Cyclone Nargis Exacerbated ASEAN’s Myanmar Dilemma

Cyclone Nargis Exacerbated ASEAN’s Myanmar Dilemma

May's Cyclone Nargis devastated Myanmar's southwestern coast in the deadliest natural disaster in that country's history. The storm left over 100,000 dead or missing, while millions more suffered injuries or other damage. Myanmar's Irrawaddy Delta region remains affected by flooding and food shortages.

The Myanmar government's initial refusal to allow sufficient foreign aid workers into the country, like its harsh approach to last year's democracy demonstrations in Myanmar, again underscored the problems this obnoxious military regime presents for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Its members continue to confront the issue of dealing with an unapologetic authoritarian government at a time when many ASEAN nations are seeking to make the organization increasingly supportive of liberal democratic values and human rights.

The other ASEAN governments disagree over how to address the Myanmar imbroglio. Many ASEAN leaders advocate continuing the organization's traditional policy of non-intervention in the case of Myanmar, though for diverse reasons. Some ASEAN countries -- such as Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam -- themselves have authoritarian governments that do not want ASEAN intervening in their own domestic policies. Many of Myanmar's neighbors are inclined to tolerate the authoritarian status quo rather than risk a destabilizing situation that could disrupt profitable commercial exchanges or create a failed state on their borders through a messy democratic transition.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.