Clinton and her team said the country’s gradual shift to democracy — Burma had just held an election, won by Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi’s party — meant it had earned the U.S. investment. Other economic powerhouses, including Australia and the EU, were also moving to loosen their own rules for investment in Burma. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, as the Washington Post reported at the time, said the United States needed to keep up.
But, as the Post also noted, human rights leaders predicted Clinton’s decision would set back their cause. At the time, as Foreign Policy reported, Suu Kyi supported a partial easing of the U.S. investment ban, but didn’t want American companies to be able to invest in the country’s energy sector. They argued opening investment to the energy market would fuel economic inequality and only strengthen the country’s repressive military. And they thought it gave the country’s government too much too soon, giving up leverage to push for more reform in the future.
But the Obama administration broke with Suu Kyi and human rights leaders, letting American companies invest in all sectors—including oil and gas.
I’m so old I can remember when Democrats loved Suu Kyi and hated Big Oil.