Myat Tun Oo
Can drones change the regime in Burma?
On 1st February, General Min Aung Hlaing staged a coup against the elected government. This was not a knee jerk reaction as they claimed due to voter list irregularities. He has consulted with his think thanks groups before the coup. He has assumed that no one will uprise against him if he arrests Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the NLD leadership. He has also factored in about the sanctions from US and EU. He knows there will be some impact on the economy, but he believes that he can offset those sanctions by the investment from China and ASEAN countries. He knew that China would veto any UN led sanctions and protect him. Therefore, he was determined to turn the clock back to 2010.
Now he becomes the coup leader, and the west is left to deal with him. Initially, his coup was bloodless and looked confident. He even released some chief ministers. Later, he is still facing public anger and mass demonstrations that was on a much larger scale than he ever thought. Then he is facing another challenge. This is the civil disobedient movement which he did not expect and committee representing the parliament which is exerting authority. So his coup is now facing challenges.
What the west can do? US, UK and EU issued some statements and came up with some sanctions. I am sure that there will be more sanctions in the pipeline. However, these generals do not care about sanctions and they do not care about the people. If they do care, there will be no coup in the first place. So what options are left for the west? The assumption of Min Aung Hlaing and his colleagues are that the west are busy and have no interest in Burma staging a war.
But the west needs to reflect about its options. First of all, there is no real appetite for wars post pandemic. However, Burma is now led by a general who is accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity and possible genocide. He is unleashing lethal force against his own people. This is not a normal coup by a normal general. He is a war crime suspect and perpetrator of crimes against humanity. The US and the west have a moral responsibility to remove him from power. The best way for US is using drones to remove him from power. ICC can issue an arrest warrant and if he doesn’t surrender, US can use force to eliminate him. It is not against the Burmese law because he is a coup leader and therefore, he has committed treason. So it is a capital punishment.
The question here is whether US and the west have the will to do it. Drones will be cost effective and won’t involve massive military build-up. As there are demonstrations inside Burma and the civil disobedient movement ongoing, any administrative gap will be filled by the NLD led government. Any strike against its senior military leaders will send a clear signal to Burma and other generals, US means business and also send a good deterrent signal to any future genocide offender around the world. I truly believe that there will be no ground troops needed because the army led by Min Aung Hlaing is corrupt, low moral and unable to fight any ethnic armed groups properly let alone US army. They will be in disarray like when they face with AA and therefore, there is no match for super power like US.
In Conclusion, it is up to US and UK to decide. In my opinion, drones can help to change the regime in Burma and will help to create a better world.
(This article is to inform the policy makers in US State Department and UK Foreign Office.)