Only those hiding in a cave recently have been spared the graphic and sickening images coming out of Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, since it was hit by Cyclone Nargis on May 4, 2008. The great tragedy which unfolded when the cyclone hit land has now been dwarfed by the man made disaster which is currently playing out. Unfortunately, one week out from the storm it is becoming apparent that the actions of the regime in charge will create far more victims than the actual floods themselves.
The ruling military junta which leads Myanmar has long been both secretive and oppressive. Imprisoning all opposition, most notably Suu Kyi, the junta has governed with an iron fist. While seeing to the needs of its inner circle, the Myanmar government has allowed its population to descend into abject misery. This misery has now evolved into death when faced with the aftermath of this natural disaster.
Many nations have been moved to offer much needed aid. Coordinated international assistance has been organized by the United Nations. However, the supplies desperately needed to avoid hunger and to treat the wounded are being held hostage by the cold hearted junta. Reports of limited distribution are trickling in characterized by the cynical lies hastily written on the bushels of rice claiming that Myanmar's generals are the source of salvation.
It appears the rapidity of aid efforts are being hindered by the time it takes the regime to insert their requisite propaganda. America's First Lady made an impassioned speech calling on the junta to expedite lifesaving relief efforts. However, the overall reaction has been muted compared to the coverage received by events entailing far less loss of life. The world should be livid.
Myanmar's actions breach any possible human code of conduct. The international community snickered with ridicule as the junta moved its longtime capital from Yangon to a remote inland city called Naypyidaw upon the advice of psychics (who are most probably crowing over their precipitously coincidental timing). Muted scolding from the international community has periodically arisen upon each new house arrest of opposition leader Suu Kyi. However, it is now time for the world to raise its voice to a full throated yell.
Most noticeably absent has been any lead from China who has traditionally been Myanmar's sole defender. Why isn't China running to the aid of its stricken ally? Perhaps the Chinese do not want to set the precedent of “meddling" in another's internal affairs lest the same logic be turned around on them regarding Tibet. Alternatively, it could be quite possible that the ultimately paranoid generals leading Myanmar don't even trust their Chinese protectors to have access to Myanmar's brainwashed population.
With thousands on the verge of starvation it is time for the world to act. Myanmar possesses a tiny army and virtually no air force. If necessary, United Nations forces can easily take military control within hours and banish the junta generals to wait in line for their ration of rice like everyone else. If there ever was a scenario which justified a use of international force this must be it. Resistance within the Security Council very well may come from China, however against a unified and steadfast voice coming from the remaining world they would be hard pressed to stand in the way of concrete action.
The leaders of the civilized world, along with all American presidential candidates, need to unite in one voice demanding immediate clearance to begin distribution of relief supplies. If not granted, the innocent people of Myanmar need to be helped with or without the junta's permission.