Why Obama's Courtship of Myanmar Backfired

November 6, 2014 4:36 PM

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On Nov. 11, President Obama will travel to Myanmar for the ninth East Asia Summit, a meeting of leaders from across the Pacific Rim. It will be the president’s second trip to a country that, for decades, was seen as a pariah in Washington, run by a brutal and xenophobic military regime that gunned down protestors in the streets and jailed opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. In 1997, the Clinton administration signed a law barring new U.S. investment, and the George W. Bush administration made the sanctions even tougher.

Coming into office, the Obama administration concluded that a hard-line policy toward Myanmar had failed – failed to advance political and economic change, and failed to serve U.S. strategic interests in Asia. Obama eased sanctions on Naypyidaw and encouraged U.S. companies to plunge into the countr...

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