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Washigton Post: Sanctions Are The A

Subject: Washigton Post: Sanctions Are The Answer

>From The Japan Times; (The Global Perspective) 26 April 1997.


The Clinton administration?s decision to bar further U.S. investment in the
Southeast Asian nation of Burma has sparked charges of hypocrisy. Why impose
sanctions on Burma but not China? Why isolate Cuba but engage with North
Korea? Why punish Libya but do business with Nigeria? 

In the case of Burma, the administration - with a big push from Congress has
ended up in the right place. Rarely has a nation been more deserving of
economic sanction.

That?s true, first, because Burma?s regime is about as odious as they come.
The military bullies who run the nation engage in torture and repression on
a mass scale. Their particular specialty is press-ganging children and
adults into slave labor. They control the economy so tightly and corruptly
that foreign investment can only strengthen their grip, rather than creating
space for resistance, as it might in less authoritarian countries. 

Burma also is different because it has a legitimate, democratically elected
leader ? Aung San Suu Kyi, the courageous woman who overwhelmingly won a
1990 election, but who has been kept under house arrest pretty much ever
since. Unlike democrats in, say, Hong Kong, Aung San Suu Kyi has made clear
that foreign investment and tourism are counterproductive. 

Finally, there?s a chance in this instance that resolute U.S. action, backed
by a diplomatic campaign, could spur international action along the lines of
the multilateral sanctions that helped end apartheid in South Africa.

Japan has resolutely barred foreign aid and official loans to Burma; it
could do more. Europe recently suspended some trading privileges Canada and
Australia are debating trade sanctions. Only Burma?s neighbors in Southeast
Asia continue with no embarrassment to favor ?constructive engagement,?
which Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan this week called ?a euphemism for doing
business with thugs.? 

Now, all the more, the burden is on those countries to press Burma?s regime
toward dialogue, or to join in a principled stand against Burma?s barbarity. 

The Washington Post (April 24)