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Sanctions or diplomacy?

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David Libra

Through the looking glass


Joined: 27 Jul 2003
Location: Tea party

PostPosted: Tue Jan 17, 2012 9:27 am
Post subject: Sanctions or diplomacy?Reply with quote

An interesting article in Crikey about Australian sanctions on Myanmar:

http://www.crikey.com.au/2012/01/13/burma-sanctions-just-reinforce-siege-mentality/

Quote:
Burma Sanctions Just Reinforce 'Siege Mentality'
David Hopkins


Sanctions — as a September 2011 report on Burma by the International Crisis Group maintains — only reinforce a “siege mentality” among Burmese elites, hampering engagement efforts and increasing the likelihood that mistrust and paranoia, two features that have historically dominated Burma’s foreign relations, reign unchallenged in regime thinking.

Indeed, there is a growing recognition in the international community that engagement, rather than sanctions and diplomatic isolation, is fast emerging as a more productive strategy in pressuring the Burmese government to reform. This is highlighted by recent trips to Burma by a succession of foreign ministers: Australia’s Kevin Rudd; US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton; Japan’s Koichiro Gemba and the UK’s William Hague.

Despite this shift in international thinking on Burma, Greens senator Scott Ludlam has criticised the Australian government’s announcement on Monday to reduce the number of Burmese individuals on its financial and travel sanctions list, claiming that sanctions should remain in order to “increase the pressure on the regime”. The argument is misguided.

Australia’s targeted financial sanctions against certain Burmese officials and their families are merely symbolic. In place since October 2007, they involve the prohibition of some 463 targeted persons from conducting financial transactions through Australian banks and the prevention of their travelling to Australia. As Trevor Wilson, of the ANU, has argued, these sanctions were never likely to have an impact on a country with a “very underdeveloped financial sector” and where there was no previous evidence of regime members involved in transactions through Australian banks.

The removal of former Burmese ministers — who are no longer involved in the country’s politics — from the sanctions list, hardly constitutes a major relaxing of Australia’s Burma sanctions (Australia’s ban on the export of military-related hardware remains in place). The kind of compromised stance that Ludlam suggests will only stimulate the regime to implement sham reforms in return for concessions.

What Ludlam and human rights activists such as Zetty Brake champion is for Australia, in line with other Western nations, to maintain and even bolster its Burma sanctions regime until more concrete signs of political and human rights reform are discernible. This outdated, punitive approach, which implies the international community should simply “sit and wait” for reform, has proven a policy failure.

The Burmese regime has consistently managed to offset the impact of Western sanctions by relying on China (and to a lesser extent ASEAN) for political and economic support. For instance, while the US maintains a ban on new investments in Burma, China has adequately filled the void, with more than $US14 billion in new investment promised in Burma’s 2010-11 fiscal year.

The Australian government is rightly moving beyond the lapsed and mouldering sanctions-led approach to influencing change in Burma. Despite the reservations of many who warn that recent Burmese reforms may be only “skin deep”, it is not too early to offer tangible incentives and encouragement. Australia should look to increase engagement with Burma on multiple fronts — increased aid, increased diplomacy, increased co-operation on transnational crime issues — and in this way, impress upon Burmese officials the level of progress on political and human rights reform that the international community demands.


Although I know little about Myanmar (apart from it being one of the nastier places in the world and not exactly a shining beacon of human rights), I have been thinking lately about Iran and Ron Paul's non-interventionist stance.

In Paul's view, Iran should be entitled to pursue development of nuclear weapons as part of their national interest and security, just like any other country (such as China, Israel and the US). He takes the view that trying to bully Iranian leaders through sanctions and threats only creates a tenser, potentially violent political landscape, raising the risk of warfare and antagonism towards countries such as the US.

In the case of Iran, I think I agree completely with him. Perhaps it's taken the Bush presidency to make us understand just how important diplomatic relations and international respect are today.

Paul extends his stance to all other supposed 'rogue states', including Myanmar. I realise the value of sanctions—how else, for example, can the world respond to human rights abuses in other countries?—but I can't help but wonder if they are, as the author suggests, mostly counterproductive.

It makes me think about, say, WW2. If we took a 'live and let live'; 'you run your country, we'll run ours' approach, how would we deal with another Hitler? Or is that question irrelevant because that brand of foreign invasion/annexation on a nation state level is no longer a viable reality in today's world? And does the rest of the world have an ethical responsibility towards the people of Myanmar, North Korea, Zimbabwe and (to a lesser extent) Iran? Or should we mind our own business and let those places sort out their own affairs at their own pace?

