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Coup untrue?
August 29, 2005 5:32 PM   Subscribe

The country formerly known as Burma officially denies reports of a coup. Rumors circulated last week that Senior General Than Shwe had been deposed by his military regime's number-two, General Maung Aye. Burma-watchers discounted the reports, with some suggesting that the junta concocted the story as a trick. The country's "ossified leaders" blamed the BBC for the rumors, while astrologers in Rangoon believe that Than Shwe's wife spread the story. The general's wife, it seems, is worried about Mars.
posted by soiled cowboy (63 comments total)

 
What's this "formerly known" stuff? They changed their name quite a while ago.
posted by delmoi at 6:01 PM on August 29, 2005


I wonder if the "Mars Spectacular!" email had anything to do with this.
posted by brownpau at 6:05 PM on August 29, 2005


Now that it's Myanmar, it's a free and peaceful nation.
posted by Kwantsar at 6:14 PM on August 29, 2005


delmoi: The unelected military dictators changed the country's name.

As a mark of international contempt for the dictatorship (and support for the elected government, who are either dead, in exile, under house arrest, or in jail) most international observers prefer to continue using the legitimate name: Burma.

American and British oil companies, eager as ever to do business with fascist warlords and take advantage of slave labor, are just about the only people to acknowledge the name change.
posted by cleardawn at 6:20 PM on August 29, 2005


and here's the latest on Unocal's performance in Burma.
posted by cleardawn at 6:24 PM on August 29, 2005


Not that French oil companies are any better.

Capitalism is a great leveller - always levelling to the bottom, of course. There's no profit in paying a decent wage when you can get away with using slave labor.
posted by cleardawn at 6:29 PM on August 29, 2005


Sure, cleardawn. It's Unocal that's oppressing all those Burmese. Never mind the government with all the guns.
posted by Kwantsar at 6:38 PM on August 29, 2005


Sure, cleardawn. It's Unocal that's oppressing all those Burmese. Never mind the government with all the guns.

Exactly where do you think the Burmese government gets the money for "all the guns"? The Burmese government uses the money from their Unocal-type deals to buy weapons and keep their people oppressed. Oppression isn't cheap. Someone needs to foot the bill.
posted by unreason at 6:44 PM on August 29, 2005


No, kwantsar, it's human cruelty, selfishness, stupidity and greed that's oppressing all those Burmese, and everybody else too.

Capitalism, like military dictatorship, institutionalises and promotes conduct based on extreme selfishness, cruelty, stupidity and greed.

It's important not to think "it's just those stupid foreigners" because there's plenty of it here at home.

Dick Cheney, Unocal, Total Oil, and General Than Shwe share the same worldview and the same ethical standards. Let's not let them get away with it.

That's my point. What's yours?
posted by cleardawn at 6:50 PM on August 29, 2005


Related?
posted by jefgodesky at 6:57 PM on August 29, 2005


Related how? Are you suggesting that the Bangladesh bombs were orchestrated by the Government of Bangladesh in order to ward of the evil force of Mars with a false rumor?

Or something else entirely?
posted by cleardawn at 7:06 PM on August 29, 2005




[...]while astrologers in Rangoon believe [...]

... stars trillions of kilometers away that just happen to look like animals when seen from Earth influence our daily lives?

Sorry, couldn't resist.
posted by spazzm at 7:06 PM on August 29, 2005


ward off, I meant to say. Bah. I post too much late at night. I should sleep more. Sorry again.
posted by cleardawn at 7:08 PM on August 29, 2005


Capitalism, like military dictatorship, institutionalises and promotes conduct based on extreme selfishness, cruelty, stupidity and greed.

Cleardawn, I agree with you in the matter of Burma, but don't you think that's a bit extreme? After all, any system can cause abuses. I would point out that socialism is no more immune from tyranny than capitalism, as the Soviet Union, China, and North Korea demonstrated.
posted by unreason at 7:11 PM on August 29, 2005


I love when crackpots get all foamy at the mouth over "capitalism".
posted by nightchrome at 7:13 PM on August 29, 2005


Cleardawn ... everything in Burmese politics seems shrouded in secrecy and misdirection to me. There was some speculation that the bombings might have been a move by the rival party, and now denied rumors of a coup. I'm confused, and wondering how these things relate--if at all.
posted by jefgodesky at 7:21 PM on August 29, 2005


unreason, your point, strangely, has some reason to it.

