Thursday, August 07, 2008

It’s not easy to go from a very fierce military one-man rule to democracy


In Thailand, after having lunch with Burmese activists, Bush held an interview with Voice of America, the BBC, Radio Free Asia and the Democratic Voice of Burma on the subject of his intense interest in the situation in Burma. He demonstrated his level of interest by calling Aung San Suu Kyi “Aung Suu San Kyi,” twice, and not even attempting to name the guy running the country except as “the general” or “the military leader,” as in “We have been tough, because we believe that the General -- the General -- has been very stubborn in not allowing certain freedoms, and we believe that’s wrong.” Two names, George, that’s all you had to memorize.

IN OTHER WORDS: “But I don’t think it would have been helpful for the Burmese people had there been a conflict over the delivery of aid. What we don’t want to do is compound a terrible situation. In other words, if we just sent in -- sent people in, our military in without visas or permission from the government, there’s no telling what the reaction would have been.”

Why did “the general” respond so badly to the cyclone? “I think his reaction was -- is because he was in denial to a certain extent about the realities on the ground.” Imagine what that must be like.


NO WAND-WAVING: “I wish there was a magic wand to wave; there isn’t.”


IN OTHER WORDS: “You know, one of the things that obviously the people involved in the democracy movement have got to think through is how do you get from here to there. In other words, it’s not easy to go from a very fierce military one-man rule to democracy.”

WHAT THEY WOULD DO IF THEY WERE INTERESTED IN DEMOCRACY: “They have proved they’re not interested in democracy. If they’re interested in democracy, they’d let the prisoners out of prison, for starters. The political prisoners would be a given to chance to leave and live in a free life.”

IN OTHER WORDS: “And that’s a -- this is a priority. In other words, there’s -- and others have different priorities.”

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