Tuesday, May 13, 2008

This still doesn't clear up the Burma/Myanmar thing

If you've been following the natural disasters over in Asia, you've probably been wondering why the government of Burma/Myanmar gets to be called a "junta," while government of China is referred by the staid old title of "Chinese government."

It turns out "junta" is more than just a fun word to say. It is also a technical term describing a country which is run by a committee (the word "junta" is Spanish for committee) of military leaders who took power via a coup.

Burma/Myanmar currently sports the world's longest running junta, since 1988, but other classic junta-run countries from the past include Chile, Greece and Indonesia.

Despite Myanmar/Burma's collective leadership, much of the international outrage against its junta is directed towards one man, Than Shwe. Shwe holds the title of Chairman of the State Peace and Development Council, but many, including prominent members of the Hollywood community, feel not only does Shwe deliberately shirk his peace and development duties but mocks his title by taking it in the opposite direction.

Over here in the USA, for about seven years George Bush's most extreme critics have been using the inflammatory but technically incorrect (or at least deceptive)* phrase "Bush regime" to express their dissatisfaction with his leadership.

If accuracy isn't a requirement, and being inflammatory part of the goal, why haven't we been hearing more about being ruled by a "Bush junta." The connotations of a junta are much more damming than that of a regime. When the hard-core anti-Bush crowd reflects back on his presidency, overlooking the word "junta" should be one of their greatest regrets.

* The current American regime began in 1778.

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