My sister (in law) wondered why the government, if you can call it that, of Burma (Myanmar) isn’t letting foreign aid into the country after Cyclone Narqis  (that’s a hurricane to any North Americans in the audience) ripped through the country earlier this month. My quick-and-dirty response:
- They’re arseholes. These are generally not nice people and caring about their citizens is, well, not all that important to them.
- Like North Korea, Zimbabwe and other pariah states, they have an overdeveloped sense of paranoia, believing that any representative of any foreign power will necessarily be seeking to topple them.
- They’re crazy. And I do mean loopy. The current site of the capital was chosen by astrologers. The people in charge believe in magic.
- Even if they weren’t crazy arseholes with overdeveloped senses of paranoia, they’re a developing country and it’s The West that’s offering to help. That’s the same West that a couple of months ago was calling them bad names for beating a few (thousand) monks. They don’t like us and even if they need our help, that we offer it appears arrogant to them.
And of course …
- Even if they weren’t crazy, paranoid arseholes who resent the West, there’s always an underlying shame in asking for help. It’s almost always seen by somebody, either the giver, the receiver or a looker-on, as symbolic of weakness.
- What Adam said.