Monday, June 09, 2003

Texas versus Rangoon

LARRY JAGAN of the Bangkok Post is reporting that the United States is demanding that Thailand take a tougher line against the Burmese junta.

The demarche handed to the Thai government was very tough, according to diplomatic sources, and demanded that Thailand take a much tougher stand towards its neighbour or face increased pressure from Washington.

Jagan also added that the Thai Prime Minister, Thaksin Shinawatra "is sure to get an earful from George W. Bush" when he visits Washington this week.

``The very fact that President Bush issued a personal statement _ a rarity _ reflects the administration's commitment,'' said a senior US diplomat who declined to be identified.

``The US is contemplating taking the issue of Burma to the UN Security Council,'' said a UN official on condition of anonymity. ``That's why Washington has already protested to Beijing.''

This is an extraordinary development, given Burma's low priority on the international strategic map. The strength of the American reaction may in part be due to the temperament of George W. Bush himself, who may be reacting not simply as a President, but also as a man -- and a Texan man at that -- to an attack by cowardly men against a defenseless woman. The Burmese junta pressed the wrong button altogether when they attacked Suu Kyi with sharpened bamboo stakes and clubs. Nearly 100 years ago, another Republican President responded to the kidnap of a woman by Moroccan thugs with the terse "Pedicaris alive or Raisuli dead!": Theodore Roosevelt.

Pedicaris was returned alive.