The Enemy Within, a book covering the recent events in Burma
At an event in 2015, a friend from Burma was optimistic as the news of elections came in. She said that Burma will one day be like Singapore. I cautioned her “Before it becomes like Singapore, it will become like India”. I feel we do not fully comprehend the complexity of a large, diverse country. When one enemy disappears, seemingly nice people have the urge to find a new enemy while co-opting the old one. Add to that the fight for common resources at a time where quickly grabbing onto something can make you rich (like when the real estate boom hits smaller towns).
This is a recent book I read that described precisely that. You will probably need another book for a clearer history of Arakan (Rakhine) but overall the book provides a snapshot of recent happenings.
The reason I can be so un-diplomatic while talking about Burma or South East Asia is because I have always considered them to be my countries. In my mind, I do not think in terms of residence cards or passports. My homes are places where I have enjoyed being curious, found acceptance and fallen in love numerous times.
In the words of Viet Thnah Nguyen, the author or The Sympathiser
“I made such criticisms not because I hated all the countries that I have known but because I love them. My love for my countries is difficult because their histories, like those of all countries, are complicated. Every country believes in its own best self and from these visions has built beautiful cultures, France included. And yet every country is also soiled in the blood of conquest and violence, Vietnam included. If we love our countries, we owe it to them not just to flatter them but to tell the truth about them in all their beauty and their brutality, America included.”