As Myanmar’s long-simmering Rohingya crisis boils over into ethnic cleansing, refugee exodus and possible civil war, there are inevitable calls for economic sanctions to be reimposed on Myanmar’s military-dominated government. The outgoing Obama administration lifted U.S. economic sanctions on Myanmar, also known as Burma, in late 2016 in recognition of its partial transition to democracy under de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Now the Nobel Peace Prize laureate finds herself the subject of international condemnation for her failure to act toward, or even to speak in favor of, a peaceful resolution to the crisis.
There is no hint of the United States, or any other country, intervening militarily to protect Myanmar’s Rohingya. Instead, the solution is likely to be sanctions, as it has been elsewhere. When Russia occupied Crimea in 2014, the U.S. and the European Union replied with sanctions. In Syria, the military tide may be turning in favor of President Bashar al-Assad’s forces, but U.S. and EU sanctions are constantly tightening the net around his regime. Even North Korea’s missile and nuclear provocations, including implied threats to strike the U.S. with a thermonuclear bomb, have been met, so far, with sanctions; the only real point of contention among world powers has centered on how strong they should be.
Listen to Salvatore Babones discuss this article on WPR's Trend Lines Podcast. His audio begins at 18:02: