From Tim Heinemann on Burma. As most know he is heavily engaged in Burma activities. Agree or disagree with him (and he certainly makes some controversial statements) he is at least offering come concrete actions.
I do like his final statement:
Morality, Mass and Unity of Effort are the keys to American success.
David S. Maxwell
Center for Security Studies &
Security Studies Program
Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service
Alt email: david.maxwell161@gmail.
SSP Web Site: css.georgetown.edu
Associate Director News Blog: http://maxoki161.
Georgetown Security Studies Review:http://
Bottom line: America absolutely cannot afford to mess up in Burma. Get it wrong elsewhere, but not here, given Burma's primacy concerning strategic balance of power in the Indian Ocean.
Our track record in post-conflict regions since Vietnam indicates we have problems "finishing" in terms of consolidating and securing long-term gains. Consider where we are now in:
· Vietnam - Under China's shadow
· El Salvador - Dominated by gangs
· Panama - China expanding control here
· Somalia - Lawless with Piracy
· Balkans - No real allegiances here
· Iraq - A mess
· Vietnam - A nightmare
So where exactly are our big "Wins" then?
What are the total costs and impacts for we have not accomplished?
America's approach in Burma cannot afford to be a matter of a political agenda or partisan politics. It must be a fully vetted and integrated American Agenda demonstrative of the enduring interests of the combined elements of national power. Burma's permanent strategic criticality demands extraordinary measures be now considered, given how we have erred so badly in too many other places around the world. Are we really on track here?
It is easy to get ensnarled in all the intrigues and complexities of Burma, where “tribalism” abounds in the form of ethnicities, Burman power elites, politics, religions, war lords, organized crime, corporate capitalism, NGO communities of self-interest, nation state agendas and so on. They will all try to prosper thusly with Burma as their favorite Cash Cow and new cause célèbre. Given all we have learned to date in post-conflict regions around the world from Vietnam to Afghanistan, can we honestly say we now have it right in coming together as a full team today in Burma?
What will it take organizationally for America to “get it right” in Burma?
1. US Government charters and empowers four separate oversight bodies to provide honest brokerage on how American elements of national power are integrated for the attainment of enduring strategic effects and for the good of all the diverse peoples of Burma. A single government oversight body is corruptible and cannot likely succeed. There should instead be one from Government, one from the For-profit sector, one from the Non-profit sector and one from Academia. If this is not properly done, we are prone to neglect born of individual agendas that lack synergy. We will miss accomplishing what matters most in the end, as has been the case for us in many regions.
Integrating these four collaborative perspectives can help provide needed "rudder" to integrity guiding what we collectively attempt in Burma. This is inherently an American way of "doing business" drawing openly and honestly from all sources and perspectives. What all is at stake in not doing Quality Assurance in Strategy and Quality Control in Effects and Outcomes well? Can we live with the consequences of getting this wrong?
2. US Government incentivizes the American Private Sector to collaborate in the attainment of synergies linked to strategic end states. The American Private Sector, if incentivized, can have enduring staying power to further US interests. Incentives may be in the form of tax breaks, entitlements, special funding and so forth to compel broad collaboration between for-profits and non-profits with government that otherwise may not take place. Consider what has and has not happened in Iraq and Afghanistan, in this regard. There can also be disincentives that are punitive in nature - negative forcing functions to compel better collaboration. Success here will be based on actually taking care of all of the diverse peoples of Burma and winning enduring allegiances.
Theme: It is the “space in between” individual interests that deserves protection, promotion and incentivization. This takes extraordinary measures to compel this unnatural focus. It is critical to orient on America's private sector’s enduring staying power in this region. We must get this totally right for a change in helping harness Yankee Ingenuity’s full power in overcoming many disadvantages in this region. This is best done in close “Whole-of-Nation” collaboration for integrated effects. Our track record has proven this will not happen on its own. Incentives are key to getting it righter / better than we have done to date.
What are the enduring consequences if we don’t do this well?
3. US Government must link Security Sector Reform to Balanced Economic Empowerment of Ethnics otherwise there will be endless conflict and instability. This can be attempted by focusing Burmans and Non-Burmans on Special Development Zones whereby all sides prosper in common cause. This provides opportunity for America to demonstrate leadership in enabling success in these zones. Proving what “Right, Righter or Better looks like” here is a manageable mission in scope and scale. This can prevent us from scattering our fire at the wood line by, instead, concentrating our fire with full mass, precision and persistence. Otherwise we will likely waste effort with dispersed American power as we so often seem to do.
Theme: Aim small and deliver best quality results. These will infect others by providing models well worth emulating. We will not accomplish this if we allow power, passion and purpose to be dispersed. The future of Burma is all about "Control of Land and of the Fruits of the Land" in this country which has the potential to become the economic powerhouse in Southeast Asia. This potential all hangs on balanced security between Burmans and Non-Burman ethnics.
Are peace and stability possible at all if this is not squarely faced as top priority?
4. US Government in collaboration with American private sector wages a strategic communications campaign to promote America’s engagement and development “good news” stories. It is not enough to do good things / smart things. It is all about waging and winning the War of Messages about what right, righter, better look like. Future Super Power stature is at issue here. If we get dribbled around by China, then we should watch for signs following. This is a moral showdown. We need to draw a line in the sand in Myanmar as center stage for how America's model of responsible development trumps China's exploitative model.
This is an "In your face" strategic posturing of American Power at its best, if that is, in fact, what we are truly focused on and organized to deliver. Best to integrate what we can offer, which will put us mid-field, and then tell the story in order to score. If we had done this stellarly elsewhere, then this would not be an issue now.
What are the broader global implications of not demonstrating the best that America has to offer in Burma? Can we afford to miss this opportunity in the critically important Indian Ocean region?
Comment: In the process of all this, primacy should be placed on overcoming decades of disadvantage forced upon brutalized Non-Burman ethnic minorities by both past totalitarian regimes and present repressive practices ongoing openly and quietly in the shadows around Burma. Burman elites in power are now leveraging international resources to accomplish the incremental dominance and "Burmanization" of ethnics once and for all in the name of "Progress". Decades of Burman crimes against humanity perpetrated against ethnics are being white washed.
Is America to become part of this invisible genocide? Where is American honest brokerage for what is happening?
Ethnics by virtue of population size, ancestral land rights, land dominance in natural resources and international trade routes, by their proven solidarity as battlefield champions for the Pro-Democracy Movement in Burma for decades, and by their present armed capacity, merit respect, equal stature and equitable balance of power.
No good can possibly come from taking anything less than full and complete measures to assure this unfair imbalance is corrected. If morality and honor matter, there should be a "Zero Tolerance" imperative by both US Government and by American private sector leaders in terms of taking anything other than personal ownership of this matter and delivering results. This is best done in one coherent American team effort for a change.
Peace and stability in this region depends on this. The validity of America's Super Power stature stands or fails on the world's stage in Burma.
Opportunity is at hand today in Burma. Morality, Mass and Unity of Effort are the keys to American success.
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