I'd give it about 25%.

Certainly, the countries you specified were/are tyrannies. And it's true that they called themselves "socialist".

However, when we look at the stucture of those societies, it's very clear that there is very little, if any, socialism there.

What we actually see in North Korea, for example, is a very rigid, inflexible, unpleasant hierarchy - that is, a military dictatorship.

True socialism is the opposite of that.

Just because Comrade Dear Leader Kim says it's a socialist state, we surely don't have to believe him!

Socialism remains a doctrine that has seldom been attempted in practice. That's largely because the US tends to bomb the living shit out of anywhere that tries.

Cuba is perhaps the closest there's ever been to a genuinely Marxist system, and it's certainly one of the most successful Central American countries, socially and economically, in spite of the US embargo; but most modern socialists, including me, feel that even Cuba (which has the best human rights record in the Western hemisphere, incidentally, with the arguable exception of Canada) is too repressive, with too little real criticism and debate, and too much personality worship of the Great Leader.

Modern France and Germany are probably closer to what a genuinely socialist country might be like in practice, although the corporations and super-rich individuals certainly still have far too much power in those countries at present.

In my view, anyway...
posted by cleardawn at 7:25 PM on August 29, 2005


No, kwantsar, it's human cruelty, selfishness, stupidity and greed that's oppressing all those Burmese, and everybody else too.

We are all animals, my Dear, but is everybody being oppressed, or are we all oppressors?
posted by longsleeves at 7:26 PM on August 29, 2005


and here's the latest on Unocal's performance in Burma.

More recent developments here.
posted by homunculus at 7:26 PM on August 29, 2005


...although I am, of course, a 'crackpot' getting all 'foamy at the mouth'. Ahem.

What criticisms of capitalism do YOU have to offer, Nightchrome? Any?
posted by cleardawn at 7:31 PM on August 29, 2005


longsleeves: are we not, my dear, all both?

There are only two people in this world;
And all of us are both of them.

posted by cleardawn at 7:33 PM on August 29, 2005


True socialism is the opposite of that.

Reminds me of the old joke:
"Capitalism is man's exploitation of man.
Socialism is the opposite."
posted by spazzm at 7:36 PM on August 29, 2005


homunculus, I thank you. If I wasn't such a foamy-mouthed crackpot I'd have checked the date on my earlier link more carefully, perhaps.

(slobbers off to crack some pots...)
posted by cleardawn at 7:40 PM on August 29, 2005


spazzm: that's not a joke, it's a tragedy.

I recognize the validity and pain from which such Russian humor springs.

But surely, there's another side. Day as well as night.

Human beings are fundamentally clever, and kind, all other things being equal. We like to help each other, as long as we don't have to try too hard.

If you look at the progress we've made over the last five hundred years (for example) in terms of organizing a just and satisfactory method of governing ourselves... well, we have made some progress.

I, for one, welcome (no, wait)

I, for one, believe that we can continue to progress.

I really do. Don't you?
posted by cleardawn at 7:45 PM on August 29, 2005


The Burmese government uses the money from their Unocal-type deals to buy weapons and keep their people oppressed. Oppression isn't cheap. Someone needs to foot the bill.

What you seem not to get is that commodities are fungible, and no amount of wishing isn't going to make it otherwise. If not Unocal, someone, somewhere will trade E&P/expertise/capital to the guys with the guns in exchange for resources. You commit The Fatal Conceit.

And Unocal and Dick Cheney have fuckall to do with capitalism.

On the other hand, I'm not going to argue with anyone who claims that Cuba has "the best human rights record in the Western hemisphere." You win. Nice work, crackpot.
posted by Kwantsar at 7:49 PM on August 29, 2005


True socialism is the opposite of that.

What you are using is generally termed the True Scotsman Logical Fallacy. It goes like this. I believe that all Scotsman are good. Therefore if I see any Scotsman acting badly, he can't be a real Scotsman. Similarly, if a socialistic society acts in a way that you disapprove of, then you get out of it by claiming that it's not "true socialism". Fact: Pure Socialism requires a totally even distribution of property. Fact: In any society, many will object to this. Therefore, any socialistic society requires a large government capable of confiscating any and all property for any reason. Most people would term that tyranny.

