Nowadays, most important news gets ignored, buried or goes under the radar by corporate-owned media, especially when this news reveals the dark side of the “free market” or the dark plans for more parasitic, predator capitalism unleashed against a weakened populace or country.
Myanmar is the modern name for a country the English speaking empires still call Burma.
On May 2nd, US President George W. Bush ordered a new round of sanctions on Burmese state companies to
pressure the military leadership there over human rights abuses and to push for political change.
Few wires picked up this Act of Aggression from Washington. Instead, the whole world watched with wonder as Tropical Cyclone Nargis slammed into Myanmar on May 2nd and May 3rd.
For over a week, meteorologists knew that Myanmar would be hit so it is either ironic or planned that
Bush would sanction Myanmar the same day it was to be devastated.
Bush announced in his statement on May 2nd, “Today I’ve issued a new executive order that instructs the
Treasury Department to freeze the assets of Burmese state-owned companies that are major sources of funds that prop up the junta.”
The sanctions were targeted at companies and industries that produce timber, pearls and gems. Notice that gas and oil were not on the list of sanctions.
Myanmar is one of the world’s oldest oil producers. It exporting its first barrel in 1853. Rangoon Oil
Company, the first foreign oil company to drill in the country, was created in 1871. Between 1886 and 1963,
the Myanmar’s oil industry was dominated by Burmah Oil Company (BOC), which discovered the Ychaugyaung field in 1887 and the Chauk field in 1902. Both fields are still in production.
The oil and gas industry was nationalized after a socialist-leaning military regime seized power in
1962. As in many other countries, the State assumed ownership of the resources, either operating them
itself or delegating this task to private operators, who were paid for their outlay and work in oil or gas under production sharing contracts called PSCs.
The article, ‘Big Oil Fuelling Burma’s Junta?’
says, “…global oil companies are falling all over
themselves in the cue to gain access to what may be
substantial oil reserves in that fractured country.”
If Myanmar was fractured before, it is shattered from
Tropical Cyclone Nargis.
French oil giant TOTAL is the fourth largest oil
company in the UK, and the fourth largest oil company
in the world. On February 21, 2005, the Burma
Campaign UK published a hard-hitting new report
exposing how oil giant TOTAL plays a crucial role in
funding and protecting Burma’s brutal military
The report said, “There has been little relief for
villagers living in the Yadana pipeline region in
southern Burma since the Chevron Corporation became a
partner to this natural gas venture in 2005.”
“Chevron and its consortium partners continue to
rely on the Burmese army for pipeline security and
those forces continue to conscript thousands of
villagers for forced labour, and to commit torture,
rape, murder and other serious abuses in the course of
their operations,” revealed the 76-page report, ‘The
Human Cost of Energy’.
“Chevron should act on “its moral and legal
obligations to human rights rather than profit from
human rights abuses,” the report added of this project
that earned the Burma’s junta about 1.1 billion US
dollars in 2006, over half of its total earnings from
the sale of gas to neighbouring Thailand, which was
2.16 billion dollars that year.”
The Yadana pipeline has been dogged by controversy and
human rights abuses since its inception in 1991. The
venture, to extract offshore natural gas in the
Andaman Sea and have it flow along an overland pipe to
Thailand, was backed by a consortium that included the
US company Unocal, French company Total and a
subsidiary of Thailand’s state-owned gas and oil
company. The local partner was the Myanmar Gas and Oil
Enterprise, an affiliate of Burma’s energy ministry.
In developing Burmese energy resources, the ruling
Myanmar junta has forcibly relocated villages and uses
villagers as slave labor. This keeps profits
high for foreign oil companies and the ruling junta
who get their cut.
Soldiers are contracted by foreign investors to
protect energy project sites and pipelines. Violence
by these is commonplace, perpetuating the cycle of
human rights abuses. Soldiers have been implicated in
killings, beatings, rapes and arrests of the villagers
living on or by energy fields and pipelines.
On Tuesday, May 6th, President Bush requested the
country’s junta to allow the United States to provide
disaster assistance, saying Washington was prepared to
move naval assets to help search for the dead and
Barbara Starr, Pentagon reporter for CNN, reported the
same day (May 6) on CNN Business Report that Myanmar
could receive all kinds of “help” from the US Navy
including help with delivering and sanitizing water.
