Same Old Story

Well, as we feared would happen, it appears that the peaceful uprising in Burma has been tamped down by ruthless violence. The UN has sent an envoy, Ibrahim Gambari, to speak with the ruling junta, and we can be sure that he will, at the very least, administer a stern finger-wagging — and if that proves ineffective, he may have to resort to more extreme measures, such as a baleful scowl, or perhaps even harrumphing. After all, these are pretty rough customers he’s dealing with, and this is no time for pussy-footing.

Once again, we have a situation where a handful of ruffians have kidnapped the population of an entire nation and are holding them against their will — imagine if this were happening in a house on your block! But here it is, once again, before our eyes; that this is still possible in this day and age in our shrinking global community is discouraging indeed. Were the civilized world simply to say, with one voice, No, you can’t do this, we don’t permit such things nowadays, and toss the brutes out, I have no doubt that the captive people of Burma would be most grateful, and it might offer an instructive example to other such regimes around the globe. But such is still the strength of the notion of the absolute sovereignty of nations that nothing will be done. There will be economic sanctions, and harsh tut-tutting, and general agreement that what these Burmese generals are doing just isn’t cricket: but as we have seen, tyrants always manage to live quite comfortably under such conditions, while their people bleed and starve.

But to any of you reading this who might happen to be a strong nation, whose sense of moral outrage that such a situation could go unremedied is so compelling that you are tempted to round up a few like-minded friends and do something about it yourself if the rest of the world simply won’t act, you’d better think it over very carefully — because these days, no good deed goes unpunished.

This sad old world still has a very long way to go.

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