Thursday, September 21, 2017


(Continued from last week)

I had already presented that West-imposed sanctions had impact on the ordinary people of Myanmar to a certain extent and that Myanmar has been able to rise like a phoenix thanks to earnest efforts of the government and the people, rich resources and development contributed by economic cooperation with regional countries.

Now, I would like to present the effectiveness of sanctions showing how the West Bloc realized the aims they expected by imposing sanctions against Myanmar.

It is mainly said that sanctions against Myanmar by the West Bloc aimed to flourish human right and democratization in Myanmar and to contribute towards better living standard of Myanmar people. These are the aims they usually announce.

With their foreign policy as usual, there may be ulterior motive and objectives as usual. Obviously, they are to put the nation into pretty trouble till there is regime change.

It is apparent that the sanction-leader US administration is using various ways and means intentionally to make the entire Myanmar people poor.

The US administration started imposing sanctions against Myanmar on the pretext of human rights and democratic cause in 1997. The International Emergency Economic Powers Act of 1977-IEEPA was used in imposing sanction against Myanmar at that time. The IEEPA authorizes the president to impose sanctions against the nation which posed threats to the US after declaring the national emergency in response to the existence of an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy or economy of the United States.

In accord with the Act, every US President from Bill Clinton to Barack Obama, the incumbent president, maintains sanctions against Myanmar by issuing national emergency in May every year starting from 1997 saying Myanmar poses a threat to the national security, foreign policy or economy of the United States.

Here, I have to think about who is posing a threat to whose national security, foreign policy or economy.

Even in the view of ordinary people to compare powers of two nations, how can anyone say that Myanmar with a population of 50 million and which is still a least developed nation can threaten a super power with a population of 300 million and the largest economy in the world and the highest military spending that is equivalent to the half of defence expense of world nations.

Practically, it is the US that was conducting military drills with the use of a fleet of aircraft carriers at the area adjacent to the Myanmar Sea in 1988 uprising.

Although it was known through data sent by the Satellite in early May, 2008 that the severe Cyclone Nargis was heading toward Myanmar and there would be heavy causalities due to the storm, it was a US President who signed order to renew the sanctions saying that Myanmar is threatening security and economy of the United States.

Due to sanctions, philanthropic NGOs in the US found it very difficult to conduct rescue work and render humanitarian aids to Myanmar. But, Myanmar government was blamed for not allowing the US warships to enter her territorial waters in order to carry out rescue works in storm-hit areas.

I would like to know the goodwill of the US which sent two aircraft carriers including Kitty Hawk flanked by a number of escort ships in the disaster period of Myanmar which is said to be threatening the security of the US. When Katrina hit US coast the US not only failed to use its naval ships but also denied help offered by Cuba with the help of Russian naval forces. So, what is the aim of shouting for R2P or “Right to Protect” at that time?

The US declared national emergency under the IEEPA saying Myanmar is threatening it. Actually, the victim is mistaken for the aggressor. The aggressor is taking the place of the victim.

In 1857 when King Mindon ruled Myanmar, he sent the US a message of amity stating that ‘Myanmar wishes to form an alliance with America with a view to benefiting the two peoples of the two countries in the long run’. Since the establishment of bilateral relations, Myanmar had never aimed at the US even with a pin. But the US government blatantly supported Chinese Kuomintang troops in invading Myanmar in .the 1950s. The very first air strikes broke out between a CIA-owned military cargo plane in the name of the American Airline ownership and a fighter of Myanmar Defence Services (Air) in Southeast Asia in the post war period. The enemy’s plane could be shot down but fighter pilot Lt Peter from Myanmar side had to sacrifice his life for the nation. However, the Myanmar government out of magnanimity remained normal relations with the US as it had been dealing with all world countries by upholding the non-alignment policy.

It is very difficult to understand why the US has repeatedly regarded Myanmar as a threat to international security. Actually, Myanmar has no capability to harm the US security, no history of doing so and no motive to do so. But one-sidedly, the US has remained an alliance with Vietnam against which it waged war from 1962 to 1.975 and with Saudi Arabia whose nationals were mainly involved in the September 11 attack in 2001 in which the hijacked planes intentionally crashed into the important US buildings killing over 3000 Americans.

Likewise, the US included Myanmar, which worked hard to reduce poppy cultivation significantly, in the list of ‘Countries that have no reluctance to fully cooperate in the drug elimination’ annually published by the US State Department by excluding some Latin America countries smuggling narcotic drugs most into the US and Afghanistan producing 98 percent of world’s opium. It’s so incredible!

