Date of Submission

Spring 2011

Academic Program

Political Studies


Sanjib Baruah

Abstract/Artist's Statement

Myanmar is a unique country whose historical experiences preclude simplistic transferences of lessons learnt. The Burmese military has retained effective power since 1962 - certainly one of the longest such reigns in the modern era. After twenty years, US sanctions in their present form are unlikely to achieve the desired objectives, due to Burma’s long experience with self-sufficiency in foreign relations. As Myanmar enters a new political phase, there is a critical window of opportunity to encourage greater openness and reform. This paper investigates the limits of US unilateral sanctions, the question of overcoming political deadlock, whilst exploring viable alternatives and ways to improve the currently draconian sanctions. In contrast to the isolationist approach, this paper proposes a carrot-and-stick diplomacy, of using incentives and rewards as positive reinforcements for good regime behavior as well as opporunties to build capacity either in the form of infrastructure or human development. In Myanmar, most avenues to social mobility are controlled by the military; and whether the international community wants to accept this fact or not - the future role of the military is significant. At this key moment of political transition, the US must be careful to seize the opportunity to engage with the regime, in order ot earn mutual trust and sustain dialogue.

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