Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 01/2010

Burma in Strategic Perspective: Renewing Discussion of Options

Lewis M. Stern, PhD, George Thomas, Julia A. Thompson

October 2009

Institute for National Strategic Studies


U.S. policy has sought to nudge the junta in Burma toward a more reasonable approach to its dilemma, either in the form of managing Aung San Suu Kyi's house arrest in a semitransparent fashion, allowing the release of imprisoned prodemocracy activists and the National League for Democracy cadre, agreeing to visits from United Nations special representatives, or accepting regional advice and guidance at critical moments. But Burma is a minuet dramatizing the "one step forward, two steps backward" description of progress. Even as the administration of President Barack Obama commits itself in principle to reaching out to Burma, events conspire against another effort to coax the junta toward a reasonable, regionally acceptable solution to its hard edge.