Sep

25

Burma, from Adi Schnytzer

September 25, 2007 |

How sad what's happening in Burma (what the world insists on calling Myanmar) and how predictable. In the 1990s I published a paper that modelled the peaceful revolution in Eastern Europe and explained the numbers of demonstrators in different places fairly well. Freedom is a public good and people will only contribute to public goods provision if the price is low enough. Bottom line: If the dictator doesn't respond to demonstrations, they will grow in size over time until the dictatorship becomes non-viable. Why? Because when a soldier's wife or parents of kids are demonstrating, he won't fire on them. Therefore, in order to survive, the regime must put down the peaceful demonstrations brutally. Deng knew this and so we had Tien An Men. The Burmese dictator seems to know it as well. So, is there a solution? Only one: external miltary intervention. Boycotts are useless because Japan and China, to name just two, have been breaking all current boycotts against Burma, and will continue to do so. Now, who's got the guts to try military intervention? No one.


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