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Webb Announces Burma Hearings

2:19 PM, Sep 11, 2009 • By MICHAEL GOLDFARB
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Senator Webb continues to make -- or try to make -- news on Burma. Yesterday his office issued a press release to "announce his intention to hold a hearing on the impact and effectiveness of United States Policy towards Burma." Webb's policy foray into Burma has so far been extremely successful -- in stirring the wrath of the Burmese democracy movement (note to Senator Webb: they are the good guys). In an op-ed published on Wednesday in the Washington Post, U Win Tin, a senior member of Nobel Peace Prize recipient and jailed freedom activist Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy party, publicly railed against Webb's recommendation to endorese a junta sponsored election in 2010 as "damaging to our democracy movement." Webb was recently in Burma as part of a five-nation Asia tour. While in Burma, Webb met with Suu Kyi and the country's brutal ruler General Than Shwe.

Maybe this hearing will provide Webb the opportunity to go on the record and clarify exactly what he meant when he stated that it was his "clear impression from [Suu Kyi] that she is not opposed to lifting some sanctions" and that "there would be some areas she would be willing to look at." As I reported in this week's issue of THE WEEKLY STANDARD, Webb's statement to the press so confused and angered Burmese freedom activists that they sought clarification from her lawyer (one of only two people allowed to meet with her), who quoted Suu Kyi as saying she "had not discussed the issue [sanctions] with anyone recently." So did she or didn't she change her postion on economic sanctions? Senator Webb has refused to comment further on his claim. A hearing would be a good time to do so. No word on whether U Win Tin will be asked to testify.