As Fig Leaf
By Ghali Hassan
Once again, the drums of “humanitarianism” invasion are beating, as Western media and Western politicians began the familiar propaganda against Burma (Myanmar). Devastated by Cyclone Nargis in the Irrawaddy Delta and U.S.-imposed economic sanctions, Myanmar qualifies for U.S.-sponsored ‘Shock and Awe’ terrorism. The record shows that Western “humanitarianism” has nothing to do with humanitarian aid, but much to do with Western imperialism.
While Myanmar’s refusal to accept Western military infringe on its sovereignty disguised as “humanitarian” aid is entirely justified, the Myanmar’s government has accepted (in ‘non-military’ ways) genuine aid from many other nations, including India, China, Bangladesh, Laos and Italy. Myanmar has also agreed to its Southeast Asian neighbours help coordinate foreign relief assistance. According to Asia Times, despite the suffering, the people of Myanmar support their government’s position and refused to bend to Western crumbs.
The Myanmar government rightly accused Washington and its Western allies of using the disaster as a pretext to seize the geostrategicaly important and resources-rich nation. From Australia to France, right-wing politicians and hypocrites are crying-wolf for “humanitarian invasion”, blaming the death toll and devastation caused by the Cyclone on the Myanmar government’s refusal to allow Western aid – with criminal conditions attached – and open its border to U.S. military officials and “aid” agencies, as proposed by policymakers in Washington, where the U.S.-controlled World Bank has just rejected Myanmar’s application for aid loan.
French foreign minister, Bernard Kouchner, a devotee of U.S. imperialism with an appetite for “humanitarian” violence has called for an invasion of Myanmar under what Western governments call “responsibility to protect” regardless of Myanmar objection. Kouchner told French radio; “What we need to bring is hand-to-hand, heart-to-heart help, not donor conferences with all their bowing and scraping”. This is the same Kouchner who advocated U.S.-NATO criminal war of aggression against the Republic of Yugoslavia. "Since he came to our southern province [as UN administrator of Kosovo], Bernard Kouchner has, by commission or omission and together with UNMIK and the international force KFor [Kosovo Force], been the perpetrator of or an accessory to numerous crimes punishable under the laws of Yugoslavia and its republic of Serbia," said Dragoljub Jankovic, the Serbian Justice Minister. Kouchner, the “humanitarian” turned opportunist politician has never shyed away from supporting the murderous invasion and Occupation of Iraq on “humanitarian” grounds.
If the U.S. and Western politicians are serious about protecting vulnerable people from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity, the best place to start is to stop Western-perpetuated wars and criminal interventions, including military intervention. Iraq, Palestine, Somalia and Afghanistan are just few examples, where Western-made disasters have killed and injured millions of innocent civilians, and caused unimaginable suffering to the population there.
More than five years after the illegal invasion and Occupation of Iraq by the U.S. and it allies, an estimated 1.3 million Iraqi civilians have been killed, more than 4.5 millions are refugees living in squalor camps. An entire nation is deliberately looted and destroyed in the name of Western “humanitarianism”. Hundreds of innocent Iraqis are killed daily by U.S. occupying forces and their collaborators, a deliberate genocide. They majority of Iraqis (16 million) are still relying on monthly food rations established under the late president Saddam Hussein during the 13-years long genocidal sanctions. The same Western media and politicians who supported the illegal aggression and genocide in Iraq are now calling for intervention in Myanmar on “humanitarian” grounds. The ongoing U.S. murderous Occupation stands as a reminder of Western moral bankruptcy and hypocrisy. Today, Iraq is the largest U.S.-run Gulag, a torture centre holding hundreds of thousands of defenceless, innocent Muslims.
In Palestine, the Israeli military siege of Gaza – backed by the U.S. and its Western allies – is a crime against humanity. The population of “a million and a half human beings are being imprisoned with almost no access to the outside world by sea, air, or land. An entire population is being brutally punished”, said former U.S. President, Jimmy Carter. The ongoing siege of Gaza “has restricted access to food, water and medicine is now beginning to hit unborn children and newborn babies”, reported IPS News on 20 May 2008. For 60 years, the U.S. and its Western allies have unconditionally supported the murderous Zionist regime in Israel deliberate and systematic destruction of the Palestinian people and their nation.
The U.S.-sponsored invasion of Somalia by Ethiopian mercenaries under U.S. air cover has turned the impoverished country into a human tragedy. According to Amnesty International, more than 600,000 Somali civilians have fled their homes, more than 6,000 have been killed and 90,000 children in refugee camps are in danger of death from starvation and lack of hygiene and medical care. "The people of Somalia are being killed, raped, tortured; looting is widespread and entire neighbourhoods are being destroyed," said Michelle Kagari, Africa Programme Deputy Director at Amnesty International. The Ethiopian mercenaries – the enemies of the Somali people – were armed, trained and financed by the U.S. government.
Six years after the invasion of Afghanistan by the U.S. and it Western allies, the country is a humanitarian disaster today. Human-made hunger and starvation are destroying generation of Afghan children. In addition, thousands of innocent civilians have been killed by indiscriminate bombing by Western forces. According to the New York Times; Afghanistan Capital, “Kandahar still only has enough electricity for a maximum of six hours in every 48. Bad roads, open sewage systems, and a lack of drinking water are seen in the city as inconveniences very low down on the list of complaints. Kidnapping, banditry and police corruption rank much higher.” Pakistani media sources revealed that; “6.6 million Afghans do not meet their minimum food requirements, 60,000 children in Afghanistan are addicted to drugs and another 100,000 are disabled or severely affected physically due to prolonged conflicts in the country”. Since the U.S.-Western invasion, Afghanistan is now the largest opium producing in the world. Cultivation of opium has increased dramatically since the invasion. The area under cultivation has increased from 8,000 hectares in 2001 to 165,000 hectares in 2007. Currently Afghanistan is producing 92 per cent of total world’s supply of opium. Media sources revealed that the CIA is the primary beneficiary of this increase in opium cultivation.
Meanwhile, Western media and politicians are comparing the response of Myanmar to the devastation brought by Cyclone Nigris in the Irrawaddy Delta with the Chinese response to the earthquake in China’s Sichuan Province. The comparison is misleading and designed to appease the Chinese authoritarian regime while demonising the military regime in Myanmar. Despite its lack of resources and its economic strangulation by Western-imposed sanctions, Myanmar did a good job, helping its people and protecting its sovereignty under disastrous conditions.
Finally, it is appropriate to compare the Myanmar government response to Cyclone Nigris with that of the current George W. Bush government response to Hurricane Katrina devastation of New Orleans. Despite disorganisation and lack of planning, the U.S. government refused to accept aid from Cuba, Venezuela, Mexico, France, Germany and Russia. Radio Pacifica reported that U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency or FEMA and Homeland Security refused to allow aid efforts and volunteers to enter the city. Thousands of residents who forced to leave are still unable to return to their homes in New Orleans.
While disasters are difficult to prevent, they are short lived, imperialism-made disaster are deliberate, long-lasting and must be resisted. We now know that Western humanitarianism is a fig leaf for Western-made disasters. It is Myanmar vast natural resources and geostrategic position that the U.S.-led Western imperialism cares about, not the people of Myanmar.
Ghali Hassan is an independent writer living in Australia.