Socialism remains a doctrine that has seldom been attempted in practice. That's largely because the US tends to bomb the living shit out of anywhere that tries.

Really? The US has managed to keep socialism from developing anywhere throughout all of human history? Remarkable. America's more powerful than I thought. And I seem to have missed the history class where we bombed the more socialistic scandinavian countries...


Cuba is perhaps the closest there's ever been to a genuinely Marxist system (which has the best human rights record in the Western hemisphere, incidentally, with the arguable exception of Canada)

Amnesty International doesn't seem to share your enthusiasm. A society that has never once held a fair election, where reporters are regularly beaten for criticizing their leader? A nation that can arrest you or simply kill you for simply trying to live in another country? That's the closest we've come to Marxist perfection? If so, I think I'll stick with capitalism.
posted by unreason at 7:51 PM on August 29, 2005


I think that cleardawn is touching on a clear distinction between 'US' and 'THEM'.
We think that we should hold the highest banner, strive to be better on human rights than others. We used to be the model of acedemic excellence, the arts and movie scene, damn near any catagory.
Now we are highest GDP and highest military expenditures, and everything else slipped to the wayside.

I agree and think that it can still be turned around, but if it can't, I'm planning for that, too.
posted by Balisong at 7:59 PM on August 29, 2005


Cuba (which has the best human rights record in the Western hemisphere, incidentally, with the arguable exception of Canada)

Please excuse the sounds of my giggling.
posted by loquax at 8:01 PM on August 29, 2005


Kwantsar, unreason, I think you agree with me much more than you realise. You've been taught to argue against Cuba and against socialism, and that's fine. But if you're going to argue against me, then try presenting some evidence that disproves something I said. I'm always eager to learn.

I didn't say Cuba had a perfect human rights record, merely that it has the best (with the arguable exception of Canada) in the Western hemisphere. You might want to point me to the country that has a better human rights record? The US, of course, has the worst, with over 2 MILLION people in filthy, overcrowded jails where torture and rape are routine. Not to mention frequent mass-murder of innocent civilians in other countries.

I also criticised the political system in Cuba, as do you. There's too little dissent, too much worship of the Great Leader. More democratic votes might help, but not necessarily - the devil's in the details, because a system based on first-past-the-post votes, as we know, can be a recipe for the most stupid and corrupt kind of government.

So nothing you said actually disagrees with me; you're merely disagreeing with straw men.

As for this, kwantsar:

Unocal and Dick Cheney have fuckall to do with capitalism.

I fear you lost me. What on Earth are you talking about?
posted by cleardawn at 8:06 PM on August 29, 2005


Wow, 13 12 comments out of 32. Is that a record?
posted by Vidiot at 8:10 PM on August 29, 2005


unreason: your link which you titled "kill you" points to an article which discusses the short-term imprisonment of people who are accused of political crimes. No killings alleged.

I don't support these imprisonments. I believe in freedom of speech. However, I also believe in calling out people who abuse freedom of speech to lie and exaggerate.

Did you deliberately exaggerate "imprison" to become "kill"? If so, why?
posted by cleardawn at 8:13 PM on August 29, 2005


vidiot: do you think I post too much? Please tell me how much you think I should post, and why.
posted by cleardawn at 8:14 PM on August 29, 2005


I'll tell ya why I should post..
posted by Balisong at 8:15 PM on August 29, 2005


Cuba is perhaps the closest there's ever been to a genuinely Marxist system, and it's certainly one of the most successful Central American countries, socially and economically,

Cleardawn, I was born in Cuba. I still have family there. I think that I have a pretty good idea of what that country is really like. If you honestly think that Cuba's socialist revolution is successful in anything beyond a sophisitc sense, you are seriously deluded.
posted by oddman at 8:15 PM on August 29, 2005


You might want to point me to the country that has a better human rights record?

Beware the wily Bermudans...
posted by Vidiot at 8:17 PM on August 29, 2005


It doesn't sound like Aung San Suu Kyi has been forgotten. The United States took several actions against Burma earlier this year:

United States Expresses Concern Over Situation in Burma

The United States expressed serious concern about political repression in Burma during a closed-door U.N. Security Council meeting June 24. Ambassador Gerald Scott, a senior adviser with the United States Mission to the United Nations, said that the United States used the Security Council consultations "to express our serious concern about the fact that the situation in Burma continues to decline."

