One of the most farcical claims in a series of farcical claims about failed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is her list of so-called "accomplishments" during her tenure as Secretary of State. Though the fallout after Hillary's State Department ousted Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, which resulted in the death of Americans at the Benghazi embassy, is routinely cited, few mention her failure to promulgate Democracy in Burma (Myanmar); the blunder she cited in her book Hard Choices as a major success has now resulted in the genocide of thousands of the country's Muslim minority.
Leading up to the 2016 election, Hillary touted Burma as one of her great achievements, becoming the first U.S. Secretary of State to visit the country since it fell under military dictatorship in 1962. During her opening statements at the initial Benghazi hearings, Clinton deflected accusations of mismanagement in Libya by pointing to her so-called success in Burma. “I worked with the Republican leader, Senator Mitch McConnell, to open up Burma, now Myanmar, to find democratic change,” she asserted. Her memoir Hard Choices devoted an entire chapter with similar declarations.
“While the Arab Spring was losing its luster in the Middle East, Burma was giving the world new hope that it is indeed possible to transition peacefully from dictatorship to democracy,” she wrote.
Burma became a focal point of the Obama administration in early 2011, when the ruling junta allowed for a "quasi-civilian government and parliament to take the reins" in place of military rule. Then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wanted the U.S. to step up involvement rather than letting Burma crumble under sancations. Foreign Policy summarizes some of the history during this period:
After Clinton’s first visit to Myanmar in December 2011, the country’s political transformation proceeded swiftly. During her trip, she had promised to establish new U.S.-led development programs, provide tens of millions in medical aid, and consider the exchange of ambassadors. The following March, a mostly free by-election saw Aung San Suu Kyi appointed to parliament, while her long beleaguered party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), won 43 of 46 parliamentary seats. In light of that victory, Clinton announced that the United States would undertake new steps to foster reform in Myanmar, including the opening of a USAID mission and the relaxation of restrictions on U.S. nonprofit activities in the country.
By summer 2012, the Obama administration had begun easing sanctions on Myanmar, waiving bans on U.S. investment and the export of financial services to the country.
Myanmar’s ruler, Thein Sein, responded in kind by freeing hundreds of political prisoners, engaging the NLD in parliament, and formally lifting press censorship before abolishing the censorship board altogether in 2013. And, in one of the biggest economic reforms intended to stabilize the economy and encourage foreign investment, the Central Bank floated its currency’s exchange rate for the first time.
In September 2012, before a meeting with Thein Sein in New York, Clinton announced that the U.S. government would soon ease a ban on Burmese imports "in recognition of the continued progress towards reform." Now, most sanctions have been eased and the United States has already allocated more than $180 million in foreign aid to Myanmar.
Over five years have passed since Hillary's historic visit and the country has achieved neither the democracy nor the stability she had hoped. As early as 2014, Mother Jones notes that the Burmese government was already "backsliding on reforms — including by cracking down on the press and political activists" that resulted in the arrest of 97 political prisoners.
Though the military signed a multilateral ceasefire with some ethnic rebel groups in 2015, the gesture could only be classified as empty, since shorty thereafter the sectarian violence between the nation's Buddhist-majority and Muslim-minority continued unabated.
"The Buddhist-majority government has failed to protect Muslims from violent Buddhist mobs," reported Mother Jones in 2015. "In western Burma, some 140,000 Rohingya Muslims have been locked up in squalid camps after their homes were burned down by attackers in 2012. Many of them are dying without access to medicine or doctors."
Today, the persecution inflicted upon the Rohingya Muslims has reached crisis-level proportions. According to The Independent, Theresa May has announced that the U.K. will “stop all defence engagement and training of the Burmese military” until the ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya minority is put to an end.
In recent weeks, more than 310,000 refugees have fled to Bangladesh to escape from extrajudicial killings that have also resulted in the burning of entire villages, which have been confirmed by satelite imagery.
"Refugees arriving in Bangladesh have described a systematic campaign of house burnings, mass shootings, and beheadings by Burmese troops and vigilante mobs drawn from the local Rakhine Buddhist community," The Telegraph reported.
At this time, the international community has called for the imposition of sanctions against Burma until the ethnic cleansing ceases, which would essentially set the country back to its original condition prior to Hillary Clinton's tenure while Secretary of State.