We know Obama has made the first ever presidential visit to Burma, a long oppressive country. It should be known that it was Bush foreign policy that paved the way by emphasizing human rights, placing and maintaining sanctions and providing humanitarian assistance. It was also the Bush administration that began senior level talks that brought in opposition groups and ethnic minority groups to further the cause of reform.
Upon review after Obama took office, it was decided to leave well enough alone. After the Burmese version of the Arab spring, the generals fearing the loss of their power began a gradual transition in return for a reliable partner. Are we? What was begun by Bush is now left to Obama to continue. Push reform. It is still sorely needed especially in the area of repression of minorities and drug as well as human trafficking. Leading from behind won't get it done nor will empty platitudes.
The idea of visiting Burma to encourage reforms is commendable. Before Obama undertakes these missions, however, it would be nice if he did his homework so as not to embarrass himself and our country. Getting a protocol officer wouldn't be a bad idea either. Or a new one if indeed one exists.
Standing next to the icon of human rights activists, Aung San Suu Kyi, Obama mispronounced her name repeatedly. Just as Queen Elizabeth did when touched by Michelle, she was gracious enough not to correct him. This continued as he spoke to reporters after their meeting.
He also addressed the new President incorrectly by not using his full name as protocol would have it.
The final gaffe was referring to the country as Myanmar, the favored name of the authoritarian regime. It was considered an appeasement. Burma is the name the U.S. uses after all, as well as being the name preferred by Aung San Suu Kyi.
Had Bush made these gaffes the medias would have screamed. All I hear are the sounds of silence
I don't know if our President is lazy, sloppy, doesn't care or what but it seems like he tries to play all sides which results in the appearance of placating the unsavory.
He only has four more years to fly around on that big fancy jet, but if he's going to continue to compromise us and embarrass us around the world I wish he'd just stay home.