Not that the two are related, obviously. But given my absence last week, a couple of quick follow-ups:
First, I mentioned how to track the Myanmar elections online, so I wanted to weigh in again on a related topic: the release of Aung San Suu Kyi.
I recommend checking out this piece in the The Telegraph by Justin Wintle, who wrote a 2007 biography of Suu Kyi. He puts her release into perspective:
Any celebrations, however, are likely to be shortlived. Any thought that she will or can do a Nelson Mandela and walk to power in triumph is misbegotten. Should she opt to return to the hustings, or cause the regime any other kind of embarrassment, she will find herself confined to her residence for a fourth time, and probably without any eventual release date.
Having gone to such pains to protect and reinforce his position, Than Shwe is unlikely to seek a dialogue with Aung San Suu Kyi in the interests of national reconciliation or any other cause.
More ominously, Miss Suu Kyi’s restored freedom may allow the army’s dirty tricks department to complete the job so badly botched at Depayin in 2003.
On the face of it, then, Suu Kyi’s political ‘journey’ (to borrow Tony Blair’s way of seeing things) has been in vain.
By refusing to contest the 2010 election on the grounds that to do so would have meant both signing up to a new constitution launched by the junta in 2008 and acknowledging that the 1990 election result was now dead wood, the NLD has permanently damaged its ability to make any further meaningful contribution to Burmese political life.
For more reading on the subject of potential reform in Myanmar, I suggest checking out this WSJ story, “Myanmar Opposition Group Has New Tack: Cooperation.” And here’s a more recent NYT story about what comes next for Suu Kyi.
And second, I wanted to point out that yesterday Viktor Bout — the alleged Russian arms dealer I’ve mentioned before — was extradited to the U.S. to face terrorism charges.