Why the flip-flop? Why does Bush freeze Myanmar’s
assets the day it is hit with a Hurricane Katrina-size
cyclone and four days later Bush wants to help this
crisis wrought country? It’s like beating someone to
a pulp (freezing assets) and then leaving them on the
sidewalk for violent nature to finish the job! And
both happened on the same day! Now that the country
is properly beaten, Bush wants to help them? This
kind of mindset is psychopathic to say the least!
If Myanmar’s assets are frozen, how are they to
rebuild the country?
Thankfully, the Myanmar military, which regularly
accuses the United States of trying to subvert their
regime, is unlikely to allow US military presence in
its territory. How would the junta make the Navy
leave after it and US oil carpet- baggers become
entrenched in the rivers and sea around Myanmar,
especially since the country is so weakened by cyclone
devastation? Think how weakened and powerless New
Orleans was after Hurricane Katrina and apply this
same dynamic to Myanmar.
But with tens of thousands of Burmese dead, more
injured and up to a million are homeless, this may be
the “Perfect Storm” for proponents of the Friedian
Chicago School of Economic’s “Shock Doctrine” where
western capitalists, the World Bank and the IMF are
always poised to descend on third-world countries
devastated and paralyzed by shock, despair, huge
losses of life and destroyed infrastructures from
natural or other disasters.
The article “Turning a Tsunami Into a Windfall – For
says “The Christmas tsunami of 2004 left a devastating
trail of destruction but for some it opened up huge
business opportunities. It created a blank slate for
what Naomi Klein calls “shock doctrine.” This is how
shock doctrine works. First there is a disaster, a
coup, a terrorist attack, a tsunami, a hurricane: the
population goes into shock, the economy is in a
shambles, it’s a perfect opportunity to push through
unpopular economic shock therapy. This means
privatizing resources and selling state assets.”
If you’ve read Naomi Klein’s book THE SHOCK DOCTRINE:
THE RISE OF DIASTER CAPITALISM, you will know that
half a million Sri Lankan fisher folk were moved
inland to free up the beaches for “development” the
tourist market. This left a half million people
without their traditional land to live on and without
a way to make an income.
The Washington Consensus has been pushing for a
“regime” change in Myanmar for a long time. They base
it on “abuse” of human rights and endless western
propaganda that the “majority” of Burmese want
Who is Bush to push for “human rights” reform when
most of the world regards America as the worst human
rights abuser on the planet? This is evidenced by the
fact that the US prison population dwarfs that of
the illegal detainment and torture of inmates in
Guantanamo, illegal wars leaving over 2 million Iraqis
dead and more injured (for “regime change”), and
torture of its prisoners internationally and
nationally to name a few offenses.
American “human rights” reform is always done by the
barrel of a gun or economic genocide (like freezing
assets) or both.
The current junta had scheduled a May 10 referendum as
a key stage in a seven-step “roadmap to democracy”
that should culminate in multi-party elections in
2010, as a replacement to the absolute power wielded
by the army since their 1962 coup.
With Myanmar lying in ruins, Tropical Cyclone Nargis
has delayed this vote. Myanmar state radio announced
that Saturday’s vote on the military-backed draft
constitution would be delayed until May 24 in 40 of 45
townships in the Yangon area and seven in the delta.
It indicated that the balloting would proceed in other
areas as scheduled.
Not only is freezing a country’s assets an Act of
Aggression, it can also be interpreted as an Act of
On March 30th, another “under the radar” important
news story was released and few news wires picked it
In, ‘Day of Infamy: The March 20, 2008 US Declaration
of War on Iran’
Global Research reported the American government used
its political muscles to freeze Iran’s assets through
the FinCEn unit of the US Department of Treasury.
Global Research’s article says that this sanction will
“…deliver the ultimate death blow to Iran’s ability to
participate in the international banking system…What
it really means is that the US, again through FinCEN,
has declared two acts of war: one against Iran’s banks
and one against any financial institution anywhere in
the world that tries to do business with an Iranian
Although Myanmar’s oil output is small (9,500 barrels
a day), the oil industry believes that there are
billions of untapped reserves below Myanmar’s soil and
By its structure, western capitalism constantly needs
new “markets” to keep itself afloat. Predatorial and
without conscience, the Lords of the “Free Market”
either wait like vultures in the treetops for wounded
and weak prey or they wait “in the cue to gain access
to what may be substantial oil reserves in that
However they do it, it seems that vampire capitalists
are about to rush in on crisis wrought Myanmar and
plunder it like they’ve done to countless other
countries when they were in severe shock.