EDITORIAL: Obama's trip to Myanmar a long-term move

Bangkok (The Nation/ANN) - Even though the re-elected US President Barack Obama's visit to Myanmar this week will be brief, it will have a series of significant outcomes for Myanmar and the region. Make no mistake, his visit is part of a long-term strategic plan by US decision-makers, who view the once most condemned nation in the world as a key future ally.

US knows this is the best time to approach Myanmar because the Thein Sein government has demonstrated its willingness to engage with the West, especially the US. The latest supposed amnesty for political prisoners is part of US demands in return for a high-profile visit by Obama. After all, Myanmar has been delivering key requests by the US and other Western countries including EU such as widen democratic space, working on national reconciliation, promoting freedom for the media and freedom of assembly, as well as international access to prisoners and other facilities.

The US wants to ensure that Myanmar stays on the reform path so the country is free to make independent decisions. For the past years, Nay Pyi Daw has indicated it wants to distance itself from China, the main provider of aid and other forms of assistance for several decades.

Washington immediately jumped in and has been able to take advantage of the timely situation and turned the situation around in the past two years. With Obama's visit, the future of Myanmar will be tied, more or less, to the global strategic outlook designed by the US. The invitation for Myanmar to be an observer at next year's Cobra Gold military exercise was more than a symbolic gesture. The annual exercise between Thailand and the US has now become a new platform to forge closer military ties for allies and friends of the US.

This wide network of security cooperation comes at a time when China is rising meteorically in both economic and political fields. For the first time, the US has established ties with all countries located in China's southern flank, a weak security area for the US for the six decades since the end of World War II. China is now surrounded by countries friendly or accessible to the US both on the mainland and archipelagic countries in South Asia, East Asia and Southeast Asia.

In addition, the US also has long seen future threats from the close ties between Myanmar and North Korea. In the past few years, since the "interception" of a North Korean ship thought to have broken UN resolutions, Washington has pressed Nay Pyi Daw hard to sever ties with Pyongyang and end cooperation in nuclear technology. Obama has been spearheading a push for global non-proliferation. Thailand will this week sign on to the Proliferation Security Initiative during his visit this weekend.

Beyond these two important objectives, Obama will also raise violations of human rights related to the plight of Rohingyas. He is expected to call the Thein Sein government to end differences and allow them to be part of Burmese society. He will also encourage the government to try to reconcile with minorities that are still on the fringe and some fighting against government security forces, as in Kachin, Karen and Shan states.

It is clear that Obama is focusing on making his political legacy in this part of the world. It comes at a time when the US faces domestic problems related to the national debt crisis. Therefore, strengthening the US presence along with burden-sharing with countries in the region is the way to go.


  • Treasure trove of British newsreels reveals Top Gear's ancestors 3 hours ago
    Treasure trove of British newsreels reveals Top Gear's ancestors

    Long after television grew to dominate American and British homes, newsreel producer British Pathé kept at it, documenting the news of the day until finally ceasing production of new short films in 1970 after 60 years of effort. Last week, all of British Pathé's 85,000 films were put online — including dozens of fascinating, rare and often weird car films that resemble nothing so much as a jet-age Top Gear.

  • Nissan tests self-cleaning paint that could make car washes obsolete 4 hours ago
    Nissan tests self-cleaning paint that could make car washes obsolete

    During this vile, never-ending winter, motorists had three options to keep their cars clean: Shell out on regular car washes; slave away in the cold, wind and snow washing it yourself, or screw it and just drive a dirty car. I, like many, chose the last option. But if only I'd been able to test Nissan's self-cleaning car, all my troubles would have washed away.

  • Popular hot yoga myths debunked 11 hours ago
    Popular hot yoga myths debunked

    What’s the hottest new workout taking the world by storm? That would be hot yoga, also known as Bikram yoga. Conducted in a heated room with sweltering temperatures of about 40°C (or approximately 104° Fahrenheit) and 40 per cent humidity, … Continue reading →

  • Photo of a very thin Lee Kuan Yew sparks concern
    Photo of a very thin Lee Kuan Yew sparks concern

    A new picture of Singapore's first prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew, who is now 90 years old, has drawn concern from people on Singapore's internet space.

  • Waste oil collector struggles after STOMP posts, receives help from kind souls
    Waste oil collector struggles after STOMP posts, receives help from kind souls

    After being photographed at work in Jurong pooling used oil near coffee shops, 50-year-old Valerie Sim has been struggling to keep her family afloat. Web portals STOMP and The Real Singapore published pictures of her in February, triggering a witch hunt for others like her and comments from readers like “Who knows if they’ll use it as cooking oil?” Some readers also said they filed police reports against her and other people they believed were doing the same thing she was.

  • I tendered my resignation without securing the next job. Here’s why I don’t mind.
    I tendered my resignation without securing the next job. Here’s why I don’t mind.

    I have committed a taboo – I have tendered my resignation without securing the next job. The reactions to the announcement were varied but they all pretty much hint at a deep sense of disapproval. “Why did you do that?” It was as if I had renounced my faith. “What are you going to do from now on?” Almost as though a misfortune had incapacitated me. “What does your family have to say about it?” As if I had offered to cook for the next family dinner. I was, and still am, certain of my reasons and motivations for the resignation. However the response I received got me thinking about why people are so concerned about the gaps in their careers. The developed world evolved from an agricultural economy to an industrial economy to the service age, then to the knowledge economy in the late 1990s and 2000s marked by breakthroughs in technological innovations and competition for innovation with new products and processes that develop from the research community. According to The Work Foundation, the knowledge economy is driven by the demand for higher value added goods and services created by more sophisticated, more discerning, and better educated consumers and ... The post I tendered my resignation without securing the next job. Here’s why I don’t mind. appeared first on Vulcan Post.