Understanding Myanmar's re-engagement with the West: From Inside Looking Out

Beneath Naypyidaw's rhetoric of democracy lies the multi-pronged and multi-faceted strategy adopted by the Bama Neanderthals in power, Than Shwe Inc.

Myanmar's nominal head of State Thein Sein is bound for Britain where her former colonizer will roll out a red carpet for the man who officially endorses 969, a neo-Nazi "Buddhist" movement the country's Religious Affairs, Home Ministry incubated with the blessings from the highest level over the past 20 plus years.

In light of this irreconcilable gap between the democratic rhetoric coming from Naypyidaw and its international and local spin-masters (for instance, the likes of the International Crisis Group and Norway's foreign-affairs-peace-oil-Telenor industrial complex) there needs to be a serious rethink about where Myanmar is transitioning to.

The regime's democratic credentials are nothing if not Orwellian.

Months ago Myanmar pundits and foreign media got unduly carried away when the regime's advisers talked about creating freest media in the ASEAN, and the media reforms were hailed as one of the most genuinely exciting domains to watch. My journalist friends from abroad talked wildly about taking up residency in the extremely expensive but dilapidated and filthy Yangon in order to be a part of the media's own Gold Rush.

The Lower House just passed the media legislation that will severely restrict the local media is a wake-up call for those with the rose-tinted view about the top-down reforms by Myanmar generals and ex-generals. This is the House headed by the man who is one of the top 5 most corrupt ex-generals on whose bodies is written the word 'democratic lies' everywhere. And Myanmar local media is not even a liberal, progressive one, but rather a verifiably racist media that drummed up support for the regime's rigged elections as recent as 2010.

Imagine what the Neanderthals in Naypyidaw would do, if ever there emerged miraculously an independent, intelligent and critical media there.

Indeed, leopards don't change their spots as they say. Not overnight. And conceivably not ever.

Behind the rhetoric of democracy lies the multi-pronged and multi-faceted strategy adopted by Naypyidaw's Neanderthals in power, Than Shwe Inc.

Here is the skeleton of the regime's strategy - as far as I can detect:

Than Shwe Inc has learned to:

1) act smarter with business interests;
2) exploit the West's desperation;
3) address own fear of China;
4) coopt and/or corrupt the dissident elites by dangling the carrot of 2015 elections, Presidency, national leadership;
5) mobilize, as Milosevic did in the Balkans, ethno-religious anti-Muslim prejudices of the majority against the weakest in society with no real support from any foreign power;
6) outsource Rohingya genocide to the ultra-nationalist Rakhines who were demanding more revenues and greater autonomy;
7) tarnish and preempt any future political threats from the Buddhist Sangha by incubating Home Affairs-inserted 969 Nazi cells in the Order;
8) seduce and use western educated Burmese technocrat elite or “idiot’s utiles” (for powers, technocrats who can be turned into instant pimps are a dime a dozen);
9) facilitate Hollywood's Lady morphing into a world class hypocrite internationally and a "Kalar or nigger-lover" in the eyes of the racist public and the monks, were she to say or act out of any principles, compassion and ethics;
10) offer the armed resistance elites business and 'development' prospects
11) throw 'donors's crumbs' at foreign consultants in development-peace-INGO industry in exchange for federalism;
12) create manageable pockets of instability and regions under Emergency Laws by unleashing its ideological attack dogs such as 969 fascists in monk's Saffron robe; and last but not least
13) frame rather conveniently every problem in Myanmar as part and parcel of democratization, adopting the 'intellectual' explanation offered by the ICG's utterly stupid Myanmar 'experts' and repeated by intellectually dishonest or substandard ASEAN politicians, for instance, Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa.

Naypyidaw has been able to do all this, apparently, while maintaining a very firm grip on most strategic domains of the State and power.

In essence, what Than Shwe Inc controls now - and what it controlled before 2010 sham elections - remains absolutely the same.

Here is the list of institutions and areas which it is unprepared to give up its monopoly control:

1. the propaganda (media);
2. the armed gangs mistakenly referred to as the Army;
3. all business sectors;
4. the opposition politics;
5. international relations;
6. the finances;
7. the resource sector;
8. all State institutions of any importance, including the judiciary, legislature, bureaucracy, executive branch, and whitewash inquiry commissions;
9. the Intelligence services;
10. the 'peace' negotiations; 
11. the entire reform process;
12. matters of God, that is, Religions.

And you still think Myanmar's reforms are about democracy and rule of law?

The timing and the setting for Naypyidaw to pursue this multi-pronged and multi-faceted strategy is perfect. The West is too strategically desperate, too corporate greed-driven, too INGO-self-interested, too arrogantly ignorant to be of Burmese people's allies.

All this sounds like one big Naypyidaw conspiracy, with international complicity. And it is. All powers conspire.

If anyone thinks the generals have been in power for this long, 50 years and counting, to be precise, having outlived virtually all their contemporaries around the world, without conspiring, plotting, conniving 24/7, demolishing and murdering any credible threats to their power, privileges and wealth he or she does not know what thinking involves and where it leads to.

In the Orwellian age of Obama, NSA and Snowden, conspiracies are the rule and no longer the stuff to ridicule.

And you still think Myanmar is democratizing?

The plain truth of the matter is Myanmar under the new management of ex-generals and generals are bound to join the great majority of political systems in the Twilight Zone where corporations are beginning to do her - the way they did in Yeltsin's Russia.

You think Myanmar is "democratizing" because the generals now hold elections and sit in the parliament like monkeys in silk skirts?

But do you know that 1 in 3 humans on earth live under some form of authoritarian/dictatorial regime while all but 5 governments did not hold election in the past 15-20 years? To put it broadly, elections are a democratic prerequisite for a democracy, but hardly a good indicator for 'democracy's presence'.

Trappings of democracy - political parties, dissidents, seemingly free media, Parliaments, Constitutions, nominal separation of the branches of state power, and above all the rhetoric of 'democracy' - do not necessarily mean a country has arrived.

Myanmar is a case in point.

Forms and rhetoric do not translate themselves in essence or practice. Not by themselves.


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