The soothsayers surrounding Than Shwe, the paranoid general at the apex of Burma’s monstrous military regime, are in high favour. Their prophecies of civil unrest followed by a great natural disaster swayed his decision three years ago to move the capital north to Naypyidaw (“abode of kings”), an isolated eyrie remote from storm-blasted Rangoon and the fetid sea of devastated or obliterated townships, bloated corpses and destitute survivors that the fertile Irrawaddy delta has become.

– Extracted from Rosemary Righter, “A test of the UN’s moral authority”, The Times, 12 May 2008.

Of all the articles I have seen on Burma over the past week this is one of the better ones. New Mandala readers hoping to get to grips with the immediate crisis, the prognosis for any (unilateral?) humanitarian intervention, and the longer term political dynamics will find that Righter’s brief argument rewards a close inspection.