Saturday, May 27, 2006

Burma, Iraq, Democracy, Capitalism

I've been doing a little bit of research over the past few days into the current situation in Burma. Aung San Suu Kyi remains under house arrest by the ruling military junta. As I understand it, Suu Kyi is the closest that Burma has to a legitimate democratic leader, in that she won the last election with an 83% majority. The military, however, refused to recognise that result, and have kept Suu Kyi under house arrest for 10 of the last 16 years.

Given that this is profoundly undemocratic, it seems that other nations currently claiming an interest in the spread of democracy (the US and UK, in particular)should be taking an active part in negotiations, but the news of Suu Kyi's renewed house arrest is the only coverage I've seen Burma receive in the mainstream press this year. I've been looking into the differences between this situation and the situation in Iraq prior to the US-led invasion of 2003, for which the restoration of democracy was quoted as a justification, secondary to the presence of WMDs.

Essentially, it comes down to the fact that the military junta are not making any moves to threaten anyone outside their own borders, and Burma's lack of importance in world trade. Iraq had invaded both Iran and Kuwait under the governance of Saddam Hussein, and holds considerable oil reserves. Both have or had undemocratic governments and bad human rights records.

This is leading back to a conclusion that I'm approaching carefully, because it seems inflammatory: The leading political system of the Western World is not democracy, but capitalism.

I'm also working on a notion that capitalism is closely related to feudalism, but I'm going to have to come back to that one, as I don't have much to support it yet. I'm trying hard not to simply search for "capitalism is feudalism" and quote that, but to build up the argument myself.

Friday, May 26, 2006

New Resolve & Montenegro

I'm coming to the conclusion that worthy and all as it is to concentrate on one or two research projects at a time, it's preventing me from posting about other aspects of global geopolitics that I'm interested in. Therefore, I'm going to loosen things up a little, and post a bit more off my main research topics.

In that vein, I'm watching the separation of Montenegro from Serbia with great interest. I'm finding it fascinating, too, that the word Balkanization (the American spelling seems more used) is still most useful here in the area of its origin.

I'm not sure if this is the first peaceful secession in my lifetime, but it's certainly the first I'm paying attention to. I note in particular from the maps that this leaves Serbia with no sea-ports, which is definitely interesting - I wonder how much of their import/export trade comes in by air or on the Danube?