October 6, 2007
MILITARISM AND BUDDHISM IS AN AWKWARD MIX:
Crackdown Could Haunt Myanmar Junta (DENIS D. GRAY, 10/06/07, AP)
"The crackdown by the military against the monks may be a major element in the destruction of the very military unity they seek. Many may be profoundly disturbed by the actions of their colleagues," says David Steinberg of Georgetown University, an author of several books on Myanmar.
The beating and mass arrests of the monks, who led mass pro-democracy demonstrations last month across the country, struck at the junta's greatest fear - that factions within its ranks may side with those seeking change.
And that side showed unexpected strength. The world was caught by surprise at the determined, organized and wide-ranging opposition that sprang up in the last two months.
Drawn in by graphic images of the crackdown, governments around the world responded with unprecedented condemnation, some sanctions and calls for neighboring China and India, major trading partners of Myanmar, to use their leverage on the junta.
Given the past record, however, neither outside pressure nor possible talks between the junta and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi are likely to have significant effect on the intransigent leaders.
But the military, in trying to woo a hostile people, has constantly trumpeted an image as Buddhism's protector, building new pagodas, repairing monasteries and offering alms to monks.
"Buddhism has been a critical element in this legitimacy process. But all of a sudden you have delegitimization of a lot of that effort," Steinberg said.
If they're serious about winning they need to absorb more violence, which is the key to successful non-violence. Posted by Orrin Judd at October 6, 2007 6:50 AM