The United States and Its Allies: The Problem of Burma/Myanmar Policy
- Contemporary Southeast Asia: A Journal of International and Strategic Affairs
- ISEAS–Yusof Ishak Institute
- Volume 29, Number 2, August 2007
- pp. 219-237
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Significant differences in policies towards Burma/Myanmar are apparent among the United States and its allies: Japan, Australia, Thailand and the European Union (EU). The most restrictive sanctions have been imposed by the U.S., followed by the EU, while Japan and Thailand have been more liberal in their policies. The sanctions regimen, which to date has failed to achieve its goal of regime change, is based on a set of assumptions that opponents of such policies believe to be erroneous. International efforts through the UN to censure Myanmar have been more theatrical than likely to achieve their objective. There is evidence of increased frustrations with the policies that concentrate on political change as a prior condition for greater humanitarian assistance, but changes are unlikely without a significant shift in internal Myanmar policies. The alliances themselves will not splinter because of these differences in approaches to Myanmar. Most likely, changes in Myanmar may evolve slowly within that country from its internal dynamics and contradictions. Myanmar will likely be changed by an internal dynamic that may evolve from the military's dissatisfaction with its own leadership, its own role, or its own sullied reputation. The possibility of violent change in the streets can never be completely discounted. However, it would take an economic catastrophe or some egregious act of ignorance or villainy by the authorities at some level to trigger a popular response.