Foreign Policy Blogs

S21 Documentary, Junta Nukes, and a Rice Shortage?

12690666Cambodia – My colleague, Sean Patrick Murphy, over at FB’s Global Film Review blog, has an interesting post about a new documentary, “S21,  The Khmer Rogue Killing Machine”.  The documentary interviews former Khmer Rogue members who worked at the infamous S21 prison camp, where various crimes against humanity were committed during the reign of Pol Pot.  There are a total of  7 survivors of the camp, out of 17,000 who were killed, two of them took part in this documentary.

Myanmar – In an update to my previous post concerning the Burmese Junta’s nuclear ambitions, the regime has recently went out of its way to deny reports that it is collaborating with North Korea to develop a nuclear weapons program:

On June 11, a week after the television network showed the program, Myanmar’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement claiming that “anti-government groups” in collusion with the international media had made the allegation with the goal of “hindering Myanmar’s democratic process and tarnishing the political image of the government”. Myanmar “is a developing nation” which “lacks adequate infrastructure, technology and finance to develop nuclear weapons”, the statement continued.

The North Koreans issued a similar denial, blaming the United States for the report. Ten days after the Myanmar denial, the official Korean Central News Agency reported: “The United States is now making much fuss, floating the sheer fiction that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea [North Korea] is helping Myanmar in its ‘nuclear development’, not content with labeling the DPRK ‘provocative’ and ‘bellicose’.”

As stated in the previous post, the U.S. government is taking these allegations seriously, so much so that Senator Jim Webb, Chairman of the Subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs, who formerly favored engagement with the junta, recently canceled a scheduled visit to Myanmar.    One should not be surprised to see the United States request new UN sanctions on the regime within the next year.

Thailand and Vietnam:  Two of the world’s largest rice producers are facing a potential drought, which could potentially impact the entire world market, not to mention millions of poor farmers in Southeast Asians, a region heavily dependent on agriculture.  I also  imagined regional budgets will be stretched, in a global economy that is already bad, due to the governments wishing to subsidize rising prices for their poor citizens.

Poor weather and low rice stocks contributed to a regional food shortage scare in 2008. Then prices spiraled to more than US$1,000 per tonne and many exporting countries put in place restrictions on overseas sales to guard domestic supplies. Across Asia, rice production was expected to be up this year before signs of drought became more apparent. The possibility of a new scare is rising as crop conditions deteriorate.