June 19th was the 60th birthday of Nobel Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, a Burmese democracy activist who is under house arrest, and there are at least 1,300 political prisoners in Burma, Scott told journalists outside the Security Council chambers. "We felt under these circumstances it was appropriate to raise this point with other representatives of the international community," Scott said.

US Senate Renews Import Ban on Burma

Senators voted to renew the Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act for another year. The measure is aimed at pressing Burma to improve its human rights record, and in particular, release all political prisoners, including democracy leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi. Senator John McCain, an Arizona Republican, is a co-sponsor:

"The situation in Burma grows ever dimmer. The military junta in that country controls the population through a campaign of violence and terror. The lack of freedom and justice there is simply appalling. The Burmese regime has murdered political opponents, used child soldiers and forced labor, and used rape as a weapon of war. Political activists remain imprisoned, including elected members of parliament, and last month, that courageous woman, Aung San Suu Kyi, celebrated her 60th birthday in captivity."

Bush Signs into Law Measure on Burma

President Bush has signed into law a bill that renews the U.S. ban on imports from Burma to protest Burma's human rights record. President Bush said at the time that the sanctions were meant as a clear signal to Burma's government that it must release democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and all other political prisoners.

posted by cenoxo at 8:27 PM on August 29, 2005


Fair enough, I retract my claim that Cuba has the best human rights record in the Western Hemisphere with the arguable exception of Canada.

I was wrong. I was exaggerating to try to make an emotional impact beyond what the facts deserved. (Shock!)

The treatment of homosexuals in Cuba, for example, is unacceptable and anachronistic.

Several countries, including Costa Rica, Bermuda, Venezuela, and Brazil, have arguably better human rights.

Still - the American administration routinely claims that Cuba has the *worst* human rights record in the Western Hemisphere.

They're wrong, too.

And it's clear that many, probably most, of the accusations of human rights problems in Cuba are either exaggerated by, or directly caused by, the hostile policies of the US government.

How did we get on to Cuba anyway? We were supposed to use this thread to talk about Burma.

Did I do that?

Doh.

Sorry.

I hope I at least win something for the greatest number of sincere apologies in a single thread.
posted by cleardawn at 8:33 PM on August 29, 2005


Cleardawn Wins!
posted by Balisong at 8:40 PM on August 29, 2005


Congratulations, Cleardawn. Can we talk about Burma now?
posted by soiled cowboy at 8:41 PM on August 29, 2005


Exactly where do you think the Burmese government gets the money for "all the guns"?

Smuggling, mostly. Teak and rubies.

When last I was in Burma -- 2000 -- the kyat was valued 13 to the American dollar. While moneychangers on the streets of Yangon were offering 228 to one. That's how far out they are from reality.

At the time, Thailand was the world's 7th largest ruby exporter (probably still is). Thailand has no rubies.

Oh, sorry. I thought this was a Burma thread.
posted by dreamsign at 8:52 PM on August 29, 2005


Tell you what.

You'll get something when you stop using situations that you clearly have little to no knowledge about (beyond simplistic political ideology) to win points in an argument. You'll get something when you realize that no member of the US government (and trust me, I'm no US apologist) is holding a gun to Castro's head and forcing him to rig elections, imprison journalists, destroy families and abuse his people. (In fact, Castro's crimes predate the embargo. Feel free to continue ignoring that inconvenient fact.) You'll get something when you realize that doctrine and dogma do not, all by themselves, a good society make. You'll get something when you realize that relying on emotional hooks in an rational debate is amateurish, lazy, and at best sophistry. You'll get something when you shut up and refrain from utilizing the suffering of others as a way to make a point in a debate.

And for the record, you little Urkel wannabe, "Did I do that? Doh. Sorry." is not an apology.

Grow up.
posted by oddman at 8:59 PM on August 29, 2005


Just go back to the Burma discussion.
posted by oddman at 9:02 PM on August 29, 2005


You'll get something when you shut up and refrain from utilizing the suffering of others as a way to make a point in a debate.

Both sides do it. They have since the dawn of debate. Try another position.
posted by Balisong at 9:05 PM on August 29, 2005


Balisong, since when has precedent served as justification for poor behavior? If something is wrong it is wrong.

Or would you have accepted an argument from slave owners in pre-civil war America based on the precedent set by ancient Rome and Greece?

