Even Paranoids Have Enemies: Cyclone Nargis and Myanmar's Fears of Invasion
- Contemporary Southeast Asia: A Journal of International and Strategic Affairs
- ISEAS–Yusof Ishak Institute
- Volume 30, Number 3, December 2008
- pp. 379-402
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Most strategic analysts outside Myanmar dismiss an invasion of the country as a fantasy on the part of the military government, albeit one shared by some of its critics. In international relations, however, perceptions can be more important than objective facts. Fears of armed intervention by the United States, or a UN-endorsed coalition, have been strong influences on the ruling council's defence and foreign policies ever since the 1988 pro-democracy uprising. In that sense, the regime's heightened threat perceptions constitute a strategic reality that must be taken into account by the international community. As seen after Cyclone Nargis struck Myanmar in May 2008, failure to do so can make the delivery of humanitarian assistance, and the search for viable long term solutions to Myanmar's complex problems, much more difficult.