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Sanctions to sucess.pdf

Sanctions to sucess.pdf

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Published by The Myanmar Times
Sanctions to sucess
Sanctions to sucess

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Published by: The Myanmar Times on Apr 06, 2013
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N politics, as in sex, timing is every-thing. And United States President Ba-rack Obama not only has an exquisitesense o timing, but also the cojones toact upon it.Forty-eight hours ater winning a secondterm in the White House, he announced hisdecision to become the rst sitting presidentto visit Cambodia and Myanmar.It is a bold, courageous and risky move,but it holds the prospect o major rewards tothose nations, as well as to the US itsel – andto this region as a whole.His short trip, which will include one otherstop in Thailand, conrms Mr Obama’s rst-term pledge to re-engage with Southeast Asiaand to “pivot” his administration towardsAsia.Reversing the neglect sadly displayed byhis predecessor, Mr Obama has ensured thatmembers o his team have attended all im-portant meetings and summits in the region.Now the president himsel is doing the sameand giving Southeast Asia the personal atten-tion it needs and desperately craves.Let’s be clear, this is no rah-rah victoryvisit to bask in adulation and grab somerelaxation, sunshine and zesty ood ater theardours o a long election campaign.On the contrary, the president’s itineraryis ocused on key strategic goals and theimperative to start his second term on a highnote and let the world know that Asia will bethe epicentre o his oreign policy.Why kick o with Cambodia, Myanmar andThailand? Ater all, China, Japan and SouthKorea are more powerul and more importantto the US than any member o ASEAN.Well, yes, but Mr Obama has sussed outthat the best way to deal with China andother major powers is to create an Asia-Pacic ramework that spurs Beijing toplay by the neighbourhood’s rules. And sincethe key to the ‘hood is ASEAN, he is aiming,rightly, to boost ties with all its members.First o, as bets a Nobel Peace Prize laure-ate whose pre-eminent concerns are democ-racy and human rights, he is starting thatprocess by visiting the region’s most challeng-ing trio.Thailand’s latest government aces con-stant threats rom non-elected orces,Cambodia drits towards an ever moreoppressive one-party state, and Myanmarwobbles perilously as it speed-skates towardsdemocracy.Mr Obama will need all his powers to helpguide this trio onto the right path and en-courage them to set an example to dictatorialVietnam and Laos – while not appearing toelbow aside China.Not only will these goals create tensionor Mr Obama, but so too will the sover-eignty disputes in the South China Sea– the very issue that caused ASEAN’s Julyministerial meeting in Phnom Penh to breakup in rancour.As i all this were not enough, Obama’s visitinvites criticism that it will reward hal-bakedreorms and lessen the incentive or leadersto undertake the hard yakka ahead.Myanmar dissidents, or instance, say it iswrong or the president to visit when thereare still hundreds o political prisoners,clashes in Kachin state and appalling carnagein Rakhine.Most, however, believe Mr Obama will helpmore by going ahead and letting his hostsknow that a more enhanced civil society andbetter human rights are key conditions orimproved ties with the US.When he arrives in Myanmar, PresidentObama is sure to get a rapturous welcomerom a populace expecting him to advocatemore liberalisation, while applauding thereorms already enacted.In doing so, he must remember that thosesweeping reorms, unthinkable when he rsttook oce, were undertaken despite Ameri-can sanctions, not because o them.It is a crucial point, as is the act that thereorms were also propelled by a desire todampen domination by China – which will bepeeved by this high-prole visit to a bordercountry it views as a gateway to Arica andthe Gul.But Washington will let the Chinese bleat,while Mr Obama lets everyone know that herepresents the start o something new: ThatAmerica is back in Myanmar and back orgood.As or Cambodia, where he will attend theEast Asia Summit (EAS) and the ASEAN-USLeaders Meeting, Mr Obama may nd thegroup conabs a lot easier to handle than hisencounter with Prime Minister Hun Sen.For, i the president remains true to orm,he must address the way Cambodia, underPrime Minister Hun Sen’s increasingly intoler-ant and nepotistic regime, has been backslid-ing on civil liberties.Last week, the international NGO, HumanRights Watch, urged Mr Obama to challengeMr Hun Sen to explain the continued extraju-dicial murders o dissidents, journalists andenvironmental activists.On top o that, Washington ears PhnomPenh has allen so much under the swayo China that Beijing now has the ability tocompel Cambodia to do its bidding on oreignpolicy within ASEAN.That said, China’s support did not helpCambodia’s recent bid or a non-permanentseat on the UN Security Council – it was re-bued because too many countries recoiled atthe behaviour o Mr Hun Sen’s government.While alluding to these key concerns, MrObama can oer some balance by noting thatthe US is Cambodia’s biggest trading part-ner and that there is ruitul cooperation onmany ronts, including counter-terrorism.As or Thailand, the most enduring UStreaty ally in Asia, Mr Obama will want to re-vitalise a special relationship that has souredsomewhat ater the 1997 Asian nancialcrisis and the 2006 coup in Bangkok.It will be no easy task, partly because o Thailand’s historically close ties with Chinaand partly because the country remains po-litically divided at home.On that point, Mr Obama will hope tobolster the current reely-elected govern-ment which has come under ominous threatsrom non-elected elites and military-alignedgures.Then, nally, at the EAS, America’s presi-dent, having just been re-elected, will be ina position o strength, while other nations,like China, Japan and South Korea, will havelame-duck leaders who will soon be gone.That will enable Mr Obama to bestride thesummit and send a clear and strong clarioncall o commitment to this region rom aleader who has proclaimed himsel “Ameri-ca’s rst Pacic President.”
