An Indonesian Analyzes Myanmar Situation

Jusuf Wanandi of the Jakarta Center for Strategic Studies offered an interesting analysis of the situation in Myanmar and what might be done to further the cause of democracy. British colonialists left Burma with a volatile situation in which the Burmese people constituted 60% of the population but the remainder consisted of diverse minorities. The emergence of a powerful military junta provided the nation with an institution which had the capability of maintaining some semblance of cohesion in the nation. A sudden withdrawal of the military might well lead to a collapse of the nation as disparate minorities vie for power with the majority Burmese. The nations of southeast Asia, ASEAN, seek to use diplomacy and engagement with the military junta rather than follow the UN approach which seeks to impose sanctions. According to Wanandi, there is little evidence sanctions will impact the military junta of Burma.

Wanandi suggests there is need for an interim period during which the military junta works with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and representatives of minority groups in creating a constitution which would prepare for democracy as well as guaranteeing the rights of minorities. He believes a combination of carrots and sticks would be more effective than sanctions. China and India must be involved in any effort to restore democracy in Myanmar because they are major trading partners and have some influence over the military junta.

His analysis offers food for reflection. America disbanded the Iraq military which led to chaos. A sudden end of the military in Burma might well result in a similar chaotic situation. Wanandi is correct in working toward long term solutions rather than passing resolutions which will not halt the military junta’s stubborn attitude.