The world is not a moral place. If the US and other Western countries boycott Myanmar, China (as the author states) can always fill the gap. I guess we have to realise that this is going to be the reality over coming decades. The new superpower is essentially and classically amoral (not immoral, mind). Come to think of it, looking at American foreign policy over the past 65 years, wasn't the old superpower much the same? If anything, their supposedly moral actions ('liberating' the people of Iraq; bombing Serbia) tended to be their worst. Countries can and will only act in their own interest; as such, perhaps foreign intervention has a tendency to damage.

Is this philosophy Darwinist, progressive or something else altogether? Any thoughts?

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David Libra

Through the looking glass


Joined: 27 Jul 2003
Location: Tea party

PostPosted: Tue Jan 17, 2012 10:01 am
Post subject: Reply with quote

This discussion has been going on for a while. Here's an appeal presented to the UN in 1996 regarding the sanctions against Iraq. They don't even really suggest an alternative; sanctions, they argue, are indefensible for any reason.

http://www.i-p-o.org/sanct.htm

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3.14159 Taurus



Joined: 12 Sep 2009


PostPosted: Tue Jan 17, 2012 8:26 pm
Post subject: Reply with quote

What do We with Mayanma?
Talk to them, try and engage them in some truely meaningfull wae,
... or keep hitting them over the Head with the US Trade Sanctioned Rhythm-Stick?
Hmmm,.....
me i'd do talking thing but i'm probibly in minority and with Obama worrying about the up-coming US elections and not wishing to have another foriegn conflict (a trade war is a conflict) ..i'd have to say ....
"my monies on keep hitting them with that STICK!!!"

btwae,
those self same sanctions only really effect the poor~
so who cares? Confused
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stui magpie 

Yeah. Me.


Joined: 03 May 2005
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 17, 2012 8:53 pm
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3.14159...etc wrote:
What do We with Mayanma?
Talk to them, try and engage them in some truely meaningfull wae,
... or keep hitting them over the Head with the US Trade Sanctioned Rhythm-Stick?
Hmmm,.....
me i'd do talking thing but i'm probibly in minority and with Obama worrying about the up-coming US elections and not wishing to have another foriegn conflict (a trade war is a conflict) ..i'd have to say ....
"my monies on keep hitting them with that STICK!!!"

btwae,
those self same sanctions only really effect the poor~
so who cares? Confused


Isn't that from Sound of Music? Embarassed

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5150 Sagittarius



Joined: 31 Aug 2005


PostPosted: Tue Jan 17, 2012 8:54 pm
Post subject: Reply with quote

stui magpie wrote:
3.14159...etc wrote:
What do We with Mayanma?
Talk to them, try and engage them in some truely meaningfull wae,
... or keep hitting them over the Head with the US Trade Sanctioned Rhythm-Stick?
Hmmm,.....
me i'd do talking thing but i'm probibly in minority and with Obama worrying about the up-coming US elections and not wishing to have another foriegn conflict (a trade war is a conflict) ..i'd have to say ....
"my monies on keep hitting them with that STICK!!!"

btwae,
those self same sanctions only really effect the poor~
so who cares? Confused


Isn't that from Sound of Music? Embarassed


Early in the morning... too ray up she rises!
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HAL 

Please don't shout at me - I can't help it.


Joined: 17 Mar 2003


PostPosted: Tue Jan 17, 2012 8:56 pm
Post subject: Reply with quote

stui magpie wrote:
[quote="3.14159...etc"][b]What do We with Mayanma?[/b]
Talk to them, try and engage them in some truely meaningfull wae,
... or keep hitting them over the Head with the US Trade Sanctioned Rhythm-Stick?
Hmmm,.....
me i'd do talking thing but i'm probibly in minority and with Obama worrying about the up-coming US elections and not wishing to have another foriegn conflict (a trade war is a conflict) ..i'd have to say ....
"my monies on keep hitting them with that STICK!!!"

btwae,
those self same sanctions only really effect the poor~
so who cares? Confused[/quote]

Isn't that from Sound of Music? Embarassed
My favourite kind of Music is techno, but I also like Opera.
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3.14159 Taurus



Joined: 12 Sep 2009


PostPosted: Tue Jan 17, 2012 9:12 pm
Post subject: Reply with quote

stui magpie wrote:

Isn't that from Sound of Music? Embarassed


I thought it was ... "What do we do with the drunken sailor"?