Roger Mitton
a bold,courageousand riskymove
a special report
My lwn, J Mudd
rg Mn, Dk tnkn, tm Mlughn,J Mudd, Dug lng, pnky rb ty,Jun Hfz, Nhgn Kgn
Kung H, aFp
Layout & Design:
tun Mn s, tn Zw Hwy, K pxy,
For enquiries and feedback:
mywn@mynmm.m.mm, j.mudd@gm.m
Photo: afP
HEN thewheels o Air ForceOne touchdown at Yangon Interna-tional Airport, United StatesPresident Barack Obama willbecome the rst serving USPresident to visit Myanmar.Three previous US presi-dents have visited Myanmarprior to taking oce or aterexiting it. Richard Nixon didboth.The experiences o ormerpresidents Ulysses S. Grant,Herbert Hoover and RichardNixon had in Myanmar aredocumented in personal writ-ings and news reports, whichoer ascinating and some-times humorous accountso a nation as it was seenby some o America’s mostamous politicians.In 1877 ormer presidentUlysses S. Grant embarkedon an around-the-world tourthat took over two years tocomplete. The tour was areputational rebuilding toolor Grant, whose second termas president rom 1872 to1877 was marred by scandalsand widespread corruption.By March 1879 Grant hadmade it to Myanmar via India.He departed Calcutta by boat,arriving in Yangon to meetwith Charles Aitchison, Chie Commissioner o the BritishCrown Colony o Burma.Modern aviation will ensurethat President Obama arrivesmuch more quickly, but at theexpense o the leisurely cardgames enjoyed by Grant.“During the day we loll,read and play Boston to whileaway the day,” wrote Mr Granto his trip in his personal jour-nals, which were later pub-lished as the
Papers of UlyssesS. Grant, Volume 29: October 1,1878 – September 30, 1880.
