Washington: The military coup in Myanmar and the massive suppression of Russian dissidents are proposing an early experiment for the Biden administration as it seeks to re-establish the primacy of the United States as a global democratic leader.
After President Joe Biden was sworn in and pledged to restore firm support for human rights, freedom of speech and political openness in the United States, two different regions of the world are facing two serious challenges, which are either ignored or information. Deliver inconsistent topics. In the Trump era.
After investing decades of time, energy and money into promoting democracy in both Myanmar and Russia, the U.S. now faces challenges in each that could affect the global balance of power, with the Myanmar turmoil potentially strengthening China’s hand.
And, while neither situation can be directly tied to domestic political uncertainty in the United States, experts believe foreign governments might be taking cues from the vestiges of America’s perceived rudderlessness in the final months of President Donald Trump’s term.
“It is not always about us,” said Dan Fried, a former senior U.S. diplomat for Europe. “Each has its own dynamic, but they certainly take cues from us. What links the two is that during the campaign, the Biden team talked about support for democracy being a North Star — a guiding point for democracy.”
Biden’s aides rejected the suggestion that Trump’s January 6 riot on the Capitol would damage American influence in the long run. But they have admitted that this is a factor in Biden’s attempt to re-establish the moral leadership of the United States after Trump felt divided for four years.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said of Biden on Monday: “The United States is still a country in the world that needs leadership. It will take some time, but he will definitely do it.”
She said after Biden’s statement that he would consider imposing sanctions on Myanmar (also known as Myanmar), which were lifted after the country partially restored democracy during the Obama administration.
“The United States removed sanctions on Burma over the past decade based on progress toward democracy,” Biden said. “The reversal of that progress will necessitate an immediate review of our sanction laws and authorities, followed by appropriate action. The United States will stand up for democracy wherever it is under attack.”
In Myanmar, the army took control of the government after a brief experiment with limited democracy, detaining former opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and giving China an even bigger potential opening into a neighboring country where the West had exerted great effort to blunt Beijing’s significant influence.
“This is a setback for Myanmar and for democratic governance across Asia,” said Danny Russel, a former assistant secretary of state for East Asia and the Pacific, who is now vice president for International Security and Diplomacy at the Asia Society Policy Institute. “It’s part of an unfortunate slide toward authoritarianism and it’s quite worrying. It sets an appalling example for other countries.”
“It’s certainly an early crisis for the Biden administration, and it’s really crystalized the contrast between its support for democracy and the Chinese support for authoritarianism,” he said.
Tensions in Myanmar have been building for some time but have been largely under the radar of a Washington preoccupied with the coronavirus after decades of public and private pressure on Yangon to institute democratic reforms.