The Troubled Present…

In our 21st century world, freedom is still challenged everywhere. That sacrosanct body which embodied diplomacy, tactfulness and peace, the United Nation, lies violated and unheeded. Every September, the leaders from around the world gather at the United Nation General Assembly to hear people like Hugo Chavez and Mahmod Ahmadenajed lashing out against the ideals of freedom and extolling the virtues of crime and anarchy. The world faces new challenges like war crimes, genocides, humanitarian disasters, cyber-warfare, religious fanaticism and terrorism, to solve which we should probably re-envision our existing rigorous adherences to laissez-faire foreign policies, that is to say ‘give war a chance’.

In the international scene, Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia) has been making news from past few years, which 84-year old Robert Mugabe desperately trying to cling on his absolute power at all costs. The Western World was once relieved that Mugabe seized power from Ian Smith, who declared unilateral independence from Britain and established white-minority government in Rhodesia. However, Mugabe proved to be a more ruthless racist than mild-mannered Ian Smith.

In the 1970s, the Western Powers played a role in Mugabe’s coup d’état by doing nothing and ignoring the pleas of minority white government. However, the similar laissez-faire tricks of the Western governments will not work again in Zimbabwe. Although nearly all of its neighbors are wildly clamoring for the regime change (even Nelson Mandela lends his voice), Mugabe will probably be able to cling on to his power so long as the Communist China attempts to block any international attempts to alleviate the nation’s pains.

Whenever there is Chinese and Russian antagonism, the Western World is always reduced to imposing sanctions on these pariah states. Sanctions simply don’t work. US and EU arms embargo cannot be implemented when the ‘outposts of tyranny’ receives arms, wherewithal and allegiances from Russia, China and other wannabes superpowers like Iran and Syria.

In recent memory, the Western World is always reluctant to take military or martial actions. The psychological warfare, a relic of the Cold War, has since lost its luster and has been accordingly relocated into the dustbins of history. However, its efficacy is undeniable. During the apartheid, South Africa’s athletes were banned from Olympic competitions for three decades, and barred from international competition in rugby and cricket. It was an immense psychological blow to the white minority. If we can do anything within what little freedom granted to us by the callousness of those plutocrats in Beijing, Moscow and elsewhere, we should put blanket sanction on culture, sport and luxury items, thus depriving the dictators of something to gloat about.

Instead, in the face of Mugabe’s recent undemocratic turns, the British reaction to this international conflict was shameful. Her Majesty’s Government rescinded the knighthood from Mr. Robert Mugabe, and that is all they did. When the paws of once-mighty British lion are so tied that it is reduced to removing knighthoods, it is just plain disgraceful. It is as if the entire freedom-loving peoples of the world are held hostage.

Economic sanctions don’t work on the geopolitical level either. With millions of people under dictatorships around the world just struggling to survive, sanctions make their lives worse. For the ruling-class, they eat cake in their own Rolls-Royces and villas. With help those dictatorships receive from one another, the government officials simply have means and money to live on, when ordinary people have to beseech and comply with the iron-will of the government for the privileges we took for granted.

Like in Zimbabwe, another dictatorship in Burma survives because of its natural resources and its alliance with China. Some corporate giants like Royal Dutch Shell and British American Tobacco in Zimbabwe and Total in Burma, simply refuse to shop working with the ‘governments’ of these nations. After all, they earn solid returns in dealing with these Orwellian states, in part to corruption and in part to the lack of union laws. The money gained from the natural resources the Mother Nature endowed to the land and its people usually goes into the personal coffers of undemocratically-elected few (and eventually into accounts in Cayman Islands) as unwitting superpowers turns a deaf-ear.

Elsewhere in the world, the negligence of the superpowers is almost criminal. The ongoing crisis in the Darfur region in the Sudan calls for an international action similar to one which placated the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s. However, again China, which has various trade treaties with the Sudan extremist government, has resisted denouncing the atrocities committed inside the nation. If you take these international crises to account, it turns out after all that China’s rise hasn’t been so ‘peaceful’ after all.

Clearly devised with Machiavellian intents, China’s no-interference policy benefits only a cadre of unethical politicians in Beijing. It also gives the immunity to one-China policy, which eerily sounds like Hitler’s plans to unite all Aryan races. In Tibet, Communist oppression destroys culture heritage. Even after 50 years of independence of Taiwan—whose place in the United Nations Security Council that Communist China had usurped—China is still calling for reunifications. It seems as if the reunification is in the air, but the wary Taiwanese should bear in mind what happened to the people of Hong Kong after the British handed back the territory to the Mainland China.

With China so adamantly uncooperative on the international stage, it is no wonder that two of the world’s longest reigning dictatorships border China. The real reasons behind the failure of the Korean Peninsula peace-talks lie with the Chinese. However, a lesser known impasse is with Burma, fiercely undemocratic and unyielding since the 1960s.

Earlier this year, in May 2008, a cyclone ravaged the delta regions of Burma, killing 100,000 people and imperiling many others with water-borne diseases and putrid corpses. The initial reaction of the military junta which rules the country (since 1988 ) with the benediction of Beijing and Moscow (a UN resolution on Burma in 2004 was rejected with a double-veto from China and Russia despite an overwhelming approval in the Security Council) was deplorable. It banned the international aid agencies and British and American rescue crews from entering the country. The Western Fleet, onboard which were humanitarian support, waited outside Burma as if it was a beggar waiting for permission to beg inside the country. The U.S. delivered humanitarian aid without the consent of the host governments in places like Bosnia and Sudan, but with Burma, with China next door, the scenario is almost impossible without bloodshed.

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