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Myanmar’s Curious Opening

by Joshua Kurlantzick
December 7, 2011

U.S. President Obama looks back at Myanmar's President Thein Sein as they participate in a group photo of leaders at the East Asia Summit in Nusa Dua.

U.S. President Obama looks back at Myanmar's President Thein Sein as they participate in a group photo of leaders at the East Asia Summit in Nusa Dua (Jason Reed/Courtesy Reuters).

Over the past year, Myanmar’s political opening has surprised even the most sophisticated observers and analysts of the country. Few expected the November 2010 election, which was hardly free or fair, to lead to real political reform, which now increasingly seems to be occurring. And so, in its seemingly unexpected transition, Myanmar is calling into question many accepted ideas about democratization.

In a new piece in the Boston Globe’s Sunday Ideas section, I examine the reasons for Myanmar’s surprising year of change, and look at how it has upended much conventional wisdom on policy toward the country.

You can read the whole piece here.

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  • Posted by Neil Miller

    I enjoyed your article in the Globe and was nodding my head until the last paragraph, where you referenced “an apparently genuine election in Myanmar.” While I am with you in supporting the changes and steps toward improving human rights, it in no way retroactively turns a rigged election into a genuine one.

    Burma is a better country now than it was a few months ago. But it is not, by any means, a democracy. As you point out, many of these changes will protect the interests of the generals. So, lets certainly applaud changes for the better but be careful not to applaud changes that have not yet been made.

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