September 2, 2013

What Myanmar Must Do To Free Itself of China

by Stanley A. Weiss

LONDON-Once a closed society, Myanmar, previously known as Burma, has emerged since 2010 as one of the world’s democratic hopes. But amidst the euphoria surrounding a seemingly miraculous transformation, American policy makers have missed one essential fact: Myanmar functions as at least five countries struggling to escape overlordship of a sixth. National reconciliation is Myanmar’s greatest need and should be, with an eye toward China, America’s Myanmar policy’s highest priority.

Ethnic Baman or Burmans make up the majority of the country’s 60 million people. Buddhists of the central lowlands, Burmans dominate the government, economy and army. Other significant ethnic groups include the Kachin (who are Christians) bordering China; the Shan (Buddhists) bordering China, Laos and Thailand; the Karen (Christians and Buddhists) bordering Thailand; the Chin (Christians and Buddhists) bordering India; and Muslims bordering the Bay of Bengal and Bangladesh.

The struggle of non-Burmans for an equal place in the country and the opposition of ethnic Burmans is the story of modern Myanmar. Here is the chronology.

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March 7, 2012

Getting Past the Symbolism of Aung San Suu Kyi

YANGON, MYAMAR—Few of us like to be reminded of mistakes made by heroes, particularly heroes of conscience.  Who among us remembers that Martin Luther King Jr. failed miserably when he tried to take the nonviolent strategies that worked so well in the segregated south of the United States to the industrialized north?  Who likes to remember that Nelson Mandela all but ignored the HIV/AIDS crisis raging across South Africa during his presidency, which eventually took the lives of millions, including his own son?

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