Imperialism and the Burmese Cyclone

It’s a quandary for the western left: the same countries that have invaded Iraq and visited much suffering on many other poor countries now want to do good in Cyclone-ravaged Myanmar/Burma. Has US and British imperialism suddenly become a force for good? Don’t be fooled, says John Moore, who argues that we need to question the motives of those countries now offering aid. What they really want is to open Burma up to western investment and political control.


The disastrous cyclone that hit Burma in early May has once again placed the concerns of this county on the international stage. In New Zealand political organisations ranging from the Labour Party through to the Greens and the far-left have made statements condemning the brutal military regime’s appalling handling of the crisis, tied with calls for tightened sanctions and/or New Zealand disinvestment. The military regime’s handling of the cyclone disaster should be condemned. Its incompetence, coupled with unconcern for the victims, will merely strengthen the majority of the population’s hatred for the ruling junta. However, leftists who want to support the people of Myanmar/Burma should cast a critical eye on increasing calls by Western leaders for some form of “humanitarian” intervention and the continued imposition of sanctions. Leftist groups who continue to call for some form of economic boycott and don’t pose the dangers of Western “humanitarian” intervention risk the danger of acting as a leftist/liberal fig leaf for imperialist manoeuvrings in this troubled area.

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