What’s more, an official of the US’s DBA to Myanmar came under fire by the US Embassy and CIA officials for reporting that the Myanmar government actually and affectively worked for reduction in the poppy cultivation. His phone was tapped. When he came back to America, he sued them for defamation. But they tried to stop him from suing. Finally, the case was settled through a deal worth US$ 3 million made under-the-table. In reality, they do not want to make known to the world that the Myanmar government is effectively carrying out drug eradication tasks.

Drawing an overall picture of the abovementioned true facts, it can be revealed that the US and the West Bloc are imposing sanctions against Myanmar as an instrument of foreign policy with a political motive to install a puppet government by toppling the Tatmadaw government rather than on the grounds of ‘democracy cause’ and ‘human rights’.

How effective are acting or imposing sanctions with political motive? To what extent can they be done to accomplish the motive? Amidst the various sanctions and challenges, Myanmar has been carrying out national development tasks day in, day out, and anyone cannot deny the fact that the nation could have built firm economic and political foundations. Many a foreign affairs officials and experts from the West Bloc countries have even publicly disclosed that there is no way the unilateral sanctions against Myanmar are effective against their political motive and that it can affect the ordinary people only.

It was Bernard Couchner, French Foreign Minister, who spoke out regarding the sanctions against Myanmar. Speaking to the foreign affairs committee of French Congress on 7 October, 2009, he supported a dialogue with the Myanmar government saying “Sanctions are useless. Everyone has known (recognized) it. Shouldn’t be the door open to that government then?”

Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere told Afterposten newspaper on 16 May, 2008 (soon after the storm Nargis) that the sanctions against the Myanmar government imposed by western nations are not effective at all.

The research papers and articles by scholars stating that the West Bloc’s sanctions against Myanmar are ineffective are countless. But let me refer to following some research papers complied by widely-respected experts for those who want to conduct a thorough study.

- Hadar, L. 1998. ‘US Sanctions against Burma: a failure on all fronts’, Cato Institute, Trade Policy Analysis-, No 1 March.

- Hadar, L. 2001. ‘Burma: US foreign policy as a morality play’, Journal of International Affairs 54 (2): 411-426.

- International Crisis Group, 2004 ‘Myanmar:sanctions, Engagement or Another way Forward?’, Yangon/Brussels: International Crisis Group. - Badgley, J. (ed), 2004. ‘Reconciling Burma/ Myanmar: Essays on US Relations with Burma.’ Seattle: National Bureau of Asia Research.

- Preeg, E. 1999. “Feeling Good or Doing Good with Sanctions?” Unilateral Economic Sanctions and the US National Interest, ‘Washington, D.C: Center for Strategic and International Studies.’

- Sachs, J. 2004. “Myanmar: sanction won’twork’, Financial Times, 27 July.

- Steinberg, D. 2004. ‘Burma: feel-good US Sanctions wrongheaded. ‘Yale Global Online, 19 May.

- Nyun, M.T, 2008 “Feeling Good or Doing Good: Inefficacy of the US Unilateral Sanctions against the Military Government of Burma/My anmar’, Washington University Global Studies Law Review (Vol.7)

- Oehlers, A.2004. ‘Sanctions and Burma: Revisiting the Case Against’, Development of Economics Auckland University of Technology.

- Len, C. etal, 2007. ‘Burma/Myanmar’s Ailments: Searchingfor the Right Remedy’, Silk Road Paper, March.

Studying a collection of those papers, it will be found that the compilers are not those who wrote what they had seen after having been to Myanmar on a two-week visa but the credible persons from internationally-accredited universities and research departments.

The abovementioned papers and articles can be read online. In comparison with the NLD paper, they will give the reader insights into the true, objective conditions.

It does not matter whether there are sanctions of the West Bloc or not. The Myanmar government is in transition of democracy and for development of human rights after laying down systematic work programmes. The Pyidaungsu Hluttaw has been called to hand over State duties to the democratically-elected government, which is the final step of the seven-step Road Map. The new constitution that has come into force has guaranteed the fundamental rights for citizens and democratic practices, including the right to speak and assemble freely. Therefore, changes and reforms in Myanmar’s democracy and human rights have come together with the emerging democratic nation.

This is why the farsighted neighbouring nations and legitimate political parties and national races in Myanmar unanimously are claiming the sanctions that are affecting the ordinary people and no longer effective should be lifted.

However, egoistic, negative elements who are shouting that “lifting of sanctions is unnecessary and they should remain” by turning a blind eye to such demands for the lifting of sanctions in the interests of the nation and the people will distance themselves from the people and history will punish those lackeys. Here, I would like to exhort them to play a part in nation-building by mending their wrong ways as it is never too late to mend.