Burma. The hard lesson

Thousands of monks in Burma have been executed or moved into prisons.

The Anatomy of Revolution by Crane Brinton details what is needed to pull off a successful revolution. A key insight details what must happen when people are in the streets and the showdown nears.

The only thing absolutely necessary for the victory of a revolution is that the army, at the very least, does nothing. If they desert and join you, so much the better. But if they oppose you, you will lose.

Embed this in your brain, revolutionaries and reformers. What the Burma monks did was hugely courageous and noble. But they did not have sufficient support to bring down the government. Now many of them will be tortured and murdered with even more vicious repression falling upon that country, which means those not even involved in the protests will suffer too.

It’s best to pick fights that you can win, especially when dealing with thuggish governments.


  1. The verdict on Bruma is not yet in. Reports are coming in of desertions from the military as a result of the regime’s tactics. Even a high-ranking general is reported to be disgusted with what the regime has done.

    International pressure is building, and if Japan gets into the act (as a result of one of its toruists being shot on camera), external pressure could become compelling.

    But the most significant effects will be internal– not just to the country, but to the regime itself. As the bodies of the country’s most revered segment of society are found over the next few weeks in jungles and rivers, the crackdown just might backfire.

    The odds are probably even at best, but events have not yet reached a conclusion. For myself, I pray the sacrifice of those who died will not be in vain.

  2. I truly hope I’m wrong and that somehow the Good Guys win this one.

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