01 October 2009
Apparently, the US is going to be engaging in talks with Burma/Myanmar as well as Iran. If North Korea is the worst, most evil regime on the planet today (and the evidence, based on deaths and malnutrition today is pretty good), Burma might well be the second. The response to both the protesting monks two years ago and the cyclone last year show that the regime has no care for the lives of its citizens. (I am willing to grant that Sudan should also be in the competition up here.)
And yet, again, isolation of the country has done no good, and instead made the people poorer. Moreover, it's fed into a paranoia that prevents any real progress in Burma. I am not for an instant pretending that engagement with Burma will cause it to become a democratic wonderland. It won't. I'm not pretending that it will cause the release of Kyi. It won't.
But neither will continued sanctions and isolation. It hasn't worked, and it won't work. (I hesitate to say that it never works, but I've yet to see an example of utterly isolating a country from the international community causing the regime there to do anything other than double down.) Sanctions are most effective against a country that doesn't think it will have future conflict with you. That does not sound like the US-Burmese relationship.
At the very least, opening up dialogue allows for some movement towards making the lives of the Burmese people better in some objective way. Nothing needs to be given away to open up discussion.
Posted by Frosty at 1.10.09