Yesterday, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific affairs Kurt Campbell wrapped up what he called an "exploratory mission" to Burma by meeting with Aung San Suu Kyi, the democracy advocate kept under house arrest by the Burmese regime. The two-day visit, during which Campbell also met with the country's prime minister, comes nearly a month after U.S. Sen. Jim Webb became the highest-ranking U.S. official to date to meet with the junta, and a week after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced the Obama administration's plan to engage with the reclusive military junta that rules Burma.
Unfortunately for the U.S., though, no matter how much it pushes the Burmese regime, very little change can be expected from direct bilateral engagement.
The response to Sen. Webb's visit last month was already mixed. Some cited it as a positive step towards a fresh engagement with Burma, while others argued that meeting with senior generals guilty of flagrant abuses of human rights undermines the U.S. goal of democracy promotion.