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U.S. is moving too fast on Burma

“The heart of our [Asia] strategy, the piece that binds all the rest of it together, is our support for democracy and human rights,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared last Monday. Two days later, the Obama administration lifted prohibitions on U.S. investment in Burma . American companies are now free to partner with the state-owned energy conglomerate — the Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE) — whose revenue has underwritten the military regime’s repression of its people and ongoing wars against ethnic dissidents. Why now? Burma (also known as Myanmar) is undergoing a managed political opening designed to legitimize its regime, transform its growth prospects and enlist Western partners as a hedge against China. U.S. policy has encouraged this through graduated engagement: As Clinton said this year, Washington would pursue the “targeted easing” of U.S. sanctions over time to retain leverage while incentivizing genuine political reform. The administration did this because officials know that despit...
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