David, can i ask you for some techical advise?
Yesterday there was a raging grass fire that swept in over the Scenic drive behind my place. It got to with-in 100 metres of my baxk fence and was only stopped when the Elvis-type Fire-Fighting Helicopter "Delilah" flew in and water bombed the fire front.
I tooks heap of photos but can't down load them.
i used a small digital i've had lying around for years but can get the images have gone to.
Is there a simple way i do this?
I am a troglodyte when it comes to digital media


Last edited by 3.14159 on Tue Jan 17, 2012 9:37 pm; edited 2 times in total
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David Libra

Through the looking glass


Joined: 27 Jul 2003
Location: Tea party

PostPosted: Tue Jan 17, 2012 9:35 pm
Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm far from an expert myself, but I can try—what kind of camera is a fujimac, film or digital? If it's film, I guess you can try to scan the developed photos onto your computer; if digital, did you get some kind of USB cable with it? If not, you can probably buy one.
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5150 Sagittarius



Joined: 31 Aug 2005


PostPosted: Tue Jan 17, 2012 9:39 pm
Post subject: Reply with quote

Hasnt this tread derailed. Sound of music, sea shanties, and 3.14's photos of a controlled burn off.

Sorry David.
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pietillidie 



Joined: 07 Jan 2005


PostPosted: Tue Jan 17, 2012 9:41 pm
Post subject: Reply with quote

The comparison with Germany differs given its overt imperial ambition and the money it was pumping into its war machine. Trading with that sort of regime is at some point obviously the equivalent of shooting oneself in the foot.

The neocons of course used that argument with Iraq, except we all knew its menace was largely contained within its own borders and the unknown factors were so ridiculously large any decision-making was rendered no better than a flip of a coin - something which sounded the alarm bells for anyone who had a vague understanding of the country.

Chomsky is right on this when he says the question is not one of principle but one of tactics. The common sense tactical position is that if the local people are damned either way, you let them deal with it internally because the decision to fight is theirs and theirs alone if the threat is internal. That means tyranny survives for now, but it survives to some extent at the indigenous behest.

If the local people want trade and don't want intervention, and to my knowledge almost universally at least want trade to carry on, you give them the dignity of deciding how to deal with the problem themselves rather than forcing blind chaos upon them as with Iraq. You then switch tactics as things change or at the indigenous behest.

A fluid pragmatism respecting the rights of people to decide even within limited confines, in other words.

This is one thing Paul gets pretty right; it's low hanging fruit to my mind, but the US needs any good idea it can take so I'll pay him that much. Pity it's framed within a context of la la land economics and social physics.

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Last edited by pietillidie on Tue Jan 17, 2012 9:42 pm; edited 1 time in total
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3.14159 Taurus



Joined: 12 Sep 2009


PostPosted: Tue Jan 17, 2012 9:41 pm
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It's a small Fujimatic, 4 meg etc.
i bought about 3 years ago so i'm pretty sure i am the problem, not it.
anywae my brother just rang and says he's coming up tomorroww night and he is a computer geek so i'll get him to source the difficulty.
Would you like to see the photos?
It was using the radio tower @ my back door to line-up it's drops.


Last edited by 3.14159 on Tue Jan 17, 2012 9:51 pm; edited 1 time in total
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pietillidie 



Joined: 07 Jan 2005


PostPosted: Tue Jan 17, 2012 9:46 pm
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Sorry, I meant to relate my point above directly to sanctions. The same applies precisely - you carry on and let local people deal with it as they decide. There is presumably one thing worse than oppressive authoritarian rule, and that's enduring oppressive authoritarian rule under conditions of even worse impoverishment.
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David Libra

Through the looking glass


Joined: 27 Jul 2003
Location: Tea party

PostPosted: Tue Jan 17, 2012 10:33 pm
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Sounds great 3.14, cheers. Smile hope your brother can sort it out.

pietillidie wrote:
The comparison with Germany differs given its overt imperial ambition and the money it was pumping into its war machine. Trading with that sort of regime is at some point obviously the equivalent of shooting oneself in the foot.

The neocons of course used that argument with Iraq, except we all knew its menace was largely contained within its own borders and the unknown factors were so ridiculously large any decision-making was rendered no better than a flip of a coin - something which sounded the alarm bells for anyone who had a vague understanding of the country.

