Monday, January 03, 2005

The Burmese question

I'm taking a break at my desk, working my way through a container of pickled herring, and I'm wondering: What happened in Burma?

The country's tyrannical military regime makes reliable information hard to come by. But simple geography would seem to indicate that the reported Burmese casualty figures are implausible. Thousands of deaths in Thailand and 90 in neighboring Burma?

Reports are trickling in that the official estimates may be fictional. "It is in the thousands," estimated one foreign diplomat. Southern Burma "should have been hit equally" as hard as southern Thailand.

Or maybe not. In the discussion of this post skeptical of the official figures, some commenters have argued that Burma may in fact have been largely spared. It wouldn't be unprecedented, apparently.

So which is it? And will we ever find out for certain?

And isn't it stunning, in this age of instant information, that we don't know the answer?

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