Jaw-Jaw versus War-War in Burma

I wish I could agree with Glenn Reynolds when he says that “Burma is more likely to be freed at gunpoint than via diplomacy.” Certainly, guns would be more effective, if someone were willing to use them. But no one is, least of all the Bush Administration, which has just gone to court to try to quash a human-rights lawsuit directed at Unocal’s collaboration with the Burmese dictatorship.

Saddam Hussein’s tyranny was perhaps a good reason to invade Iraq, but it wasn’t the reason Iraq was invaded. As long as the SLORC, or whatever it’s calling itself this week, confines itself to making the Burmese miserable, it has nothing to fear from Team Bush.

Note that this can’t be attributed to cynicism on the part of Bush or his advisers; it’s a matter of principle. Bush made it clear during the campaign that he opposed any use of US military might for any purpose other than protecting American interests, defined in a way that clearly didn’t include the abolition of forced labor in Burma.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com