“When President Obama used his inaugural address in 2009 to tell the repressive dictators of the world that they “are on the wrong side of history, but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist,” he had little reason to suspect that Burma — the former British colony that had been ruled by a military junta for fifty years — would take him up on his offer.
But on a swing through Burma on Monday — the first by a sitting U.S. president — Obama made it clear the progress Burma has made since he made his offer is the epitome of the exchange he had in mind. In a speech at the University of Yangon in the Burmese cultural capital of Rangoon, Obama lauded Burmese President Thein Sein for the democratic reforms he has made since taking office in 2011, even while singling out the human rights abuses that remain. In a foreign policy milieu bereft of clear Manichaean choices, Burma offered Obama a model to hold up to other countries now wavering of the precipice of democracy.”
For more, read Elizabeth’s article in PolicyMic.