The right visit at the right time

Op-ed published in Today, Nov. 21, 2012

US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visiting the Shwedagon Pagoda in Myanmar on Monday. REUTERS
Copyright © MediaCorp Press Ltd

By Tom Benner

Critics in the United States and around the world offered plenty of reasons why President Barack Obama shouldn’t have gone to Myanmar on Monday.

Some called the visit premature, saying the country’s military junta has yet to atone for decades of human rights atrocities. Others worried it will be counterproductive, leaving the relatively new, nominally civilian government feeling complacent as political prisoners remain locked up. Ethnic and religious violence continues to make headlines and worry the global community.

Instead of listening to the naysayers, Mr Obama seized a historic opportunity in Myanmar and history may bear him out. Continue reading…

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