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The US-Burmese Relationship


What is Burma?:

Burma is largely unknown to Americans. The regime calls the country Myanmar...which just adds to the confusion. Burma, situated between India and China, was ruled by Britain until 1948. A brief period of democracy was followed by a series of authoritarian leaders until 1990.

Elections in 1990 gave a landslide victory to the National League for Democracy (NLD), but the military rulers refused to hand over power. Burma became an international pariah, and the leader of the NLD, Aung San Suu Kyi, won the Nobel Peace Prize and became an international celebrity.

What is Myanmar?:

On the issue of the name change, the U.S. State Department says, "Although the State Peace and Development Council changed the name of the country to 'Myanmar,' the democratically elected but not convened Parliament of 1990 does not recognize the name change, and the democratic opposition maintains use of the name 'Burma.' Due to consistent, unyielding support for the democratically elected leaders, the U.S. Government likewise uses 'Burma.'"

US-Burma Relations:

The United States maintains broad economic sanctions on Burma. In 1988, after another government crackdown on democratic activists, the United States withdrew its ambassador to Burma.

Although Burma poses no direct security threat to the United States, there is still reason for America to keep an eye on the country...beyond a basic moral concern over the appalling lack of human rights. As in every state outside the community of nations, Burma may play a role in international money laundering and the underground finance system which is the life-blood of the modern terrorist network.

Outpost of Tyranny:

When Condoleezza Rice appeared at her Senate confirmation hearings to become Secretary of State she said, "To be sure, in our world there remain outposts of tyranny -- and America stands with oppressed people on every continent -- in Cuba, and Burma, and North Korea, and Iran, and Belarus, and Zimbabwe."
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