Kim Jong Il Has Competition

I've long thought that North Korea has the most irrational, xenophobic military dictatorship in the world, but the military junta running Myanmar (aka Burma) seems to want to challenge Kim Jong Il for the title. Almost a week after Category 3 Tropical Cyclone Nargis sent a 12-foot wall of water up to 25 miles inland across a large swath of the Irrawaddy River Delta, killing around 23,000 people with more than 40,000 still missing, the junta is dragging their feet in allowing international aid workers to come in to help the suffering Burmese people in the affected area. They just confiscated the first United Nations aid supplies that arrived in Burma, causing the U.N. to suspend further assistance at this time.

The U.S. Navy has ships and aircraft nearby with large amounts of relief supplies, but so far, Myanmar's isolationist government doesn't want them. Better that their people should suffer and die than that they should get aid from the Americans. Contrast that with what happened in Indonesia after the tsunami a few years ago: The U.S. Navy was on the scene providing aid to survivors within two days, because the Indonesians were not going to cut off their nose to spite their face by refusing American aid.

In the Nargis flood zone, the roads have all been washed out, and the only way to get aid to the victims is by air. The U.S. Navy's helicopters would be the best way to do that, but the junta doesn't want to allow a foreign military force into its territory, because that might cause a loss of face in front of their people.

I had originally heard that the Myanmar government gave no warning to its people, and that the only ones who knew the storm was coming were those who listened to foreign radio. I thought that was nothing short of criminal. It appears that they may have given some warning to the people, but it was too little and too late. In the 21st Century, when we have satellite tracking to tell us where storms are going, it's just unbelievable that the Myanmar regime did nothing to try to save their people from the wrath of the storm. And it's even more unbelievable that they are preventing foreign do-gooders from alleviating their suffering.