Commentary Magazine


Burma Election Farce

Burma is yet another example of the Obama team’s failed strategy of engaging totalitarian regimes. We were going to lessen Burma’s isolation and see if we could lure them back into the “international community.” This, like the elections there on Sunday, has proved to be a farce. This report explains:

Frustration over Sunday’s national election in Myanmar is rising as evidence mounts that government-backed candidates dominated the polls amid reports of voting irregularities.

Myanmar’s secretive military regime has only slowly released official results. As of Thursday, the government’s Union Solidarity and Development Party had won 140 of the 182 contested parliamentary seats whose outcome was reported by election officials. Prime Minister Thein Sein and other prominent members of the ruling junta were among the winners. …

“We knew it was going to be bad, but not this bad,” said one Yangon resident, a travel-company owner who said he opposes the military regime.

Several opposition groups, including the party of famed pro-democracy advocate Aung San Suu Kyi, which was disbanded by the government earlier this year, have said they believe there may have been widespread fraud, and are considering raising more-formal complaints.

Suu Kyi remains under house arrest, and with tempers rising, it is unclear whether the government will release her.

So what does this say of the Obama policy? For two years the White House essentially gave Burma a free pass. Now the administration is very upset to find fraud going on there. But would the government have shown more restraint had we tightened, rather than loosened, the screws and had we made clear the consequences of government-authorized thuggery? We don’t know, but certainly we would have preserved our moral standing and given support to those struggling under the thumb of the despotic government. Maybe now we’ll finally cast aside “engagement” — along with Keynesian economics and a host of other bad policies and faulty assumptions championed by the administration.