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U.S. Policy Toward Myanmar: Too Much, Too Soon?

by Joshua Kurlantzick
November 19, 2012

Crowds line a street outside the home of Myanmar's opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi as U.S. president Barack Obama arrives to meet her in Yangon November 19, 2012. Crowds line a street outside the home of Myanmar's opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi as U.S. president Barack Obama arrives to meet her in Yangon November 19, 2012 (Jason Reed/Courtesy Reuters).

On Monday Yangon time, President Obama visited Myanmar’s former capital and became the first sitting American president ever to travel to the one-time pariah. His itinerary included meetings with both President Thein Sein and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, as well as an address before Burmese students, officials and former generals at the historic University of Yangon. “When I took office as President, I sent a message to those governments who ruled by fear.  I said, in my inauguration address, ‘We will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist,’” said Obama during his remarks. “And over the last year and a half, a dramatic transition has begun, as a dictatorship of five decades has loosened its grip.”

While Obama acknowledged “this remarkable journey has just begun,”  the rapid evolution of U.S. policy toward Myanmar over the past year suggests the Obama administration is betting heavily on Thein Sein and his ability to maintain the momentum of reform. In a new piece for Foreignpolicy.com, “Head Over Heels,” I argue that the economic and political changes underway in Myanmar —though substantial—may not be as secure as  the United States and other outside observers think.

You can read my entire piece for Foreign Policy here.

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  • Posted by Abdul Basir Saber

    The deafening silence of Aung San Suu Kyi over the plight of the Rohingyans is shocking us all. As a champion of democracy and acclaimed human rights activist is silent over a hidden genocide in her own country. People are denied the right to exist in their own country in their own birthplace in Aung San Suu Kyis homeland and she does not want to even pay a lip service to it.
    What was more shocking was when in a response to a question over her silence, she replied she wanted to get to the root causes of the conflict. She was referring to the clashes between Buddhists and Rohingyans that has led to the ongoing genocide. She absolutely ignored the plight of the Rohingyans over the decades that the government of Burma and the Buddhists do not accept and even tolerate the Rohingyans as citizens despite the fact that they are indigenous people of the land, they are born there and have lived there.
    Why Aung San Suu Kyi? Why have you disappointed the humanity and made them a pessimists in the work of all those who claim to work for human rights. You have to speak up. Speak about the plight of the Rohingyans and stop the genocide. You owe it to us all. We have supported your cause for decades. Position and politics are not worth it.

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