Joshua Kurlantzick sees reforms in Myanmar as an opportunity for normalization of relations:
The reforms offer the best chance for change in Myanmar in fifty years and a rare window that American policymakers should not miss. To respond, the United States should launch a new conditional normalization that is far more comprehensive than the White House’s current policy. Working with other industrialized democracies, the United States should be prepared to provide a large new aid package, upgrade relations, push for Myanmar’s reentry into global organizations, and potentially end sanctions—if, in return, Myanmar continues to move toward holding free elections, ending its insurgencies, and demonstrating real transparency about its weapons programs.
The administration is moving much more slowly in the same direction, which has naturally elicited knee-jerk opposition from Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee (via Ali Gharib):
I am distressed that the Administration is prematurely and publicly discussing any major concessions to the Burmese regime, such as nominating an Ambassador. Any concession to the dictatorship would be grossly premature. The world needs to see that the upcoming April elections are not the same kind of sham that we saw in 2010. […]
I call on the Administration to immediately cease talks with the ruthless tyrants in Burma until the junta has been replaced with a duly elected, democratic government that respects human rights and civil liberties.
Needless to say, there have not yet been any concessions, and breaking off talks with the current regime would mean abandoning the last two years of gradual constructive engagement that the administration has pursued. Hard-liners tend to regard engagement as a reward and isolation as a punishment. This is a foolish way to think about it, but this is how engagement and the resumption of diplomatic relations are often treated. Ros-Lehtinen demands that the administration respond to the limited political opening happening in Myanmar by breaking off what limited contact the U.S. has with their government, which would normally be interpreted as a signal of disapproval of regime behavior.
Kurlantzick argues that this would be exactly the wrong thing to do:
Opportunity for liberalization in Myanmar is extremely rare; by engaging now, the United States can help prevent retrenchment by hard-liners, build relations with the country’s future leaders, and significantly boost American influence at this most critical time.
Kurlantzick’s recommendations make sense, and his proposal is worth reading in full. Ros-Lehtinen’s demand is interesting mainly for how completely opposed to diplomatic engagement some hard-liners are even when it promises to yield the results they claim to desire.