Back on September 30th of last year, I wrote a post entitled Burma/Myanmar: The Balkans' and Central Asia's Future (Part 1). It is now time for Part 2.
If the United States knew what was going on during the Holocaust, would it have been incumbent upon the United States government to try to stop it? Should the United States have used military force, if necessary, to prevent the extermination of innocent civilians from all over Europe at the hands of the Nazis?
What about if there had been no war raging in Europe, if the Nazis were only exterminating citizens of Germany? Does a government have a right to do that? Is that a national security threat to other nations? Would it have been appropriate for the United States to intervene militarily to put an end to such conduct?
What about if the Nazis were not actively exterminating people, but were rather allowing them to die in ghettos, cut off from the world, and not receiving what they needed to survive? Something akin, perhaps, to the Warsaw Ghetto, but inside of territory subject to the jurisdiction of the German government, and impacting only German citizens - would it have been appropriate for the United States to intervene militarily, and prevent mass deaths under such circumstances?
What if a natural disaster had placed a large part of the German population at risk, and the Nazi government were interfering with efforts to save them, thus letting them die, rather than actively murdering them? Would it have been appropriate for the United States to intervene militarily to prevent the deaths under such circumstances?
What if, instead of a Nazi government in Germany in the first half of the last century, it were a military government in a nation in Asia in the present - is it appropriate for the United States to intervene militarily to prevent mass death by neglect, killings of genocidal proportions?
What if the government doing this were not the lawfully-elected government, as the Nazis very arguably were, but were instead a junta that had seized power despite the will of the people? What if this government were now committing auto-genocide - the mass killing of its own people - by means of neglect and interference in the wake of a natural disaster?
These are questions that we need to ask ourselves, and questions to which We the People need to find answers with which we will be comfortable.
President Bush condemns the military junta in Burma/Myanmar - well, who doesn't?
But, when it was friends of the Saudis that were in a situation far less clear - a situation where they were far, far less innocent - the United States intervened militarily to assist them. The result is the establishment of failed states in Europe, specifically in the Balkans.
Beyond that, though, these failed states in the Balkans, together with Burma/Myanmar, share a trait that is developing elsewhere in between - Central and South Asian states are also teetering on the brink of being failed states.
Is international law merely a tool, to be used or discarded as convenient? Does might make right? Are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, having been endowed upon us by our Creator, now only for the elite - for those who have friends and influence to guarantee these things?
Amidst all this, vast enclaves of Western Europe have become ghettos, challenging the very stability of the nation-states in which they are located, threatening to bring them civil war; indeed, two nuclear-armed permament members of the UN Security Council may find themselves dissolving in civil war in the next decade or two, possibly even leaving failed states - nuclear-armed failed states - in their wake.
The world is a shabby and dangerous place.
Who will be the leader of the most powerful nation on earth in this Brave New World of ours? Which of the likely candidates has the answers? Which even knows what the questions are?
Which of them can we confidently say is even honest?