US lawmakers are considering a dramatic increase in sanctions against the Burmese military junta whose oppressive rule has crushed people in their country and made poverty the norm in what once was a nation with the capability of having a fairly successful economy. They are proposing legislation which would ban export of gems and timber from Burma, two resources which have brought millions in revenue to Myanmar. It would ban travel by top generals and outlaw the import into the United states of gems and timber from Burma. According to Senator Joseph Biden, “”we ned to bring pressure to bear on the Burmese generals directly responsible for the violence against the peaceful protestors last month, but unilateral sanctions alone will not get the job done.”
The proposed legislation stems from good intentions, trying to do something about curtailing the power of Myanmar’s military junta. The reality is that gems will be sent to Thailand where they will be polished and exported as Thai gems. The reality is that timber can be sold in India for use or for re-export. There are two key players in placing pressure on the military junta — India and China. If those nations used their leverage over Burma’s rulers, change will occur. It is doubtful banning Burmese generals from traveling will have any impact — few of them travel anywhere.