The military junta that has ruthlessly controlled Burma since 1962 flooded the nation's largest city with troops today and appear to have – again – suppressed a popular uprising. It's that "talk versus do" thing writ large. The United Nations is powerless, the West scolds and talks and the junta cracks heads and sends blood running into the gutter.
YANGON, Myanmar – Myanmar's military government flooded the main city of Yangon with troops, swelling their numbers to about 20,000 by Sunday and ensuring that almost all demonstrators would remain off the streets, a diplomat said.
Meanwhile, a U.N. envoy failed to meet with Myanmar's top two junta leaders in his effort to persuade them to ease a violent crackdown on anti-government protesters. But he was allowed a highly orchestrated session with detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
Scores of people also were arrested overnight, further weakening the flagging uprising against 45 years of military dictatorship. The protests began Aug. 19 when the government sharply raised fuel prices, then mushroomed into the junta's largest challenge in decades when Myanmar's revered monks took a leading role.
One protest was reported Sunday in the western state of Rakhine, were more than 800 people marched in the town of Taunggok, shouting "Release all political prisoners!" Police, soldiers and junta supporters blocked the road, forcing them to disperse, a local resident said.
Ibrahim Gambari, the U.N.'s special envoy to Myanmar, was sent to the country to try to persuade the notoriously unyielding military junta to halt its crackdown. Soldiers have shot and killed protesters, ransacked Buddhist monasteries, beaten monks and dissidents and arrested an estimated 1,000 people in the last week alone.
But it was not clear what, if anything, Gambari could accomplish. The junta has rebuffed scores of previous U.N. attempts at promoting democracy and Gambari himself spoke in person to Suu Kyi nearly a year ago with nothing to show for it.
I got linked by someone who took exception to my earlier post but appears to have missed my point, as well as Mark Steyn's. Sometimes, the only way to get tyrannies to listen is to present a credible threat. It is not always necessary to use that threat. Kennedy did not have to sink any Russian ships to make them back down.
But if you talk, talk, talk, the tyrannies will do exactly what they feel like doing because they believe- rightly – that they have nothing to fear. Until they go too far, then they learn. But it costs much, much more then. And Jamelle, I am not pro-war. I am very much in favor of peace all around. I'm just not stupid enough to believe the rest of the people in the world feel the same way as I do. So I am in favor of making those sorts of people think long and hard before they cross that line.
Talk softly, carry a big stick – and know when to stop talking.