Myanmar/Burma: Inside Challenges, Outside Interests

Brookings Institution Press
77
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Burma had the brightest prospects of any Southeast Asian nation after World War II. In the years since, however, it has dropped to the bottom of the world's socioeconomic ladder. The grossly misruled nation—officially known as Myanmar—is in the midst of a political transition based on a new constitution and its first multiparty elections in twenty years. That transition, together with a recent change in U.S. policy, prompted this book.

Two military dictators have ruled Myanmar with an iron fist for nearly fifty years. A popular uprising in 1988 was brutally suppressed, but it forced the generals to hold an election in 1990. When an anti-regime party led by Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi won by a landside, however, the generals rejected the results, put Suu Kyi under house arrest for most of two decades, and continued to exploit the country's abundant resources for their own benefit while depriving citizens of basic services. Years of Western sanctions had no measurable impact, but in 2009 the Obama administration adopted a new policy of "pragmatic engagement," encouraging greater respect of democratic principles and human rights as a basis for eventual removal of sanctions.

This thoughtful volume examines Burma today primarily through the eyes of its ASEAN partners, its superpower neighbors China and India, and its own people. It provides insights into the overarching problem of national reconciliation, the strategic competition between China and India, the role of ASEAN, and the underperforming, resource-cursed economy.

Contributors include Pavin Chachavalpongpun (Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore), Termsak Chalermpalanupap (ASEAN Secretariat, Jakarta), David Dapice (Tufts University), Xiaolin Guo (Institute for Security & Development Policy, Stockholm), Gurmeet Kanwal (Centre for Land Warfare Studies, New Delhi), Kyaw Yin Hlaing (City University of Hong Kong), Li Chenyang (Institute of Southeast Asian Studies and Yunnan University, Kunming), Andrew Selth (Griffith University, Brisbane), Michael Vatikiotis (Henry Dunant Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, Singapore), Maung Zarni (London School of Economics)

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About the author

Lex Rieffel is a nonresident senior fellow in Global Economy and Development at the Brookings Institution.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Brookings Institution Press
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Published on
Oct 1, 2010
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Pages
212
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ISBN
9780815705062
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Asia / India & South Asia
Political Science / Human Rights
Political Science / International Relations / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Alexis Rieffel
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Katherine Boo
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NAMED ONE OF THE TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY
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NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY
The New Yorker • People • Entertainment Weekly • The Wall Street Journal • The Boston Globe • The Economist • Financial Times • Newsweek/The Daily Beast • Foreign Policy • The Seattle Times • The Nation • St. Louis Post-Dispatch • The Denver Post • Minneapolis Star Tribune • Salon • The Plain Dealer • The Week • Kansas City Star • Slate • Time Out New York • Publishers Weekly
 
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Katherine Boo
This enhanced eBook features exclusive video footage shot over the course of three years by the author and several children of the Annawadi slum.

From Pulitzer Prize-winner Katherine Boo, a landmark work of narrative nonfiction that tells the dramatic and sometimes heartbreaking story of families striving toward a better life in one of the twenty-first century’s great, unequal cities.
 
In this brilliantly written, fast-paced book, based on three years of uncompromising reporting, a bewildering age of global change and inequality is made human.
 
Annawadi is a makeshift settlement in the shadow of luxury hotels near the Mumbai airport, and as India starts to prosper, Annawadians are electric with hope. Abdul, a reflective and enterprising Muslim teenager, sees “a fortune beyond counting” in the recyclable garbage that richer people throw away. Asha, a woman of formidable wit and deep scars from a childhood in rural poverty, has identified an alternate route to the middle class: political corruption. With a little luck, her sensitive, beautiful daughter—Annawadi’s “most-everything girl”—will soon become its first female college graduate. And even the poorest Annawadians, like Kalu, a fifteen-year-old scrap-metal thief, believe themselves inching closer to the good lives and good times they call “the full enjoy.”
 
But then Abdul the garbage sorter is falsely accused in a shocking tragedy; terror and a global recession rock the city; and suppressed tensions over religion, caste, sex, power and economic envy turn brutal. As the tenderest individual hopes intersect with the greatest global truths, the true contours of a competitive age are revealed. And so, too, are the imaginations and courage of the people of Annawadi.
 
With intelligence, humor, and deep insight into what connects human beings to one another in an era of tumultuous change, Behind the Beautiful Forevers carries the reader headlong into one of the twenty-first century’s hidden worlds, and into the lives of people impossible to forget.
Alexis Rieffel
Indonesia has the fourth largest total population and the largest Muslim population of any nation on earth. Indonesia's transition to democracy, thus, is critically important at a time when the West's relationship with much of the Muslim world is problematic and the push for greater democracy worldwide is a U.S. priority. A major impediment to democracy in Indonesia and several other nations is a military establishment that is not financially accountable to civilian leaders and thus nearly impossible to control. This new study examines what is necessary to bring the Indonesian military "on-budget"—what policies are required, what Indonesia can learn from other nations (e.g. China, Turkey),—and what a realistic timetable looks like. More than half of what the Indonesian armed forces spend is believed to come from sources other than the national budget. These sources include a vast array of commercial enterprises, non-profit foundations, cooperatives, and rent-seeking activities. Lex Rieffel, who began doing research in Indonesia in 1968 and has extensive experience in economic development and international finance issues, is impressed by the commitment of Indonesia's new government to reduce the role of the armed forces in the economy and make it a fully professional institution. The concise treatment considers not only the requirements but also the ramifications of success—or failure—in this endeavor and can serve to inform similar efforts in other "democratizing" countries, such as Pakistan and Nigeria.
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