FAR EAST CORRESPONDENT — After the invasion of Iraq, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld infamously said that “democracy is messy.” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton may well be thinking along similar lines as she visits Burma this week.
Clinton’s historic trip—the first to Burma by a US secretary of state since 1955—signals a significant but complicated détente between the two countries. The opening was made possible by a series of reforms initiated by Burma’s quasi-military USDP government following its victory in the November 2010 elections.
These include the release of more than 300 political prisoners, the cancellation of a controversial hydroelectric dam project in northern Burma, limited improvements in freedom of expression and assembly, and the legalization of labor unions. They are among the biggest changes made by the regime since the military seized power in a coup in 1962. Read more from Rajeshree Sisodia in The Nation.