November 19, 2012


Bush's Burma Policy, Obama's Victory Lap : The president inherited an effective policy of sanctions, diplomatic pressure and human-rights advocacy. (Mary Kissel, 11/18/12, WSJ)

[B]urma's political calculations had little to do with Mr. Obama or with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The country's change instead was prompted by--steady yourself, Foggy Bottom--the administration of George W. Bush, who put in place a diplomatic framework that nudged Burma in the right direction when the generals were finally ready to embrace reform.

The Bush foreign policy placed a strong emphasis on human rights and instituted a multilateral effort to pressure the junta, using regional bodies like the 10-member Association for Southeast Asian Nations and international organizations like the United Nations. The Bush team also maintained sanctions against the junta's leaders and steered humanitarian assistance to the Burmese people as best they could.

When the Obama crew took over the State Department, they "reviewed" these policies for months--and then discovered that the status quo was quite appealing. "The results of that review," said Scot Marciel, deputy assistant secretary for the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs said in 2009, "were first, to reaffirm our fundamental goals for Burma, that we want to see a Burma that is at peace, unified, prosperous, stable, respects the rights of all of its citizens, and is democratic. That hasn't changed."

Having made the liberation of Aung San Suu Kyi her personal cause, the former First Lady deserves much of the credit here.

Posted by at November 19, 2012 5:26 AM

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