Saturday, May 17, 2008

Myanmar: Remind You of Anything?

The tragic situation now playing out in the low-lying areas in the south of what was formerly Burma –now Myanmar- have unfortunate similarities to the Katrina tragedy that inundated and still plagues New Orleans.

In both cases, the humanitarian response of the respective governments involved were far less than what could have been reasonably expected.
No government, no matter how powerful or advanced, can accurately predict or completely counter the vagaries of nature, legally called Force Majeure.
But better efforts ought to have be expected in both cases than what we have seen!

Maybe its not fair to compare these two unfortunate incidents, but they do have similarities that are obvious.

The Bush administration was as totally unprepared for hurricane Katrina as Myanmar was for its disastrous cyclone.
The paranoid ruling junta in Myanmar seems to care much more about denying the obvious and holding onto power than addressing the problem that is seriously harming many thousands of its people.
Likewise, it is no surprise that the Bush administration, which prides itself on the notion that less government –not more- is ideologically and logistically unequipped to handle legitimate emergencies.

Everything being relative, the US is still far better able to respond to such awful tragedies than an impoverished 3rd world country.
But the similarities of incompetent leadership and its unwillingness to respond to legitimate humanitarian emergencies is palpable!

While Bush’s puny and belated response to Katrina far exceeds Myanmar’s response, this is to be expected considering the relative wealth and power of the two countries.
But the US’s parsimony did seem largely attributable to partisan, ideological doctrine that consistently fails to consider every US citizen as important, notwithstanding need.
Isn’t it ironic that the same administration will go to extreme lengths to justify an unnecessary, idiotic war that costs every citizen dearly without their consent, and virtually destroys US viability in the world at a time it has never been so valuable!

Myanmar’s response has been atrocious, but curiously more understandable, because of its abject poverty, isolation and –get this- the basic illegitimacy of its government.

How I hate seeing such an obvious comparison between two countries that ought to be seen in much different lights!
It makes me wonder if it isn’t time to consider mandating simple competency in higher leadership roles.
Of course, in the US this can already be accomplished by the voters – if they paid attention.
In Myanmar –like Iraq- it’s not so simple, and should not be expected to be so.

Despite the inherent difficulties of implementing –and maintaining- competency requirements upon our leaders, maybe it is an idea whose time has come.
For starters we should at least expect more aptitude and less attitude.
After all, we’ve got much to gain and so little to lose!