Reflecting on Senator Jim Webb's recent NY Times oped (which I discuss here), I have come up with a most favorable interpretation of Jim Webb's stance on Burma. That is, that Webb has been positioned as the Adminstration's "good cop" in negotiations between the US and that country's nasty regime. But this interpretation presupposes a bad cop. Who might that be?
At the ASEAN summit Sec. of State Hilary Clinton had already staked out a somewhat stronger stance. Clinton demanded Suu Kyi's release as a precondition for lifting some sanctions. Truly, I thought that Clinton was not asking very much -- perhaps far too little -- especially given how many political prisoners the regime has locked away.
Given that Clinton's position on sanctions appears generous, it seems to me the Obama Administration sorely lacks someone to play "bad cop" on Burma. And I think that's a shame. Because if the president does not anoint someone to a voice a tougher stance, laying out any number of preconditions for lifting sanctions, an opportunity to change the course of US-Burma relations could mean a wasted opportunity from the standpoint of human rights.