I am deeply saddened by the humanitarian crisis in Burma right now. (In case you don’t know a cyclone hit the country on Sunday and killed more than 22,000 people. 41,000 are still missing.) And I hate the Burmese government as much as the next guy. But why did Laura Bush feel the need to make a political statement out of the crisis?
Irrawaddy, an exile Burmese news magazine reports:
Speaking on May 5 at the White House, Laura Bush said, “If we can get some sort of team in there to assess what the other needs are, then I feel very assured that the United States government will follow with [greater assistance].”
She also accused Burmese military rulers of having failed to warn their citizens in time about the approach of a killer cyclone.
Mrs Bush went on to urge Burma’s government to ensure its referendum is free, fair and inclusive as the military junta moves forward with the constitutional referendum scheduled for this Saturday, May 10, despite the havoc created by Cyclone Nargis.
The Irrawaddy story quotes an exiled Burmese political analyst as saying, “This is a time when people are dying and suffering to a horrible degree, so if the US really wants to help, it can help without making political demands.” I agree.
But I also have to wonder: Why Laura? Who in the White House or the State Department decided that Laura Bush was the right person to criticize the Burmese junta? Or is this something that she picked on her own volition. Regardless, it was inappropriate.