Until recently the Burmese Military junta had only the support of the Chinese to fall back on.
I am unaware of any ASEAN initiative of worthy mention that has strived for democracy in Burma in the last decade or so.
I believe though India was until recently, overtly supporting and funding the democratic movement in Burma for the following reasons:
- Obviously a military dictatorship is something that India did not want in the neighbourhood. Being the largest democracy in the region India felt
obliged to do its bit to proliferate the same in the region.I think this is the main reason the US didn't take such an overt position on this. The
were 'satisfied' with th fact that the regional democratic power was actively looking into the situation.
- The Burmese Military was actively supported, funded and groomed by Red China. This made any opposition to the military a natural ally and friend of
India, who is anxious to limit chinese influence in South/South East Asia.
This passive support to Su Chi's movement didn't bear much fruit for India though.
Her campaign did not have a military resistance facet to it, so it mainly was limited to feeble protests and the whims and fancies of irregular
China on the other hand made great progress with its close relationship with the ruling military:
China had established a military listening post on the Burmese Coco Islands
an active and valuable watch on Indian military activities in the Bay of Bengal. Especially since all of India's civilian and military launches take
place in the vicinity. Infact this was China's first foray into the Indian Ocean Area, something that alarmed India to a great extent. It is believed
that this listening base is being developed into a full-fledged Chinese Naval Base. Rammifications of this are immense, it gives China a 'first
person' presence to watch over its energy transits through the straits of Malacca.
The Chinese base in Pakistan at Gwadar(see related ATS thread
) just of the Straits of
Hormuz further strengthens this Chinese presence in the Indian Ocean Area. This is something that the Indians and other nations not so friendly with
China(incld the US) are very very concerned about.
Hence the recently concluded Malabar 07(see related ATS thread
) naval exercises in
the Bay of Bengal to possibly set up a counter to any Chinese activities in the Indian Ocean.
Ok. So back to topic..
As a result, unfortunately for the democratic movement in Burma, India has quietly begun to actively engage the military ruling body in Burma in order
to 'limit' chinese influence in Burma. A obvious compromise is the distancing of itself(India) from the democratic movement.
Natural resources(mainly gas) in the region have also forced countries like China and India to actively engage the Burmese military in co-operative
measures. Its a race of sorts.. a race which India was losing when it was solely siding and supporting the democratic movement in Burma.
The Burmese ruling military is now very cleverly balancing the inputs it gets from both power/influence/energy-hungry India and China while the
democratic movement in Burma has lost the support of a major regional democratic power!
The Americans(or anybody else) cannot interfere in the region because China(and India) would not approve.
Me thinks Su Chi's movement needs a military wing and enough support for a possible dethroning of the military.
Only then can they hope to get active support(economical,military etc) from the likes of India. ASEAN will not be able to do much more than what India
did in the last decade or so. China just won't allow it.
It looks grim for democracy in Burma!
EDIT: correcting run-ons!
[edit on 24-9-2007 by Daedalus3]