Thursday 20 Sep 2018 | 04:11 | SYDNEY
Thursday 20 Sep 2018 | 04:11 | SYDNEY

US-Burma relations: Told you so

18 May 2009 15:37

Andrew Selth is a Research Fellow at the Griffith Asia Institute and author of Burma and the Threat of Invasion: Regime Fantasy or Strategic Reality?

President Obama has just renewed US sanctions against Burma. This follows a strong statement by Secretary of State Clinton condemning the military regime for its latest moves against Aung San Suu Kyi (ie. sending her to trial for breaking the conditions of her house arrest, after receiving an uninvited visitor).

In my last Lowy blog post I said that, if the regime did not change its behaviour, and there was another incident in which it demonstrated its contempt for human rights and international concerns, it would undercut Obama's moves to review US policy towards Burma, and strengthen the hand of those wanting to keep the hard line pursued by the Bush White House.

US sanctions were due for formal renewal this month. In the circumstances, Obama had no choice but to extend them for another year. Once again, the regime has shot itself in the foot, by making it politically impossible for the US (or any other country) to reconsider sanctions and other punitive policies (which they have acknowledged are achieving very little).