US Opinion and Commentary

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Aung San Suu Kyi Can’t, or Won’t, Rein in Burma’s Army

Posted December 8th, 2016 at 1:30 pm (UTC-5)
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Internationally, Suu Kyi has for decades been the chief barometer of when and how it was appropriate to engage with Burma’s isolated government. The crisis in Arakan state presents a paradox for her allies, particularly in the West…

A Makeover for Myanmar and America

Posted April 4th, 2016 at 11:16 am (UTC-5)
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The economic and political sanctions that have constituted the core of U.S. policy for 25 years, as Washington attempted to punish the country’s repressive military rulers, have now become a serious liability, tying the United States’ hands at a time when U.S. leadership should be engaging broadly in support of Myanmar’s political and economic development.

Burma Shifts to Civilian Rule

Posted April 1st, 2016 at 1:55 pm (UTC-5)
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Today, the first civilian government in 54 years assumed power in Myanmar, led by democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi. If hopes are high, expectations are even higher. It has been a long, painful road to this moment and much work is ahead. How the Burmese military behaves in the new era will be a key measure of how quickly democracy takes root. Although Suu Kyi does not hold the office of the presidency due to her late husband’s nationality, under the new government, power resides with her—if she is allowed to exercise it. The days ahead will reveal whether or not the same military structure that kept her under house arrest for much of the 1990s is ready to stand down.

Does China Need More Friends in Asia?

Posted March 21st, 2016 at 12:46 pm (UTC-5)
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There could come a threshold beyond which the intersection of allied doubts and growing Chinese heft could compel China’s neighbors to “choose” China over the United States as their most consequential long-term partner—less out of strategic preference than of perceived imperatives.

Meeting An Unprecedented Migrant Challenge

Posted January 14th, 2016 at 2:14 pm (UTC-5)
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“My colleagues and I in the State Department’s Population, Refugees and Migration bureau cannot recall another time as challenging.” Anne C. Richard

Burmese Opposition Win Raises Expectations for Speedy Change

Posted November 9th, 2015 at 1:39 pm (UTC-5)
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It looks to be a landslide victory for the political opposition in Burma, which really means for Aung San Suu Kyi, affectionately known as “The Lady” among the Burmese. The United States, which has invested heavily in helping steer one of history’s most repressive military regimes towards democracy, gave its cautious thumbs up to Sunday’s general election. The top U.S. official for East Asia urged a “credible” transition of power. And therein lies the rub: how much real change can we expect? As one observer put it, the vote needs to be seen for what it truly is, “…a flawed, partial exercise in democracy that won’t lead to the profound changes that people would almost certainly vote for if only they were given the opportunity.”

Where’s Aung San Suu Kyi When Burma Needs Her

Posted June 9th, 2015 at 9:26 am (UTC-5)
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President Obama said Myanmar must end discrimination against its Rohingya minority to succeed in its democratic transition. Where is Burmese democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi on the issue of the beleaguered Rohingya?