The past two weeks have probably been the most high-profile weeks for Myanmar in the United States since the uprisings and crackdowns in Myanmar in 1988. The much-awaited visit of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi drew crowds that could be compared, in some ways, only to visits of Nelson Mandela and the Dalai Lama. And Suu Kyi, in many ways, delivered, showing flexibility on sanctions that will allow for a much greater U.S. presence in Myanmar, displaying the humor and lightness of touch at events that was concealed by years of harsh government policy toward her, and offering a level of forgiveness of her former jailers that could help show the way forward for reconciliation in a future democratic Myanmar.
Mynamar president Thein Sein, meanwhile, got much of what he wanted during his less acclaimed, but just as important, visit. His meeting with Hillary Clinton in New York demonstrated the importance the Obama administration places on Myanmar, the United States agreed to dramatic changes in sanctions policy, and Thein Sein returned home to Yangon to a hero’s welcome.