Mr Grant was struck bythe “gay colors” worn by theBurmese on the streets o Yangon, a city then o just100,000. In it he saw tremen-dous potential: a new railwayline had just been nishedand another was nearingcompletion.“With these roadsand the navigableriver… or some eighthundred miles to theinterior, I predict thatRangoon will outstripeither Calcutta or Bombay -in wealth by 10 years and inpopulation by 25,” predictedMr Grant.India’s rigid caste systemand the limited rights it a-orded women had deeplytroubled Mr Grant.O Myanmar’s emalepopulation, Mr Grant wrote,“Females are not shut up,but visit and receive visits.They act as salesmen and dobusiness as rely [sic] as inEurope.”He added, “The Burmese arenot bigoted and do not objectto the intermarriage o theirrace or religion with people o any other race or religion.”Grant departed Yangon andtravelled to Mawlamyine, atthe mouth o the ThanlwinRiver, where he marveled atthe power o elephants usedor timber logging.“The intelligence shewn[sic] by these beasts looks likereason rather than instinct.Their strength is too wonder-ul,” wrote Mr Grant.Despite Grant’s positiveimpression o Myanmar, thecountry was under siege bythe British Crown, whichhad already claimed hal thecountry. The Burmese stillcontrolled Upper Myanmar,which was ruled by KingThibaw.An article rom
The New YorkTimes
published in 1879 de-scribed the fashpoint or thedispute, “The origin o troublebetween the Burmese and theBritish Resident at Mandalayis that the latter protects,and reuses to deliver up toslaughter, two royal Princesand their amilies, who havetaken reuge at the Residency.”Despite simmering ten-sions, major confict wouldbe held at bay until the ThirdAnglo-Burmese War brokeout in November 1885. By thistime Grant’s journey was longover.Herbert Hoover, who en-tered the Oval Oce in 1929,visited Myanmar in 1905, dur-ing his pre-political years as asuccessul mining engineer.In
The Memoirs of HerbertHoover: Years of Adventure1874-1920,
Mr Hoover tellso how he became aware o mining prospects in Myanmarthrough a chance encounterwith Mr A. C. Martin, a railwaycontractor in Burma, duringa trip between Malaysia andSri Lanka.While making his waynorth to Mandalay beorevisiting Hsipaw in Shan State,Mr Hoover was enraptured bythe people he encounteredalong the way.“I stole a day o at Rangoonto visit the Shwedaung [sic]Pagoda, and later on, a dayor two at Mandalay to absorbthe atmosphere o the onlytruly happy and cheerul racein all Asia—the Burmese,” saidMr Hoover.Mr Hoover’s itineraryincluded crawling throughabandoned mine shats bycandlelight where he had aclose brush with a Bengalitiger. The moment had themakings o an H. Rider Hag-gard tale and Mr Obama’splanned speech at YangonUniversity is certainly aless treacherous schedulingchoice.Mr Hoover returned toMyanmar in 1907, spendingthree months here with hiswie, two young sons andsister-in-law. At the outbreako the First World War, Hooversold his interest in the BurmaMine Company.Forty-ve years passedbeore another would-be USpresident visited Myanmar.Richard Nixon, vice presidentunder Dwight D. Eisenhower,rang the bells at ShwedagonPagoda in 1953.The most memorablemoment o Mr Nixon’s visitcame when he encounteredanti-American protestors inPegu, now Bago, 80 kilome-tres northeast o Yangon.The incident, recalled byMr Nixon in
RN: The Memoirsof Richard Nixon,
cited this asa ormative moment in hisapproach to addressing theissue o Communism.Against the advice o hissecurity detail he waded intoa crowd o protestors holdingsigns “Go back Warmonger.”Anti-American sentimentwas running high in Asia atthe end o the Korea War.When Mr Nixon ound whohe thought to be the leadero the protest, he introducedhimsel, then asked why theman was so upset.According to an articlerom the United Press in1953, “Vice President RichardM. Nixon took the wind outo the Burmese Communistsails today by marchingsmilingly into the middle o an anti-American demon-stration and shaking handsall around.”“The experience bolsteredmy instinctive belie thatthe only way to deal withCommunists is to stand upto them. Otherwise they willexploit your politeness asweakness. They will try tomake you araid and thentake advantage o your ears.Fear is the primary weapono Communists,” Mr Nixonwrote.Mr Nixon returned toMyanmar in 1985: it was 11years ater the Watergatescandal prematurely endedhis second term as president.The visit was hardly coveredby the press, as the countrybegan to close itsel o rom journalists.A short article by the As-sociated Press noted thatMr Nixon’s second trip wasin keeping with Myanmarsuperstition that he wouldreturn.“Local belie has it thatvisitors who ring the bell[at Shwedagon Pagoda] willreturn to Burma,” the articlestated.Mr Nixon met with GeneralNe Win, the chie architecto the “Burmese Path toSocialism,” which was largelyresponsible or plunging thecountry rom prosperity intopoverty.The legacy o GeneralNe Win’s rule continues tothe present day. Howeverwith considerable momen-tum moving orward in thereorms process, PresidentObama will be meeting aleader who has shown adesire to enact lastingchange.
Cping tigs, intllignt lphnts nd bfindingcommnists:
memoirs o visits by three ormer US presidents
“I stole a day o… atMandalay to absorbthe atmosphereo the only trulyhappy and cheerulrace in all Asia— the Burmese,”said Mr Hoover.
Tim McLaughlin
From let to right: Unknown emale, Myanmar President Dr Ba OO, ormer President Richard Nixon andormer First Lady Pat Nixon at Shwedagon Pagoda in 1953.

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