The role of history in the Rohingya genocide

What this article provide you with:

A very good historical background on the ethnic and religious enmities in Myanmar

What this article does not do:

Refute the argument that economic interests are driving the ethnic cleansing in Rakhine state.

There is nothing reductionist about explaining the conflict in terms of economics. If you think it IS reductionist, then you do not understand the argument. Perhaps it is a mater of confusing the modalities of the conflict with the objectives.

The fact that this long history of ethnic and religious tension and suspicion exists is precisely why the strategy of redirecting the hostility of the Rakhine away from the central government and towards the Rohingya was chosen, and why it is working.

Is it necessary to ethnically cleanse Rakhine state of Rohingya in order to pursue economic interests? That is not the right question. A more apt question would be; is it useful to distract and divert the Rakhine with their long despised nemesis while the army seizes land and resources over which just last year the Rakhine people en masse demanded to have local control?

Is it “Marxist” to recognise that the government needs to establish absolute control over Rakhine’s resources as an existential imperative? When 60% of FDI is in the oil and gas sector, which is entirely located in Rakhine, is it reductionist to suggest that the primary objective of the regime is secure control of the land, the access, and the complete domination over that sector? Can Yangon afford an uprising by the Rakhine? This is not Marxist or reductionist thinking, it is real politik. This is a practical necessity for the central government, and pursuing such domination outright would very likely lead to an unmanageable conflict with the ethnic majority of the state; something that would be extremely costly in more ways than we can mention. Without the Rohingya conflict, the government would have no pretext; and selecting the most viable pretext in this case was quite straightforward, again, because of the history elaborated in this article.

Is it possible that hateful ideology has, or may, run amok , and the government could lose sight of its prime economic objective, and become fixated on a mission to do nothing else but exterminate the Rohingya? Of course. People certainly can go mad with ideology to the point of self-destructiveness; the Nazis certainly did. And, yes, the massacres are being carried out within the framework of hate; the Rohingya were selected as a diversion because, yes, the government views them as sub-human and eligible for genocide; and they likely derive satisfaction from killing and expelling them. But none of that contradicts with the fact that the primary motive in the conflict is vital economic interest.

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