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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat



    Sizing up the Myanmar sanctions

    Friday, President Bush imposed a new set of trade sanctions on Myanmar’s military regime as a response to its violent clampdown on pro-democracy protestors. This is the second round of rules designed to squeeze the generals who run the southeast Asian country into relaxing their iron-fist policies against the demonstrators. But will sanctions actually work?

    If you’re older than I am and having déjÇÿ vu, you’re not alone. The last time a populist rising against the military junta was crushed, in 1988, then-President G.H.W. Bush announced sanctions against Myanmar. This, he claimed, would break the will of the military rulers, and force them to allow for democratic elections. Since then, only the names of the Generals in charge have changed. Clearly, it is time for something different. As we learned with North Korea, the way you sanction matters much more than how much – by aggressively attacking luxury goods, which disproportionately affected the ruling class, Kim Jong Il was brought to the bargaining table. If the U.S. seeks to cripple the regime in Myanmar, the first place to start would be the lucrative gem trade, which supplies the world with 90 percent of its rubies. With China on extra-good behavior before the Olympics, the U.S. needs to flex what diplomatic muscle it has left and force China (and, in turn, India) to agree to a ban on the export of gems from Myanmar. Otherwise, we’ll have to wait for President Jeb Bush to institute another wave of sanctions on the regime in 2028.

    -Evan Lisull is a sophomore majoring in economics and political science.

    With the ubiquity of the American firm and the hungry reach of the American consumer in this era of globalization, economic sanctions can be a very productive force in U.S. foreign relations. Ideally, these sanctions cause economic atrophy – emasculating the oppressive regime in question while emboldening the democratic opposition. However, as detractors point out, using economics as a weapon often leaves significant “”collateral damage”” in its wake.

    These sanctions are a good first move but will not force the military junta to make any wholesale reforms – especially given the Indian and Chinese willingness to occupy the void. If we wish to realize any meaningful change, the sanctions must be complemented with some diplomatic carrots. By itself, a nasty regime smarting from economic crisis will only be nastier. President Bush should call for “”13-party talks,”” emulating the “”six party talks”” model that has met with recent success in North Korea. These talks should join together Myanmar and its fellow members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, as well as India, China and the U.S., to work in their common interest to help Myanmar become a responsible and stable nation.

    -Eric Reichenbacher is a senior majoring in economics and international studies.

    The magic word on Dumbledore

    At a packed book reading at Carnegie Hall last week, a young fan of the wildly popular “”Harry Potter”” novels asked their author, J.K. Rowling, if fictional wizard headmaster Albus Dumbledore had ever found “”true love.”” Her response? “”I always thought of Dumbledore as gay,”” followed shortly by, “”Oh, my god. The fan fiction.””

    Readers were left shocked, overjoyed and perplexed after learning of the wizard’s unrequited love for Grindelwald, evidenced by more than 3,000 comments on the leading fan Web site, “”The Leaky Cauldron.”” But if you’re a fringe Potter fan like myself, you were probably left scratching your head. Why didn’t we know this earlier?

    Rowling’s careful choice to withhold this information reveals a calculated literary decision. Rowling clearly believes that sexual orientation is not central to Dumbledore’s character, but a side note to the complex figure. It’s sad to see gay rights activists and organizations coming forward now and using this news as support for the gay rights campaign. I suppose it is true, as the gay rights group Stonewall said, Dumbledore shows children “”there’s no limit to what gay and lesbian people can do.”” Embracing the pop icon merely because of his love for a fellow wizard, however, ignores the host of other values he stands for. Rowling’s announcement should be treated for what it is: an author’s small revelation into a character’s back history, not a political statement to further a movement.

    -Matt Rolland is a junior majoring in economics and international studies.

    The fact that gay rights groups are seriously offended by this news is testament to the degree to which personal “”identity”” politics has trumped common sense in our society. Think about it for a second: If only Joanne Rowling had brought her beloved character out of the closet. Then he could have served as a role model for … gay wizards everywhere. Clearly a pressing cause.

    Regardless of the “”Potter”” stories’ merit as literature (I loved the books, but I suspect they may not reread well, due to Rowling’s tic of tacking a pointless adverb on to every piece of dialogue – “”Ron said glumly,”” “”Hermione said brightly,”” “”Harry said bitterly””), they are literature, not propaganda for a better world. (Say, instead of chasing that poor whale, why not have Captain Ahab become a spokesman for animal rights?)

    Furthermore, the revelation makes perfect sense as is. It wouldn’t have been in Dumbledore’s character to be openly gay – he’s about as overtly sexual as Frosty the Snowman – but it was in his character to withhold himself from others, to keep secrets bottled up, to keep you guessing. This revelation, so offensive to ideologues of every stripe, is perfect in keeping with the grand themes and overall tone of Rowling’s series.

    -Justyn Dillingham is a senior majoring in history and political science and is the wire editor for the Arizona Daily Wildcat.

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