Virginia M. Moncrieff Headshot

Aung San Suu Kyi Back in Prison : Now Let's TALK to the Generals.

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In an ending we didn't have to take bets on, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was sent back to the prison that is her own home. John Yettaw - the obviously mentally damaged man who tried to warn her of the impending doom that he saw so vividly in his head - has been liberated by Senator Jim Webb, who went to Burma to - shock, horror! - talk to the generals.

Hard to imagine what actual eyeballing could achieve with a bunch of calculating, internationally sidelined and despotic military thugs. Could it open dialogue? Could it lead to negotiation? Could it lead - slowly and ever so gently - to those standover nut jobs being bought into a political process where they are only half the equation?

The days of "no negotiation just agree to what we demand" that has been the hallmark of both the National League of Democracy (led by Daw Suu) and the military State Peace and Development Council must pass.

The unbending stance of many in the pro-Burma lobby, who have fought so long and hard for the liberation of their land, is beginning to have the taint of George W. Bush neo-conservatism. Wasn't it Bush who said you never sit down with your enemies? Wasn't it Bush that refused to talk and negotiate to try and make better out of very bad situations? And let's just pause a minute and think about HIS legacy. It's not pretty.

The mere suggestion that there should be negotiation or lifting of sanctions is usually shouted down and dismissed. The few people who have questioned whether Daw Suu should continue to be the absolute and only point on which every Burma issue pivots have been ridiculed and sometimes violently attacked and always, always called apologists for the junta.

Those who cling to the hope that passive resistance, economically and socially crippling sanctions, and western finger wagging about Daw Suu's imprisonment will lead to any solution in Burma must think again. Where has it gotten the situation so far? How much closer are we to defining a future for 50 million Burmese while we put our hands on our hips and play no-talkies?

Yes indeed, sometimes the start of a negotiation feels like sucking down a big bowl of crap. The idea of seemingly legitimizing anything the SPDC does is antithetical to every stand that has been the hallmark of the long and painful fight for democracy in Burma.

But isn't it time we said, ENOUGH? Remove the absolutes from the equation. Get in and start talking. That means Daw Suu, the UN and the Obama administration. Be the first to sit at the grown up table and say "let's talk". Then see what the generals do. And after that? Well, then we can take another small step.