Friday, December 2, 2011

Hillary Clinton in Myanmar: A nice place for a Nike factory

I was born in Burma after World War 11.  The country is bordered by China, India, Bangladesh,Thailand and Laos.  I was born there because my father was in the British Army having run away from home at the age of 16.  He joined the army he told me to be with horses.  It was not but a few years though that he was sent Hong Kong and was captured by the invading Japanese forces in 1939.  He spent 3 years and 9 months working for Mitsubishi in Yokohama.  After the Americans liberated his camp they took him to Mindanao and from there he got a British ship to Vancouver.  He then went AWOL.

When he returned to England he was sent to Burma, now called Myanmar.  I have a constant desire to return there to see the land of my birth and the hospital I was born in. I read that George Orwell’s office is kept in much the same condition it was in when this former colonial policeman wrote his numerous stories.

A military dictatorship governed Myanmar for many years until just recently.  We are all familiar with the democracy advocate Aung San Suu Kyi who was kept under house arrest for many years and the brutal suppression of the movement for democracy a few years ago. The country has also never really managed to unite all the ethnic groups that occupy it.  The Karen people who I am most familiar with as I have two paintings of a Karen man and woman in traditional dress in my home have, like many ethnic minorities, been persecuted throughout the years.

I am reminded of this country’s place in my personal history as Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State is over there representing the interests of US bankers and the capitalist class in general.  My first warning to the people of Myanmar would be, “Watch out”. As I follow this butcher’s exploits over there I cannot help think of the debt we owe to Wikileaks and the alleged whistleblower Bradley Manning that revealed and that made a social fact of what we already knew, that their diplomacy is nothing but the diplomacy of liars and thieves. It is diplomacy masking the real intentions of the players, to rob and steal as much through their interventions as possible.

If the Myanmar government continues with reforms the US will, Clinton said, “..ease some restraints on international development assistance..”.   One thing she promised is to let the IMF and the World Bank “begin studying the needs on the ground”.  “Whose needs?” one might ask.  Well certainly not the needs of the workers and peasants of Myanmar. The IMF and World Bank are the institutions of global capitalism that withhold funds or bleed a population dry unless certain conditions are met.  It is the force best known for imposing austerity measures on the workers of the world. 

Clinton is making no promises at the moment the press reports. The IMF and World Bank have “steered clear” of Myanmar according to the WSJ, because of the country’s “human rights record”.  That is an obvious lie as the U.S. propped up Mubarak in Egypt to the tune of $2 billion a year and Ali Abdullah Saleh in Yemen. The Saudi regime, armed to the teeth by US capitalism as is Israel, another human rights violator in the extreme, are not known for their human rights records. We could include Mobutu, the Shah of Iran, Somosa, the list is a long one.

Clinton and Obama travel the former colonial world lecturing people about democracy and freedom and justice and nice sounding words like these.  No one takes them seriously except the mid level thugs that will receive arms and money in return for the right to plunder their country’s resources, and Myanmar has considerable resources. The country has lots of rubies, 90% of the worlds rubies come from Burma. Sapphires, Jade and pearls are also plentiful.  Burma is also a producer of natural gas but with years of isolation from the rest of the world the potential is not clearly understood.

And as far as the treatment of ethnic minorities and human rights goes, Clinton represents a nation that has 2 million people in prison, more than any other country in the world and almost 50% of those are from one ethnic group---African American. And she tells the government of Myanmar that the country must “do much more” when it comes to the military’s abuse of ethnic minorities. Myanmar’s population is predominantly rural due to its isolation and lack of development.

As a representative of Nike, the tech industry, Wal Mart and others, Clinton can open the door to getting those rural peasants off the land, in to the 21st century and through the factory doors. Ten or 12 hours a day making sneakers beats being out in the elements on the farm. It’s painfully obvious that Clinton is not in Myanmar to help workers and the reform she wants is for the economy to be opened up to exploitation by US capitalism. The military dictatorship does not allow the free market to develop, “The transfer of state assets, especially real estate, to cronies and military families in 2010 under the guise of a privatization policy further widened the gap between the economic elite and the public” the CIA website complains.  There’s not much difference between Myanmar cronies and the cronies, lobbyists and their families who do the same through their monopoly of the political process here in the US.

The CIA website makes it clear that the reforms US capitalism wants are simply reforms that allow the market and its global players to dominate society, “Burma's poor investment climate hampers the inflow of foreign investment; in recent years, foreign investors have shied away from nearly every sector except for natural gas, power generation, timber, and mining. The exploitation of natural resources does not benefit the population at large. The business climate is widely perceived as opaque, corrupt, and highly inefficient.”

“Opaque, corrupt and highly inefficient” doesn’t apply to the US Congress or the US Chamber of Commerce does it?  The dismal state of US infrastructure, its dismal health care system, the homelessness, the open bribing of politicians, this must be a “natural” disaster.  It is a natural disaster in the sense that it is a product of the system of production we call capitalism that’s the only “natural” thing about it.

What is occurring is a classic struggle for control of the world’s resources and one of the reasons US imperialism is aggressively pursuing this path is not due to its strength but its declining role as the major player on the world stage.  This incursion in to Myanmar is part of US capitalism’s attempt to encircle what it sees as its most dangerous rival, China.  From Australia to Kazakhstan, Pakistan to Japan, US capitalism is slowly encircling the Chinese and they know it.  US capitalism is a dangerous animal, it is wounded but the country with the most weapons of mass destruction as it likes to call them.  It can still blow the world to bits and we should not forget, the US and its Democratic Party are the only nation and political party in the world to have dropped nuclear bombs on urban centers, on civilian populations.

This US policy is madness as has been stated on this blog many times but the capitalist class is driven by its decaying system to travel this road.  The people of Myanmar have a fox among the chickens.  US capitalism cannot feed, clothe and provide the basic necessities of life for millions of its own citizens and with the class struggle at home becoming more ferocious, it certainly cannot do so for the workers and peasants of Myanmar.

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