Rogue States & Regional Governance

I’ve been thinking a lot about Burma and Zimbabwe. Here you have two of the most oppressive, self-aggrandizing governments in the world and neither the U.S. not the United Nations appears to be able to do anything to really change the situation. The problems of rogue governments seems to resist even the most multilateral sorts of intervention. The resistance is a mixture of regional pride mixed with fear of U.S. meddling. Once America had a reputation for multilateral cooperation, but that perished with the promulgation of the Bush Doctrine of unilateral intervention. In Zimbabwe, Mugabe’s thugs control the streets while South Africa’s Thabo Mbeki resists U.S. pressure based on the principal of regional sovereignty. In Burma, The Generals refuse to let western aid workers into the country, again on the principal of regional sovereignty.

Perhaps it is time for a new era of regional alliances in Asia, Africa, Europe, the Mid East and the Americas to deal with Kleptocracies? What if we went to China, Japan, Singapore and Korea and said “we’re willing to provide you with aid for Burma, but only with your willingness to deal with a rogue regime at the regional level?” We could say the same to the South Africans. “Mugabe is your problem. Here is some assistance. Deal with it.”

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0 Responses to Rogue States & Regional Governance

  1. P. Cross says:

    Now this disaster is our fault? Oh! thats right I forgot about the bases we are building in Indonesia as a result of the aid we provided them after the tsunami.

    They are Despots pure and simple. They only care about power not people. I do see a parallel though.

  2. ravenscawl says:

    “US, British Oil Corporations Tied To Myanmar Human
    Rights Abuses”
    ~by Danielle Knight~

    Need more?

  3. Hugo says:

    OK. Bill Clinton, America’s First Boor. But this situation gives me the most unexpected longing for the days of the Clinton presidency, when the military was free enough—and the thinking clear enough—to put e.g. USAF Recon in there tonight, preparatory to our taking care of the situation in a few days from now, with our naval and airborne assets already in the region. I’d like to see us in and out of there, and leaving the Tidy Diaper Nations to clean up the mess and foot the bill for it. I’ll give that foul man, Bill Clinton, this: he’d have had the operation going by now.

    Besides, what’s stopping the world’s favorite neutral, La France, from deploying the bloody Legion Etrangere and just taking care of it?

    Wouldn’t it be just dreamy were the Indians and Pakistanis to get together—I said, get together—and just HANDLE THIS?

    It’s on London’s conscience anyway. Do they care about that subsection of the Kingdom, or is it all just kangaroos to them?

    I’m sorry. I get a wee bit tiresome on the subject of cartilagenous world “leeeeeederrrrrrrrsssss.”

  4. Fentex says:

    The nations you suggest putting pressure on demonstratively do not care overly much as they don’t currently go out of their way to undermine these kleptocracies.

    And why should they? Most people find it work and expense enough to govern themselves. Generally they can find something to gift the needy but no sane person wants to empty their own treasury to attempt the imposition of their social order elsewhere.

    Stand ready to help, lead by example, prove by history your success, advise and perhaps gently prod.

    My fantasy solution, were I determined to try and change the order of Burma is gather my billions, buy an island in the Caribbean (or elsewhere), visit the generals and make this proposition: Here’s one billion dollars each and a safe harbour to live comfortably on for ever. Our navy will patrol and protect you from vengeance. Sell me your authority. No? Here’s two billion each…

  5. Hugo says:

    Yeah, you’re right, of course. I just couldn’t help mocking them. Mocking US. What’s the point, anyway. The United States of America makes a mockery of the United States of America, and all those other pusilanimous, duplicitous so-called sovereign nations do the same. What’s the point.

    Send Jimmy Carter. Send Jesse Jackson or Bill Richardson or for that matter, Ralph Reed or Bill Maher or Miley whatshername. What the hell. Who cares. Might as well wear the lampshade while we’re at it.

    Another whole country is going to die, in the next few weeks but mostly in the next few days, while we dither and say nice things about ourselves.

