September was Asia month at the United Nations. It began with the Security Council negotiating a set of severe sanctions on North Korea in response to Pyongyang’s late-August nuclear test. It ended with the permanent members of the council trading barbs over the humanitarian crisis exploding in Myanmar.
On Thursday, the council held its first public meeting on Myanmar in eight years to address the military’s campaign of ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya minority in the northwest of the country. The discussion was the diplomatic definition of doing too little, too late. The military operation, reportedly involving the systematic destruction of whole villages, has driven over a half-million Rohingya into Bangladesh. That represents about half the members of the long-persecuted Muslim group still living in Myanmar a few months ago.
Even for analysts with very little knowledge of Myanmar, this has been an execrably predictable crisis.