Friday, August 28, 2009

Sen. Jim Webb Calls for Opening to Myanmar

On last night's PBS Newshour with Jim Lehrer:
And, by the way, another piece of this is, I'm not saying lift sanctions immediately. I'm saying we need to proceed immediately toward a formula where we can do that. By cutting off the United States and the European Union from Myanmar, as China is so heavily investing in the country, and we're seeing Myanmar now tilt away from our national interest. There's got to be a different way to do this.

MARGARET WARNER: Now, one of the leading pro-democracy in Burma groups says the U.S. should not offer the benefits of trade and investment to Burma, to Myanmar, until it takes real steps to open up its political system, that otherwise the U.S. would be just selling democracy down the river. What do you say to that?

SEN. JIM WEBB: I say, I share their objectives of moving toward a more open system. The question is how you get there.

And one of the interesting historical examples in that case is Vietnam itself. I was very strongly opposed to lifting sanctions on Vietnam after the Communists took over and how they treated the people who were with us.

But as other countries lifted their sanctions against Vietnam, it became more logical for us to do so, and, quite frankly, looking back on it, I think that was a key moment, in terms of beginning the process of opening up Vietnam.

The dissident groups that say you should have democracy first, really, I understand their frustrations, but they need to look at it a different way. Take what you can get and move toward democracy. That's the way you can bring change in Asia.