    Besides, we’ve got our hands full. What can we do?

  6. Ken Ballweg says:

    What can we do? More than we will.

    What we will do is let people die, because it’s never totally about morality. Our history of using force to help is very racially divided. We don’t use military force to help non-white races unless they have a resource we need that is being disrupted by the violence. Then we invade while making it all about “democracy.”


  7. P. Cross says:

    Nuts and bolts, gas and oil, computers and paper products, autos and tires, on and on and on, I could go back to the horse and buggy, could you? Actually I’m getting a little old for it, but I could survive.

    The vast majority of the lefties I know are so dependent on somebody else for their sustenance, their existence it really puzzles me, their myopic view of how the world works.

    What are you going to do when you can’t get batteries for you prius, or chain oil for your bike? I am no lover of corporations but I do know that without them right now we would be communicating with smoke signals. Does anyone know the meaning of “Dude”? Hint # 1, something to do with emptying a boot.

    I remember the bar owner in “High Plains Drifter” he was mortified when he realized that he was included in the deal that he had agreed to and promoted.

    Want to be constructive, how about how to make corporations, business and congress more responsible. Not how to increase and share the burden but how to reduce the burden with shared responsibility.

  8. John Hurt says:

    “The vast majority of lefties I know…”

    This guy apparently knows a lot of lefties. I think we are all a little better off for this insight.

  9. P. Cross says:

    John Hurt; I wish I could say they all have that same air of smugness and condescension, but they seem to have a little more imagination and usually have a more intelligent responses.

  10. John Hurt says:

    Who’s that?

  11. MS says:

    DUPLICATE POST (in case the web links didn’t work the other way, removed the in this post):

    Ways to help the People of Burma

    The deadly Cyclone Nargis has devastated Rangoon and other parts of Burma (Mynemar). Reports today say that some aid is entering the country (though U.S. flights are still being refused).

    A friend who is active in the region recommends these organizations where you can make donations and offer help:

    Foundation for the People of Burma (The group my friend organized in the U.S., Burma Village Assistance Project sends money to the tribal regions through FPB)

    Relief International (An effective, small relief organization that my friend’s daughter has worked with)

    Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders), Holland (A journalist friend who lived in Burma for several years wrote: “The on-the-ground group that is getting relief to people as I write is MSF Holland – they are professional and practical.”)

    US Campaign for Burma (You can also take action here and send a message to the UN pressuring them to force aid inside Burma.)

    Burmese American Democratic Alliance

    For more information on the cyclone’s impact and the initial relief efforts, see New York Times: “A Challenge Getting Relief to Myanmar’s Remote Areas.”

    This is the press release from the Foundation for the People of Burma:

    Foundation for the People of Burma Launches Relief and Rebuilding Efforts after Deadly Cyclone

    San Francisco – May 5, 2008 – Thanks for your concern for the people of Burma. We are actively organizing relief and rebuilding efforts and your support will help us to reach those who really need it.

    Cyclone Nargis has devastated many parts of Rangoon, Burma’s largest city as well as the populated, low land areas of the Delta region. The most recent reports claim the death tool may exceed 10,000 and early reports believe tens of thousands more have been left homeless after 120 mph winds and pounding rain wreaked havoc on the city of already substandard housing, poor sewage and limited infrastructure.

    As FPB has worked in specific communities in Rangoon and southern Burma for many years, we are positioned to quickly address needs in targeted areas.

    FPB’s immediate response to the disaster will focus on working with our project partners in Rangoon and on the Thai-Burma border to organize and financially support emergency supplies and services. Given reports from our friends in Burma that food supplies are low, prices are astronomical, and safe drinking water is difficult to access, our current efforts include:

    · Providing food and materials to monasteries/shelters for the newly homeless population in a neighborhood in central Rangoon
    · Supporting the emergency supply and distribution of water filters
    · Assisting the efforts of our partners on the Thai-Burma border to purchase rice at fair market prices in Thailand and ship it to the affected areas
    · Support for Burmese doctors and nurses that have offered their assistance and are currently visiting monasteries/shelters to provide care for the wounded and surveillance to prevent disease outbreak

    We will explore the feasibility of longer term interventions as our understanding of the situation develops.