Perhaps, we should ignore the genocide in Africa because people have been waging war on that particular continent since the dawn of humanity.

I know, we should, as you suggest, try another position instead of criticizing slanted and false journalism because people have been distorting the facts of most events since the dawn of writing. Would that be doubleplusgood for you?

I prefer to decry poor arguments and poor behavior instead of accepting them as some sort of intractable part of the human condition.
posted by oddman at 9:27 PM on August 29, 2005


I agree that there are plenty of deplorable situations globaly, and effectively (or not) I am saying that calling the suffering of others as the abject of our arguements is something done by both sides. Usually whatever action called for does nothing to aleviate suffering, but suffering is invoked nonetheless.
posted by Balisong at 9:37 PM on August 29, 2005


CIA Fact Book for Burma
posted by blue_beetle at 10:23 PM on August 29, 2005


Truth Goes Missing in Murky Myanmar is a worthwhile overview.

In more concrete Burmese news, Than Shwe allegedly traveled to Singapore for medical treatment, which may have fueled the rumors. The ASEAN regional partnership, which had been scheduled to hand its alphabetically-rotated chairmanship to Myanmar next year, is now in disarray as Myanmar demurred, after intense pressure from the West not to let it happen. ASEAN has been one of the few major external venues for Myanmar and it has opened some dual-channel diplomacy doors, but hasn't resulted in any significant reform yet. And shockingly, the Global Fund has withdrawn from Myanmar, saying that its mission to fight AIDS was compromised by regime-imposed travel restrictions and paperwork delays. This is the first time they've pulled their people for a reason other than personal safety.
posted by dhartung at 1:10 AM on August 30, 2005


unreason writes "Amnesty International doesn't seem to share your enthusiasm."

That's Amnesty USA, actually, an organisation that shows a strange adherance to official US foreign policy when criticising Cuba. There are several questions about their aparent lack of evenhandedness regarding Cuba that remain unanswered.

/OT

It seems that from some perspectives the Aids epidemic is a good thing. Not the perspective of the population, unsuprisingly.
posted by asok at 3:14 AM on August 30, 2005


The countr formerly known as Burma

"Burma" in Burmese sounds like "myamma". "Burma" is the name that the English put on *their* colony. While I fully understand the reasons why people still call it Burma, it is nonetheless pretty ironic how things turn out.

Thailand has no rubies.

I can't really praise the Thai treatment of all Burmese refugees, but different folks working at the UN camps in the Thai-Burma border have pointed out to me in several occassions that Thailand is indeed carrying on (and *paying* for) a very necessary humanitarian effort for many burmese. Often in the face of terrible criticism from abroad.

You can view Thailand as the big cousin taking advantage of all its unruly neighbours, but you can also view Thailand as the one place in former Indochina where there is some resemblance of normality. In this respect, it is worth pointing out that at least until very recently, Thailand had outstandingly relaxed inmigration laws and policies. And they did not just apply to rich foreigners.
posted by magullo at 5:06 AM on August 30, 2005


Thailand as the one place in former Indochina

Thailand was never part of Indochina. Indochina referred to the French area of control in the region: Tonkin, Annam, Cochin China, Laos and Cambodia. If by Indochina you're referring to Southeast Asia, then it must be pointed out that Malaysia and Singapore are also quite "normal".

Thailand's relative stability compared to its neighbors in the east, north and west is due in great measure to the fact that Thailand was never colonized by a Western power. Although it was briefly occupied by the Japanese during WWII, the country never endured the civil strife suffered by post-colonial French and British territories in the area.

different folks working at the UN camps in the Thai-Burma border have pointed out to me

Several NGOs are involved in various refugee camps on the Thai-Burma border, but I don't believe any of them are managed by the UN.

While Thailand's sheltering of ethnic groups along the Burma border is admirable, on a macro level the Thai government has a shoddy record in its dealings with Burma's military dictatorship. Thailand lobbied for Myanamar's membership in ASEAN, it has taken advantage of the vaccuum of Western investment in the country by aggresively furthering its own investments, it has done little to stop the smuggling of resources across the border, and it routinely deports Burmese political activists to their doom in Rangoon's prisons.
posted by soiled cowboy at 8:22 AM on August 30, 2005


What a strange thread. I'd like to thank those people who are presenting useful information on Burma (especially, as usual, the tireless dhartung), and also to thank the poster for avoiding the dictator-imposed "Myanmar," which so many seem so eager to use as if it were the Will of the People.

