September 25, 2007

Bush To Address UN On Myanmar

President Bush will speak to the UN General Assembly this morning at 9:45 ET -- and will focus his remarks on an issue that has drifted off the radar screen. He will highlight the human-rights abuses in Myanmar as Buddhist monks make their strongest protest yet against the ruling military junta (via Michelle Malkin):

President Bush will address the U.N. General Assembly this morning at 9:45 a.m. EDT. Bush wants the U.N. to uphold its pledge to fight for freedom in lands of poverty and terror, and plans to punctuate his challenge by promising new sanctions against the military regime in Myanmar.

Bush is expected to mention Iran in his speech—but only briefly, citing Iran in a list of countries where people lack freedoms and live in fear. The White House wants to avoid giving any more attention to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose splash of speeches and interviews has dominated the days leading to the U.N. meeting.

Instead of Iran, the Southeast Asian nation of Myanmar, also known as Burma, was drawing Bush's ire. He was expected to announce new visa restrictions and financial sanctions against the regime and those who provide it financial aid.

The policies come as Myanmar's military government issued a threat Monday to the barefoot Buddhist monks who led 100,000 people marching through a major city. It was the strongest protest against the repressive regime in two decades.

Understandably, we need to focus more attention on Myanmar than we presently manage. However, it seems rather odd that Bush would choose that issue for his central focus rather than challenge the nations of the General Assembly to pressure Iran. After all, our own national interests count for something, and a UNGA address gives Bush the best platform to call for action against a rogue nation.

It would also provide an excellent opportunity to remind people of the war on terror. Bush wants to use Myanmar as a point in arguing for human liberty through democracy, but that point could be made just as well by highlighting the depredations of radical Islamists in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq, not to mention Darfur. The UN just announced its intention to get involved in Iraq again, and Bush could have used that as a means to argue that the Iraq effort showcased our intention to see people freed from oppression and tyranny, and how that fits into our national interests and the interests of all free nations.

Meanwhile, the monks in Myanmar have made an impressive showing:

Tens of thousands of Buddhist monks and sympathizers defied orders from the military junta to stay out of politics, protesting Tuesday in the country's two biggest cities. Soldiers, including an army division that took part in the brutal suppression of a 1988 uprising, converged on the capital.

Cheered on by supporters, the monks marched out for an eighth day of peaceful protest from Yangon's soaring Shwedagon Pagoda, while some 700 others staged a similar show of defiance in the country's second largest city of Mandalay.

Any gathering of people in numbers greater than five has been outlawed by the military regime. So far, they appear powerless to stop the monks through civil law enforcement. They may have to resort to military force -- and that could touch off a bloody revolution. We may be seeing a Robed Revolution in the making, even without the UNGA's support.

I'll live-blog the speech at Heading Right. Be sure to keep checking the thread.


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Comments (10)

Posted by John | September 25, 2007 8:28 AM

What's to say? Burma/Myanmar has dropped off the radar for so long its hard to know what's going on over there. Maybe the junta is so weak it can be knocked over with well organized demonstrations. Dose China have influence? Anybody know?

Posted by Joshua | September 25, 2007 8:31 AM

My guess is that Bush may want to give a speech that will get a favorable world reaction and might actually get results.

Note that Myanmar isn't a Muslim country, so it doesn't have a few dozen other countries willing to make apologies for it automatically. It also isn't a major player in terms of oil or other key resources, so other countries might be more willing to go along with sanctions against it (compared to, say, Iran).

Posted by Mutt | September 25, 2007 8:58 AM

Perhaps it isa slap in the face of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. President Bush might be saying you are hardly worth mentioning when I can talk about a country that wants Democracy.

Posted by Mutt | September 25, 2007 9:03 AM

One more thought.

There is an old pet training treat call "Ignoring Bad Behavior". It only works if the subject craves attention so the isolation, the ignoring is a punishment. This method works great inconjuction with "Rewarding Good Behavior". The people of Myanmar are showing good behavior by demanding Democracy, they are an example to the Iraina people and Pres. Bush is holding it up for all to see.

Posted by Papa Ray | September 25, 2007 9:07 AM

Well Cap'n, lets wait and see what he has to say before telling us what he should say.

Any speech advocating freedom, justice and rule of law will be not be welcomed in the halls of the U.N.

The U.N. as I am sure you will agree is an institution run by tyrants and dictators and have no interests past their own.

Bush telling the U.N. what they should stand for and help promote will be like farting in the wind, but if he does so, at least he will have placed the U.N. on notice, and called to the world's attention, once again, what the U.N. is not doing.

Don't be surprised if the U.N. (sometime in the future) is forced to do the right things. But of course the only way to do that is to withhold money from them, until they do.

Or at least that is what should happen, but they seem to be able to garner support by just being against America and Israel and doing nothing that is in their charter.

Papa Ray
West Texas

Posted by Paul A' Barge | September 25, 2007 9:17 AM

Leave Burma alone.

This is all about an internal power struggle, and the current Burmese leadership is no worse than any of the other leaders of neighboring countries in SE Asia.

The entire region is a motley collection of totalitarians.

The international self-righteous crowd wants to make Burma the whipping boy so they can SCUBA dive in Thailand, take eco-tours in Cambodia, participate in pity patrols in Viet Nam and shop in Singapore.

It's a bottomless pit of hypocrisy. Burma is no worse than any of the others.

For example, not one of the indigenous tribal people living in Thailand can leave legally, because they don't qualify as Thai citizens, can not get a Thai passport and are terrified that once out, the Thai authorities will not let them back in.

If you want to get a great deal for your tourist dollar, visit Burma and screw the people who rant about the leaders in Burma. It's a smokescreen to avoid doing something about the ubiquitous corruption and barbarism typical of all the SE Asian countries.

Posted by richard mcenroe | September 25, 2007 9:17 AM


Bollinger needs to invite the Myanmar warlords immediately.

Sorry, just trying to get ahead of the 'progressives' for a change.

Posted by ERNurse | September 25, 2007 11:05 AM

Asking the UN to do something about the horrors in Southesat Asia is like asking Hitler to be nice to the Jews.

Can anyone say: "Exercise in futility?"

Posted by Rick Jones | September 25, 2007 12:53 PM

I suppose a POTUS speech to the UNGA can always be better focused. Nevertheless, GWB's emphasis on Burma is well placed. The repression is Burma is almost singular in SE Asia today.

By the way, Myanmar is simply the native language name for Burma just as Deutschland is for Germany or Nippon is for Japan.

Captain's Quarters is a superb blog and deserves great praise. It should avoid the politically correct tendency to fall in line with the CNNs of the world who are ready to jump at any trendy request of the tin-pot dictators of the world.

Posted by Okonkolo | September 25, 2007 3:55 PM

Bless the monks in Burma.

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