The last time I was in Myanmar, the kind folks of that country were not being allowed to read this blog. The government has determined that it is not in the best interests of the regime there for folks to read this. So, along with pornography, the government censors such things as the internet and the free distribution of ideas.
There is an unelected "government" in Burma that, having usurped power from the elected government, is afraid of its own people. They are afraid of what people will think of them if they hear anything other than the official version of the truth. We should therefore not be surprised -- saddened, yes, but not surprised -- when we learn that the military government of Burma is now keeping food and other aid from its own citizens. Why? The only reason that one can give with these men is that it would make them look weaker in the eyes of their own citizens and would strengthen the resolve of the Burmese people to look elsewhere than their military for relief from the oppression of such calamities as Nargis.
But if the people see their own government for the cowards and weaklings that they are (weaklings with guns are still quite formidable, as the monks found out last October), then they will look to other options than keeping the Tatmadaw and Nasakha. The military disarmed most opposition groups during the 1960s and 70s. Now they are keeping food from those disarmed citizens.
Whatever else one may think of the UN or its World Food Programme, it is necessary to realize that there was a lot of high-energy food left sitting on the tarmac at Yangon's Mingaladon airport. But it was not the UN's fault. The Tatmadaw does not want anyone else but their own members handing out the food. This is because they would lose face in the eyes of the people. The opinion of the people is therefore more important to the military junta of Burma than are the lives of the people.
When does a government quit being the "powers ordained of God" and show itself to be simply an occupying force of thugs intent upon stealing the food and lives of the people? When it shoots its own citizens and religious leaders? When those being shot have done nothing more than peacefully present their own opinions in the public square? How about when it starves its own citizens?
General Than Shwe lavished presents on his daughter Thandar at her recent wedding -- gifts estimated by some to be worth over 25 million British pounds. But when it comes to allowing others to give presents to his people so they can survive, he shows himself to be far less generous. Nero reportedly fiddled while Rome burned. Whether that story is true, it surely is the case that Than Shwe is fiddling while Myanmar drowns and starves. Next the disease will begin. Cholera and Typhoid will begin running through the area where the dead bodies lie. The military junta of Burma have little public health understanding even when there is not a disaster. The death toll will mount...while Than Shwe fiddles.
What can happen? ASEAN can cut off ties to the junta; China can refuse any further aid to the generals (most of their aid is military -- the last thing the Burmese people need right now); the UN can insist that either aid will be distributed or the ruling junta of Myanmar will no longer be recognized as the rightful government of Burma.