The past lies before us and the future behind, the ancient Greeks believed. We can see the past, but since we cannot view the future, it must be hidden in back of us. But if we look to the past and understand it, perhaps it will give us a mirror with which to peer over our shoulder and anticipate the future.
If we live long enough and retain a modicum of memory, we may accrue what may be called “longitudinal knowledge, “sometimes accurate or possibly fanciful. Such knowledge built over time may help provide perspective on events of the past and their relation to the present and even the future. In writing this manuscript, I have brought together in more coherent and coordinated form experience over a number of decades that I have tried to express in various fora. In doing so, I have drawn upon my memories and the myriad intellectual and social debts that I have accrued over the years, even though some who have contributed to this effort are, as they say, unindicted co-conspirators. To identify such people would be impossible because of their numbers and indiscrete because some who have held high positions in a variety of governments might be placed in intellectual, if not physical, jeopardy. Some have passed on to their karmic rewards, and others must be repaid in future incarnations, since I know there is no way for me to recompense what they have taught me. The mistakes that are included herein are a product of my own ignorance, and no institution or other individual should be held responsible for these errors.
The reader should know that I have been following Burma since 1956, when, to broaden the base of my interest in the Chinese management of the non-Han areas of Southwest China, I attended the School of Oriental and