Wanted: An Eisenhower for Burma’s ethnic leaders

“Hell, I know I’m a prima donna,” said Patton to his superior Bradley. “I admit it. What I can’t stand about is Monty (Montgomery, Patton’s British rival fighting against Germany during World War II) won’t admit it.”

Both were brilliant soldiers. Field Marshal Montgomery was of course known as the general who licked Rommel, the Germans’ prima donna, at Al Alamein. But at the same time, he was also criticized as the guy who only fought “set piece” battles, meaning he went to battle, only when he’s ready, when everything was to his liking.

Patton, the American general, on the other hand, trained his men to be ready for the unexpected and plunged ahead with available troops when an opportunity arose.
Both of course were successful soldiers.

What is said little about them was the fact that they had SHAEF (Supreme Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Forces) as their center of gravity and “Ike” Eisenhower who knew how to handle his prima donnas.

Generals Dwight D. Eisenhower, Omar N. Bradley and George S. Patton (Photo: tzem.info)

No, this is not a movie review, although “Patton” is one of the films I love to watch at least once a year, not least to deflate my own ego, however small it is.

It’s because the movie reminds me of our own prima donnas among the non-Burman armed and unarmed opposition.

They used to have the Working Group for Ethnic Coordination (WGEC) that served as a clearing house, where they could meet and sort out their differences until last June. Then all of a sudden that center of gravity was no more. And each is blaming the other for going its own way.

There was some hope of reviving it in another name at the Laiza conference, 30 October-2 November. However the meeting only resulted in forming a Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team (NCCT), whose tenure expires when the nationwide ceasefire is signed. It went short of setting up a political supervisory team.

And until we have one, the peace process will be rudderless at least on the non-Burmans’ side.

The solution is obvious: We all need a big deflation of our egos or we’d better find an Eisenhower fast and furious, or we may all find ourselves shouting “Heil Hitler” to a new Fuhrer in our country.


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