…like doing an “armed humanitarian intervention” in Myanmar aka Burma.
Yep. This is what travel writer/military strategist/philospher Robert D. Kaplan — Rudyard Kipling for poor and stupid people — is proposing in “Aid at the Point of the Gun” in the New York Times today. He also reports that “there is an increasing degree of chatter about the possibility of an American-led invasion of the Irrawaddy River Delta.” Sorry, but I haven’t heard that “chatter.” I don’t get that channel on my Sirius Satellite Radio.
In a recent post I speculated that the Times may be trying to demonstrate its post-modernist sense of humor. Reading Kaplan’s analysis and policy recommendation I’m beginning to think that that is indeed the case.
“As it happens, American armed forces are now gathered in large numbers in Thailand for the annual multinational military exercise known as Cobra Gold,” Kaplan explains. “This means that Navy warships could pass from the Gulf of Thailand through the Strait of Malacca and north up the Bay of Bengal to the Irrawaddy Delta.” Great! And “because oceans are vast and even warships travel comparatively slowly, one should not underestimate the advantage that fate has once again handed us.” Thanks, Fate!
He then proposes that
a carrier strike group, or even a smaller Marine-dominated expeditionary strike group headed by an amphibious ship, could get close to shore and ferry troops and supplies to the most devastated areas on land.
And then there is the Magic:
The magic of this is that an enormous amount of assistance can be provided while maintaining a small footprint on shore, greatly reducing the chances of a clash with the Burmese armed forces while nevertheless dealing a hard political blow to the junta. Concomitantly, drops can be made from directly overhead by the Air Force without the need to militarily occupy any Burmese airports.
Remember that we would only be “reducing” the chances of a clash with the Burmese armed forces. In fact, Kaplan suggests that not only the Burmese military junta, but also China, India, Thailand and Singapore will be opposed to our intervention. Never Mind:
By just threatening intervention, the United States puts pressure on Beijing, New Delhi and Bangkok to, in turn, pressure the Burmese generals to open their country to a full-fledged foreign relief effort. We could do a lot of good merely by holding out the possibility of an invasion.
Or to quote the members of the Faith-based community, “If You Build It, They Will Come.” (Or maybe not).
And then this:
Because a humanitarian invasion could ultimately lead to the regime’s collapse, we would have to accept significant responsibility for the aftermath. And just as the collapse of the Berlin Wall was not supposed to lead to ethnic cleansing in Yugoslavia, and the liberation of Iraq from Saddam Hussein was not supposed to lead to civil war, the fall of the junta would not be meant to lead to the collapse of the Burmese state. But it might.
You get the idea. Another Iraq.
Sending in marines and sailors is the easy part; but make no mistake, the very act of our invasion could land us with the responsibility for fixing Burma afterward.
And that’s what we need now.