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THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
|
JULY-AUGUST 2013
13
In a telling sign of the dramatic
improvement in relations, during remarks
following their meeting Pres. Obama
repeatedly referred to the trou-bled Asian
nation as Myanmar, its name since 1989,
instead of Burma, State’s official
designation (which, notwithstan
ding
recent developments, sta
nds).
Washington
has already lifted a 1996
ban on U.S. visas for most Burmese
officials, including President Thein Sein.
Pres. Obama used the visit to signal the
potential restoration of
USAID projects
designed to improve agricultural pro-
ductivity, and the two countries signed a
trade and investment framework agree-
ment the next day.
There has been mixed reaction to
these fast-paced developments. Jim
Della-Giacoma, of the
Global Obser-
vatory
, praised the removal of most
sanctions on Burma
: “The U.S. will have
to stand by Myanmar as it takes steps
forward—and back—for years to come.”
In a
Washington Post
op-ed
, former Rep-
resentative Lee Hamilton and David Wil-
liams hail the TIFA but call for making
further trade deals contingent on major
constitutional and political reform.
In the
Hufngton Post,
contribu-
tor
Nehginpao Kipgen
advocates an
approach that maximizes Washington’s
economic, political and strategic inter-
ests in the region. As Naypyidaw pursues
reform, he says, the United States can
step up investment and political ties and
exert geopolitical pressure on China.
Still, some worry that the U.S. is mov-
ing too fast to fully normalize relations,
citing
brutal attacks in recent months
by
Buddhists against Muslimminorities and
signs that Myanmar’s military is not yet
on board with democratization. Joshua
Kurlantzick, writing for
Foreign Policy
,
urges the international community to
“slow the torrent of aid and investment
until ethnic tensions have calmed.”
Te displacement and disenfran-
chisement of the country’s minority
populations, and a poorly trained and
equipped police force, he points out,
are not problems that can be solved by
diplomacy and international investment.
In fact, they are likely to worsen unless
Washington and its allies press for mean-
ingful reform.
While the Obama administration’s
outreach to Myanmar has already proven
benefcial to both nations, there is still
a long way to go before it becomes a
dependable U.S. ally.
—Jesse Smith, Editorial Intern
Global Press Freedom
at 10-Year Low
S
eparate reports from
Freedom House
and the Committee to Protect Jour-
nalists paint a grim portrait of the threa
ts
journalists face all over the world.
Te criteria the two organizations
considered when evaluating the state of
press freedom include restrictive laws,
censorship, imprisonment, impunity and
murders.
Surprisingly, while many of the worst
culprits have been plagued by politi-cal
violence or are known to regularly
impose press suppression, others are
largely confict-free and at least nomi-
nally democratic. In Brazil, Russia and
India, for instance, incidents in which
journalists are
murdered with impunity
are markedly higher in comparison to
other developing and developed nations.
News organizations have
also noted
that as press coverage increases and
becomes more accessible with advances
in communications technology, many
governments are improving their
methods of censorship to counter these
developments. Several Asian govern-
ments methodically monitor blog activity
and social media; some South American
states block electoral coverage; and Euro-
SITE OF THE MONTH:
Long War Journal
S
peaking at the National Defense University on May 23, President Barack
Obama suggested that the United States has returned to the state of
afairs that existed before al-Qaida toppled the World Trade Center, when ter-
rorism was a persistent but not existential danger.
“Our systematic efort to dismantle terrorist organizations must continue,”
Pres. Obama declared. “But this war, like all wars, must end. That’s what his-
tory advises. It’s what our democracy demands.”
For a more pessimistic view, check ou
t
Long War Journal
,
a website that
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A project of the
Foundation for Defense of Democracies,
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—Steven Alan Honley, Editor