The pictures shown on television in August and September '07 were clear, despite the efforts of the Burmese police to restrict coverage: Hundreds of saffron-robed Buddhist monks marched in front of an even larger number of mostly young men. Repeatedly they were challenged by security forces and dispersed, first with batons, then tear gas and rubber bullets, and finally gunfire.
The crowds ran away only to reform and be attacked again. A Japanese photographer was shot and left in the street to die. It took a concerted effort, but the Burmese police and military quelled the uprising by killing and maiming scores of monks and imprisoning hundreds of others along with civilian supporters. The UN special envoy, Paulo Pinheiro, estimates there were about 4,000 arrests (government figures say 2,927), 31 dead, 74 missing and hundreds injured. Local opposition sources say those figures are off by a factor of ten.
It certainly was a heroic if futile cry for democracy. The question is who was behind this action and why were the demonstrators encouraged to take on armed security forces with nothing to protect them other than their belief in freedom? While such motivation may be laudable, its efficacy is highly questionable. Those who organized and supported the action seem to have a rather naive idea of what it takes to overthrow a dictatorial military government.
As it turns out, George Soros and his Open Society Institute contracted with professional trainers to instruct Burmese dissidents. These clandestine sessions were held in Thai border towns that the volunteer activists travel to covertly from sometimes long distances. They attend one week to one month programs which include the basic elements of dissidence through to sophisticated operational tradecraft.
Soros is not the only source of financing and technical assistance to Burmese dissidents, but, according to Thai political sources, Open Society is the one spending the most. Overthrowing an oppressive military junta may be a worthwhile aim, but having some plutocrat funding his own international paramilitary operation is the ultimate in autocratic ambition, to say nothing of ego satisfaction.
Soros would argue that his money goes to encourage peaceful, non-violent civil disobedience. To do so in Burma, where the innocent activity was launched against a brutal, entrenched police state, is a moral crime. Only if a government in power is at least relatively respectful of human rights can unarmed civil disobedience work as an effective political device.
Having innocents wantonly killed and wounded might go to stir up external support for their cause, but that is certainly not necessary in the well-known case of the repressive Burmese regime.
OVERTHROWING POLICE STATES is a job for special operations personnel and professional soldiers -- and even then it doesn't always work that well. It seems, however, that George Soros believes the world awaits his particular brand of affluent leftist activism that sends well-meaning monks and students to the hospital, prison and too often, death.
If the Burmese people seek to overthrow their oppressors -- and there is every sign many of them do -- it will have to be accomplished by slightly more professional methods than a Soros-backed deadly "peace corps" of amateur spooks and well-meaning do-good contractors. But George Soros wants to buy his way into changing the world, while he sits fat, dumb, and happy flying high above that world in his massive corporate jet.
In the business of freeing the oppressed there are well-known professional limitations. One of the most important is not to encourage your democratic movements to rise up until they have the ability to overcome at least an influential segment of the reigning authority. Premature and inadequately guided operations inevitably lead to failure.
Unfortunately, Mr. Soros thinks in financial terms where one can always follow-up a bad investment by dollar averaging and carrying on. Sorry, George, in the real world people are not investment credits.
According to the Soros mentality and political theory, the invasion of Iraq to depose the dangerous and destructive Saddam Hussein was deceitful and wrong. But encouraging holy men, farm kids, and students to march to bloody and futile confrontation is not. Imagine being a multi-billionaire and being that irresponsible.
Happy New Year to frauds everywhere, and especially to you, George. We're on to you!