"Burma" in Burmese sounds like "myamma". "Burma" is the name that the English put on *their* colony.

No. "Burma" in Burmese sounds like "bama." Bama derives from an earlier form Mranma; most dialects of Burmese changed r to y, so this is now pronounced Myanma, which sometimes (but not always) gets rendered Myanmar—this is thanks to the deplorable British habit of rendering long vowels with what to them is a silent r, confusing the hell out of everybody else (remember "Sade, pronounced Shar-day"?). As the excellent Wikipedia article on the subject says, "Myanma is the written, literary name of the country, while Bama is the oral, colloquial name of the country"; if you go to that article you can read more than you ever wanted to know about the history of the names.
posted by languagehat at 8:43 AM on August 30, 2005


Thanks for pointing out that Wikipedia article, languagehat. I think this is an important note, from the same article:

"Historically, there has never been a name for the whole country Burma/Myanmar, which is in part a creation of the British colonial authorities, who annexed to their colony of Burma some peripheral areas inhabited by non-Burmese speaking people."

So while the people of the Irrawady valley and the international community might aruge over Burma/Myanmar, many of the non-Burmese peoples within those politically-contrived borders don't even consider themselves part of that country.
posted by soiled cowboy at 9:42 AM on August 30, 2005


oddman makes some valid points about my poor contribution to this thread. Again, I apologize for permitting myself to be derailed into a less-than-stellar argument about Cuba.

I should, in hindsight, have restricted myself to my earlier comments on Burma and the human condition in general, and let others, more knowledgeable than myself, continue the discussion on Burma.

However, oddman, after I'd already apologised and packed in for the night, you rather damaged your point by posting this offensive stream of bile:

You'll get something when you realize that relying on emotional hooks in an rational debate is amateurish, lazy, and at best sophistry. You'll get something when you shut up and refrain from utilizing the suffering of others as a way to make a point in a debate.

That doesn't speak to anything I've said or done, in this thread or in any other.

However, it applies perfectly to this post of yours, in which you put forward offensive views towards me, together with a rightwing, biased, ignorant slant on the issue of Cuba, seemingly just because you enjoy insulting people. I also note that you have had absolutely nothing to say in this thread about Burma.

Without wishing you ill, I do seriously hope you learn something from your own words.
posted by cleardawn at 10:52 AM on August 30, 2005


Thailand was never part of Indochina

Wiki

Incidentally, I think this is probably just a cultural difference. We neighbors of the French tend to think of the place as the whole peninsula. Also: Indo-china= from india to china.

Possibe range of UN activities at the camps?

Incidentally, maybe those people at that Klong Toey dive didn't work for the UN after all (just kidding).
posted by magullo at 11:32 AM on August 30, 2005


Also: Indo-china= from india to china.

Surely then that also includes Malaysia and Singapore, both of which are as politically "normal" as Thailand?

Possibe range of UN activities at the camps?

I stand corrected. I was under the impression the camps were run by the Thai gov't with NGO asisstance.

Maybe those guys at that Klong Toey dive were supposed to be at work upcountry.
posted by soiled cowboy at 2:23 PM on August 30, 2005


cleardawn, let's review the facts.
I'm Cuban. I have family in Cuba. I support the Green Party.
Yet you think my opinion of Cuba is right wing and ignorant. I'd be insulted if your position wasn't so ludicrous.


I've had nothing to say about Burma because I know nothing about that country. I simply posted a link so that you could take the opportunity to educate yourself about the real conditions in Cuba instead of simply spouting off with dogma and rhetoric.

I did not use the suffering of my people to make any argumentative point. In fact the only point I've been championing the whole time is that you should stop speaking of things that you do not understand first hand.

Your putative apology, given as it was in the language of cartoons, was sorely lacking. Perhaps that was not your fault. Perhaps you honestly meant to apologize. But you know what? Using a phrase popularized by Homer Simpson does not exactly lend credulity to a statement.

