May 19, 2008

From the Economist:

"IT WOULD only take half an hour for the French boats and French helicopters to reach the disaster area." Those were the wistful words uttered by Bernard Kouchner, France's foreign minister, as his country's diplomats at the United Nations vainly argued that aid might have to be "imposed" on Myanmar if the military regime refused to co-operate.

Even as he spoke, diplomats from China, Vietnam, South Africa and Russia were mocking his idea that the "responsibility to protect" (a new concept in global affairs, implying that saving human lives might in some extreme circumstances override sovereignty) could be invoked in the case of Myanmar's cyclone. China noted acidly that the idea had not been cited in 2003 when France suffered a deadly heatwave.

So, the French arguement is that the government of Myanmar does not have the ability to sufficiently protect their citizens AND since the government is not popular or democratic, so forced intervention should be allowed.  Seems pretty darn dangerous. . . though with the Chinese/Russian veto no one's forcing themselves into Myanmar.

I'm not suggesting that this should have been done, but President G. W. Bush's government was not popular at the time that Hurricane Katrina hit and they were doing a piss poor job in disaster relief.  Seems to be pretty similar circumstances (though the US President was elected democratically. . .right?).

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