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PacNet #40 – Burma/Myanmar: The Folly of Consistency

If US sanctions against the military government in Burma/Myanmar, the goal of which was regime change, have not worked for a decade and a half, by what logic would one suppose that additional sanctions would have a more positive effect? Yet well-meaning human rights and other organizations have recently proposed that further sanctions be instituted and that a UN Commission of Inquiry into human rights violations be convened. This proposal is especially quixotic as the EU has just modestly modified its less stringent sanctions policy in the light of potential progress in that country, and none of the Asian states adheres to any sanctions regimen. Rather than being a step forward, this proposal undercuts both US policy and the potential for positive change in Myanmar. That the Congress and the White House will extend current sanctions policies is a given, as Burma/Myanmar is not an issue about which any administration is willing to use up political ammunition. But, rather than being a step forward, additional sanctions will undercut both US policy and the potential for positive change in Myanmar.