It seems the news is filled at the moment with the old perennials of international relations; trouble with and upheaval in Iran; a coup in a central American country; Korea (LGM has a good analysis of Etizoni's arrant tosh on the subject); and Burma (or Myanmar if you prefer).
The military dictatorship is back in the news today with the visit of the UN Sec Gen to the state. As this visit takes place the "trial" of Aung San Suu Kyi rolls on, now with another week's adjournment. When oh when will this woman finally get punished for the heinous crime of someone effectively breaking into her house? The answer is of course that it doesn't matter, she may even be found not guilty, so long as the process lasts till after the election. Suu Kyi's house arrest you see, while itself of dubious legality, was due to expire in time for her to run in the sham that is Burma's general elections. Now we can't have that can we?
The problem is that this will not stop the problem. Ban can talk at the generals all he likes and it will do noting to achieve any more than a temporary respite in the litany of human rights and other abuses that is Burma's recent history. What is kind of depressing is that none of the other solutions offer a magic bullet either. Long history from Vietnam to Iraq tell of the inadvisability of military intervention for a nations "own good". However well intentioned, it is wide open to misinterpretation by the citizens of the now-occupied country, as well as by rabble-rousers. Sanctions don't work either, somehow there always seems to be a way for those at the top to keep at the top, while the people still suffer.
Ultimately the only way for effective and lasting change in any country is for the people of that country to make it and this is true of Burma, Iran, Zimbabwe and all the rest. As for the rest of the world community, all we can do is offer support, and be ready to recognise democracy when it does arise, even if we don't like the democratic leaders it throws up.
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