As Burma Plans Its Election, Options for U.S. Policy

“With elections set to be held on Nov. 7, the first in Burma in 20 years, it is a foregone conclusion that the ruling State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) will retain its power and the new parliament will be stacked with former military officers,” says Suzanne DiMaggio, Asia Society’s Director of Policy Studies. “A deeply flawed election combined with persisting rumors of the SPDC’s nuclear weapons aspirations will certainly make the Obama administration’s engagement policy toward Burma, which was rolled out a year ago, an even more difficult undertaking. For now, the U.S. policy remains in place, with the hope that there will be someone to engage with after the elections. At the same time, the U.S. is also making it clear that it is prepared to use elements of pressure, if warranted, as demonstrated by the administration’s recently voiced support for the creation of a commission of inquiry into crimes against humanity and war crimes committed by Burma’s military leaders.”

Suzanne, who is based in New York, is Director of Asia Society’s Task Force on U.S. Policy toward Burma/Myanmar. More information is available at

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