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Burma: Prospects for a Democratic Future

Burma: Prospects for a Democratic Future

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Since Burma's current despotic military rulers took power in 1989, this pivotal, troubled, and bitterly divided Southeast Asian nation has rejected important opportunities for political and economic liberalization. The ruling State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) has repressed Nobel Peace Price winner and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and her fellow democracy advocates, rejecting their electoral victory in 1990. The SLORC had reached a wary truce with ethnic minority groups, and hasrecently become a member of the economically important Association of Southeast Asian Nations. This book examines the origins and consequences of Burma's current policies from military, political, social, and economic perspectives. It analyzes the Asian decision to "constructively engage" Burma, especially in economic affairs, versus the position of the United States and many other Western countries to treat Burma as a pariah. Other chapters focus on the drug trade (Burma produces more than 60 percent of the world's heroin), the growing role of China as Burma's military and economic "big brother," political culture and democratic traditions, the unsustainable nature of current economic growth, shortfalls in education and health systems, and Burma's potential for foreign investment.