    We have begun channeling funds to our partners as of May 5, 2008. FPB will accept a finite amount of total financial donations based on the estimated capacity of our partners to provide immediate relief and extended support.

    Please help to put some of the pieces back together. Donations can be made via the Foundation for Burma website or by check or money order to Foundation for the People of Burma, 225 Bush Street Suite 590, San Francisco, CA 94104
    For questions please call (415) 217-7015 or email to

    (If you donate to the Foundation for the People of Burma above and think it appropriate, write BVAP for my friend’s organization, the Burma Village Assistance Project, on your check.)

    My friend also writes that her 20-something daughter gave money to a relief fund for Burma in her name, as a Mother’s Day gift:

    As a mother’s day gift, my daughter just gave money to Relief International for Burma in my name, as below.

    In case you haven’t had a chance to follow the reports, Burma (one of the most interesting and beautiful countries I’ve ever visited) was hit by cyclone Nargis last weekend. The death toll has now topped 100,000, and millions more have lost their homes. The major problem right now is lack of clean water and food.

    Having trouble deciding what to do for mother’s day, my daughter realized that she could help the victims of the cyclone in my name.

    She just gave a donation to Relief International (a small, effective organization she worked with on her Darfur project) as a Mother’s Day gift. On their site, you can donate in honor of someone, and Relief International will send them an acknowledgment. There is also space to write a message to that person.

    Another way you can help is by sending a message to the UN pressuring them to force aid inside Burma:
    US Campaign for Burma.

  12. John Hurt says:

    Oh wait. I think I get it.

    It sounds as if I should consider becoming a leftie.

    But why would anyone, even a leftie, waste any imagination or intelligence on a response? And anyway, lacking either imagination or intelligence, I prefer to remain desultory. And, if you were not being confessional, smug and condescending.

  13. P. Cross says:

    Oh! I see a switch hitter

  14. P. Cross says:

    Euro’s on the capital, enough to keep the generals busy, rice on the coast. I like it.

    Our government doesn’t respect our property rights either, so why not.

  15. Morgan Warstler says:

    Rick from your article,

    “A turning point of sorts came in 1996 when a Sudanese diplomat by the name of Francis M. Deng, troubled about–of all things–the resistance of some nations to efforts to provide their people with humanitarian assistance, published a book entitled Sovereignty as Responsibility. Deng argued that if a government does not protect its own people, it forfeits its right to sovereignty; in other words, that sovereignty was not absolute, but on the contrary, conditional. In order for sovereignty to be respected, a nation had to be good citizen of the international community.”

    It doesn’t take some silly global government thinking to reach the same conculsion. We call it invasion. Invasion happens when a nation either on its own or with its alliances is unable to protect itself. And the first best way for a regime to protect itself, is to keep its people happy.

    But yes I agree. Also I approve of Eva sucking her toes.

  16. Jon Taplin says:

    Rick Turner- The problem with bombing Burma with rice is that the guys with guns (the warlords) always end up getting hold of all the rice, the 10 bushel bags, at the point of a gun.

    To all- I was not clear enough in the intial post what I was getting at. Since the UN already has all the mechanism for assistance in place, what is needed is a series of UN Regional Security Councils (Europe, Asia, Africa, the Mid East and the Americas) that can intervene in local natural disasters (Burma) or election disputes (Zimbabwe). The problem with the current UN Security Council is there are too many countries capable of a veto, on stricly their own interest (such as China on the Darfur matter), rather than the general interest of the Region. If these regional sub-councils could create and fund regional solutions without having to to to the whole Security Council for approval. Obviously above a certain bar of cost, effect, etc a decision would have tto be referred to the UN Secuity Council.

    These are just ideas in progress in my thinking and I’m obviously enjoying the feedback on this string.

