Blogs > HNN > TYRANNICAL MYANMAR, LIKE DEMOCRATIC ISRAEL, IS 60 YEARS OLD

May 6, 2008 9:42 am


TYRANNICAL MYANMAR, LIKE DEMOCRATIC ISRAEL, IS 60 YEARS OLD



The news from Myanmar is horrendous:

13,000 feared dead in Myanmar cyclone In the poor backwards Junta ruled country we have to be thankful that Myanmar gave U.N. aid a" careful green light." Aid delivery is sure to be slow and difficult.

It is all rather heartbreaking. Last time the world paid attention to Myanmar was when Buddhists engaged in pro-democracy demonstrations which came to be known as the Saffron revolution. They were brutally supressed, of course.

Few noticed that earlier this year Myanmar, nee Burma, like Israel, celebrated its 60th anniversary. Both states gained independence in 1948. Burma was the first nation in Southeast Asia to recognize Israel and its first leader, U Nu and Ben-Gurion were friends and correspondents.

At the time, it was Burma's future that looked brighter. Not only did she not have aggressive neighbors bent on her destruction but she was the richest and best educated Southeast Asian country. No more. Al Jazeera sums up Myanmar's then and now thus:

At independence...

One of the richest countries in South-East Asia with highly educated population

World's largest rice exporter, regarded as"rice basket of Asia"

Largest teak exporter, producing about 75 per cent of world's teak

...and 60 years on

One of Asia's poorest nations, with rising poverty levels and sky-rocketing inflation

One-third of all children are malnourished, with 132,000 children under five dying every year because of avoidable diseases according to Save the Children

Major heroin trafficker and world's second-largest opium producer

Designated"least developed country" status by UN since 1987

Ranked world's most corrupt country in 2007 Transparency International index

During the same 60 years, Israel despite its unprecedented security challenges, is included in the list of developed countries. Why the marked difference? Part of the answer must be democracy. Yes, that form of government intellectuals from Plato to Fareed Zakaria revile so much because citizens have the chutzpah to reject the, oh, so sage expert prescriptions.

Will they never learn?!




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