Myanmar (once Burma) is a former British colony which, not unlike Pakistan, has the unfortunate history of being controlled by the military for about as long as anyone can remember: not a great success of British colonialism, one has to admit. The previous régime was so utterly terrifying that I recall one Burmese diplomat once opening up to me on the outskirts of Washington DC, with absolutely no one else around, in very quiet whispers.
But like other countries in the region – one thinks of India, Sri Lanka and Indonesia – women have become prime minister because the father was “founder of the nation”. And formidable characters they have been. This is also the case with Myanmar. The de facto prime minister, Aung San Suu Kyi, is the daughter of the “founder of the nation”, and after an internal uprising was for a long time imprisoned by the military or under house arrest. She became an icon for naive Brits, so much so that she won a Nobel Prize for nothing (like Obama) and then disappointed everyone by not being able to achieve miracles. She currently has to use all the tactical ingenuity she can muster to manoeuvre between her concerned supporters in the country, the demands of an over-powerful military who will stop at nothing, and the demands of the British and the Americans, just in order to stay in office but not yet in power. So her pretence that the military have not been massacring civilians is par for the course.
The Russian military have been muscling in for a while now, presumably once President Putin spotted a place on the political map of the world where Moscow has yet to plant the flag. The collection of ugly dictatorial régimes that the Kremlin has befriended is apparently not long enough and they are always good for arms exports. Now the Russians are seeking to ramp up the relationship still further.
The deep state TV website Zvezda today illustrates the arrival of the Russian Defence Minister in a sea of green military uniforms. It is, believe it or not, Shoigu’s third visit and the army of the country is now packed with weaponry of every type from Russia. The trouble is that the weapons are always directed at the local population, mainly the ethnic minority of Muslims who once hailed from what is now Bangladesh (East Bengal). So what is Washington DC going to do about it? Not much, one suspects.