Tag Archive | "Hillary Clinton"

Obama, Clinton gamble on Myanmar

Obama, Clinton gamble on Myanmar


Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton (left) and Aung San Suu Kyi

By Matthew Lee
The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration is taking a foreign policy gamble by sending Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on a historic trip to the isolated Southeast Asian nation of Myanmar this week.

The administration is betting that the first visit to the country, also known as Burma, by a secretary of state in more than half a century will pay dividends, including loosening Chinese influence in a region where America and its allies are wary of China’s rise.

But it will also gauge the Myanmar government’s baby steps toward democratic reform after 50 years of military rule that saw brutal crackdowns on pro-democracy activists, including the detention of opposition leader and Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.

Clinton left Washington on Monday and spent two days in Myanmar after a stop in South Korea. After talks with government officials in Myanmar’s capital of Naypyitaw on Thursday, she will see Suu Kyi on Friday in a meeting that will likely be the highlight of the visit.

Suu Kyi, who intends to run for parliament in upcoming by-elections, has welcomed Clinton’s trip and told President Barack Obama in a phone call earlier this month that engagement with the government would be positive. Clinton has called Suu Kyi a personal inspiration.

The trip is the first major development in U.S.–Myanmar relations in decades and comes after the Obama administration launched a new effort to prod reforms in 2009 with a package of carrot-and-stick incentives. The rapprochement sped up when Myanmar held elections last year that brought a new government to power that pledged greater openness. The administration’s special envoy to Myanmar has made three trips to the country in the past three months, and the top U.S. diplomat for human rights has made one.

Those officials pushed for Clinton to make the trip, deeming a test of the reforms as worthwhile despite the risks of backsliding.

President Thein Sein, a former army officer, has pushed forward reforms after Myanmar experienced decades of repression under successive military regimes that canceled 1990 elections that Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party won.

Last week, Myanmar’s parliament approved a law guaranteeing the right to protest, which had not previously existed. Improvements have been made in areas such as media, Internet access, and political participation. The NLD, which had boycotted previous flawed elections, is now registered as a party.

But the government that took office in March is still dominated by a military-proxy political party, and Myanmar’s commitment to democratization and its willingness to limit its close ties with China are uncertain.

Corruption runs rampant, hundreds of political prisoners are still jailed, and violent ethnic conflicts continue in the country’s north and east. And, although the government suspended a controversial Chinese dam project earlier this year, China laid down a marker ahead of Clinton’s trip by sending its vice president to meet the head of Myanmar’s armed forces.

China’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Vice President Xi Jinping pledged to maintain strong ties with Myanmar and encouraged Gen. Min Aung Hlaing to push for solutions to unspecified challenges in relations.

Myanmar also remains subject to tough sanctions that prohibit Americans and U.S. companies from most commercial transactions in the country.

U.S. officials say Clinton’s trip is a fact-finding visit and will not result in an easing of sanctions. But officials also say that such steps could be taken if Myanmar proves itself to be serious about reform. (end)

Posted in Vol 30 No 49 | 12/3-12/9, World NewsComments (0)

10 female leaders who’ve made a big difference in the last year

10 female leaders who’ve made a big difference in the last year

Image by Stacy Nguyen/NWAW

By Yukari Sumino
Northwest Asian Weekly

For International Women’s Day, we wanted to compile a list of amazing women around the globe who have made a significant impact in their countries and the world. This list is, by no means, comprehensive, and the women are not ranked. Rather, we want to give a sample of powerful females that you may not have heard very much about, but who have been doing great work. Read the full story

Posted in Community News, Features, Vol 30 No 11 | 3/12-3/18, World NewsComments (2)

NWAW EDITORIAL: We’ve come a long way, baby!

Last week, President Obama, mindful of the struggles of his single mother, created a White House panel that will advise him on issues facing women and girls. The council is designed to help cabinet agencies and departments collaborate to make sure that women will also be provided opportunities offered to men.

