We Must Intervene in Myanmar (Opinion)
There is an ongoing genocide in the Rakhine state of Myanmar. An entire people are being driven out of their land. In 2017, on this Earth, and on our watch.
The crime of genocide is broadly recognized as the worst crime any one person or nation can commit, and those who commit it are universally condemned.
But the word “genocide” is too short and vague to capture the situation in Myanmar. Soldiers are marching into villages across the Rakhine, singling out Rohingya families, who are the Muslim minority in Myanmar. They often decapitate the children and throw the babies into the smoldering houses lining the streets. They gang rape Rohingyan women. They execute Rohingyan men. Bodies wash up constantly from the Bay of Myanmar—young boys, old women, mothers, fathers, their faces ravaged by seawater.
Soldiers are executing what they call “clearance operations.” If a Rohingyan survives the rapes, the decapitations, the immolations, and the beatings, they are driven to Bangladesh, one of the poorest nations in the world. There, they cannot get medical treatment, clean water, or food. Many die of infection, or starve to death.
It is our solemn duty, every one of us, to try to feel a fraction of what is being done to other members of the human species. To hide ourselves from their plight is worse than doing nothing at all.
The United Nations will not act. Nor will China, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, or any other power with the military and economic force sufficient to end the horror. Despite winning a Nobel Peace Prize in 1991, Aung San Suu Kyi, the 1st State Counsellor of Myanmar, has failed to condemn the state’s actions. Denying ethnic cleanisng of over 400,000 of the Muslim minority, Suu Kyi says the state needs more time to investigate the events.The United States is the only country on Earth that can, and must, intervene in Myanmar.
I am not proposing nation- building. I am proposing that the United States secure parts of the Rakhine state to facilitate the evacuation of the Rohingya to either Bangladesh or the US. Some will complain that it’s not fair that the United States be responsible for the world’s ills. I agree, it is not fair, but neither is uncontested genocide. Our nation is so fond of calling itself the leader of the free world. How can we be the leader of the free world when we allow a genocide on our watch? Where is the freedom in that?
The United States brought down Hitler and vanquished the Nazis. And yet, as ethnic cleansing sweeps across Myanmar, we have not intervened. Now is the time to fight for our ideals, both inside and outside our borders. If this country chooses not to stop the genocide, then we will be complicit in it. We will be betraying humanity’s most basic moral code. The price of our consciences is our intervention.