Burma/Myanmar Policy Toward the United States: A Delicate Balance
Bilateral relations between Burma/Myanmar and the United States in the post-WWII and Cold War years illustrate a series of misperceptions of each other's motives driven in part by the tense geopolitical context of the times. These misperceptions combined with Burma’s internal political issues throughout the years of military-authoritarian regimes which often violently suppressed political opponents prevented bilateral relations from fully developing. Today, the military junta’s coup and brutal repression of the democracy movement has raised parallels to earlier examples of how domestic politics constrained the military junta’s foreign policy. Using insider views from former diplomats, this chapter traces the factors and perceptions that influenced Burma/Myanmar's policy toward the United States over time, to help assess how relevant they may be in influencing policy toward the United States today.
Dr. Moe Thuzar is a fellow and co-coordinator of the Myanmar Studies Program at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS) at the Yusof Ishak Institute. She is a doctoral candidate at the National University of Singapore. As part of her PhD studies, she spent time as a Fox International Fellow at the MacMillan Center at Yale University. Prior to joining ISEAS, she headed the ASEAN Secretariat’s Human Development Unit, working to assist in coordinating ASEAN cooperation in labor, youth, social welfare, education, women’s affairs, poverty reduction and rural development, and civil matters. Her research interests include ASEAN integration impacts and issues, Myanmar foreign policy, relations with ASEAN and major powers, implementation challenges of the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community Goals, and Myanmar and ASEAN roles and responsibilities. Her area of expertise is focused on Myanmar where she draws on her experience in the Myanmar Foreign Service.
Murray Hiebert is a senior associate of the Southeast Asia Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, D.C. He earlier served as senior adviser and deputy director of the CSIS Southeast Asia Program. Prior to joining CSIS, Hiebert was senior director for Southeast Asia at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Earlier, he was a journalist in the China bureau of the Wall Street Journal.
Ann Marie Murphy is a Professor at the School of Diplomacy and International Relations, Seton Hall University, Senior Research Scholar at the Weatherhead East Asian Institute, Columbia University, and 2019-2010 ASEAN Research Program Fulbright Scholar. Dr. Murphy’s research interests include international relations and comparative politics in Southeast Asia, U.S. foreign policy toward Asia, and governance of non-traditional security issues. Dr. Murphy is a founding partner of the New York Southeast Asia Network and is currently completing a book on the impact of democracy on Indonesian foreign policy with the generous support of the Smith Richardson Foundation.