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Myanmar/Burma: Inside Challenges, Outside Interests

Myanmar/Burma: Inside Challenges, Outside Interests
Lex Rieffel
Washington, D.C.: The Brookings Institution, 2010
JQ751.A58 M93 2010

Burma had the brightest prospects of any southeast Asian nation after world War II. In the years since, however, it has dropped to the bottom of the world's socioeconomic ladder. The grossly misruled nation–officially known as Myanmar&ndashis in the midst of a political transition based on a new constitution and its first multiparty elections in twenty years. That transition, together with a recent change in U.S. policy, prompted this book.

Two military dictators have ruled Myanmar with an iron fist for nearly fifty years. A popular uprising in 1988 was brutally supressed, but it forced the generals to hold an election in 1990. When an anti-regime party led by Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi won by a landslide, however, the generals rejected the results, put Suu Kyi under house arrest for most of two decades, and continued to exploit the country's abundant resources for their own benefit while depriving citizens of basic service. Years of Western sanctions had no measurable impact, but in 2009 the Obama administration adopted a new policy of "pragmatic engagement", encouraging greater respect of democratic principles and human rights as a basis for eventual removal of sanctions.

This thoughtful volume examines Burma today primarily through the eyes of its ASEAN partners, its superpower neighbors China and Insia, and its own people. It provides insights into the overarching problem of national reconciliation, the strategic competition between China and India, the role of ASEAN, and the underperforming, resource-cursed country.

Quoted from back book cover.