But Helmut is not yet a ranking official, so it's nice to see that Robert Gates has given the issue some thought:
BANGKOK — In the strongest remarks yet by a high-ranking American official, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said Sunday that Myanmar was guilty of “criminal neglect” for blocking large-scale international aid to cyclone victims and that more Burmese civilians would perish unless the military regime reverses its policy.He's certainly on the right track. (I mean "on the right track" here in the way that teachers have always used that cliche -- we really mean, "thanks for saying something, but what you said is kind of stupid.")
When asked whether the Myanmar government’s actions were tantamount to genocide, Mr. Gates stopped short of that accusation. “This is more akin, in my view, to criminal neglect,” he said.Considering the situation, Gates concluded that “We have really exercised our moral obligation above and beyond the call." Do we have a greater moral obligation to changing regimes where it most benefits us? More likely, we have a greater rhetorical obligation to talk about being driven to action by moral obligations (in, say, Iraq) when we might be perceived as being motivated above all by material interests. When we're not at all motivated by material interests, we have a rhetorical obligation to avoid language (like "genocidal intransigence") that we use to express our moral obligations to action.
Can we get Gates to read Singer?