Thursday 26 Nov 2020 | 00:42 | SYDNEY
Thursday 26 Nov 2020 | 00:42 | SYDNEY

The coming Burma question


Allan Gyngell

3 March 2008 08:38

Hamish McDonald has a terrific piece of reporting from inside Burma in Saturday’s Sydney Morning Herald. 'Where Giants Jostle' deals with the struggle for influence over the regime by its two large neighbours, China and India, and the impact their struggle is having on the society. As a young diplomat in Rangoon in the early 1970s, days of extreme isolation, I fell in love with the country and people: it seemed to be pure essence of Asia at that time. If ever a country disproved the cynical adage that people always get the government they deserve it has been Burma for the past fifty years. 

McDonald ends by asking the central foreign policy question about Burma, one the Rudd Government will eventually have to face: which policy will work best to bring about change, engagement or isolation? He quotes the argument in favour of engagement made by the expatriate Burmese historian Thant Myint-U in his wonderful book, The River of Lost Footsteps. As Burma moves from the back of the global stove to the geo-political front burner, The River of Lost Footsteps is a great place for anyone who wants to understand the country and its people to begin.