronounced Thatmadaw in Burmese meaning never satisfied of killings its own people. That is possible only because the two huge super-power, totalitarian countries of China and Russia has encouraged and armed the Tatmadaw with the latest modern arms all these years.
I hope that my logic would be wrong, because I construed that the people of the Free World thought that these two countries’ nuclear arsenals are far more superior then that of the Judeo Christian countries of the world, or perhaps the totalitarian countries’ armies are too strong, or most likely is their combines population and economy is far superior than the Free World, and wittingly or unwittingly the civilized world is destined to follow One Belt One Road, (一带一路) a global infrastructure development strategy adopted by the Chinese government in 2013 to invest in 70 countries and international organizations. In that is the case, the Free World values will likely to be measured by the economic barometer and accepted, the formidable Xi Jingping, the paramount leader of not only China but of the world. Yes, He is the General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and Chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC) since 2012, and President of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) since 2013. In other words, according to Alexandra Selkirk “I am the monarch of all I survey”. Like it or not the leaders of Judeo-Christian world will be submitting to the Xi’s “Major Country Diplomacy” (大国外交) strategy, which calls for China to assume a greater leadership role in global affairs, in accordance with its rising power and status. For sure, human rights violations and environmental impact not to mention the debt-trap diplomacy, neocolonialism, and economic imperialism, will have to take the back seat. Is this the kind of world we want to leave it to our children?
One must note, that the current Burmese generals are trying their level best and will be very proud of entering the New Guinness Books of World Records as the only country is the world that has an army of more than three million, battle harden soldiers who fought its own people for 65 years (1947 to 2022) using its air power supplied by none other than Russia, who itself is now shamelessly fighting against its immediate neighbour Ukraine. The imperial Russian forces has proven by actions that Karl Marx’s theory of Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism is entirely wrong, and that the Russian version of Imperialism the highest stage of Communism is right. At least, one admirer of this newfound version of theory happens to be Burma, whose army is now fighting tooth and nail against its own people and is endeavouring to break the world record of a hundred-year civil war bythe War of the Roses by the British in 1455.
So also the current Burmese General Min Aung Hlaing (MAL) is also mighty proud of his achievements and is secretly preparing to enter a new modern world record holder in the Guiness Books of Records as the leader of the longest civil world in the entire modern history of the World and hence is determined to maintain his power by hook or by crook to break the longest history of the War of Roses setting up a new record and perhaps even surpass his mentor, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin. With this end in view, we virtualise the people residing in Southeast Asia, which is one of the most densely populated area of the world, will have no choice but be compelled to choose between Russia and the US and not with the Free World and the Chinese economic imperialism under the pretext of One Belt One Road.
On the other hand, one must remember that most of the Southeast Asia countries are former colonial countries of the West and naturally are anti-imperialists. Obviously, one could not expect clients of Russian arms like Burma, Laos, Cambodia, or Vietnam to take a stand against Russia. This clearly means that the focus was not on the sufferings, loss of lives and destruction of Ukraine determining stands taken. The human condition was not decisive and determining but international politics, and its dependencies and ideology. The lesson that can be drawn is that such a war could also happen in Southeast Asia and most probably in the South China Sea opposing big China towards the other smaller Southeast Asian countries’ claimants. An unwarranted, unplanned incident on the high seas could ignite a war. In that case ASEAN countries will be compelled to choose China or the US. How will that divided ASEAN countries maintain the line of not being caught between China and the US? Will giving in to China’s demands in precipitation be the way to have that peace? What compromise can be reached without being caught between two big powers? It has always been very clear in my mind of the importance of ASEAN in bringing together the countries of Southeast Asia to go beyond divisions, conflicting self-interests and had succeeded until now peace in Southeast Asia. It will be sad to see war in the South China Sea with the entry of big China into the scene without forgetting big US which has been there since a long time and which the Southeast Asian countries have long depended for their security.
The common trait of thinking of Russo-Ukraine War is that, will there be hotspots in Asia that is connected to big China, is this basal human conditioning of greed? That since humans became sedentary possession of territory has been the law/principle/norm of the day whether it is house, garden or a landmass. In every case of a hotspot over territory, history has always been brought in for claims. History has explained, but it should not be the determinant, the source of a solution for a present-day solution to a dispute. It is for the people, the population of the present day to decide what the solution is. Putin or anyone else can produce the history of Russia and Ukraine but it is the Ukrainians of today who decide if they want to be part of Russia. The same applies to Taiwan. There is a history of Taiwan being a part of China which cannot be denied but it is for the Taiwanese of today to decide if they want to be part of China or not. It is not for China to lay claims to Southeast Asia islets, reefs …with history nor is it for the other claimants also to use history but that this whole area of islets and what else has to be decided by the Law of Sea but if they cannot be settled in this way then all these islets, bits, belong to no country and become parts of the world’s commons. Simple as that. We do not see need to dispute, to go to war to end peace. This is idealistic with the urge to possess and hence it is up to have the encourage, the political will to withdraw claims and let the South China Sea to be part of the world’s common.
Analysts, those who are against American imperialism and past European colonialism and neo-colonialism rightly so never also recognize this basal greed and possession when it comes to the other side of the divide i.e., Russia and China nor for that matter recognize the greed of the US and the European powers. Justice does not come into the picture. Without justice there cannot be peace? The analysis is on the lines of hegemony, imperialism, balance of power, sphere of influence, Cold War and post-Cold war, history, black and white, good, and evil, autocracy versus democracy, a polarization mentality, the “other” etc. Seldom it is pointed too this human condition of desire, greed, possessive spirit, selfishness which I think is at the core of everything which needs to be overcome, gone beyond, reformed, eradicated. Not to be accepted as natural when the dictum is that change is the only constant and hence what is considered as natural, human nature can change. Hence then the change of mentality to achieve peace not only in the world but in oneself. It is the condition that come into the picture because on the ground the sufferers are ordinary people when war breaks out and the ensuing internal displaced persons or refugees.
I understand that President Joe Biden will meet with Southeast Asian leaders in Washington for a special U.S.-ASEAN summit next month amid tensions in the South China Sea, divisions among members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations over its response to the crisis in post-coup Myanmar, and the lack of a collective condemnation by the ASEAN bloc of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine compared to a stark contrast to the West’s condemnation of it. No doubt during this historic meeting, the Leaders of ASEAN and the United States will chart the future direction of ASEAN-U.S. relations and seek to further enhance strategic partnership for the mutual benefits of the peoples of ASEAN and the United States. The question is how will it decide on Burma? It is already one and a half year old crisis that a member of ASEAN had bombed and burned swathes of the country to quell resistance to the military’s overthrow of an elected government in February 2021. Even when ASEAN envoy Prak Sokhonn came for a three-day visit to Burma, despite its pledge to grant him access to all political stakeholders, he was refused to see Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, despite the promise General MAL () has made to the ASEAN leaders as part of a Five-Point Consensus to end the political crisis in Burma. This explicitly proved that lying the very concept of truth is but one of the cardinal principles of the Burmese Tatmadaw since its founding was still maintained.