Policy Entrepreneurs and US Burma Policy under President Obama

Hosted by the Saw Swee Hock Southeast Asia Centre

Room 9.04, Tower 2 (TW2), United Kingdom


Dr Jürgen Haacke

Dr Jürgen Haacke


Prof James Putzel

Prof James Putzel

The United States played an important role in the context of Myanmar’s recent political transition. Even though considered incomplete, Myanmar’s political opening was hailed by the Obama administration as a major US foreign policy success. 

But why did the US come to re-engage Myanmar in the first place when the military regime was still in power? Who were the key individuals in Washington that deserve credit for the policy changes that the Obama administration put in place to support democratic reforms in Myanmar? And why did the Obama administration remove the central plank on which remaining US sanctions rested despite the many problems and challenges that Myanmar has continued to face? 

This talk will explore the role of policy entrepreneurs in relation to some of the key policy shifts that the Obama administration embraced between 2009 and 2016: the initial decision to pursue pragmatic engagement, the easing of sanctions, and the termination of the national emergency with respect to the actions and policies of the Government of Burma. 

Jürgen Haacke is Associate Professor in International Relations at LSE and Director of the Saw Swee Hock Southeast Asia Centre.

James Putzel is a Professor of Development Studies at LSE and a SEAC Associate.

The Saw Swee Hock Southeast Asia Centre (SEAC) is a cross-disciplinary, regionally-focused academic centre within the Institute of Global Affairs at LSE.

The LSE SEAC Research Fund is a grant available to LSE faculty and SEAC Associates to fill a gap in the available support for social science research on issues relevant to Southeast Asia. Dr Haacke's project was one of six that were awarded funding from the Research Fund in February 2016.

Twitter Hashtag for this event: #SEACResearchFund

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