Destabilizing Myanmar is instrumental in Washington’s schemes to stave off the emergence of a multipolar world order, because it represents a crucial node in China’s Belt and Road Initiative. The new cold warriors are frantically working to throw the country into the same level of chaos that’s come to Libya, carrying out meddling within Myanmar and other countries throughout the region, because if they fail then neo-colonialism’s grip will come undone within southeast Asia. Due to the neo-colonial structure’s globally intertwining nature, this unraveling for imperialism’s extractive machine will also occur throughout the rest of the imperial peripheries. The empire will implode, unable to exercise the leverage necessary for its survival.
As one Myanmar publication which shares Washington’s Sinophobic narrative lens has written: “The Myanmar crisis poses an acute dilemma for China and affects Chinese President Xi Jinping’s plan to dominate the world through this BRI infrastructure, trade and investment mega project.” The correct version of this assessment is that China’s BRI plans pose an acute threat to U.S. imperialism’s hopes for continued world domination via capital export.
The sole priority of the U.S. when it comes to Myanmar is maintaining within it the neo-colonial dynamic which Kwame Nkrumah described in Neo-Colonialism, the Last Stage of imperialism:
The result of neo-colonialism is that foreign capital is used for the exploitation rather than for the development of the less developed parts of the world. Investment under neo-colonialism increases rather than decreases the gap between the rich and the poor countries of the world. The struggle against neo-colonialism is not aimed at excluding the capital of the developed world from operating in less developed countries. It is aimed at preventing the financial power of the developed countries being used in such a way as to impoverish the less developed. Non-alignment, as practised by Ghana and many other countries, is based on co-operation with all States whether they be capitalist, socialist or have a mixed economy. Such a policy, therefore, involves foreign investment from capitalist countries, but it must be invested in accordance with a national plan drawn up by the government of the non-aligned State with its own interests in mind.
These facts about how neo-colonialism works are crucial for understanding the motives driving Washington’s foreign policy on Myanmar, and the ways the U.S. media is covering the country’s crisis. The full force of imperialism's intelligentsia, academia, punditry, diplomatic sphere, and non-governmental organizations wouldn’t be focused on Myanmar if imperialism’s survival didn’t depend on sabotaging the BRI within the country. Therefore the information we hear about Myanmar, especially when it comes to China, needs to be intensely scrutinized.
In accordance with Nkrumah’s assessment that neo-colonialism is the last stage of imperialism, the neo-colonial model is under threat of being replaced within Myanmar and the rest of the peripheral countries, and imperialism is at risk of going extinct along with it. The poverty that the imperialists have engineered within these countries has prompted them to seek out Beijing as an alternative economic partner to Washington. This obviously isn’t a full solution to the contradictions that these countries face; they still have capitalist states, and will need to undergo revolutions to put power into the hands of their workers. But until that new wave of revolutions is ready to appear, joining the BRI is their best way to alleviate the deprivation imperialism has imposed upon them. This is because as Harvard Political Review’s Matthew Anzarouth has assessed, the BRI is not another iteration of neo-colonialism, as the cold warriors claim. It’s a way to reverse the global inequities that neo-colonialism has created:
Barbados recently signed a $115 million loan agreement with China for critical road repairs. Landlocked Ethiopia can transport drinking water and goods to Djibouti more efficiently thanks to Chinese investments in a water pipeline and railway cumulatively worth over $4 billion. Pakistan is expected to see a 10.5% increase in real income due in large part to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, a $60 billion collection of energy and infrastructure projects linking China to Pakistan’s Gwadar Port. The World Bank predicts that, by improving infrastructure and reducing trade costs, BRI investments could help lift nearly 40 million people from poverty….While the Chinese government’s “win-win” narrative masks some of the BRI’s failures, the notion that it is merely a colonial, exploitative or corrupt campaign is equally inaccurate. The world should embrace the BRI with cautious optimism, holding its orchestrators accountable for the initiative’s shortcomings while also acknowledging its potential to usher in a new era of global development, trade connectivity, and productive competition.
The imperialist meddling machine within and surrounding Myanmar can’t let this kind of balanced analysis win out. The U.S. empire must convince the world that the root of Myanmar’s crisis is a Chinese colonization scheme, when in reality it’s the actions of the U.S. itself. Washington didn’t decide to call the Myanmar government’s campaign against Rohingya Muslims a genocide until this year, after the Rohingya and other ethnic minorities had been getting terrorized by the country’s armed forces for decades. As long as the government acted as an arbiter of U.S. neo-colonial extraction, Washington was willing to overlook its atrocities, despite Washington’s supposed role as the world policeman for human rights. It wasn’t until the neo-colonial regime’s contradictions came to a breaking point last year, and the military took over, that Washington decided to start holding Myanmar accountable.
If the coup hadn’t happened, and Myanmar didn’t have a military government that’s implementing the BRI, the media wouldn’t be making sure we hear about Myanmar’s humanitarian situation. The abuses the military is committing would be covered quite sparsely. Just like is the case for Colombia’s death squads, India’s Kashmir occupation, Uganda’s dictatorial repression, and the other human rights violations that are commonplace for neo-colonial regimes. The U.S. only cares about human rights when its foreign capital is at stake, at which point it doesn’t prioritize many actual rights (like freedom from Washington’s own starvation sanctions), but instead performatively reacts to crises that it’s itself manufactured. Or to nonexistent crises that it’s fabricated through atrocity stories, as the cold warriors are now doing with China’s “Uyghur genocide.”
What do I mean by manufactured? I mean that though Myanmar’s military is verifiably guilty of gargantuan abuses, it’s been able to commit these abuses because of the neo-colonial order which U.S. imperialism has fostered. Not because China carried out the coup that brought it to power, as the U.S.-backed protesters absurdly claim.
It’s akin to how the U.S. is fighting terrorist organizations that have come about due to Washington’s own policies, or to how it’s sanctioning the same Taliban which originated in the U.S.-backed Mujahideen. How on earth could the world keep experiencing military coups, or terrorism, or humanitarian crises, despite humanity having gained the technological capacity to eliminate hunger and war long ago? Are these things appearing out of nowhere? They’re not, they’re products of the capitalist social order that the imperialist powers work to perpetuate. Capitalism depends on war and poverty, so such horrors will persist for as long as capitalism continues.
Washington has no solution to Myanmar’s crisis. Its goal is to destroy any functioning state within the country by fanning the flames of civil conflict, while manufacturing anti-Chinese outrage that will only serve to cut the country off from crucial Chinese help should such rhetoric succeed at changing policy. Washington’s fomenting of unrest and chaos is providing the junta with an excuse to extend its emergency rule into next year, and for who knows how much longer. All the while, the imperialists will continue to try to encourage escalations from both the rebels and the government, hoping that this will cause enough societal dysfunction to make BRI projects untenable. Because though utterly destabilizing Myanmar and the rest of the imperial peripheries would deprive Washington of its neo-colonies, at least China’s global economic network would go down with it.
The imperialists seek an apocalyptic future where war destroys global civilization, capitalism eats itself, and only the rich ultimately escape the ever-spreading mayhem. Class struggle is how to stop them.
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