As November 8th approaches, news and commentary about the “landmark” Burmese general elections are picking up. As usual, I have my own thoughts about the growing buzz surrounding Election Day.
Let's start off with some quick background information. The upcoming November 8th election in Burma is widely considered to be one of the most important political events in the nation’s history. The authoritarian regime, still warring with several ethnic rebel…Continue
The past week has confirmed that despite the Burmese government's made-for-export show of reforms, there is still no such thing as political freedom in Burma. Yet, you probably haven't read anything about the nation's ongoing (but increasingly repressed) student protests in this week's headlines. That's largely because the regime has responded in such a way that is threatening enough to stifle dissent at home, but not violent enough to invoke international outrage. This is the "sweet spot"…Continue
Over the past few months, the world has largely overlooked a series of peaceful protests by Burmese students that began in November, coinciding with President Obama’s visit to the Southeast Asian nation. The students are protesting the country’s new National Education Law, which maintains close, centralized government control of the nation’s educational institutions and limit students’ freedom of association (read more…Continue
A question I've been grappling with lately concerns engagement with foreign governments that systematically violate human rights. When foreign governments are behaving badly, should we engage with them and try to encourage reform, or sanction them and cut off ties? Is engagement the path to reform, or does it merely reward bad behavior? While this dilemma is central to many foreign affairs situations, this post will focus on…Continue