President Barack Obama knows he is making history with his 80-hour stop overs in Thailand, Myanmar (Burma), and Cambodia. He will be the first President to visit half of the ASEAN membership while still in his first term.
Speculation about Obama’s motives behind the visit have created an influx of opinions, but rest assured that the visit means good things for these nations. Thailand stands to improve US-Thai relations, repair the military alliance, and develop greater economic cooperation. Thailand also plans to announce its decision to join the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) during Obama’s visit- a deal that has been nine years in the making. Both Thailand and the US stand to gain from furthering their relationship, being that Thailand is one of five US allies in the region.
The crucial part of this event is that President Obama is the first sitting US President to visit Myanmar. There is no telling what exactly this means for Myanmar but it proves to be yet another step taken toward international re-integration for this isolated nation. President Obama is not condoning or condemning the obvious human rights violations of the Burmese government and is going so far as to meet with both leader Thein Sein and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
Outside of the human rights arena, this meeting could strengthen the Myanmar goal of lessening its reliance on China. The overall effect of this visit will not be seen in the near future, but the immediate impacts will certainly be positive for Myanmar.