Bloggers on the idea of military intervention in Burma.

The latest chatter in cyberspace.
May 12 2008 5:47 PM

Free Burma!

Bloggers continue to ponder whether the situation in Burma merits military intervention and game out what Hillary Clinton's campaign debt will mean in the Democratic race.

Free Burma! Late last week, bloggers started asking if it was proper to invade Burma as the ruling junta hindered efforts from the United Nations, the United States, and others to provide humanitarian relief to the victims of Cyclone Nargis. Now, with the mainstream media, via Romesh Ratnesar's Time article posing the same question, bloggers are debating the possibility of intervention even more fiercely.

At the Huffington Post,Simon Jenkins argues that the crisis is comparable to others that warranted humanitarian intervention, such as Kosovo and Somalia. "Hundreds of thousands of people are thus condemned to death by one thing alone, the viciousness of a dictatorship more concerned with its pride and xenophobia than with the wellbeing of its citizens. Like Soviet regimes of old, the Burmese government would rather pretend that disasters have not occurred than admit it cannot handle them."

At Outside the Beltway, conservative (and Operation Desert Storm vet) James Joyner isn't shy: "Hell no, it's not time to invade Burma. Are you friggin' kidding me? Frankly, I don't care what the junta in Burma wants. The international community doesn't recognize them as legitimate. If the people who do these things for a living decide that ignoring the junta and dropping relief supplies will do more good than harm, I don't have any problems with it. But coercive humanitarian intervention? No, thanks." The Atlantic'sJames Fallows, writing from China, also believes that the time hasn't come for military action: "Unfortunately, saying that the regime is evil doesn't automatically indicate how to help its unfortunate people. Invasions -- even for humanitarian purposes -- should be a very last resort. … As the international frustrations of the last week have suggested, the main option is the unsatisfying one of putting together as much pressure from as many sources as possible, including China**, to force the regime away from its outrageous refusal to allow aid workers in."

In an understated post seized upon by commenters, Ann Althouse directs readers to a New York Times op-ed—from 1990—that asks if it was time to intervene. On Contentions, James Kirchick points to the same op-ed to argue in favor of "a bit of good of old-fashioned American gunboat diplomacy" to "send a message," rather than a full-scale invasion.

Conservative Sean Hackbarth at the American Mind is unconvinced by a bleeding-heart justification for Burmese invasion, though: "The role [of] the United States government first and foremost is to protect the rights of her citizens. All military interventions have to be looked that through that lens. … Humanitarianism isn't a good enough reason to rally the public. We need cold-hearted national interest reasons. That's why action in Rwanda and Darfur hasn't happened and why I wasn't convinced bombing Serbia was a good idea." On Pirate's Cove, William Teach agrees, saying, "So, it is apparently OK in Liberal World to invade a sovereign nation that has no bearing on US security, is not trying to gain WMD, is not systematically torturing, maiming, raping, and slaughting its citizens on purpose, is not paying families $25k to have their kids blow themselves up in Israel, and is not in violation of 17 UN resolutions, not to mention firing on US forces in the No Fly Zones. Great. Maybe we could invade New Zealand next."

Read more from bloggers on Burma and humanitarian intervention.

Debtor in chief: Hillary Clinton's campaign has confirmed  that it's $20 million in debt, but senior adviser Howard Wolfson says that's no reason for her to drop out. Bloggers beg to differ.

The Left Coaster's Steve Soto ponders Clinton's motivations: "What nobility is there in continuing a race without broad financial support, one that has generated a debt that will require years of fundraising to pay it off? No matter how much you may support Hillary's remaining effort, can a debt that size this late in the season be justified as the cost of doing business at the back end of a failed strategy, despite the more civil tone each side has displayed towards the other since North Carolina?"

At the National Review Online's Corner, Kathryn Jean Lopez relishes Hillary's money troubles. Political Chase points out that if she were to stay in the race, things won't get any better, since "[t]here are approximately 23 days left in the primary season and it costs roughly $1 million per day to run the campaign. …Combine this news with her last report to the FEC and it's easy to understand why Hillary didn't think she needed the advice of an economist on her gas tax plan."

Jim Newell at Wonkette predicts: "She can put a few more weeks on her AmEx if she wants to, and she might as well at this point: Let her run out the rest of the primaries, everyone will decide, and the only thing pushing her out will be her old nemesis, Math, finally set-in-stone. And then she'll sue and take it to the convention where Al Gore will become president, again."

Meanwhile, despite a New York Times piece suggesting that Obama might be willing to help Hillary dig out of her debt; at the New Republic's Stump, Noam Scheiber reports that "[a]n Obama insider says the idea of helping Hillary with her debt went down very, very badly among supporters, donors, fundraisers, etc. This person says the most generous offer he could foresee would be Obama headlining a fundraiser for Hillary, but cautions that this is just speculation and might even be a stretch. Of course, this could just be posturing--people often take hardline positions to gain leverage prior to negotiating. But I didn't get that impression. My sense is that the Obama people really are dead set against this."

Read more about Hillary's debt.



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