The mainstream media, the State Department, humanitarian and women’s groups have recently lauded the democratic transition in Myanmar as a historic human rights victory. But how does Myanmar fit into the emerging Cold War with China and the global scramble for resources? Now we may know. Leading neo-con Robert Kaplan, who believes the next great power struggle is over South Asia, writes in Stratfor that:
“Geographically, Myanmar dominates the Bay of Bengal. It is where the spheres of influence of China and India overlap. Myanmar is also abundant in oil, natural gas, coal, zinc, copper, precious stones, timber and hydropower, with some uranium deposits as well. The prize of the Indo-Pacific region, Myanmar has been locked up by dictatorship for decades, even as the Chinese have been slowly stripping it of natural resources. Think of Myanmar as another Afghanistan in terms of its potential to change a region: a key, geo-strategic puzzle piece ravaged by war and ineffective government that, if only normalized, would unroll trade routes in all directions.”
As for human rights and democracy, Kaplan concludes:
“…for Myanmar to succeed, even with civilians in control, the military will have to play a significant role for years to come, because it is mainly officers who know how to run things.”
Kaplan’s long article never once mentions Aung San Suu Kyi, the recently-released leader of the pro-democracy movement in Myanmar. Was she only the face on a poster for an escalation of the rivalry between the US and China?
The full report is available here.