Chomsky is right on this when he says the question is not one of principle but one of tactics. The common sense tactical position is that if the local people are damned either way, you let them deal with it internally because the decision to fight is theirs and theirs alone if the threat is internal. That means tyranny survives for now, but it survives to some extent at the indigenous behest.

If the local people want trade and don't want intervention, and to my knowledge almost universally at least want trade to carry on, you give them the dignity of deciding how to deal with the problem themselves rather than forcing blind chaos upon them as with Iraq. You then switch tactics as things change or at the indigenous behest.

A fluid pragmatism respecting the rights of people to decide even within limited confines, in other words.

This is one thing Paul gets pretty right; it's low hanging fruit to my mind, but the US needs any good idea it can take so I'll pay him that much. Pity it's framed within a context of la la land economics and social physics.


It sounds like we're pretty much on the same page here, but to keep the discussion going—how can you know what the people want when their voice is silenced, e.g. North Korea?

To be clear, do you then in general oppose sanctions where the problems are internal? Do you, for example, think the international sanctions against South Africa were a good idea and/or can be mainly credited with ending Apartheid? Or were the South African people more or less able to sort out their own oppression internally without us? And what do you think of the calls to boycott/sanction Israel?

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pietillidie 



Joined: 07 Jan 2005


PostPosted: Tue Jan 17, 2012 11:01 pm
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^I think you'll find there is a lot surveying done of local people in such countries, though I haven't looked into it in each specific case. But without the clear support of sanctions from the majority of locals, no I wouldn't support them. I mean, if you don't know the popular sentiment of the country you're dealing with then you clearly don't know much about the country at all - and certainly not enough to develop any sophisticated policy in regard to it. Knowing what the heck you're talking about is basic due diligence, surely.

But being pragmatic I don't oppose sanctions per se; it could well be that black South Africans assented to them and they were effective as both a shame and economic tactic. But not being principles, tactics are not universals and so the formula is still more or less the same regardless of what happens in each specific case: are the sanctions doing more harm than good, and do the local people assent to that approach?

Iraq is still the classic case of idiotic ideological sanctions; no new time constraints, warring internal parties (hence no clear political assent), sanctions causing more harm than good, hopeless information, disastrous historical relations, sleazy economic interests, etc.

That said, ambiguity in many cases is definitely expected, but the trick is surely to not let dangerous imperialists and monopolists overgeneralise that ambiguity to do what they did to Iraq, which was a pretty straightforward case of the unilateral imposition of carnage. (Note Paul is right here that one of the main motivations for sanctions is anti-competitive trade).

North Korea is a different case again, namely because you need the assent of both the internal victims and potential external victims. In this case the potential external victims have the power to block unilateralism (think Seoul and Beijing, particularly), unlike the poor old neighbours of Iraq who were just collateral damage to the imperialists.

The problem with the usual analogy of a bystander being mugged is that the real world suffers from hopelessly gross information asymmetry. So much so that the given analogy is absolutely meaningless. In many cases deciding to intervene is more akin to deciding whether or not to help in a dispute somewhere down the front to the far left in the mosh pit at a rock festival in teeming rain and knee-deep mud after a dozen beers.

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think positive Libra

Side By Side


Joined: 30 Jun 2005
Location: somewhere

PostPosted: Tue Jan 17, 2012 11:37 pm
Post subject: Reply with quote

3.14159...etc wrote:
stui magpie wrote:

Isn't that from Sound of Music? Embarassed


I thought it was ... "What do we do with the drunken sailor"?


David, can i ask you for some techical advise?
Yesterday there was a raging grass fire that swept in over the Scenic drive behind my place. It got to with-in 100 metres of my baxk fence and was only stopped when the Elvis-type Fire-Fighting Helicopter "Delilah" flew in and water bombed the fire front.
I tooks heap of photos but can't down load them.
i used a small digital i've had lying around for years but can get the images have gone to.
Is there a simple way i do this?
I am a troglodyte when it comes to digital media


glad you are okay.

can you find the pics on your camera? they could be on the camera's internal memory or a memory card.

do you have a usb cable?

if so, plug it into the pc, turn it on, turn the dial on the camera until it shows up on the screen. when you get the camera up, look for the dcm file, open it, pics should be there, select all, save to a file on your pc.

when you get that far, give us a yell! Wink

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