As part of March’s International Women’s History Month, Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announced a new post of ambassador-at-large for women’s issues around the world.

That’s not too shabby at all. This is a step in the right direction, and here is hoping that this will lead the United States toward a fuller gender equality.

Washington state has the distinction of both senators being women — Sen. Maria Cantwell and Sen. Patty Murray. Only two other states in the country share this distinction. Along with Gov. Chris Gregoire, we are the only state where three women fill the top three positions in government, the first in the nation.

Having female leaders isn’t about satisfying a demographical quota. Rather, it’s important to have diverse voices up top, so that many options and ideas are put onto the table. Being more thorough, we are in our processes to create an output that works for different kinds of people. For example, two issues that affect many women today are childcare and equal wages compared to male professional counterparts. Who are the best people to vouch for more affordable childcare or equal wages? Yes, women. This is why it’s crucial to have this voice in government.

This week, Assunta Ng wrote a column about how surprised she was that in an advanced country such as Japan, there was still such a wide gap between the social and professional statuses of women and men. Reading the column, perhaps we feel thankful that the United States is more dveloped with women’s rights than Japan — and of course we should take time to be thankful for how far we have come — but we should also look to the future and always think about how we can continue to improve our society because it is not perfect.

Women are still having a tough time shaking off the secretary stereotype. There are many fields in which women are underrepresented, such as law enforcement, technology, business, or science. Oftentimes, the top tiers in fields are dominated by men — female CEOs are hard to come by.
The solution to this is to change our society’s perception on what “women’s work” is and what “men’s work” is. It is also about changing our perception on what strengths and weaknesses are. For some, bearing children is seen as a weakness. Being more empathetic is seen as a weakness.

We have to wonder, why is this? We need to change this.

We also need leaders in both government and the community to not only be role models but to create resources and policies — much like how Obama created the new council last week. We need to utilize these resources as much as we can, to show others that we care about self improvement and that we want to be more active, and we want to go farther in our jobs — all the way to the top. (end)

Comment on this editorial HERE.

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NWAW editorial: Clinton a good choice for top diplomat

Thank goodness President-elect Obama has been thinking. Northwest Asian Weekly supports Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State-designate.

Though she isn’t a “first” (the first woman title goes to Madeline Albright under the Clinton administration, and first Black woman goes to Condeleeza Rice under the current Bush administration), we are optimistic that she will be outstanding in this position as she brings experience, credentials and confidence.

The United States Secretary of State is the head of the United States Department of State, which is concerned with foreign affairs. The secretary is a member of the president’s Cabinet and the highest-ranking Cabinet secretary. The secretary is fourth in line to succeed the president, after the vice president, the speaker of the House of Representatives and the President pro tempore of the Senate.

Her appointment comes at a crucial time, as the United States’ image worldwide is at an all-time low due to Bush’s politics and American involvement in the Iraq War. Clinton will be pivotal in turning this image around.

What Clinton has going for her is that she is already well known and needs no introductions to the American public or those abroad. With this comes authority, as she will not have to work as hard to prove that she is qualified for the position.

Clinton also has a sounding board in her husband, former President Bill Clinton. We’re not saying that Hillary Clinton is at all dependent on her husband, but she does have the eight years of her husband’s presidency to draw on when making the tough decisions.

As current Secretary of State, Rice has been criticized for being under the thumb of the Bush administration, lacking much of a unique voice or an ability to steer the president onto the right path. She will leave no significant or positive legacy in diplomacy.

Being Obama’s former opponent for the Democratic nomination, Clinton is unique in that she has proven her strength and commitment to issues that are different from of Obama’s politics. Her position as a former competitor could set a new tone for the next presidency, one in which there are varied opinions instead of one collective hive mind.

We appreciate that Clinton is not afraid to speak her mind and let her thoughts be known. We also appreciate that she has shown herself to be flexible. There is controversy around this nomination, of course, but we think Clinton will do very well as the United States’ top diplomat.

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