Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Bush and Burma


Cartoon is copyright of Studio Bendib.

Readers of this blog know that I'm deeply critical of the Bush Administration.

Nevertheless, I do praise President Bush for his Administration's strong support for the Burmese democracy movement. I consider Bush's policy on Burma to be one of his very few but deserved achievements. His Administration's increase in support to battle AIDS in Africa is another rare bright spot in his record.

I have lately been on a couple of progressive radio shows to talk about the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis. I praise France, Britain, and the United States for their advocacy of providing humanitarian relief over the objections of Burma's ruling generals. While the left-wing magazine, The Nation, supports air drops of aid, American progressives remain very wary. For many (mostly good) reasons, they don't trust the Bush Administration to deploy the U.S. military to transport humanitarian aid into Burma despite the success of a similar initiative in Aceh, Indonesia, after the Asian tsunami.

It is not appropriate to compare Bush's botched response to Hurricane Katrina to the Burmese generals' corrupt and murderous behavior in the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis. General Than Shwe's response to the cyclone has included stealing aid and refusing to let aid workers and journalists into the cyclone-affected region. This constitutes a crime against humanity of a level and character that is simply not comparable to the response to Katrina. The comparison is inaccurate. It is also quite offensive in the way it devalues the military regime's complicity in the staggering but avoidable destitution, disease and deaths in the wake of Cyclone Nargis.

That is why I am saddened by the views expressed in the above cartoon. To suggest that President Bush is comparable to a brutal military dictator like Than Shwe is frankly repulsive to me.

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