Barack Obama Myanmar Trip has not a Victory Lap

White House official’s vigilance Thursday that President Barack Obama’s significant trip to Myanmar, a once U.S. adversary, should not be viewed as a “victory celebration.” Obama aides, seeking to alleviate critics who say such a visit to the former pariah state is untimely, said urgent action was still needed in Myanmar, most particularly freeing political prisoners and ending cultural tension in the western state of Rakhine.

But Danny Russel, Obama’s top Asia consultant, said the president’s individual appeal to leaders in the nation also known as Burma would be an effectual tool in pressing for further autonomous reforms.
This is a moment when we believe the Burmese privileged have put their feet on the right path and that it’s serious to us that we not miss the instant to influence them to keep going,” Russel said.

Obama will be the first U.S. president to see Myanmar when he makes a brief stop there Monday. He’ll bookend the journey with stops in Thailand and Cambodia, a Southeast Asian nation with an abysmal record on being rights.

Aides said Obama would raise U.S. concerns about Cambodia’s crackdowns on rebellious and civil society groups when he meets with the country’s longtime Prime Minister Hun Sen. Cambodia is hosting the East Asia meeting, an yearly gathering in which the U.S. contribute.

Obama will meet on the sidelines of the pinnacle with outgoing Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, possibly their last conference before the Asian country formerly transfers authority for the first time in a decade.