Yes, I insulted you. Frankly, you deserved to be insulted. Had you simply admitted that the comments about Cuba where out of place and offered an apology without attempting to be funny. I wouldn't have responded the way that I did. But, you sow what you reap.

balisong, now I see your point. You are certainly right that emotional claims are often a part of discussions of global politics, while almost never actually furthering the debate. I thought you were saying that there is nothing wrong with this fact. Cleary that is not what you meant.
posted by oddman at 4:52 PM on August 30, 2005


I didn't think this thread could get any better, but clearly I was wrong. I suppose I should feel a little guilty at enjoying this as much as I do.
posted by nightchrome at 6:04 PM on August 30, 2005


Here's something for you all.

US Department of State - Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, 2004

Burma
Cuba

Yeah, not so great, is it.
posted by aerify at 5:35 AM on August 31, 2005


oddman, you may well be Cuban, and perhaps you do support the Green Party, but that doesn't change the fact that the views you expressed here are biased and rightwing. You might want to reconsider the views you've inherited. Do they match the facts?

You said:

"You'll get something when you realize that no member of the US government (and trust me, I'm no US apologist) is holding a gun to Castro's head and forcing him to rig elections, imprison journalists, destroy families and abuse his people."

That is a comment that can only be made by a US apologist!

Very obviously, the US government is indeed holding a gun to Castro's head. You do know that, surely? How can you possibly deny it?

I suggest you look honestly at why Castro is doing what he's doing. Look at the results. To me, as to most other independent observers, it's pretty clear that Castro, though far from perfect (and a product of his time, which was forty years ago), is nevertheless genuinely trying to help his people. And he has, in many ways. Cuba's problems are almost entirely caused by the US.

Compare what Cuba is now to what it was before the revolution. At least there are now schools and hospitals (and good ones, too), instead of just brothels and casinos for American tourists.

Modern Cuba's organic farming techniques are world-leading, just to take one example of Cuba's success. And Cuba's health system is legendary. Where does that fit in your worldview?

Compare Cuba to capitalist Haiti, for example. Or Columbia. Or El Salvador. Where would you rather live? And that's in spite of the American blockade and constant support for anti-Cuban terrorism.

America has done everything it can to shit on Cuba, for the reasons I mentioned earlier: selfishness, cruelty, and greed. Wealthy capitalists are terrified of being forced to share. Their fear makes them angry and violent.

Castro has done everything he can to improve the lives of the Cuban people in the face of that constant onslaught.

The fact that you, like many Cuban emigrés, have problems understanding that is interesting, in a way, and I'm happy to discuss it here. I don't think Aung San Suu Kyi would mind. She'd understand, I think, that the motivation of the ex-Cubans is substantially the same as that of the Generals in Burma: personal selfishness, fear, ignorance, and greed. Natural, human emotions, which, nevertheless, we can overcome, if we try just a little harder to find the truth in our own lives.

In both cases, there are other forces, stronger and deeper, at work too.

And with the Miami Cubans, as with the Burmese Generals, the only satisfactory solution will come through persuasion and dialogue, however difficult and error-prone that process may be.

It's something I'm happy to invest a little time and effort in.
posted by cleardawn at 10:05 AM on August 31, 2005


The sanctions against Cuba are to discourage its repressive practices. To blame the US for Cuba's human rights abuses is just plain idiotic. But given your other completely uninformed, and frankly, ridiculous statements regarding Cuba, I'm not surprised.

I think your rapid anti-capitalist ideology is clouding your worldview. Cuba is no dreamland of socialism. In fact it could be argued that its political system is in fact the cause of its woes. Naturally, many capitalist countries suffer from similar problems but this isn't an argument about political systems. Cuba is a repressive dictatorship, and no right-minded person could praise it like you do.
posted by aerify at 10:20 AM on August 31, 2005


aerify, you obviously didn't read any of the links I provided.

If your only source of information is the US corporate media, and perhaps the Miami ex-cubans, then yes, Cuba is an evil repressive dictatorship.

On the other hand, if you start to read more independent sources (perhaps even a few pro-Cuban sources, just to balance it out) then a more nuanced picture emerges.

I agree it's hardly a 'dreamland of socialism'. Castro's attitude to homosexuality is something out of the 19th century, and there are various other problems in the way the Cuban system works. Too centralized, for one.

But it's still a helluva lot better than the way American 'democracy' works, in many ways. And would be even better if America dropped the pointless, cruel sanctions.
posted by cleardawn at 7:29 PM on August 31, 2005


...did you mean "rabid" anti-capitalist ideology?
posted by cleardawn at 7:34 PM on August 31, 2005


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