September 28, 2007Foreign Affairs

After the junta is toppled

Holding together the new Burma

This is an archived blog post from The Acorn.

It is far from certain that the unrest in Myanmar will result in the toppling of the junta. But planning for that contingency is in order. Drew Thompson, a senior fellow at the Nixon Center, offers some suggestions:

In addition to dusting off plans for evacuating non-combatants, western and Asean nations should think about the potential outcomes. If the junta cracks down violently and stops the protests, the international community needs to press China, India and Asean to advance a substantive response, not just further dialogue and toothless resolutions while continuing to invest in Burma’s extractives industries. Asean and its member countries must also reconsider their constructive engagement approach.

If the junta unexpectedly collapses, an international force should be quickly mobilised to fill the security vacuum and restore peace. India (a top provider of United Nations peacekeepers), along with several Asean nations, would be prime candidate to provide the police and soldiers necessary to restore order in a UN-sanctioned mission. The US Navy in the Pacific demonstrated its immense capacity following the tsunami disaster of 2004 and could be deployed in similar fashion, in support of either a UN mission or a more rapid humanitarian response.

While installing Nobel Prize laureate Ms Suu Kyi as the leader of the Burmese people might appear an elegant solution to the international community, her small and oppressed NLD party has no governing experience or technocrats, and she would be inheriting a dysfunctional bureaucracy loyal to the generals. Establishing a functioning civilian government in Burma will require sustained international attention, long after the monks have returned to their monasteries. [FT]So yes, get rid of the generals by all means. But keep the army intact.

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