On Saturday I had an article in The Canberra Times that surveys Burma policy and the ongoing sanctions debate. A slightly revised version of the article is available here at Inside Story. One of the key sections argues that:

On the one hand any such change in United States policy will be greeted as a victory by the generals. The senior leadership rejoices in its survival and in the combative instincts that have seen it weather years of critical international opinion and bad press. As self-proclaimed custodians of Burma’s independence they are prepared to wear a damaged reputation if the country remains united. It is, after all, a nationalist mission that defines their esprit de corps. On the other hand we should not assume that a shift away from sanctions-led policies means that all international pressure will evaporate. A well-crafted strategy for re-engaging with key parts of Burmese society, including the military and bureaucracy, is likely to increase pressures in ways that make the generals uncomfortable.