  17. P. Cross says:

    It’s interesting that the American Indians felt that if you were able to steal a horse it was because the owner wasn’t protecting it properly.

    Shame on the owner not the thief so to speak.

    The whites eyes never did embrace this philosophy. Just a little misunderstanding.

  18. Morgan Warstler says:

    Careful P.C., that kind of stuff undermines the myth…

    Jon, you expect far too much from the UN. The best thing they can do is HIRE the US and her new systems based military to go in kill the bad guys and spread around the rice.

  19. Jon Taplin says:

    P. Cross- I assume your post was in answer to my previous comment. I personally am not interested in returning to the days of the OK Corral and keeping your horses from the Indians. I have studied warlordism in Asia, Africa and the Mid East. Fire Power trumps democracy. Its really ugly.

    Morgan’s ideas, that you just invade when a regime pisses you off has just been proven wrong once again by history. This philosophy, pushed by Robert Kagan, Bill Kristol, Doug Feith and company has brought us to the current debacle.

    After the election the new regime (of whatever party) should formally reject the Bush Doctrine by the issuance of a new National Security Doctrine to tell the world that “the times they are a changin” in America. I know John McCain is advised by the same neocon hawks like Kagan that were Cheney and Rumsfeld’s “brains”. So there is no way he can turn his back on the Bush Doctrine. But I am sure that Obama will do something like that.

    As a community, we owe it raise ideas that could be part of a new way of thinking about these issues.

  20. Morgan Warstler says:

    Jon, excuse me but WTF? I prefer you read what I write and respond to it, no more, no less.

    What I said is based on 4000 years of history. Nation states exist because they are able to protect their borders. The point of Rick’s article was “Sovereignty,” – and in case you didn’t click the link and go read it – I copied key paragraph because we already have, based on 4000 years of history, a mechanism to help force leaders to be decent for their people.

    EVERY leader has had to wonder, “If the hordes invade, will my people stand up for me?” This question has historically gotten more done for the world’s people, than any stupid liberal reason now being espoused to justify silly “UN” aid efforts…

    It is what it is. Despots are MORE likely when they don’t fear invasion.

    Argue against that, or agree.

  21. Fentex says:

    Nation states are a quite recent phenomenon in 4000 years of history. Loyalty before them was more likely to be to clan, city or monarch.

    Jon’s idea that the U.N is too cumbersome because it requires consent to move so breaking it’s activities down into geographical constituencies seems reasonable.

    But one still can’t expect too much of the U.N. I’ve never understood why anyone thinks the U.N should be an organization able to coerce nations. Given no nation would join an organization on the premise that to do so is to cede sovereignty it shouldn’t be hard to keep in mind that it’s a just a talk shop – a place where opinions are aired and arguments hashed out.

    Then occassionally agreements and treaties signed.

    The idea that it has some kind of executive authority (let alone power) to make lethal decisions is a nonsense.

    But if nations were to try and work within the U.N to act decisively breaking responsibilities down to regional level makes considerable sense as it would remove a considerable amount of distracting game playing and irrelevant posturing.

    But a problem with such ideas are how to choose membership of regional clubs. The U.S for example likes to have a presence everywhere, will they keep out of Asian issues? African issues? Or perhaps even Middle East issues?

  22. P. Cross says:

    Jon actually it was following Ricks line. It wasn’t about stolen horses it was about protecting soverienty and whose responsibility it is.

    If we belief that the UN will act in the best interest of mankind or the US, shame on us. We should have sent them on their way a long time ago.

  23. Rick Turner says:

    What is sovereignty, and who has rights to it? Who grants those rights? When might those rights be considered obsolete? (often…) What are the rights of the individual more important than those of a self-proclaimed government?

    As for who gets aid packages and keeping it out of the hands of the guys with the guns…if rice were packaged in five or ten pound bags with appropriately sized parachutes, a plane could “bomb” a swath a mile wide and ten long with thousands of aid packages…and do it from 35,000 feet in the air.

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