Thursday, June 12, 2003

There's that word again

US Secretary of State Colin Powell promised to visit further retaliation on the Burmese dictators if they continue to resist democracy. According to Reuters:

Powell's comments, in a signed article published in the Asian Wall Street Journal on Thursday, were the latest expression of international outrage over the treatment of the pro-democracy activist, who is now in her 13th day of detention.

"The junta that oppresses democracy in Burma (Myanmar) must find that its actions will not be allowed to stand," he said in the commentary in which he called for financial measures against Myanmar's military rulers.

The US Senate voted nearly unanimously to shut down any and all trade with Burma, valued at $356 million in 2002, to impede attempts by the Burmese rulers to travel, freeze any assets within US jurisdiction and to lobby ASEAN to censure their newest member. In the past, whenever the Bush administration has said an action will not stand, it has been a prelude to a focused and brutal campaign to rescind it.

The Belmont Club earlier noted that the United States is redeploying away from Japan to new the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Singapore into what Phil Carter calls "hub" and "lilypad" bases: staging areas for further action.

Whether the US will lean on Burma in the near future is another matter. It is in the middle of a massive transformation of the US military, as Phil Carter notes in another place. A huge debate is raging within the Bush administration over the size of the US Armed Forces, with Secretary Rumsfeld determined to recast it into a radically smaller, but more mobile organization, a policy which many uniformed officers are resisting on the grounds of a manpower shortage.