Friday, November 2

Are you a democracy advocate or a splittist wolf?

"Naturally, crows are wicked. They have the habit of snatching. They usually caw loudly in the sky if one of them is captured. Likewise, some Western powers and the destructive elements from inside and outside the nation are drumming up support for Daw [Aung] Suu Kyi, demanding for her release.

Once the Burma Communist Party was a threat to Myanmar. But now, Daw Suu Kyi and the National League for Democracy pose the most dangerous threat to the nation ... Their common goal is to remove the Tatmadaw [military] and establish an anti-nationalism liberal democracy."
-- Tatmadaw propaganda statement

"Is it in our interest for Myanmar to be balkanized? It cannot be. So we decided to bite our tongue and to keep Myanmar in the family, because it serves a long-term strategic self-interest best."
-- George Yeo, Singapore Foreign Minister

"Potentially Burma could break up like Yugoslavia, because it does contain a number of ethnic groups which have very little in common."
-- Bertil Lintner, Burma expert

"The Tibet issue is not a human rights issue but an issue of secession and anti-secession."
-- Qin Gang, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman

"Dalai Lama wears the clothes of a Buddhist, but he is a splittist wolf who doesn't love the moth­erland."
-- Nyima Tsering, chief of a China-run 'Potemkin Village' in Tibet

"First and foremost it is worth acknowledging that the demise of the Soviet Union was the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century."
-- Vladimir Putin

"According to the UNDP, there are some 5,000 different ethnic groups living in some 200 countries in the world. According to the figures of the study "Minorities at risk", some 509 ethnic groups in the world consider themselves as politically discriminated and want autonomies or states.

All separatist or independence-seeking movements in the world already have their eyes set on the resolution of the Kosovo talks, especially since most of them have suffered much more tragic conflicts and have waited for the solution to their problems much longer than has the southern Serbian province, populated by an Albanian majority.

Indeed, a Kosovo precedent would have world ramifications.

It could impact on the tense relations between two nuclear powers - India and Pakistan - disputing Kashmir, a region very much like Kosovo in terms of ethnic proportions, violence or religious symbolism.

It could have an impact on the world's largest country - Russia - with Transdniestria in Moldova, Abkhazia and South Ossetia in Georgia seeking to integrate it and Chechnya seeking to separate. The world's most populous country - China - could face separatism in Xinjiang, not forgetting Taiwan and Tibet."
-- Aleksandar Mitic

"[T]he evolution of the term 'global governance' itself reflects a growing recognition by so-called progressive idealists during the 1990s that true 'global government' was not achievable any time soon, and that anti-sovereignty forces needed to regroup around a less threatening ideal 'governance' that would elide the precise nature of who and what was doing the governing.

The shift in debate is not so much a matter of international law/anti-sovereignty/global governance idealists versus sovereign power realists. Rather, it is increasingly a conflict between idealists of very different persuasions - liberal internationalist/anti-sovereignty/global governance idealism versus a new form of idealism, or rather a resurrected idealism, the idealistic belief that the best form of world order is one of democratic sovereignty of the nation state, whereby the realist power of sovereignty is used as a vehicle for the value of constitutional democracy, at the nation state level and without any belief that this can or should be transcended by transnational or supranational global governance."
-- Kenneth Anderson

I think that Beijing officials privately acknowledge that the Dalai Lama is not calling for Tibetan independence, although publicly they brand him a "splittist." However, Beijing does find a threatening connection between democracy as promoted by outsiders and succession movements.

The Cold War era and aftermath saw democracy and succession as so closely connected that the issues are virtually synonymous in the minds of today's authoritarian leaders.

Democratic governments really need to wrestle with the question of how to promote democracy in other lands within a nationalist framework.

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