Hidden Unities on the Burmese Crackdown

It’s rare that every post on a blog’s front page is worth reading. But Eddie of Hidden Unities has done it!

The Burma of 2007 is something like the Central Asia of the 19th century: a mixture of direct and indirect colonization by an outside power. While Shan State, Burma, is under effective Chinese control, the rest of Myanmar is a client-state whose ticket to survival is the good wishes of Beijing.

China gains from having Burma as an ally — especially when Japan, Taiwan, Vietnam, and India are so suspicious of China’s rise — but would benefit more from a Burma that would economically reform. A backwater that is only good at ticking off the world is not in Beijing’s interest.

Burma needs to import refined fuel

Hookway. J. (2007). Why Myanmar could stir again. Wall Street Journal. October 2, 2007. Available online: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB119126187091245243.html.

Remember when I said that, if we did attack Iran, we should take out their refineries? Here’s why:

Myanmar’s recent wave of antigovernment demonstrations — which drew as many as 100,000 protesters at their peak last week before the military began shooting at civilians and arresting Buddhist monks — came after the government slashed a subsidy on imported diesel that was growing more expensive amid rising global fuel prices.

The junta’s harsh rule has prompted trade and investment sanctions from the U.S. and European countries in the past. Now the U.S. is pushing for additional financial sanctions aimed at the military’s senior leaders and companies that do business with them.

That could leave the government with less cash to buy imported diesel and other refined fuels, which it must purchase at global prices, or to provide other economic assistance to ordinary citizens. Although Myanmar exports natural gas and crude oil, the country lacks the capacity to refine such resources.

A financial crunch could stir further unrest among Myanmar’s 56 million people, who are already suffering from decades of economic mismanagement. “The underlying conditions are going to get worse as Burma becomes more unstable and more of a pariah,” predicts Sean Turnell, an economist at Macquarie University in Sydney and a member of that university’s Burma Economic Watch program.

The correlation of forces are troublesome for Burma’s military leaders, as their friends aren’t too happy with them, their people are furious (as those facing higher prices always are), and the world seeks to compound those problems.