Burma/Myanmar: What Everyone Needs to Know

Burma/Myanmar: What Everyone Needs to Know

Burma/Myanmar: What Everyone Needs to Know

Burma/Myanmar: What Everyone Needs to Know

Synopsis

In the past two decades, Burma/Myanmar has become a front-page topic in newspapers across the world. This former British colony has one of the most secretive, corrupt, and repressive regimes on the planet, yet it houses a Nobel Peace Prize winner who is and in and out of house arrest. It has an ancient civilization that is mostly unknown to Westerners, yet it was an important--and legendary--theater in World War II. A picturesque land with mountain jungles and monsoon plains, it is one of the world's largest producers of heroin. It has a restive Buddhist monk population that has captured the attention of the west when it faced off against the regime. And it recently experienced one of the worst natural disasters in modern times, one effect of which was to lay bare the manifold injustices and cruelties of the regime.

Burma/Myanmar: What Everyone Needs to Know® offers a concise synthesis of this forbidding yet fascinating country. David Steinberg, one of the world's eminent authorities on the region, explains the current situation in detail yet contextualizes it in a wide-ranging survey of Burmese history and culture. Authoritative and balanced, it will be standard work on Burma for the general reading public.

'What Everyone Needs to Know' is a registered trademark of Oxford University Press.

Excerpt

They know the foreign visitor is discreet and is not a reporter looking for sensational comments. He will not quote, and thus endanger, anyone. In Rangoon (Yangon) or even up-country, one must be cautious in talking with people about the current situation in Myanmar. Often in such conversations there seems to be a type of quiet, almost silent, understanding that there will not be requests for anything mundane or anything explicit. Yet one senses a longing for an optimistic future, some kind words indicating that the outside world understands and has not forgotten those innocents caught in the Myanmar miasma. Often, a tentative question is asked: can you give us some hope? Not a solution, not manna rained down, but the simple feeling that things may get better … sometime.

It is sad and also embarrassing to admit honestly that one cannot offer an early way out of the present set of crises. Humanitarian assistance should be provided for the neediest, of course, but this is not a solution. It is only an amelioration, no matter how badly it is needed for those endangered. Advocating that people rise up to the barricades—asking others to expose themselves and their families to harm when, as a foreigner, one is physically removed—is morally unacceptable and in any event foreign involvement would undermine the legitimacy of the cause in which they believe. On the other hand, exhorting isolation exacerbates the very issues one . . .

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