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For decades this government has been burning villages, destroying crops and the means of survival,
mining fields, gardens, orchards and paths, raping, torturing and killing.
These are not the wild excesses of indisciplined troops.
This is government policy.
|TOTAL, the French-based and part American-owned petrochemicals conglomerate, has provided most effective support for the Than Shwe regime through the development of the Yadana gas-field. The Burmese military now receives some $1,200,000,000 a year in hard currency from gas exports. This has converted the regime's permanent trade deficit into a large surplus and, while the Burmese remain the poorest people in South-East Asia, has given their overlords the means to reinforce repression and in the longer term to threaten their neighbours.
TOTAL plays a role similar to that of Henry Ford, Averell Harriman, Prescott Bush, Sir Henry Deterding and other venture capitalists who consolidated the shaky hold on power of the newly-installed Adolf Hitler.
EU trade embargoes target such commodities as pineapple juice but carefully omit the mineral resources that are the military regime's most important source of income. Likewise, massive Allied bombing during WWII failed to target the factories of IG Farben, closely associated with Exxon and a mainstay of the Nazi Party, and Ford factories producing military vehicles for the Wehrmacht. To the great financiers, and their friends in high places, capital investment counts for more than the lives of Allied soldiers or of Burmese civilians.
The EU's ambiguous stance makes difficult a strong position against Burma's neighbours who, for short-term advantage in the scramble for the world's diminishing resources, tacitly or openly support the genocidal regime of Than Shwe.