The narrative we’re being served on Myanmar is a cartoon. On the one hand we have villains — who have conveniently already been subject to “liberal humanitarian” demonization for years now — who have allegedly decided to go on a campaign of gang rape, infanticide and arson just because it’s Tuesday.
On the other side we have pathetic victims who can do nothing but suffer and flee the atrocities against them, albeit they also have a goody-goody armed group in their midst trying to fight back, but one that is allegedly too small and insignificant to affect events in any meaningful way. (Without a heroic western/Islamist intervention on their side to save the day.)
But in my studying of history the one thing real-life events almost never are is cartoonish. If you’re being served something that sounds at best as a time warp to 1942, and at worst, a 3rd rate morality play, it’s probably time to ask if you have been given all the facts.
That is all the more true when you have a scenario which for the umpteenth time brings together in unison the Saudi-laptop bombardier coalition. Everyone from the Human Rights Watch, to Al-Jazeera, to Turkey’s Erdogan, to Samantha Power is reading from the same script again. (This time they’re joined by the human rights “giant” that is Chechya’s Ramzan Kadyrov.) The same cartoonish script we’ve already heard for Afghanistan, Bosnia, Chechnya, Kosovo, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen.
But is it plausible that the same cartoonish setting is repeating itself over and over again?
Priscilla Clapp, the 30-year veteran of the State Department, who was America’s chief diplomat in Burma under Bill Clinton says it is not. Clapp whose background suggests she is anything but a doctrinaire anti-interventionist says she rejects the simplistic narrative on the Rohingya crisis being served up by big media.
For one thing she says militants from the Rohingya diaspora with possible links to Saudi Arabia and Pakistan staged attacks inside Myanmar to try and disrupt peace efforts. She also says the present flight of tens of thousands of Rohingya refugees to Bangladesh has been fueled not just by the military crackdown against rebels but also by violence and pressure by the Rohingya militants themselves.
I remind you this is not Alex Jones or Comical Ali talking. This is a retired US diplomat launched into a big-time office by Bill Clinton.
From what Clapp says the escalation of the crisis suits radicals on both sides. The military benefits because the Muslim-Buddhist polarization reduces the space the civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi can move in. Reports of Rohingya victimhood meanwhile increase outside support for their militant movement.
Is this version closer to the truth, or is Clapp just a delusional Suu Kyi fangirl? I have no idea. But at least now I have a starting point for study. Because the one thing I do know is that the truth can’t be as cartoonish as the 2-minute hate on CNN.