Whistle the " Bridge over the River Kwai" while you read this...
River Kwai, Khwae Noi (Thai แควน้อย, English small tributary)
Myanmar's junta fears US invasion
By Samuel Blythe
BANGKOK - Myanmar's armed forces, commonly known as the Tatmadaw, are increasingly reorienting themselves to defend against a possible US-led foreign invasion, as revealed in a top-secret internal document leaked exclusively to Asia Times Online.
This official Ministry of Defense document represents the first concrete evidence that Myanmar is reacting militarily to recent US official statements referring to the hardline regime as an "outpost of tyranny".
The minutes of an October 2005 meeting in which battalion commanders were briefed about a high-level meeting at the War Office in Yangon delineates three ways in which the United States might invade Myanmar - through agitating its citizens, in an alliance with insurgents and ceasefire groups or through a multinational coalition-led invasion. The Burmese-language document, which is more than 40 pages in length, is stamped "Top Secret".
The document further identifies Thailand, a staunch strategic ally of the United States, as Myanmar's "nearest enemy" and takes particular umbrage at the US-Thai joint Cobra Gold military exercises held annually in Thailand. In the past, the highly public joint military exercises have focused on counter-narcotics operations to help stem the flow of drugs from Myanmar into Thailand.
The document also indicates that the Tatmadaw has been closely studying US military strategy and operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and is preparing an "Operation Other No War" plan (as the document's English-language translation calls it) to defend against a possible US invasion through a war of attrition. Exact details of the defensive contingency plan are not included in the document, however.
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Myanmar used to be called Burma. "Burma, now called by its autocratic military government the Union of Myanmar, is a country with a long but often troubled history. The region it occupies has been occupied for thousands of years by a variety of ethnic groups, including Shans, Karens, Mons and many others. Most of these groups of people occupied environmental niches in a country which offered very varied types of terrain. Different peoples interacted with each other and exchanged trade goods and practices.
The country was invaded by the Burman people who gave it the modern name and the first Burman kingdom was established in 1054. This was Pagan and the architecture of its numerous wats and stupas remains as one of the great wonders of the world. The Pagan throne contended with other ethnic groups to extend their territory, particularly with the Mons to the south of Pagan, which is located in the north of the country close to Mandalay. Alaungpaya, who initiated the last Burmese dynasty, defeated the Mons in 1752 as part of continued Burmese expansion that had also seen a number of bloody struggles with Siam to the east. The Burmese had succeeded in seizing vast swathes of Siamese territory but had been unable to hold it through lack of manpower for a permanent occupying force. Although a Burmese army burned the Siamese capital of Ayutthaya in 1767 and carried off thousands of slaves, this too was effectively only a raid and not a conquest.
However, by this period, a far more dangerous enemy had begun to enter into Southeast Asian affairs. The British, in common with other Europeans, had been active in the region for hundreds of years. But their interests had previously been mostly confined to piracy, the search for spice islands and the establishment of small scale trading posts. Yet the success of the British, through the agency of the East India Company, in dominating India emboldened the British into believing that territorial conquest in the region was possible."