Despite widespread international condemnation at the beginning of the month when troops kept Aung San Suu Kyi captive in her car for five days before forcing her back to Rangoon, the military junta in Burma remains impervious to foreign criticism - and seems as resolute as ever in its methods. That only seems to spur on its most prominent opponent. The leader of the National League for Democracy has set out once more to visit supporters, and, again, security forces have stopped her. By repeatedly barring her access to supporters, the regime only turns the glare of the spotlight once more on the repressive nature of its rule, and attracts more attention to the Nobel Peace Prize laureate. In ordinary circumstances, this would hardly be an astute strategy for a government which has sought some sort of international respectability through membership of ASEAN, and which is seeking to attract foreign investment and tourists to its country. Without such help, Burma risks falling into ever-greater isolation. The situation is already so bad that soldiers are reported to be deserting to fend for themselves. If discontent is, indeed, spreading in the 350,000-strong army, which accounts for between 40 and 60 per cent of the national budget, it may only be a matter of time before the situation becomes even more polarised and veers out of control. Before the Southeast Asian crisis, the conventional wisdom was that, despite its economic mismanagement, the junta could retain power well into the next century. But the price of doing that in present circumstances has risen steeply, and may account for the tougher attitude which the military is now taking towards the opposition, and towards the foreigners who have been arrested for political activities in the past week. The situation is all the more tense because Burma has a popularly elected leader waiting to claim her political inheritance. The generals cannot say that there is no alternative to their rule. But the longer they hang on, and the greater their repression, the greater the danger they pose for their country.