By Justin Liang
On May 2nd, Cyclone Nargis exacted a tragic toll upon Burma, spawning a humanitarian crisis of unprecedented proportions.
Coming amid a controversial referendum vote on a new constitution drafted by the ruling junta, the havoc wrought by the storm—and the regime’s uninspired response to international assistance—has raised numerous questions about the challenges and opportunities of engagement with the isolationist regime.
I recently had the opportunity to ask some of these questions to Ambassador Priscilla Clapp, who served as Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Burma from 1999-2002 and recently retired after a 30-year career with the U.S. government. Ambassador Clapp has written extensively on Burma and will be speaking at an upcoming program at the East-West Center in Washington (see details of that program, as well as on another Burma program in Honolulu May 21, below).
Clapp spoke candidly about diplomacy with the ruling junta, prospects for humanitarian assistance, and the road ahead in Burma. Continue reading