Passport

Cranking up the pain on Burma

President Bush concluded his remarks several minutes ago, and I just got my hands on the text of his speech. Several of the foreign names in the draft include handy phonetic pronunciations. Want to talk like the president? Here's how to do it: Kyrgyzstan [KEYR-geez-stan] Mauritania [moor-EH-tain-ee-a] Harare [hah-RAR-ray] Mugabe [moo-GAH-bee] Sarkozy [sar-KO-zee] Caracas [kah-RAH-kus] ...

President Bush concluded his remarks several minutes ago, and I just got my hands on the text of his speech. Several of the foreign names in the draft include handy phonetic pronunciations. Want to talk like the president? Here's how to do it:

  • Kyrgyzstan [KEYR-geez-stan]
  • Mauritania [moor-EH-tain-ee-a]
  • Harare [hah-RAR-ray]
  • Mugabe [moo-GAH-bee]
  • Sarkozy [sar-KO-zee]
  • Caracas [kah-RAH-kus]

Oddly, there are no training wheels in the draft for the toughest name of all: that of Burmese democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi, which I can't even pronounce.

As to substance, the main news in the speech was Bush's call for economic sanctions against the leaders of Burma's (very odious) military government "and their financial backers." Bush also announced "an expanded visa ban on those responsible for the most egregious violations of human rights–as well as their family members." The intent of all this is "peaceful change" in Burma.

Can new sanctions on Burma be targeted so easily? I have my doubts. Economic issues are what drove Burma's monks into the streets in the first place, and even the most carefully calibrated sanctions could hurt a lot of ordinary Burmese citizens. And with a crackdown looming, it doesn't look like Burma's general's were impressed by Bush's move. They're betting that the United States, the United Nations, and the media will lose interest in this story. And they may well be right.

UPDATE:  It should be noted that, despite the best efforts of his speechwriters, President Bush did end up botching a few pronunciations. FP's Joshua Keating caught the president flubbing Aung San Suu Kyi (though he quickly recovered) and "Kerzigstan". He did manage a nice rolled "r" on "Peru," however.

Here are three short mp3 clips from his speech:

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