Our Stupid Burma Policy Mostly Succeeds in Killing Burmese Babies

The latest human rights outrage in Burma has yet again prompted calls for sanctions. They don't work.

This week, the world’s longest-running military dictatorship sentenced Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, who’s been under house arrest in Burma on and off for twenty years, to eighteen more months of house arrest. The US and the rest of the Western world is SO mad. How mad? We’re-gonna-impose-a-whole-bunch-of-totally-impactless-sanctions mad.

Forget the sanctions everyone is calling for in the news and on NPR. Everyone is not, of course, disclosing the dirtydetails, which include the fact that our sanctions don’t apply to our oil and gas companies, which are still allowed to operate in the country. Everyone is not, of course, mentioning that we’ve already had sanctions in place for more than a decade with no effect. Well, not no effect -- they’ve put tens of thousands of factory workers out of jobs and helped make Burma the poorest country on the continent, where it has the second-highest child mortality rate (after only Afghanistan).

Obama just extended sanctions on Burma, again, a couple of weeks ago. But the administration says its policy on the country is “still very much under review.” Let’s hope that review involves recognizing that the US is going to have to do a lot more than sanction — which didn’t work in Iraq, and didn’t work in Cuba, and isn’t working in Burma now -- if it wants to stop the oppression.

Click here to read more about our Burma policy.

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