Ali Ettefagh at PostGlobal

Ali Ettefagh

Tehran, Iran

Dr. Ali Ettefagh serves as a director of Highmore Global Corporation, an investment company in emerging markets of Eastern Europe, CIS, and the Middle East. He is the co-author of several books on trade conflict, resolution of international trade disputes, conflicts in letters of credit, trade-related banking transactions, sovereign debt, arbitration and dispute resolutions and publications specific to the oil and gas, communication, aviation and finance sectors. Dr. Ettefagh is a member of the executive committee and the board of directors of The Development Foundation, an advisor to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, and an advisor to a number of European companies. Dr. Ettefagh speaks Persian (Farsi), English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Arabic and Turkish. Close.

Ali Ettefagh

Tehran, Iran

Dr. Ali Ettefagh serves as a director of Highmore Global Corporation, an investment company in emerging markets of Eastern Europe, CIS, and the Middle East. more »

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Forget Failed Past Boycotts

Citizens of all countries ought to tell their governments that Olympics is a zone reserved exclusively for the people, completely demilitarized and depoliticized. Governments must simply forget about banning their people from attending the world’s greatest people-to-people celebration.

Governments’ political differences ought not to serve as an excuse to deprive an athlete of his or her goals. Olympic aspirants tend to represent the ordinary citizens of their own country, far removed from political issues and international matters that do not affect their daily lives. These athletes train and plan years in advance as they yearn and dream of the world stage and fair competition. It is likely to be their first visit abroad and their first experience with other cultures and new friends from other corners of the world.

And what do we know about Burma and China’s influence? I confess that I had to do some cursory research. Burma is a large landmass and has a large, very religious population made up of a patchwork of more than 100 different ethnic groups. It has about half a million men in its army that was last equipped by the “pro-western orange revolutionaries” of Ukraine.

It was a country influenced by the British but was never part of the Commonwealth after independence. It has attracted French and American oil companies to produce oil and gas for sale to China. Burma is run by a military junta of officers that worked their way up to top ranks by fighting Chinese-supported communist rebels some 35 years ago, long before China had its moments of political shift in 1976 (at the end of the Cultural Revolution) and the subsequent Chinese version of Perestroika in 1989. As such, a realist might conclude that China does not have any magic levers on the Burmese Junta.

So, for once, let us toss away the recycled recipe book of failed old policies (say, the boycott of the Moscow Olympics), learn from past lessons and move forward in a more constructive manner. The western world accelerated its embrace of the current Chinese regime after the 1989 events of Tiananmen Square and nursed China’s doctrines with Wal-Mart Capitalism. That crafted a slow and cautious, but positive, reconstruction of Chinese policies and politics. Within a generation, China is a member of WTO, the darling of capitalism both as a producer and a consumer, and is set to soften North Korea (a reliable, non-religious, client state of China). And the result is that, warts and all, Chinese people are in better economic, if not political, health than 20 years ago.

Recent events are probably the Burmese version of Tiananmen Square, vintage 1989. The rest of the world ought to make gradual, targeted openings towards the Burmese people and grant the junta a face-saving exit. Who knows, we might even check the flow of opium to world markets whilst we realize that the colonial days ended some 60+ years ago. What is clear is that ruining the aspirations of a young athlete from Nebraska or Prague, or raining on China’s parade of glory and its Olympics party, will hardly help the Burmese people.

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