In a sight that would have been unheard of just scant months ago,
Burma's all-important Buddhist Monks line a road to welcome the
arrival of Barack Obama, the first American president ever to visit
the country, Nov. 18.
Visit to Burma Put Iran on Notice (Die Welt, Germany)
United States, this is also about taking a global stand. After the military
coup of 1988, the Americans isolated Burma and imposed severe sanctions. Now
Obama wants to make it clear to North Korea and the mullahs in Iran that good behavior
pays off ... America can no longer be accused of not having done everything
possible to dissuade Tehran by peaceful means from acquiring the bomb. Now it is
up to the mullahs to decide."
For years now, Europe has been a source of discontent for
Barack Obama. This and his new strategic reorientation toward Asia make the
Pacific region a logical first trip after his re-election. The fact that Burma was
his first destination makes it a double honor. Not only is this his first trip
after his re-election, but Obama is the first sitting president ever to visit
The overwhelming affection America has for Burma could be
seen as a little impetuous. It has been just two years since Burma came in from
the cold. Its democratic reforms are still unstable and at any moment could be
rescinded by the military. Moreover, the multi-ethnic state threatens to be
torn apart by ethnic conflict, and there isn't even the first sign of a
solution. Furthermore, it is questionable whether the country and its poorly-educated
population will be able to digest the billions of aid and investment headed its
way from the West.
The visit is similar to Obama's 2009 Nobel Peace Prize in
that it is an insight into policies to come, and no one can say whether
it will pay off. Obama's visit is a risky bet that for some, is very telling.
Throughout Burma's long isolation, China was one of the few countries to have
cultivated close ties.
Now Washington is trying to free the country from Beijing's
embrace and bring it into a coalition of states that form a counterweight to
China's pursuit of hegemony in the region. Burma, a resource-rich country, is caught
between the two economic giants India and China. Therefore, it has a strategic importance
that cannot be underestimated.
For the United States, this is also about taking a global
stand. After the military coup of 1988, the Americans isolated Burma and imposed
severe sanctions. Now Obama wants to make it clear to North Korea and the mullahs
in Iran that good behavior pays off: "Look, such benefits could redound to
you if you will put down the bomb and put an end to your hostile policies
against the West."
Posted by Worldmeets.US
America is demonstrating that the superpower is prepared
for a radical change of course, if the other side is willing to grasp its outstretched
hand. Whether Obama's dramatic gesture was a positive or negative for Burmese
will only become clear in the years to come. With regard to Iran, however, it
is a clever move. Because America can no longer be accused of not having done
everything possible to dissuade Tehran by peaceful means from acquiring the
bomb. Now it is up to the mullahs to decide.
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