Myanmar Begins Journey Towards Democratic Rule

Myanmar’s New Government Faces Many Challenges
Today marks a historic day for Myanmar as the first non-military government in 54 years is set to take office. The new government will be led by U Htin Kyaw of the National League for Democracy, who was careful to urge caution and requested patience as the nation moves from decades of civil war to pursue a path toward democratic rule.

“We have to work for a Constitution that is in harmony with democratic values,” the new chief of state, U Htin Kyaw, said in a speech. “This is a political ambition that people have wanted for a long, long time. We have to be patient.”

They will need patience as Myanmar faces enormous political and economic challenges in the coming years. Currently, it sits at 146 of 157 countries on the latest Economic Freedom of the World, and is also ranked as “not free” and moving backward in the most recent report from Freedom House.

After years of leading the fight for democracy from behind prison walls, human rights activist Aung San Suu Kyi led her party to victory in November’s historic elections, but was prohibited by law from serving as president. Her ally and friend Htin Kyaw is now shouldering the responsibility of carrying through with promises of political reform, including acting to address pervasive corruption, legal processes, establish property rights, and rollback business regulation.

Poland: NATO Ignoring Eastern Europe
The Pentagon this week announced its plan to implement the European Reassurance Initiative, a program intended to reassure allies of American commitment to the security and territorial integrity of the countries of the NATO alliance. The plan’s focus on Western Europe, however, is not providing much reassurance to many in Eastern Europe and they are not staying silent about their concerns.

“For the first time in Europe since World War II, a change in borders has occurred by force,” said Poland’s President Andrzej Duda, referring to the Russian Federation’s annexation of Crimea.

“Thus there are serious concerns that the time of peace in our part of Europe is over,” he said.

“If we claim that NATO is alive, then NATO must respond to what is happening. We want the actual military presence of NATO, with soldiers coming to Central and Eastern Europe on a permanent basis,” he added in a speech at the National Press Club.

Duda has said he welcomes the administration’s plans to send an additional armored brigade to Eastern Europe in 2017.

The ERI was unveiled by the President Barack Obama in June 2014, ERI was established in the FY 2015 budget as a one-year, $1 billion emergency response to Russian aggression. At that time Russia had seized Crimea and was conducting cross-border military operations in eastern Ukraine. ERI was intended to “reassure allies of the U.S. commitment to their security and territorial integrity as members of the NATO Alliance.”

Singapore’s Prime Minister Sees US Leadership As Indispensable Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong tells The Wall Street Journal that despite the raucous state of US politics, its leadership on trade and security is indispensable to the cause of freedom globally.

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